The point guard race is a tight one in ACC basketball. New and familiar faces will lead their teams this upcoming season.
15. Markus Burton, Notre Dame
Placing Burton at the bottom of the pack may come as a surprise to those who know about his high school career. Indiana’s Mr. Basketball, an AP Boys Basketball 1st Team All-State member, and 6th best player in the state of Indiana are some pretty impressive accolades.
Burton’s high school stats are even more impressive, averaging 30.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 5.1 APG. He’s just as lethal on defense averaging 3.6 SPG.
It’s not that Burton isn’t talented. It’s that he’s yet to play at the college level, and until he does we just don’t know enough about his abilities against elite competition. Hopefully, he’ll be moving up this list as the year goes on.
14. Skyy Clark, Louisville
Clark is another point guard who has seen little college playing time. After starting in the first 12 out of 13 of Illinois’s games, Clark stepped away for “personal reasons” and subsequently transferred to Louisville.
Within those 12 games, Clark averaged 7.0 PPG and 3.7 RPG. Clark will have to prove himself to not only Louisville but to ACC basketball as a whole. With little college experience and playing in a conference as competitive as the ACC, Clark will have his hands full trying to keep up with the rest of the pack.
13. Sean Pedulla, Virginia Tech
Pedulla had a nice season with Virginia Tech and came in second for Most Improved Player votes. Averaging 15.0 PPG and 3.8 APG, he is what teams look for in a point guard. He takes the ball to the rim and can find the open man.
Pedulla is consistent. That doesn’t mean he’s exceptional though. Other guards in this conference have made big plays in crunch time, while Pedulla has not. I look for him to become more of a force this season in helping the Hokies.
12. Miles Kelly, Georgia Tech
Kelly is stepping into a veteran role on this Georgia Tech team. Last year he served as the leading scorer on a squad that was mediocre at best. He scored 15 points or more in 18 games, averaging 14.4 PPG in the process.
With a new head coach in town, Kelly will have to buy into whatever Damon Stoudamire is selling. This team could transform into a more threatening force within the ACC, with Kelly at the forefront shooting lights out.
11. DJ Horne, NC State
Horne was a member of last year’s Arizona State squad that made it out of the First Four round in March Madness. In that game, he scored 20 points and was the leading scorer for the Sun Devils. Now, he’s taking his talents to Raleigh, NC to see how he fares in the ACC.
In 13 games, Horne scored 15-plus points and maintained a 12.5 PPG average over the course of the season. These characteristics could help NC State go from a good team to a great team. NC State also has transfer Kam Woods, but his eligibility to play is yet to be determined. For now, it’s Horne who is projected to be in the starting role and has some proving to do this season.
10. Ishmael Leggett, Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh landed an explosive transfer in Leggett who has the potential to shake things up within the ACC. The Rhode Island transfer averages 5.8 RPG, an impressive stat for a point guard.
Leggett also scored double figures in 28 games this past season. His scoring and rebounding talents produced three double-doubles. If his abilities are able to follow through into his ACC basketball career, Pitt could potentially have a superstar on their hands.
9. Claudell Harris Jr., Boston College
Coming from Charleston Southern, Harris averaged an impressive 17.4 PPG. In two games he had over 30 points, and in only two games did he fail to hit double-digit figures. That scoring presence could kickstart success in Boston.
Because Harris comes from a mid-major program, it’s unclear if those numbers will translate into a power conference. His numbers from behind the arc are decent, but maybe not the numbers you would like to see coming from your starting point guard. In any case, Harris is an intriguing addition to this talented point guard class and is someone we’ll be keeping an eye on.
8. Cameron Hildreth, Wake Forest
Hildreth, like Leggett, possesses an unusual ability to grab rebounds. In three games, he snatched double-digit rebounds. His ability to shoot the ball is notable as well, averaging 12.4 PPG.
Hildreth performs well in big-time games, scoring 16 points against Duke, 15 against Syracuse in the first round of conference tournament play, and 17 against Miami in the second round. Hildreth is entering his junior year for the Deacons, leaving us to look at him for a leadership role.
7. Joe Girard III, Clemson
Girard is a rare transfer on this list, having already experienced ACC basketball play during his stint with Syracuse. An offensive threat, Girard scored 15 or more points in 10 consecutive games. This guy catches fire, and the rest of the conference knows it.
If Girard can still average his previous 16.4 PPG, the Tigers might have struck gold with this transfer portal pickup. On the defensive side of the ball though, Girard could use some work to become a more versatile player.
6. Reece Beekman, Virginia
This one may come as a shock if you only look at statistics.
Beekman is your traditional point guard whose stats prove he is willing to share the ball and help his teammates score. The Third Team All-ACC recipient averaged 5.3 APG last season while also grabbing the occasional steal with an average of 1.8 per game.
Beekman may not be a superstar, but he’s got something that not all players on this list have: the ability to sacrifice. It doesn’t have to be all about him, he just makes sure the job gets done. And for that (and the All-ACC basketball honor), he ranks high on this list.
5. Nijel Pack, Miami (Fla)
The only player on this list to make it all the way to the Final Four last season, Pack did not shy away from his team’s moment in the spotlight. He helped the Hurricanes take down the powerhouse of Houston by putting up 26 points.
Look for Pack to take advantage of any and all fouls he can pick up, as his free throw percentage comes in at an impressive 88.1%. With Isaiah Wong turning pro, Pack now has the chance to step out and stand out on this Miami squad.
4. Primo Spears, Florida State
On a team that struggled, Spears shined on the court for the Georgetown Hoyas last season. He averaged 16.0 PPG and 5.3 APG, making him a threat in the shooting and passing games alike.
Spears has the potential to become a star for the Seminoles because of his ability to play against tough opponents. He scored 37 points against a talented Xavier team and 26 against a Providence team that crushed opponents throughout the regular season.
Now in the ACC, Spears is probably the most anticipated player for us on this list. Only time will tell how he adjusts to the new scenery of ACC basketball.
3. Judah Mintz, Syracuse
Mintz has something that a lot of the players on this list do not, and that is the ability to be a force on both offense and defense. Last season, he led the conference with 2.2 SPG. In a zone defense, he plays the perfect guard (something to question, since rumors are that new head coach Adrian Autry may use man-to-man as the primary defense).
The All-ACC Honorable Mention averaged 16.3 PPG with his biggest performances being against Pittsburgh and Monmouth with 24 points apiece. Mintz isn’t afraid to share the wealth either, averaging 4.6 APG last season.
2. Jeremy Roach, Duke
A veteran of the conference, we all know that Roach is capable of being a superstar for the Blue Devils. Another All-ACC Honorable Mention, he averaged 13.6 PPG and 3.0 APG last year.
He also averaged 5 field goals per game, and will most likely look to be a top scorer this year in the conference. Roach is entering his senior season at Duke, and we expect to see big things from the leader of this squad.
1. RJ Davis, North Carolina
Our third All-ACC Honorable Mention rounds out this list. Davis averaged 16.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 3.2 APG in 2022-23. He proved to be a threat on the defensive end as well, with 1.1 SPG.
Davis is a versatile player that can be an asset in any situation. While his team might not have made it to the big dance last season, that doesn’t mean he isn’t an exceptional point guard. We look to Davis to come back with a vengeance this year. He and Armando Bacot should rebound nicely and lead the Tar Heels to a much-improved season.