Coming into the 2021-22 season we knew about all of the star power in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Paolo Banchero and Trevor Keels at Duke.
Armando Bacot and Caleb Love at UNC. Keve Aluma returns to Virginia Tech while snipers Buddy Boeheim and Mike Devoe also returned to school Syracuse and Georgia Tech respectively.
Through the first couple of games of the season we are seeing some less celebrated players helping their programs to strong starts.
Here are the players that have started out well under the radar.
Alondes Williams-Wake Forest
Coming into the season I didn’t pay this transfer from Oklahoma much mind. He didn’t put up gaudy numbers in Norman and wasn’t a guard that stretched the floor.
He finishes well at the rim and makes his free throws but he felt like a role player off the bench to me.
Instead, Williams has been a scoring machine for Steve Forbes through two games.
In the Deacs season opener he went 8-9 from two and 3-3 from the line en route to a career high 22 points to go with three rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Not to be a one hit wonder, Williams came back two nights later and logged another career high of 32 points on Friday evening.
Obviously not wanting to be seen as just a scorer, he also chipped in with eight boards, four helpers and three more steals.
Williams is 22-30 from the field through two games and 21-24 from inside the arc.
This stunning efficiency took place against the likes of William & Mary and Western Carolina but it’s as impressive as it is surprising.
T.J. Bickerstaff & Quinten Post-Boston College
The 6’9 Bickerstaff, a transfer from Drexel, was a player that put up solid numbers at the CAA level but wasn’t expected to be much of a player at the ACC level.
Post, a euro recruit, arrived in Starkville prior to the 2019-20 season and never saw double digits minutes per game.
Now in Chestnut Hill, Bickerstaff is averaging 11.5 points and 6 rebounds in the starting lineup while Post is averaging 12 points and four rebounds per game in 19 minutes off of the bench.
Both players have been pivotal in the Eagles getting Earl Grant off to the right start.
Boston College hasn’t exactly navigated the gauntlet in their first two games against Dartmouth and Holy Cross but neither have one loss teams Arizona State, Virginia and Louisville.
Blake Wesley-Notre Dame
The only thing I really knew about Blake Wesley prior to the season was that he was a little celebrated player with a nice offer list.
He was also a player that Notre Dame pundits told me that Irish coach Mike Brey loved and coveted.
On Saturday, Wesley showed everyone exactly why programs like Maryland, Creighton, and Louisville were vying for his services.
Wesley broke onto the scene with a game high 21 points on Saturday as the Irish defeated Cal-State Northridge. Blake showed the ability to shoot, score in traffic and get out on the break while alleviating some of the pressure on perimeter veterans Prentiss Hubb and Dane Goodwin (who was also fantastic).
The addition of Wesley and Yale transfer Paul Atkinson may very well lead to Notre Dame’s first tournament berth since 2017.
Casey Morsell-North Carolina State
This one is a pleasure to write. I have always been a fan of Casey and watching him struggle for a couple of years at Virginia was awful.
Now with a fresh start in Raleigh, Morsell has seemingly started to put it together.
In the Wolfpack opener, Morsell put a nice game together scoring 13 points and snagging three rebounds.
That offensive output was the third highest scoring effort of his 55 career games to that point.
On Saturday, Morsell decided he wanted to set a new career high against Colgate. Morsell poured in 22 points on just nine field goal attempts.
He also went 6-8 from the free throw line, including two clutch makes late in the game. The Pack needed some Dereon Seabron free throws to pull out the victory but Morsell was clutch nonetheless.
It is just good to see a player like Morsell potentially turn his once promising career around with a fresh start. Kudos.