College basketball is quickly approaching, as we are just weeks away from the start of the season. Phenom Hoops continues their coverage and content talking about different topics before the season starts. The latest topic we look at is the vital players to watch for each team in the ACC, as we bring you part 1 here.

These are the players that may not be the stars of a team but are going to absolutely critical to their teams this year.

Boston College: Makai Ashton Langford

Langford is one that I’m very interested in seeing what he can do this season for Boston College. He started 12 games and played in 15 games last year, and is the team’s leading returning scorer.  But the guard continues to go a bit under the radar.  Coming off a season in which he averaged 9.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game but struggled to shoot the ball at times.  With the losses the Eagles had at the guard position, Langford should see his numbers increase and we will see if his shooting percentage increase, especially from three.

Clemson: PJ Hall

Hall came into Clemson as one of the top talents in the state of South Carolina and nationally ranked.  He also got some great experience playing in 21 games as a freshman, learning more of the game, and watching Aamir Simms go to work.  Hall though now, will be depended on even more and the Tigers are going to need him to step up as a sophomore down low with Simms gone.  He had some terrific showings last year, is physical and strong, runs the floor well, and can be a double-double type player.  That is why Hall is going to be on our watch list.

Duke: Wendell Moore

Duke is loaded with talent this year, there is no doubt about it.  But what will take this program to an even high level is the production from junior Wendell Moore.  Coming in as a freshman, there was a ton of hype around Moore and he had his moments. Last year, some were expecting to see more from the sophomore but he still averaged 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds.  But as a junior and veteran, this is the time for Moore to step up and produce at the highest level.  It will not only bring a veteran leader to the floor but take the pressure off the freshmen to come in and also produce at a high level as well.  

Florida State: Caleb Mills

FSU will have some incoming talent to certainly watch but what Caleb Mills could provide for this team could be huge for the Seminoles.  FSU lost a good amount of their scoring load from last year and Mills, who is considered a veteran now, should help in that area in a big way, using his 6’3 long frame to attack the basket as well as make a mark outside from three.  FSU will want to have the ball in his hands and with his understanding of the game already playing at Houston, Mills can help this program in a huge way.

Georgia Tech: Khalid Moore

Moore was terrific in being more of that sixth man on the team for the Yellow Jackets but now, Georgia Tech will be counting on Moore, even more, to step up as a senior.  He started 11 games last year but played in 25 total, averaging 24 minutes, 4.8 points, and 3.0 rebounds per game.  All those numbers will need and should increase, as the 6’7 forward will help replace the production of Moses Wright but also be that veteran that can help this team.

Louisville: Jae’lyn Withers

Withers was a bit of a surprise early on but was incredibly consistent throughout the year.  He started all 20 games he played in and wasn’t far off a double-double averaging 10 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting 55 percent from the floor and showing his ability to step out (shot 38.1 percent from three). With a few changes from last year, Withers could be the one consistent for this team but does his role increase even more?  If so, this athletic, versatile forward could be big trouble for any opponent.

Miami: Anthony Walker

The Hurricanes are going to have firepower, especially at the guard position. Isaiah Wong and Kameron McGusty are going to be TOUGH, especially from what we have heard about Wong heading into the season.  And with a roster full of guards, that is why 6’9 forward Walker is going to be the player to watch.  He is coming off a season in which he started 16 games, playing in 26, and averaged nearly 10 points and five rebounds.  That also includes his strong performance down the stretch.  Walker, and others, will be depended on stepping up and making a presence down low, getting on the boards, and defending the post.  And like I said, with a ton of guards, Miami could be looking to play small ball.

NC State: Cam Hayes

Looking at this roster, there could be several players that you could find on this list but we are going with Hayes.  Why? With the experience he received as a freshman, it is clear that Coach Keatts is going to allow Hayes to help lead the charge this season and will depend on him to provide a balanced attack.  Scoring the ball effectively, getting others involved on the floor, and helping lead the team.  If Hayes can show what he did towards the end of the season and enter as one of the premier point guards in the conference, it will this team in a big way.