Sports

Here's the biggest reason the ACC will have trouble breaking its NBA draft record

Duke's Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley III on loss to Kansas: 'It hurts'

Duke's Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley III talk about the Blue Devils' overtime loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 in the Midwest Regional Final at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. Sunday, March 25, 2018.
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Duke's Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley III talk about the Blue Devils' overtime loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 in the Midwest Regional Final at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. Sunday, March 25, 2018.

The ACC would be in position to set a record for first-round NBA draft picks Thursday night if it weren't for … the ACC.

The 10 ACC players selected in the first round last year shattered the old record of eight, once shared by the ACC and SEC, and not all of it was due to conference-membership inflation: Eight of the 10 were from the Original Nine schools, pre-expansion.

If the ACC hadn't broken that record last year, it might have this year. Starting with Marvin Bagley III, there are five ACC players who appear to be locks to go in the first round, another four with a decent shot and a further seven or eight who have a chance to be picked in the second round.

All told, the ACC could end up with 15 or 16 total players drafted, which would surpass the 14 who were drafted last year, continuing an impressive run of NBA talent for the ACC.

Duke's recent success recruiting one-and-done freshmen has been a big part of the surge: The Blue Devils had three players, all freshmen, drafted in the first round last year and should have anywhere from three to five in the first round this year, with all but one a freshman. If all five – Bagley, Wendell Carter Jr., Grayson Allen, Gary Trent Jr., and Trevon Duval – go in the first round, the Blue Devils would have more players in the first round than all but three conferences had last year. That seems unlikely, but not impossible.

It's not just Duke. As many as eight ACC schools are in a position to have a player drafted, a year after nine different schools were represented. The ACC's streak of having a player drafted from seven or more schools is likely to reach five straight years and six of the past nine.

At this point, it's just a question of whether NBA teams like Allen, Trent and BC and Broughton's Jerome Robinson enough to take them in the first round and how many ACC players sneak into the second round to determine whether this is another record-breaking draft or merely an above-average one for the ACC.

Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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