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2023-24 ACC Conference Preview
The No Ceilings crew continues their Conference Preview round tables for the 2023-24 season with the ACC.
The college basketball season is just around the corner, and the NBA season is off to a roaring start. While many of the rookies from the 2023 NBA Draft are making headlines, the 2023-2024 NCAA season will show prospect evaluators who might be joining this year’s rookies in determining the NBA’s future.
Before the college season gets underway, we simply had to gather the No Ceilings collective for a roundtable and discuss some of the top prospects and players who might be primed to break out and establish themselves on the draft scene. Today, we continue our conference previews with the ACC.
1. Ignore “consensus” boards and Twitter groupthink. Who is the best NBA prospect in this conference?
Stephen: Duke lost a few players over the off-season, but Kyle Filipowski has returned to climb the ladder for this coming draft. He is the lone lottery prospect I have in the ACC, making him the easy choice. I’m looking for Kyle to show a consistent game from outside to complement the interior scoring. Add some playmaking flashes and it’s a wrap. He’s an NBA player easily.
Albert: I don’t think there’s a straightforward answer to this question yet. I’m not as high as some of the others on guys like Tyrese Proctor and Kyle Filipowski. I think both guys had some nice flashes, but both guys also struggled as well. If development and growth were linear then I’d be on-board but we all know that’s never the case. I like the idea of both guys, but unless they actually do anything to change my mind, I’m just not there yet. I also don’t really have an alternative answer for this question either, I think I’m in wait-and-see mode for now.
Rucker: Things are lining up for Duke Blue Devils guard Tyrese Proctor to have a massive year. After some impressive flashes as a freshman, Proctor will be one of the top candidates for a sophomore breakout year. Proctor has the size at 6’5” that NBA scouts are looking for in a versatile combo guard. He’s shifty and can get after it on the defensive side of the ball. He averaged 11.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG, and 5.0 APG in his last six games while shooting 40.9% from three. If the offensive weaponry is consistent this year, especially with a crowded backcourt, Proctor will be a potential Top 10 selection.
Corey: Kyle Filiposwki is going to have a huge season. I don’t care what the percentages were last season, I’m buying the shot. It’s smooth, fluid, and repeatable – aesthetically there aren’t many flaws. Flip can put it on the deck and get to his spots to create clean looks. Now it’s about taking a step as a finisher. The added strength and surgery to help his hip mobility should help a lot here. He rebounds the ball and has a good feel for the game. There’s some off-brand Markkanen to his game. Coming back to school to hone his improvement areas should put him in the running to be selected in the lottery.
Metcalf: It’d be cool if Rucker stopped copying my board, but this is Tyrese Proctor for me as well. I had a Top 35 grade on him before he withdrew last season and I think he could be in for a shockingly productive year.
Rowan: I’m also on the Proctor Plan™ this season, given there may not be a prospect better set up to build upon his skills in the national spotlight.
Nick: This pick isn’t as clear for me as it was for some of the other conferences, but I’m going to go with Tyrese Proctor here. I think that his strong close to the season last year was more due to him adjusting to the speed of the college game than just a hot streak; with an offseason of development to build on his strong close to last season, he could cement himself as a lottery-level prospect.
Maxwell: I’m going to rock the boat and say Mark Mitchell, even if my board disagrees, just so we get some dissent. Mitchell is a dog and a winner. He’s competitive. He’s got an NBA body that gets him where he wants on offense and stops others from getting where they want on defense. His understanding of the game is strong and he’s an underrated passer. If he just takes more threes this year and stays efficient, that’s the type of wing every NBA team wants.
Evan: I’m in line with Albert on this one, in the sense that I’m not sure there’s an obvious top prospect in the ACC this season. I think all the Duke players that have been mentioned already are all solid choices, but I’m not personally in love with any of their pro potential. I’ll hesitantly go with Elliot Cadeau. The size concerns are definitely real and scare the shit out of me. However, I believe Cadeau plays much bigger than his 6’1”, 180-pound frame at times, and he doesn’t shy away from contact as a rim-finisher. He’s arguably the best passer in the class, conducting pick-and-rolls like an NBA vet. If someone is to break out of the fog of this conference to become the best pro prospect, I’ll put my bet on Cadeau.
2. Admittedly, one of the most satisfying parts of analyzing the draft is being able to look back and say “psh, about time you guys took notice of him. I’ve been hyping him up for ages.” Who is the prospect that you are irrationally high on?
Stephen: Syracuse has an interesting group of players under new head coach, Adrian Autry. Judah Mintz and JJ Starling are the talk of the team, but I can’t wait to see how Chance Westry looks on the wing. I liked him coming into last season, but he had trouble finding time with Auburn. I think his ability to shoot, cut, defend, and rebound is going to really pop for the Orange, and he proves why he was regarded so highly in his class.
Albert: I wrote a piece on Miles Kelly on the off chance that he entered the draft last season, but I’m glad he came back for another season at Georgia Tech. I recently spoke to Kelly and asked him about what he’s worked on this off-season and this is what he had to say: “I would say the main aspect of my game I worked on is my body. With my frame, I noticed a lot of players trying to be more physical with me. With all the work I put in at GT, Miami, and LA this summer I was able to add 10 pounds.” Kelly finished off last season with a real hot streak and carrying that momentum into this season with a strong frame, has me thinking he may break out in a big way this season.
Rucker: Georgia Tech junior wing Miles Kelly is a name that could send a serious statement to start the 2023-24 NCAA season. The 6’6” sharpshooter can light it up in a hurry and was a force to end the 2022-23 year. In his last six games, Kelly went on to average 21.8 points per game while shooting 45.5% from three. He’s a name that could start to make a march up some rankings in a hurry.
Corey: Kaleb Glenn, the incoming freshman at Louisville is really interesting! One of the biggest challenges young prospects have jumping levels is adjusting to the physicality of the game. At 6’6” 205, opponents will have to adjust to Glenn’s physicality. I watched Glenn live against Montverde last season and he was super impressive playing against a loaded Eagles’ frontcourt, showing off his strength, athleticism, and motor. Shooting will be the swing skill for the power wing, but he’s been trending in the right direction, knocking down 35% of his threes and 75% of his free throws per Synergy over the last year in his NIBC and EYBL seasons.
Metcalf: Ryan Dunn has the opportunity to open a lot of eyes this season. He was one of the most versatile defenders last season, but the offense just wasn’t quite there. If he can prove to be an efficient spot-up shooter, his draft stock should rise substantially. Also, keep a close eye on Taylor Bol Bowen from Florida State. He’s a typical lanky FSU recruit who is a nasty defender. When you watch him shoot, you’ll think that it’s never going in. Despite the funkiness of his mechanics, he’s oddly effective off the catch.
Rowan: Due to the chaos still surrounding the Louisville Cardinals, it’s hard to safely project any player in any role on that team. I remain a fan of Dennis Evans, however, as he’s one of the best pure shot-blockers in the draft class. His offensive development will be what makes or breaks his NBA chances, but there isn’t another big man on the team who can measure up talent-wise with Evans.
Nick: I was really intrigued by some of the flashes that JJ Starling showed last season at Notre Dame, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he looks in a new environment at Syracuse. It will be fascinating to see how he and Judah Mintz mesh in the backcourt, and Starling has the shooting touch to burst onto the draft scene this season.
Maxwell: I really like Clemson’s PJ Hall! An injury before the start of the year ate into his counting stats last season, but after the new year, he averaged 17.1 PPG on 53.3/39.3/79.5 splits! Mamma Mia! Those are serious numbers in the ACC! At 6’10”, his motor runs hot, and he’s got more juice as a passer than the numbers would indicate. If he can be a more potent of a rim protector, watch out.
Evan: Notre Dame freshman Carey Booth really intrigues me. The son of Denver Nuggets GM, Calvin Booth, Carey is a wiry wing who might have an excellent chance to contribute for Micah Shrewsberry’s team right out of the gate. At 6’10” and 203 pounds, Booth has the physical profile to be a jumbo scorer at the next level. He showcased some positive flashes shooting off the catch or dribble last season at Brewster Academy, and has a tremendous motor on the offensive glass. If he can continue to fill out his frame, while improving defensively, the route is clear for Booth to become an NBA prospect. I get big Trey Murphy III vibes from him, don’t sleep on the kid in South Bend this year.
3. Unfortunately, there are two sides to that coin, and they do not have equal probabilities. Which prospect do you like but believe has the most likely chance of failing to meet expectations?
Stephen: There are a lot of Wooga Poplar this season, as there was a decent number of people lobbying for him as a prospect last year. There is no doubt that he has talent, and could be a good collegiate player, but I have a hard time seeing him as a guaranteed Top 60 player. He lacks ideal size for a wing, which could really impact his translation to the NBA on both sides of the ball. He doesn’t have a bad handle, but he isn’t going to be a top option to facilitate for himself and others. Miami also has a roster that looks to feature at least four players heavily, so seeing him take a leap compared to last season is also in question to me.
Albert: Unpopular take incoming. I really like Elliot Cadeau and think he’s going to be a really influential player one day, my only concern is what will his role look like for UNC this season? If Cadeau ends up being the first or second guy off the bench, there will be pressure on him to come in and make an immediate impact. I love the play-making and the quiet confidence to his game, I’m just worried about how much time and freedom he’s given to be himself.
Rucker: Syracuse sophomore Judah Mintz has everything lining up for him to have a huge year this upcoming season. With former Notre Dame freshman JJ Starling coming over, Syracuse has the potential to have an exciting backcourt. I’m just not buying the extreme hype when it comes to Mintz just yet. There’s still plenty of questions about the consistency, especially when it comes to his outside shot. If that can start to fall at a higher and more efficient clip, Mintz could be a name that climbs. For now, let’s wait and see what happens.
Corey: I’m really having a tough time seeing the Top 5-10 buzz with Duke’s Tyrese Proctor. The end of the year flashes were pretty fun, but they were still mostly just flashes. For someone who was known for their playmaking, I thought he missed a lot of obvious reads last season, instead opting to settle for tough step-back jumpers. He lacks the burst to turn the corner and doesn’t pressure the rim much nor finish when he gets there. I’m confident he’s going to shoot it well off the catch, and at 6’5” (are we sure?) with some passing feel, that is valuable. I just like Proctor the prospect a lot more if he is being projected as a complimentary off guard that can do some stuff with the ball in his hands sometimes. If he ends up going Top 10, he’ll be expected to be more than that. It’s giving me Killian Hayes.
Metcalf: I hope I’m wrong, but I just don’t see it with Judah Mintz. I’d love to see Syracuse not play zone on defense all of the time so we can get a much better understanding of Mintz as a defender. However, it’s really going to come down to the shot and decision-making with him. If he can be a solid shooter and improve his decision-making alongside JJ Starling, Mintz could easily make me do a 180.
Rowan: Baba Miller burst onto the draft scene under the overused moniker of “unicorn”, but has since fallen out of popularity due to his eligibility battle that halved his freshman campaign. Miller looked renewed playing next to Izan Almansa this past summer at the FIBA U19 World Cup, showing off the same stretch big skills that made him a draft darling. However, whether Miller can keep that up for the Seminoles is another question, as he’ll be the focus of opposing gameplans on both sides of the ball and could wilt under the increased pressure of his situation.
Nick: Wooga Poplar certainly has the potential to make me look foolish for this pick, but I’m not quite sold on him going from the fifth-leading scorer behind Isaiah Wong, Jordan Miller, Norchard Omier, and Nijel Pack to being a much bigger part of the offense for the Hurricanes this season.
Maxwell: I want to preface this by saying that Elliot Cadeau is incredibly talented and extremely skilled. That said, I have major reservations about him given his lack of height, low weight, and struggles around the basket. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not going to put too heavy expectations on him early.
Evan: My apologies to Syracuse fans for piling on here, but Judah Mintz is also my choice. I really want to believe in him as a pro prospect, between the elite flashes of athleticism and shotmaking, it’s easy to see why evaluators get tantalized by his potential. Unfortunately, I just don’t buy it personally and am extremely skeptical he’ll ever be a first-round talent. Mintz isn't an efficient shooter and he compounds that by taking horrendous shots at a far too frequent rate. Plus, his decision-making as a playmaker is some of the worst in the conference. Additionally, I think many of Mintz’s teammates such as Benny Williams, Chris Bell, JJ Starling, Justin Taylor, Maliq Brown, and Quadir Copeland have more enticing upsides as NBA players. I could easily see him getting lost in the shuffle in 2024.
4. The shiny new thing is always the most enticing to go after, but there is always a ton of value in older prospects. Based on their previous college seasons, which returning player are you most excited to watch and has the best NBA potential?
Stephen: If there is one returning player in the ACC that could completely break everyone’s boards, it is Guillermo Diaz Graham. With players like Victor Wembanyama, Chet Holmgren, and Evan Mobley becoming more in vogue, it is a wonder why GDG isn’t a consensus draft prospect. He has the ability to shoot, has great touch around the rim, can pass, plays defense, and rebounds. This Pitt prospect is the best-kept secret in the draft community…for now.
Albert: Ryan Dunn is the choice here. Dunn is obviously a disruptive defender and will be best known for his impact on that end of the floor. It’s on the offensive side that people will be asking the most questions. Dunn only shot it 31.3% from three last year but was a guy who shot it above 40% from deep twice in his high school career. If he can flash more of that outside shooting this season, he will fly up draft boards.
Rucker: Virginia Cavaliers sophomore Ryan Dunn is a prospect I’m falling absolutely in love with. Dunn didn’t put up the biggest numbers as a freshman, but his impact on the court was felt, especially on the defensive side of the ball. If Dunn can take a step forward this year, he’s going to jump quickly in the rankings. The tools are all there, it just seems like it’s only a matter of time before things fall into place.
Corey: I can’t wait to watch Guillermo Diaz Graham from Pitt. The lanky seven-footer is going to immediately draw comparisons to Chet Holmgren due to his measurables, but his skill set isn’t all that dissimilar. Now, we’ve seen this movie before, when one prospect comes along and we try to label another prospect the “next X” it usually doesn’t go all that well. Bargnani was the next Dirk, Eddy Curry was baby Shaq, etc. I don’t want to put that pressure on Graham because Chet was on a different level as a prospect. That doesn’t mean that Graham doesn’t have an opportunity to soar up draft boards though. Graham has the combination of skill and physical tools that is perfect for the direction of the modern NBA. An expanded role and opportunity to show those tools off should have his name buzzing.
Metcalf: This feels so wrong but I can’t wait to see Baba Miller. Miller was shockingly good at the U19 FIBA World Cup this summer and looked like he finally figured out how to contribute in the half-court offense. If he can make that leap, FSU could be very fun this year.
Rowan: Reece Beekman looked like one of the best guard defenders last season and just as his draft stock seemed to be peaking… he chose to return to the Cavaliers. I still believe in his lockdown ability and have faith that he can build upon last year’s shooting numbers from deep last year to bring just enough on offense to make him playable for his demonic defense.
Nick: Reece Beekman’s season ended in disappointment last season after Virginia was upset by Furman in the first round of March Madness last year, but Beekman was Virginia’s best player in that game and one of the best guard defenders in college basketball. His playmaking and decent shooting are solid enough complements to his defensive prowess already, but he could really cement his draft stock if he takes another step forward as a shooting threat.
Maxwell: Post-surgery Kyle Filipowksi is intriguing to me. If he’s more consistent on the interior, makes his jumpers like I think he can, and then has more fluidity on defense, we’ll be cooking.
Evan: I’ll choose a Diaz Graham twin as well, but I’m going to go with Jorge Diaz Graham instead. I actually came away a tad bit more impressed by him than his brother Guillermo, when watching Pittsburgh’s tape from last season. I think he’s the better shooter of the duo, can pass it just as well as Guillermo, and potentially is the better defender too. Either way, both of them should be on your watch lists this year. I also want to quickly highlight Wake Forest junior Cam Hildreth. He’s vastly undervalued currently as a pro prospect, in my opinion. Hildreth’s a big guard who excels at getting downhill and creating off the dribble. I like his shotmaking ability, craftiness as a finisher, and playmaking vision. Keep him on your radar.
5. Whether it’s Anthony Edwards dropping 37 points against Michigan State or Austin Rivers ripping the heart out of UNC fans, or De’Aaron Fox vs. Lonzo Ball, fans are provided with mesmerizing matchups and performances every season. Which matchup, whether team vs. team, player vs. player, or player vs. team, are you most looking forward to?
Stephen: In a cross-conference face-off, Miami will face Kentucky in Lexington on November 28th. This game will be significant in the early part of the season for conference standings and prospect ranking. I’ve already spoken on Justin Edwards and Wooga Poplar, but DJ Wagner, Aaron Bradshaw, Rob Dillingham, Adou Therio, Zvonimir Ivisic, Ugonna Onyenso, Antonio Reeves, Matthew Cleveland, Norchad Omier, Nijel Pack, and AJ Casey are all players that NBA teams are monitoring.
Albert: Duke vs. UNC; what more do you need?
Rucker: I mean, come on guys. It’s Duke vs North Carolina, duh. But this year is shaping up to actually have some fun storylines, especially in the draft world. I’m a big fan of Elliot Cadeau and he will be tested going up against the Duke Blue Devils and their stacked backcourt.
Corey: Give me Duke vs. UNC. There is no matchup in college basketball quite like it. Fortunately, it also gives us a look at a number of NBA prospects in a high-intensity atmosphere. Gonna be a doozy!
Metcalf: FSU vs Duke. There are a ton of prospects and a lot of size. It’ll be fascinating to see how many three-guard lineups Duke runs out and if/how it matches up with the size and athleticism of FSU.
Rowan: Crossover games across conference lines often have the most interesting matchups and this year is no different in the ACC. DJ Wagner and Elliot Cadeau’s matchup in the UNC-Kentucky game gives each player a pedestal to stake their claim on draft boards. In the ACC itself, Syracuse’s guard trio of Judah Mintz, J.J. Starling, and Chance Westry will have its work cut out for them against the uber-talented Blue Devils roster, but it could be a major coming-out party for any of the three if they can pull off the upset.
Nick: Duke vs. UNC. It’s always a charged matchup when these two teams play, and it will be especially charged after both teams disappointed (to various degrees) last season. If you’re not already sold, Elliot Cadeau vs. Tyrese Proctor will be one of the most fascinating matchups in the ACC this season.
Maxwell: Duke vs. Virginia. Beekman going at Duke’s guards. Ryan Dunn and Mark Mitchell colliding. Sounds like a hoot!
Evan: It’s Duke vs. UNC for me. The best rivalry and theater in the sport is tough to beat, especially when you’ve got top prospects involved in the matchup too. I’ll throw in UNC vs. Oklahoma at the Jumpman Invitational on December 20th as well. Elliot Cadeau vs. Milos Uzan is enough to get my attention.