Duke tried for long stretches of last season to survive with a rotation barely stretching past six players.
That shouldn’t be a problem next winter thanks to strong six-man freshman class.
N.C. State found itself with a thin bench and only three true post players as its overmatched roster navigated a 16-17 season.
That, too, doesn’t project as an issue after the Wolfpack added two forwards last month while two more announced their intentions to remain in Raleigh for another year.
North Carolina … well, the Tar Heels didn’t have depth problems, didn’t lose anyone as an early entrant into the NBA Draft (unlike Duke and N.C. State) and still added a three-man freshman class.
Put together, it’s a fine year for an influx of talent into the Triangle. Duke will be a popular preseason No. 1. North Carolina won’t fall far, if at all, after winning the ACC and reaching the national title game last season. And N.C. State has transformed itself from a Tuesday-in-Brooklyn shoo-in to a much more promising bunch thanks to a few weeks of roster shuffling.
A look, then, at the newcomers all three schools have added for 2016-17, with data from a handful of recruiting services included for those who enjoy obsessing over those rankings.
F Harry Giles (6-9, 230; No. 2 Rivals, No. 2 247Sports, No. 1 ESPN): The Winston-Salem native suffered two torn ACLs in high school and was still a highly covered interior option. Duke has the luxury of leaning on fifth-year senior Amile Jefferson for production, if Giles has some rust to shake off come November.
F Jayson Tatum (6-8, 205; No. 3 Rivals, No. 4 247Sports, No. 3 ESPN): Like Giles, he’s played on three gold medal-winning national teams (the most recent last year’s under-19 world champions). The wing should provide far greater size than the Blue Devils enjoyed at small forward last season.
C Marques Bolden (6-10, 250; No. 11 Rivals, No. 15 247Sports, No. 16 ESPN): A late addition to the Blue Devils’ class, Bolden chose Duke over Kentucky last week and provides even more frontcourt depth to a team that enjoyed perilously little of it last season.
G Frank Jackson (6-4, 195; No. 12 Rivals, No. 13 247Sports, No. 10 ESPN): Jackson was the co-MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game in March, and the Utah native will likely start at point guard for the Blue Devils this year.
F Javin DeLaurier (6-9, 205; No. 39 Rivals, No. 39 247Sports, No. 44 ESPN): A high-energy addition, the power forward might not step into a major role immediately but projects as a useful long-term piece for Duke.
F Jack White (6-7, 225): The Aussie is a spring signee who has international experience (last year’s under-19 world championships) and is expected to bring both physicality and an outside shooting touch to Durham.
C Tony Bradley (6-10, 235; No. 26 247Sports, No. 17 ESPN): A big man who runs the floor well, Bradley has the potential to contribute regularly as a freshman as the Tar Heels seek to replace Brice Johnson’s production. With Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks still around, though, Bradley should have some time to settle into the college game if necessary.
G Seventh Woods (6-2, 180; No. 42 Rivals, No. 48 247Sports, No. 58 ESPN): A point guard who arrives on campus with an ability to push the pace? That’s a good fit in Chapel Hill. North Carolina still has Joel Berry II and Nate Britt, so it’s not as if Marcus Paige’s graduation created as gaping a hole in the backcourt as it might have otherwise. That also means Woods probably won’t be pressed into major minutes unless he’s ready.
G Brandon Robinson (6-5, 170; No. 76 Rivals, No. 59 247Sports, No. 56 ESPN): A potential defensive stopper down the line, Robinson could eventually become a do-a-bit-of-everything wing. As is the case with Woods, the Tar Heels’ returning depth suggests he won’t be required to do so immediately.
G Dennis Smith (6-3, 185; No. 7 247Sports): Put simply, he’s the guy who provides N.C. State some instant hope of a more-than-adequate replacement for Cat Barber. The point guard graduated early and enrolled at N.C. State after Christmas, but did not play as he rehabbed a knee injury. He’ll be one of top players (if not the best) for Mark Gottfried this season.
C Omer Yurtseven (7-0, 240; No. 25 247Sports): The Wolfpack didn’t have a deep front line last year (though it didn’t have much depth, period) and needed an infusion of size. Yurtseven provides some oomph inside and has recent international experience with Turkey’s under-18 national team.
F Darius Hicks (6-7, 210): Added before the Wolfpack landed Yurtseven and knew for certain Abdul-Malik Abu would remain in school, Hicks will join those two plus BeeJay Anya in a suddenly full N.C. State frontcourt.