- Jay Bilas, College Basketball analyst
Here is a quick look at the top freshmen making an impact in the ACC:
• Jeff Allen, Virginia Tech, 6-7, 220
Averages: 14.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in four games
Breakout game: 19 points, 10 rebounds and four steals in debut against Elon
Outlook: Allen is built like an offensive lineman, but he's also a darn good basketball player. He is no ballerina. He knows his way around the lane, and when he gets into a defender, seismologists in California can detect it on a Richter scale. Allen has great hands, quick feet for his size and he plays with really good energy. If you think he's as slow as his build would suggest, you'll be looking at his back as he handles it, runs and spins around you. If you think you can body him up, you'll be looking at the ceiling lights waiting for the trainer to hold up fingers.
Freshman fact: Allen wears the number 0, prompting coach Seth Greenberg to call him "The Big Donut." He is well-traveled and well-schooled, having played at DeMatha, Oak Hill Academy and Hargrave Military Academy. Allen has been compared to former New York Knick Anthony Mason.
• J.J. Hickson, NC State, 6-9, 242
Averages: 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in five games
Breakout game: 31 points on 12 of 12 shooting in debut against William and Mary
Key stats: Leads NC State in scoring and rebounding; shooting 75 percent from the field
Outlook: Hickson is a beast in the lane, and is the best rookie interior scorer and rebounder in the ACC. He combines power with a strong desire to dominate, and he works hard. He gets off the floor quickly, and he can get up to block shots, grab rebounds in a crowd or extend over a defender. Hickson is just scratching the surface of how good of a college player he can be.
Freshman fact: Hickson was a high school teammate of former Georgia Tech point guard Javarris Crittendon, and he had the opportunity to "replace" Dwight Howard at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy.
7dESPN The Magazine