One of the best things about postseason college basketball is that it's a hero ball extravaganza, a time for one-man teams to unashamedly run every play down the stretch for their star. The ACC Tournament in Charlotte next week will be no exception. The following is a non-comprehensive list of players to keep an eye on, from highly-touted stars on the conference's top teams to those players who have a chance to single-handedly drag their team to a deep ACC run.
Tyus Battle, Syracuse
The junior guard is averaging a team-high 17.5 points per game in 36.3 minutes for the Orange, and has both the burden and the privilege of jacking up a ton of contested jumpers at the end of the shot clock. Still, Battle has a knack for making tough shots — like these two in an upset win at Duke in January — and is a tough ask to defend if he heats up.
Though his scoring average has decreased from a career-high 19.2 points per game a season ago, and his 3-point percentage has dipped slightly, his overall field goal percentage has seen a considerable bump from 39.9 percent to 43.7 percent. Meanwhile, the Orange as a whole ranks 256th in the country at just 70 points per game. If Syracuse is to make noise, either in the ACC Tournament or the NCAA Tournament, it'll have to be through Battle.
Ky Bowman, Boston College
Bowman, a 6-foot-1 guard from Havelock, N.C., leads the Eagles in rebounds at 7.7 per game, a testament to both his unusual athleticism and his astronomical 39.4 minutes per game. He also leads the team in points at 19.3, and assists, at 4.0, and the lack of help shows: Boston College is currently tied for 10th in the ACC at 5-12, and 14-15 as a whole. But even if the Eagles flame out in the first round in Charlotte, it should be worth tuning in for, if only to see the do-it-all guard's Sisyphus act one more time.
De'Andre Hunter, Virginia
The redshirt sophomore wing spurned NBA offers after his first playing season as a Cavalier, and has gone on to post increases in points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage and 3-point percentage (48.6 percent!).
It paid off; Hunter is riding high with the No. 2 team in the country, and is still projected by some as a top 10 pick in this year's draft, should he choose to leave. To that end, he's likely the second-most exciting player in the ACC Tournament from an NBA fan's perspective, a guy who continues to show flashes of his 3-and-D potential on one of the most consistently solid teams in the ACC.
Chris Lykes, Miami
The 2018-19 Hurricanes have had a penchant for dropping close games on the way to a 13-16 campaign. One of the lone bright spots has been Lykes, a 5-foot-7 junior guard averaging 16.2 points per game. UNC fans might remember him for his remarkable quickness, and for posting 18 points in Chapel Hill last year to help ruin Theo Pinson and Joel Berry II's senior night. Though undersized, Lykes is a dynamo, and will be one of the most entertaining players to take the court in Charlotte.
Coby White, North Carolina
For North Carolina's contribution to this list, you could just as easily have picked senior forward Luke Maye or graduate guard Cameron Johnson, the other two members of UNC's high-scoring triumvirate.
But while White is perhaps the least consistent of the three – he's shot below 50 percent in eight conference games this season – he also has the most potential to get hot, popping off for 33, 33 and 34 against Texas, Miami and Syracuse, respectively. If you've watched much of the Tar Heels this season, you know what White is capable of. If he happens to have one of those games where everything seems to fall, watch out.
Zion Williamson, Duke
You knew this one was coming. There's not much left to say about Williamson, the generational talent and presumptive No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft, without lapsing into either cliche or hyperbole. If you're a fan of basketball, or dunks, or fun, you don't need me to tell you to tune in should he be ready to play for the ACC Tournament. The secret has been out for a while: Williamson is must-see TV, and in postseason games against some of the best teams in college basketball, that will certainly be no exception.
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