The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

The 2017 NBA Draft – UNC Edition

The 2017 draft has come and gone, and so have the dreams of Carolina alumni Isiaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, and Nate Britt to be drafted on draft night. While this was not the end of the former Tar Heels’ journey, it certainly isn’t the start that they could have hoped for. In contrast, Justin Jackson became the 17th Tar Heel from the Roy Williams era to be picked in the first round. Tony Bradley became the 18th, which was unexpected for UNC fans given Bradley was projected to go in the second round.

Jackson was the ACC Player of the year and first team All-America, so his first-round status was not a surprise. Jackson was selected No. 15 overall by the Portland Trailblazers, but his rights were traded to the Sacramento Kings after they traded the No. 10 overall pick to Portland for their 15th and 20th picks. Jackson will be joining the Carolina alumn Ty Lawson at the Kings, which creates a UNC point guard and small forward powerhouse over in Sacramento. Forbes released an article projecting first round pick salaries, and Jackson was forecasted to make $5.2 million through his contract after two years, and $12.1 million after four years.

The Utah Jazz had their mind’s set on Tony Bradley, and they traded both their 30 and 42 picks to the Lakers in exchange for the 28th pick in order to secure Bradley. Bradley surprised the Carolina community with his entrance into the draft given he came off of the bench most of his Freshman year behind Kennedy Meeks. Time will tell if this was the right decision for the player, however being a first round pick was uncertain for him, so his future is looking good. Bradley is projected to make $3.1 million in the first two years off of his contract, and $7.7 million after his first four.

As for the UNC players who went undrafted, Meeks and Hicks became undrafted free agents. Kennedy Meeks did not have to wait long after the end of the draft to sign with the Toronto Raptors. Meeks was named by Yahoo Sports as one of the top five best players to go un-drafted, so The Raptors gained a great asset for a much smaller price then Meeks could have been worth. He signed a partially guaranteed contract. Hicks was also rumored to be a potential second round pick. The power forward ended signing with The Clippers. Nate Britt was called to play with the Atlanta Hawks in their summer league, so he too has the potential to end up in the NBA.

All in all, it was a successful year for the Carolina basketball community. To have two players go in the first round is certainly no small feat. To then have 2 more of our players sign is also a big deal. Coming off of a national championship, the Carolina basketball legacy has certainly been upheld by the 2017 NBA class of Tar Heel alumni. The Trailblazers, Jazz, Raptors, and Clippers have certainly gained a few more fans thanks to their 2017 draft picks.

This article is supported and sponsored by Wells Family Dentistry in Raleigh, NC.

Women’s Sports in Chapel Hill at UNC

As an ex-female athlete and graduate, one thing I know for sure is that the University of North Carolina is a powerhouse for all things women’s sports. While UNC may be known for men’s basketball, the university really becomes infamous thanks to its women’s soccer team reining in 22 national championships. Compare this to men’s basketball, who has just 6 national championships, yet is revered as a dynasty in college athletics. This is not to take credit away from our infamous and deserving basketball team, but it is to showcase how unique our women’s soccer team’s success is. In fact, Carolina women’s soccer is the winningest program in college athletic history if you look at national championships. For additional reference, UConn women’s basketball, who is also revered as one of the winningest programs in college history- has won 11 National Championships. Lastly, what is most impressive about the Carolina women’s soccer team is that they have won 22 out of 36 total national championships, meaning UNC has won almost 2/3 of the total possible number of championships.

This article is not a plea for the recognition of women’s sports over men’s. It is actually to showcase the breadth of women’s sports viewing options fans have in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as compared to the rest of the country. Not only does Chapel Hill have great women’s sports due to the soccer team, it also has a variety of sports for people to watch. In contrast, I live in New York City and my viewing options for women’s sports are not only minimal, but they are not easily accessible. This is partially due to their not being a major division 1 collegiate athletic program in the city (I’m sorry Columbia, you don’t count). It is also partially due to how expensive fields and courts cost, which is doubly a problem when the revenue for women’s sports is so low. New York is the city that has everything, but it is not even comparable to Chapel Hill when it comes to viewing women’s sports.

New York City gives one pro women’s sports viewing option via the New York Liberty who play at Madison Square Garden. They play during the summer after the NBA and NHL season has completed, and on average about 9,000 people attend the games. In comparison, for a good soccer game at Fetzer field, upwards of 6,500 people will attend a game. What is important to think about is the fact that Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people, yet Carolina’s stadium sells out for the biggest games. There is a market for good women’s sports viewing in Chapel Hill that is unmatched elsewhere because of the depth of talent and viewing options UNC provides.

In addition to women’s soccer, field hockey has been a strong contributor to UNC women’s athletic success. The field hockey program matches men’s basketball with 6 national championships, and they landed their latest in 2009. Women’s lacrosse is a new women’s powerhouse sport, having won 2 national championships in the past 5 years. Women’s basketball is also consistently ranked in the top 25, and have a far more accessible stadium for the casual viewer who may not want to battle the crowds or parking decks over at the Smith Center.

I think there is a direct correlation between the abundance of women’s sports at Carolina and the success of female athletes who grew up in Chapel Hill. Every year, there is a girl like me to join the new recruiting class of UNC women’s soccer. The town of Chapel Hill also send athletes to the most competitive schools in the country, and it has even had a few Olympians who grew up in the town. This is not a coincidence, and the breadth and talent of UNC women’s sports is unique to Chapel Hill alone.

This article is supported by Wake Forest pediatric dental office Triangle Pediatric Dentistry. If you are a mother or father to a young child, we strongly recommend taking them to Dr. Porter or Dr. Hollowell in Wake Forest, NC.

A 101 of UNC and the 2017 NBA Draft

Guest Article by Farrell Sweeney

Being a Carolina basketball fan means never settling, so now that we have our National Championship for the year, it’s time to look ahead to our legacy. As excited as Tar Heel nation was for our 2017 National Championship, we are now getting excited for the impending NBA careers of our 2017 graduates and players who will be entering the draft this year. It is always bittersweet to lose players before it is time for them to graduate, but Tar Heel nation is always supportive of prospects who have the potential to be the next Danny Green or Antawn Jamison representing UNC in the NBA. This year, UNC has four players working out in this week’s NBA Combine which is held from May 9-14.

2017 National Champions Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Nate Britt, Kanler Coker, and Stilman White are the 2017 National Champions whose playing terms are up. Of those graduating, Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks will be playing in the combine. Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley are the two players with eligibility left who will be playing in the combine. Carolina has the potential of regaining Tony Bradley, however Justin Jackson has officially left the University to pursue his dreams of playing in the NBA.

Junior Justin Jackson has declared he will be entering the 2017 draft without the option of returning to school for his Senior year. This is after Jackson’s decision to enter the 2016 draft with the option of returning to school, which he ultimately did to play for his Junior year. Jackson leaving this year is not surprising given his 2016 combine participation in addition to his having won a National Championship. Jackson enters the draft having played three years scoring 1,626 career points. He has also scored the second-most career points in the NCAA Tournament of any Carolina player, which is impressive given Jackson only played in the tournament for three years. He was also named the ACC Player of the Year this year joining the likes of Tyler Zeller, Tyler Hansbrough, and Antawn Jamison among others. He is currently projected to be selected in the first round among the top 10-20 picks, and will almost certainly be Carolina’s top draft pick this year.

Tony Bradley has entered into the draft but has not hired an agent yet. Depending on how he plays in the combine, Carolina could regain the Freshman center for the 2017-2018 season. Draft projections have placed Bradley as a late first round or early second round pick. Many are projecting that if the Freshman returns to UNC for his Sophomore year, he will have a good chance of being drafted in the top 15 picks. Bradley played alongside Hicks and Meeks this past year, and for the 2017-2018 season he would have the opportunity to be a standout center and the backbone of the team in a way he was unable to do his Freshman season. Bradley has until May 24th to decide whether he will continue onto the draft or remain at Carolina for another season.

Charlotte born and bred Kennedy Meeks has had an up and down four years at Carolina. He stepped up this past year after the departure of Bryce Johnson and became one of Carolina’s most reliable players. He averaged just shy of a double-double during his senior season with 12.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. He was an integral part of Carolina’s success during the NCAA tournament as well, and we can undoubtedly contribute his performance as an important part of UNC winning the National Championship. While Meeks is not projected to get drafted in the first two rounds as of now, we certainly hope he will get picked up.

Isaiah Hicks, also an NC native, is the other senior to join the NBA Combine with Meeks in the hopes of getting drafted after graduation. In the 2017 season, Hicks scored on average 11.8 points a game, and he was known for his unmatched free-throw shooting ability, having hit 113 out of 145 free throws during his tenure at Carolina. Hicks is also looking to get drafted high in the second round or as an undrafted free agent.

The biggest question mark for Carolina fans is certainly whether Bradley will be staying or leaving. Justin Jackson is has been projected to be picked up by the Heat, so any Miami based Carolina fans could have Jackson to look forward to. Hicks and Meeks are both on the fringe of being picked up late in the second round or as undrafted free agents. Players such as Danny Green have unexpectedly created the Carolina legacy in the NBA, so we can’t count any of these players out as the next alumn to carry on the Carolina legacy in the NBA. Tune into the draft on June 22 to find out where our boys are off to next.

This article is sponsored by Wells Family Dental in Raleigh, NC. If you have any oral health or dental needs, many of the dentists and doctors at Wells Family Dental graduated from the UNC School of Dentistry.

Joel Berry II Returns to UNC in an Attempt to Go Back to Back

Joel Berry II is looking to become one of the most successful UNC basketball players in the history of the program. During his freshman year, the Tar Heels lost to Wisconsin in the Sweet 16. His sophomore year was a Final Four run that ended with a loss in the national championship game to Villanova. The following year, his junior year, Berry was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four as he helped lead the Tar Heels to the National Championship.

That puts Berry’s NCAA Tournament record at 13-2. Another run to the Final Four will put Berry in unchartered territory. While Berry was a highly recruited point guard out of Lake Highland Prep School in Orlando, Florida, most did not see him becoming a player of this stature.

In fact, many were worried that he would be stuck behind Marcus Paige who was UNC’s go to scorer when Berry came in as a freshman. After slowly working into the role of the starting point guard at UNC, Berry could now go down as the winningest player in the history of the program.

With another year in Chapel Hill to pad his stats, it will be interesting to see how Berry reacts to being the most valuable player on the court at all times. For the past two years, Berry has had Paige and Justin Johnson as the leading scorers on their respective UNC teams. Now, it may be time for Berry to step up and take more shots.

We know that Berry is not going back to UNC so he can get into dental school or law school, but it is nice to see a player of his skill set come back for his fourth and final year.

Grayson Allen Will Return to Duke for 4th and Final Season

One of the most hated players in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference will be back for a fourth and final season. Grayson Allen will be a member of the 2017-2018 Duke men’s basketball team. This comes as a surprise to many as it has been well documented that Grayson Allen has had his struggles with Coach K and the Duke staff for not starting many games during his junior season.

Some are saying that Grayson Allen could rival Christian Laettner as the most hated player in the history of the league. If you haven’t had the opportunity, I suggest watching I Hate Christian Laettner which is one of the best ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries on college basketball.

If Grayson Allen continues his “tripping” ways, there is no doubt he will continue to reign as the most disliked player in ACC basketball. With many diehard ACC fans having a strong dislike for Coach K, it comes as no surprise as one of the top players on the Duke team is not a player that is looked highly upon.

In fact, there are very few Duke players that would be considered “liked” by ACC fans. While UNC fans hate all Duke players, it is not all that unusual for other fan bases to have some type of distaste for the players in the Blue Devils jerseys.

So, what do you think of Grayson Allen coming back to Duke? Do you think he will get a few technical fouls for tripping players in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill next winter and spring?

This post was supported by Triangle Pediatric Dentistry. If you are looking for the best Raleigh pediatric dentist give them a call at 919-435-7660.

Was the ACC the Best CFB Conference in 2016?

Tonight is the grand finale and the ACC’s finest will be playing the SEC’s finest. One thing is for certain, the national championship trophy will remain in the South. Another important discussion is the power of the ACC as a, wait for it, football conference. Who would have ever guessed? After adding Pittsburgh, Louisville and Syracuse all the experts thought the ACC was going to be a basketball only league. Boy were they wrong.

The ACC had an outstanding overall bowl record and proved to be the class of college football. In a down year for the SEC and Big 12 it was the perfect opportunity for the ACC to put their best foot forward. Not only did the ACC show up in a strong way during bowl season, they had the top two in votes received for the Heisman Trophy.

So, can the ACC continue as a football conference in 2017 and beyond? It will all come down to quarterback play. The reason the conference was so strong in 2016 was the strength of the QB position which was the weakness of the SEC. If the ACC quarterbacks continue to be the best in the country, the league will be in the top 3 year in and year out.

In my opinion, the Big 10 and the Pac 12 are going to struggle in the years to come. USC has an amazing QB but other than that, things are looking bleak in the Pac 12. We saw just how good the Washington QB was when he went against a great defense. The Big 10 has become a joke. In the last two years they have been blasted 38-0 and 31-0 in the College Football Playoff.

So, what do you think? Do you thin the ACC is going to be a strong football conference moving forward? Were they the best college football conference in 2016?

2017 was a Year of What Could Have Been for NC State Football

Once again, NC State football fans are thinking “what could have been?” A chip shot field goal that goes through the uprights in Death Valley and an easy interception in the end zone against Florida State and NC State would have been 8-4 going into the bowl season. An eight win ACC team with wins over two of the top 15 teams in the country.

This seems to be the thought process for NC State fans almost every year. There were numerous years when Philip Rivers was quarterback and fans were left scratching their heads. How could State beat a top 5 Florida State team and lose to an unranked Wake Forest team. Well, not much has changed in the last decade as State physically dominated Clemson in Death Valley and turns around and loses to a Boston College team that had not one in the ACC in several years.

So, what can we make of the progress of Dave Doeren? It is quite clear that the team is more talented than the Tom O’Brien teams. The defense is very impressive at times and the offense shows signs of being fantastic when they gain momentum. Is this a coach that can get NC State into the top 25 and win 9 or 10 games every year? Or, is this a coach that is going to get to second tier bowl games and continue to make excuses for balls that happen to bounce into the opponent’s arms while they stride into the end zone?

Well, we will get another year to figure that out as Doeren will be back for the 2017 season. Maybe next year will be the year it all turns around for the Pack. Just maybe…

This blog post is supported by Gladwell Orthodontics and their Raleigh Offices. The Lane family is a huge supported of NC State athletics; especially NC State Football. You will notice their logo at many of the NC State sporting events you attend.

UNC Hoops Talk Podcast: UK Preview!

In the UNC basketball preview of Kentucky, Dan DeWitt invited John Martin on to discuss the rivalry, keys to the game and some golden nuggets of information. For more on the UNC Hoops Talk podcast go here – iTunes and Stitcher.

Duke Injuries in the Early 2016-17 Season

Duke has had amazingly bad luck with injuries so far this season. Its star-studded, four player freshman class have all suffered injuries. Frank Jackson has played through a foot injury.  Marques Bolden and Jayson Tatum had foot issues as well. And the most promising freshman, Harry Giles, has yet to take the court at all.

In addition, star Grayson Allen is suffering from a turf toe injury. He has played but not practiced, and his performance has been notably affected.

Despite all of this, Duke has prospered and is one great clutch shot from being undefeated.

The Blue Devils have leaned on a core of seniors Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson, junior Allen, sophomores Luke Kennard and Chase Jeter and freshman Jackson.

With so many injuries, the Blue Devils only went 6-7 deep into December.

However, the core has proved remarkably tough-minded and united. Jefferson, heretofore a reliable rebounder and defender, has emerged as a consistent offensive force. He’s averaging 15.6 ppg and 10.3 rpg. Additionally, his coach, the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, says that Jefferson is the team’s best communicator. After Duke’s victory over Michigan State, Spartan coach Tom Izzo was suitably impressed: “There’s a lot of prep work to dealing with those guards at Duke and any time you deal with them. Then all of the sudden, I think you’ve got to give Jefferson. To me, he has been a key guy for them right now. I think he does a lot of quiet, good things, and I really like him.”

Jones came out of high school with a reputation as an elite scorer but that hasn’t been the path he’s taken at Duke. Instead he’s emerged as the ultimate glue guy, one who can still score but who also fills in at point guard when needed and who almost always takes the other team’s best offensive talent.

Recently he gave a serious lesson to Michigan State’s Miles Bridges. The Spartan’s star freshman is clearly a major talent but the smaller Jones helped limit him to 11 points and 4-13 from the floor in the Duke victory.

He’s also become one of Coach K’s favorite players: “Great example for people playing any game is that when you are all about winning, you are really important, and Matt Jones is only about winning. He is a beautiful, beautiful kid and a great leader for us.”

Those two have built their resume over several years. Kennard has emerged much more quickly.

Duke’s big guard has emerged as a legitimate Player Of The Year candidate.

Who’s playing better?

Not many people. As Duke has had injury after injury, Kennard has consistently stepped up his game. And it’s not like he’s leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

Kennard does two things better than just about anyone in the country: first, he operates in a confined space brilliantly. It’s very hard to box him in. And secondly, he always knows pretty much exactly how much room he has in that space. He doesn’t need to fly to get a shot off over a taller player; he just understands the angles brilliantly. If you give him any room at all, he can get a shot off and odds are 50-50 (literally .500 right now) that it’s going in.

The best compliment you can give someone who plays basketball is to say they’re a basketball player, that they truly understand the game.

Jackson has shown huge potential so far. The 6-3 native of Utah is highly athletic. He can drive or shoot threes. Krzyewski is confident enough in him to have called three straight plays for Jackson against the Spartans – and Jackson delivered on all three.

Jeter, who last year played a bit scared, isn’t that anymore.  He’s filled in at center and done just fine.

He’s not a scorer yet, but his defense has been perfectly adequate and he’s becoming a better rebounder.

Deeper down the bench, Duke has two developing talents in Antonio Vrankovic and Javin DeLaurier.

Vrankovic is a true big man with a great feel for the game. He has played in several games and has shown great hands and a nose for the ball.

DeLaurier is an immensely talented athlete who is learning to become a basketball player.

Those guys have been useful when called up on but they’re at the end of the bench and about to get pushed further back because the injured freshmen are returning.

Jayson Tatum was back for the Maine game in Durham but really debuted in Madison Square Garden vs. Florida in the Jimmy V Classic: he finished with 22 points and eight rebounds and showed a superbly well-rounded game. Unlike a lot of gifted offensive performers, he doesn’t mind playing defense at all.

He gives Duke another powerful offensive weapon.

And Bolden is back as well, though he’s not in game shape yet. However, the big Texan can rebound and defend and is an agile guy in the paint. He’s going to be a major factor.

Duke has now said that Giles is expected back “before Christmas” and what a present that will be for the Blue Devils.

Giles, who has had two serious knee injuries and a third procedure to clean up after the first one, has been compared to Chris Webber.

Webber was an incredible talent. If Giles is anywhere near that – and he may be a better defender – Duke is going to be incredibly potent.

In fact the real challenge may be in sorting out the rotation.

Krzyzewski traditionally prefers an eight-man rotation but with this much talent he may not be able to keep it that tight.

Duke still needs to get Allen healthy but the combination of experience and brilliant young talent means the sky is the limit for this team.

This post is sponsored by and supported by Lejeune Honda in Jacksonville, NC.

How Many ACC Players Will be on the Field for Wake Forest vs Middle Creek?

On Friday, we finally get the high school football showdown we have waited for in the Triangle. WRAL has had Middle Creek and Wake Forest #1 and #2 pretty much all year. This Friday night they will play for a chance to go to the 4AA state championship game next weekend. Both of these teams are 14-0 and have a number of athletes that could play in the ACC in the next few years. So, how many ACC players will be on the field on Friday night?

No, Dexter Lawrence is no longer at Wake Forest but there are still some D1 athletes on the Cougars roster. Xach Gill is the #9 player in the state and one of the top Defensive Tackles in the entire nation. Can you imagine him playing beside Dexter Lawrence? Well, it happened last year and it could happen again at Clemson.

Darius Hodge is a 3 star linebacker that has committed to NC State and will make a huge impact in this game.

Daniel Jackson is a 2 star safety for Middle Creek that has committed to Army. If he has a huge playoff run and is willing to open his option he could definitely end up at an ACC school.

When looking at current juniors or the 2018 class the best player on the field is going to be Wake Forest’s Devon Lawrence that will be playing running back. He is currently the #8 player in the state and a 4 star running. He too can increase his stock by having a strong showing in the last two games of the season; if the Cougars make the state championship game.

By simply looking at the ACC talent on the field it would seem Wake Forest will dominate Middle Creek. As we know, teams are comprised of many players, not just a handful. MaxPreps has Middle Creek as the #5 team in the state in 4AA football and Wake Forest as #11. Obviously these rankings mean absolutely nothing as we are down to the final four.

If you are in the Raleigh/Durham area this Friday night, you might want to make a trip down to Apex to check out the Wake Forest vs Middle Creek game. It is sure to be one of the best games of the year in 4AA football. Also, there isn’t much else going on in terms of football this time of the year.

Over the years, many businesses have helped players for both teams. In fact, Wells Family Dental, a very well know Rolesville, NC dentist’s office has assisted a number of the players that played on the Wake Forest High School football team this year.

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