It was a good night for the “old” ACC.
Of the conference’s historic 10 first-round picks Thursday – breaking the NBA record of eight set by the ACC in 1995 and SEC in 2012 – all but two came from the Semi-Original Nine.
That included six from the Triangle and seven from North Carolina (eight counting Pinetown’s Bam Adebayo, who played at Kentucky). Only Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell and Syracuse’s Tyler Lydon came from a school that joined the conference after 1991. Fittingly, the five lottery picks tied an ACC record set in 2005; the six players taken in the top 15 tied a conference record set in 1997.
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And that’s without Duke’s Frank Jackson, who slipped out of the first round.
The talent outflow – five freshmen, four sophomores and one junior – was a reasonable representation of the overall quality of the league that led to an all-time record NCAA tournament performance in 2016 and has accounted for two of the past three national champions and four Final Four teams over that span.
Sometimes, that kind of college performance doesn’t translate into NBA potential. In this case, it did. Duke’s Luke Kennard and Wake Forest’s John Collins came out of relative nowhere by NBA standards to play their way into the first round. In the one-and-done era – the ACC had five of them: Duke’s Jayson Tatum, Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac, N.C. State’s Dennis Smith Jr., UNC’s Tony Bradley and Duke’s Harry Giles – those guys did it the old-fashioned way on a night for old-fashioned ACC schools.
Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock