As usual, the ACC conference should have elite talent in the 2021-22 college basketball season. The top five incoming recruits for the ACC are all ultra-talented five-stars. In the upcoming college basketball season, Duke, Florida State and Syracuse will all have five-star freshmen. Duke leads the way with three incoming five-star recruits. Who are the five-highest ranked ACC recruits for the 2021-22 season?
5. Benny Williams
In 247 Sports’ Composite rankings, the five-star Benny Williams is ranked 27th nationally. Williams is a 6-foot-8 small forward committed to Syracuse University. In addition, the Syracuse commit is ranked as the seventh small forward in the 2021 class.
First off, Williams possesses a lengthy frame that will fit right into Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense. On top of this, he had some eye-popping blocks during his time at IMG Academy. This demonstrated Williams’ athletic ability. Williams can handle ball well and has a good finishing ability. Overall, Williams can be a good defender with a good driving ability at Syracuse. For Syracuse, Buddy Boeheim alongside Williams could be a good wing duo.
— Syracuse Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) November 17, 2020
4. Matthew Cleveland
Ranked 23rd nationally, Matthew Cleveland is an intriguing five-star forward. Standing at 6-foot-6, Cleveland is the sixth-best forward according to 247 Sports. Further, the talented forward will play for Florida State in the 2021-22 college basketball season.
Cleveland fits the typical Florida State Seminole mold. To elaborate, he has daunting length, is athletic and plays well on the fast break. This is exactly what Leonard Hamilton has every year at Florida State. However, one of Cleveland’s knocks is he needs to improve his jump shot some. At the Division I level, relying on athleticism does not always work. On the other hand, Cleveland could be an exception since he has freakish athletic ability.
3. Trevor Keels
Next, Trevor Keels is the first of three elite Duke commits. Keels is a 6-foot-5 shooting guard ranked 20th nationally. In addition, he is the second-best shooting guard in the 2021 class and is the best recruit hailing from Virginia.
Keels has a somewhat stout build, this makes him a physical driver. In high school, Keels simply brushed would-be defenders right off on his way to the bucket. In addition, he is a good finisher which makes him even more difficult to contain. Furthermore, Keels’ jump shot looks the part. Truly, he should be able to score on all three levels at Duke. Perhaps Keels’ biggest weakness is his athletic ability. He is clearly good enough to be great playing college ball. However, his athletic ability is not as attention-grabbing as others, this could hurt his NBA stock later on. Ultimately, if Keels scores in bunches this will be undeniable at the NBA level.
Trevor Keels is headed to DUKE 😈 @TrevorKeels
Duke now has 3 five-star recruits in 2021:
🔷 Paolo Banchero
🔷 AJ Griffin
🔷 Trevor Keels pic.twitter.com/ZdG9Zp3xTF
— Overtime (@overtime) April 2, 2021
2. AJ Griffin
The highest-rated ACC small forward recruit is AJ Griffin. Griffin is ranked 12th in the 2021 class, and is seen as the third-best small forward. Griffin will play alongside Keels at Duke in the upcoming college basketball season.
Simply put, Griffin looks the part of an NBA guard. He has a lengthy 6-foot-7 frame playing the wing position. When Griffin handles the ball, he truly looks like a guard. He has a bag of tricks for driving including a euro step or crossover. Adding to his guard-like skill set, Griffin is a good passer. Griffin has even shown a turnaround fading jump shot at times, how this translates to the college level will be interesting. Griffin has one of the highest ceilings in the 2021 recruiting class. Overall, Griffin is a fantastic talent and could be a top ten pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
AJ Griffin is going to be a problem pic.twitter.com/NdBOcrrETz
— Tyler Mumm (@tmummhoops) March 13, 2021
1. Paolo Banchero
Finally, one of the best recruits in the entire country is Paolo Banchero. Banchero is the best forward from the 2021 class ranked third nationally. Also, the 6-foot-9 recruit is the top power forward according to 247 Sports’ Composite rankings. Banchero has grown in the last year, he could be closer to 6-foot-11 rather than 6-foot-9. The elite forward will be apart of the elite Duke trio that includes himself, Keels and Griffin.
Banchero is one of the most polished players coming out of the 2021 recruiting class. He is athletic, has a great frame and can score at any level. Further, Banchero can handle the ball and even create his own shot off dribble. Considering his size and athleticism, Banchero is also a good rebounder. The battle for the number one pick in the 2022 NBA Draft could be between Banchero and Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga. Banchero should be a fantastic replacement for the former Blue Devil Matthew Hurt.
Why did Paolo Banchero overtake Chet Holmgren for the No. 1 spot in our 2022 mock draft? Here's a little taste of how much his game has evolved in the past year. By the way, he's 6'11, 250 pounds now. Full mock draft and scouting report: https://t.co/X2qjaUYEQi pic.twitter.com/VwQpldrzTo
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) April 20, 2021
Concluding, the ACC will have some must-watch freshmen next season. Williams and Cleveland have the chance to develop into something special due to their athleticism. Mike Krzyzewski at Duke continues to recruit at a high level. Duke’s number two recruiting class will give them a talented 2021-22 squad. The trio of Keels, Griffin and Banchero at Duke could be special. However, other ACC teams like Syracuse and Florida State have their own talented freshmen and will battle for the conference championship.
All stats courtesy of 247 Sports.