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October 31, 2007

UNC leads the way on All-ACC teams

MORE: ACC could struggle to match last year's success

North Carolina appears to be far and away the best team in the ACC, and Rivals.com's preseason All-ACC team provides evidence.

Three Tar Heels were selected to the first team, with two-time first-team All-ACC selection Tyler Hansbrough leading the way. Hansbrough is the only first-team player from Rivals.com's 2006-07 All-American squad still in college.

The rest of the talent in the league appears to be widespread. North Carolina State was the only other team with multiple selections, landing a player on the first and second teams. Boston College, Duke, Florida State, Maryland and Virginia had one selection apiece.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski prefers to bring along his freshmen slowly, but that may not be the case this year. Two Blue Devils landed on the all-freshman team.

Here are the Rivals.com preseason All-ACC teams:

Preseason All-ACC team
G Ty Lawson, North Carolina, Soph., 5-11, 195
Nobody is faster with the ball in his hands (our apologies to UCLA's Darren Collison). Lawson also may have been better at making decisions over the final month of last season than any other point guard. His performance over UNC's last 13 games led us to believe he'll emerge as one of the nation's top players this season. He handed out 6.3 assists a game and posted a spectacular 3.4-1 assist-to-turnover ratio over that stretch. With a full season of experience and another UNC team loaded with scoring weapons, expect those gaudy numbers to continue.
G Sean Singletary, Virginia, Sr., 6-0, 185
Singletary may not be the best player in the ACC, but you can make a strong case he is the most valuable. If the explosive point guard hadn't pulled out of the NBA Draft, the Cavaliers would be facing a rebuilding year. Singletary (19.0 points per game) and departed guard J.R. Reynolds (18.4 points) combined for 48.5 percent of the Cavaliers' points last season. With Singletary back, the Cavs are capable of getting back to the NCAA Tournament. He single-handedly can take over games, and his leadership will be a big help in close games.
G Wayne Ellington, North Carolina, Soph., 6-4, 200
North Carolina lost 14.7 points per game when lottery pick Brandan Wright left school early, but there are few concerns about the Tar Heels' offense. That's because Ellington is capable of averaging much more than the 11.7 points he posted last season. A solid ballhandler with a smooth shooting stroke and plenty of athleticism, the former five-star recruit has the potential to be a go-to scorer. Look for the future NBA player to prove it with a breakthrough season.
F Brandon Costner, NC State, Soph., 6-9, 235
Meet the toughest matchup in the ACC. Costner creates problems for just about every defense in the league with his size and shooting range, which extends beyond the 3-point line. That showed in the 2007 ACC Tournament. Costner averaged 22.5 points against Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech and North Carolina (all NCAA Tournament teams) while powering the Wolfpack on their stunning run to the championship game. Costner also is a solid force on the glass, grabbing 7.3 rebounds a game last season.
F Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina, Jr., 6-9, 250
North Carolina's offense revolves around getting the ball to Hansbrough on the inside, and with good reason. Hansbrough has posted back-to-back seasons of 18 points per game, racking up 568 free-throw attempts over that stretch. Possibly the most physical player in college basketball, he craves contact and often fights his way through double-teams to get a basket or get to the line. He has a chance to be the first player in school history to be a unanimous first-team All-ACC pick three times (Duke's Art Heyman and NC State's David Thompson are the only other ACC players to accomplish the feat).
Second team
G Tyrese Rice, Boston College, Jr., 6-1, 190
G Greg Paulus, Duke, Jr., 6-1, 185
G Toney Douglas, Florida State, Jr., 6-1, 200
F Ben McCauley, NC State, Jr., 6-10, 238
F James Gist, Maryland, Sr., 6-9, 235
All-Freshman team
G Jeff Teague, Wake Forest, 6-2, 175
G Nolan Smith, Duke, 6-2, 180
F Kyle Singler, Duke, 6-8, 220
F Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech, 6-8, 215
F J.J. Hickson, N.C. State, 6-9, 240

Andrew Skwara is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at askwara@rivals.com.

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