My prediction: McAdoo and Bullock go; Hairston stays; Wiggins does not come. Still, we are a top 20 team, compete with Duke and Syracuse for the ACC championship, and get to the sweet 16 or maybe even the elite 8. Starters: Paige, McDonald, Hairston, Johnson and Hicks. Top reserves: Britt, Tokoto, Meeks, James and Simmons. First team all-ACC: Hairston. Second team: Paige. First team all-freshman team: Hicks. Most improved: Johnson.
Don’t underestimate Johnson’s potential improvement. He needs to gain strength and develop as a defender (where he was admittedly terrible this year), but his offense is on par with and rebounding better than McAdoo’s. Adjusted (per 40 minute) stats: Johnson: 20.5 points and 12.1 boards per 40 minutes; McAdoo 19.3 points and 9.8 boards per 40 minutes. If he works hard in the weight room and on his defense, he can be the most improved player in the conference. Hairston will have a break-out season, Paige will be much improved, and Leslie will shoot 40% from three and be a pretty good defender.
The four returners who will be starters averaged 72.6 pts and 27.8 boards per 40 minutes; Hicks will be at least a 12/12 per 40 minute guy, so those starters project to be at 85 and 41 per 40 minutes. This year’s starters, after going small, were at 73 and 29 (versus 64 and 32 before). So the team will be more productive offensively and on the boards; defense will be the challenge and the key. We lose our two best on-ball defenders in Strickland and Bullock and our quickest off-ball defender in McAdoo. Guys will need to step up; I think they will.
I hope I am wrong about roster losses and Wiggins. If we keep Bullock and get Wiggins, we compete for the National Championship; losing McAdoo won’t change that. If we keep both and get Wiggins, we are pre-season top 3 but we start to risk harmful discontent with playing time.