With the NBA Draft just a week away, here’s a look at some of the top ACC prospects with their names in this year’s upcoming NBA Draft on June 23. Before the rankings though, here’s how the ACC has fared with terms of draft picks in the NBA in the last 10 years.
Since 2005, the ACC has had 102 players drafted by the NBA. North Carolina, Duke, and Syracuse account for 42.2% of players drafted in to the NBA. North Carolina boasts the most players drafted from the ACC with 17, Duke is 2nd with 14 players, and Syracuse is 3rd with 12 players.
1. Brandon Ingram | SF | 6’9 | 190 lbs (Freshman)
Brandon Ingram was stellar for Duke in his freshman season averaging 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal in 36 collegiate games before making the jump to the NBA. Ingram, is probably the best player in the draft behind LSU’s Ben Simmons. At 6’9, 190 pounds, Ingram has talked mightily of bulking up and eating everything he can in order to prepare for the grueling NBA schedule. Ingram eclipsed 20+ points in 14 games last season for Duke, his best performance of 26 points, 14 rebounds (8 offensive), 2 assists, and 2 blocks came against Georgia Southern on Dec. 15.
Projected to go #2 to the Los Angeles Lakers, it could be an interesting mixture of players as they’ll have De’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle to work with around Ingram to make the NBA transition a smooth one. Can the Lakers win right away with the addition of Ingram? Survey says…no. Ingram is very young and raw and as noted above, he has an NBA body that he needs to grow in to, expect his first season to be a bit sloppy.
2. Brice Johnson | PF | 6’10 | 230 lbs
Brice Johnson was ready to quit basketball when he got to UNC, now he leaves as one of the most explosive UNC players to step foot on the court. Johnson played a key role in the TarHeels run to the NCAA Final Four in 2015. Johnson averaged 17.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game for UNC in his final season. His best performance came against Florida State where he scored 39 points, grabbed 23 rebounds (7 offensive), had 3 steals and 3 blocks on 14-16 shooting from the field.
Johnson is an energy guy who needs the ball on offense before you sense his presence on the defensive end. Most boards have Johnson going as a late-first rounder to mid-round first pick. That could land Johnson on any team looking to retool their roster for another playoff run (Boston). Johnson is very athletic and active on both ends of the floor but he will definitely need to put on some muscle in order to adjust the physical NBA game.
3. Demetrius Jackson | PG | 6’1 | 201 lbs (Junior)
Demetrius Jackson declared early for the NBA Draft after just 3 years at Notre Dame. Although he’s only 6’1, Jackson makes up for that with his wingspan of 77 inches and overall strength as a point guard. At Notre Dame last season, Jackson led the Fighting Irish to a 24-12 record behind 15.8 points, 4.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. His best performance was against St. Francis (PA) where he scored 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Jackson has the ability to penetrate, create a shot for himself or others in the paint and can finish at the rim as well. Jackson has room to improve his passing ability as his 4.7 assists per game last season attests as well as his 3-pt shooting, which saw a decline from sophomore to junior year. But, on the bright side, as a potential 1st round pick, Jackson could get that opportunity with better talent around him on an NBA team.
4. Malcolm Brogdon | SG | 6’5 | 215 lbs
Malcolm Brogdon was the ACC Player of the Year last season and is probably the best overall defender in this ranked group of players. Brogdon improved every year in his time at Virginia making them one of the best defensive teams in the country. While there’s room for improvement in his 3-pt shooting, Brogdon can easily make up for his offensive woes on the defensive end with his ability to guard the basketball. At 6’5, 215 pounds, he’s also got that NBA prototypical body: in other words, Brogdon is ready for the NBA.
Per Sam Vecenie’s projections, Brogdon is expected to go early 2nd round, possibly the 40th pick to the Pelicans. The Pelicans could use a defender to pair with big man Anthony Davis in the paint in New Orleans. Currently, the Pelicans lack any depth at the guard position as well.
5. Malachi Richardson | SG | 6’6 | 205 lbs (Freshman)
Malachi Richardson had a coming out party this past March for the Syracuse Orange and that’s why he’s currently a draft favorite. During the NCAA Tournament, the freshman scored 21 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, and had 3 assists to lead the Orange past Dayton 70-51. The following week, the Orange upset UVA 68-62, again led by Richardson, who scored 23 points (21 in the 2nd half), grabbed 7 rebounds, and 2 steals. In the Final Four against UNC, the Orange fell short 88-63 but that didn’t stop Richardson either, as he scored 17 points and grabbed 5 rebounds.
Richardson is an explosive player, particularly when the stakes get high. He’s got range behind the arc and he can get to the rim with ease, something NBA scouts really love. Richardson is projected to go mid-to-late first round.
6. Chinanu Onuaku | C | 6’10 | 245 lbs (Sophomore)
Chinanu Onuaku is very young but he’s very talented defensively. The Louisville product was a force in the paint this past season, averaging 2 blocks per game. He was 4th in the ACC this past season with 62 blocks and had at least 1 block in all but 4 games for the Cardinals in 2015-16. Onuaku’s best performance for Louisville last season came against Pittsburgh where he had 18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals.
Onuaku is projected to go possibly late 1st-early 2nd round. He could definitely add some interior depth to an NBA roster but his offensive game still needs developing.
7. Michael Gbinije | SG | 6’7 | 200 lbs
Michael Gbinije started his collegiate career at Duke before ending it at Syracuse, and unlike most transfers, Gbinije found more success at his second destination than his first. Gbinije led the ACC in total steals with 70, was 3rd in total assists with 159, and 5th in the conference in scoring per game with 17.5 points per game. His best performance last season came against NC State on Feb. 27 where he scored 34 points behind 8 three pointers, 6 assists, and 3 blocks.
Gbinije is a big guard with a lot of ability. He could see time at both the guard and forward position in the NBA. He’s projected as a late 1st round to early 2nd round pick.
8. Sheldon McClellan | SG | 6’5 | 200 lbs
Sheldon McClellan is another ACC guard that saw success as a transfer. After transferring from Texas after the 2012-13 season, McClellan picked up right where he left off in Miami. Despite receiving a NBA Draft combine invite late, McClellan is ready to show he belongs in the NBA.
McClellan is a very efficient scorer from the guard position a he shot 50.4% from the field last season as a senior. He’s projected by most as a second round pick. His best performance last season came against Utah where he was 7-7 from 2-pt range, 3-5 from 3-pt range to the tune of 27 points and 4 rebounds.
9. Anthony “Cat” Barber | PG | 6’2 | 190 lbs (Junior)
“Cat” Barber was the lone bright spot for the Wolfpack all season. Barber’s decision came at a crossroads as well, one where he really wants to raise his daughter and set an example for her. He set the bar exceptionally high this past season for her at NC State before entering his name early in the NBA Draft..
Barber averaged 23.5 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per game as a junior last season. His best performance came against Wake Forest on Feb. 13, where he scored 38 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and had 3 assists; Barber was 17-20 from the FT line . Barber is a very aggressive guard who can get to the rim and finish with or without the foul. In 2015-16, Barber made 205 2-pt field goals (2nd in the ACC) and made the most free throws (237) in the ACC to the tune of 8.3 free throw attempts per game.
Barber is projected by DraftExpress to go in the late 2nd round.
10. Marcus Paige | PG | 6’2 | 175 lbs
Marcus Paige saw his numbers dip a bit in 2015-16 but it shouldn’t discourage the senior from NBA success, not to mention he owns the greatest shot made that nobody will remember thanks to Villanova’s Kris Dunn. Paige started the season with a broken hand, causing him to miss 3-4 weeks but Paige and the Tar Heels still managed to make the NCAA Championship game before their much talked about buzzer beater loss to Villanova.
Paige’s best performance last season came on Feb. 4 against Florida State, where he scored 30 points, dished out 5 assists, and grabbed 5 rebounds. Paige made 5 three pointers in the game. Paige is projected to be drafted in the late 2nd round by DraftExpress but don’t be surprised if Paige doesn’t hear his name called at all.
The NBA Draft is on June 23, live on ESPN at 7 PM EST! For a more comprehensive mock draft, click here!