NC State's Howell tops ACC power rankings - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

ACC Player Power Poll: Hungry like the Wolf(pack)

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Virginia Tech's Erick Green, left, leads the nation in scoring. (Source: ACC Digital Network) Virginia Tech's Erick Green, left, leads the nation in scoring. (Source: ACC Digital Network)

(RNN) – Hard work. Inspiring plays. Consistency. Ice water in your veins. An inability to walk through doorways without ducking. These are the essentials to success in college basketball.

More importantly, these are the things that get someone on the Atlantic Coast Conference Player Power Poll.

For its inaugural release, here's a brief overview of what we at PPP will be looking for when making the weekly rankings.

What have you done for me lately?

More than a just a great Janet Jackson song. Players will be rewarded for outstanding performances in the most recent games. This will not only keep the list fresh and volatile, it will … OK, that's all it does.

Points don't matter

Points are like a Democrat in Alabama – they don't make a difference. OK, they're not that insignificant, but there are plenty of other factors, too. For instance …

Winning!

(Insert your own dated Charlie Sheen joke here.)

A loss doesn't necessarily keep you out of the rankings, but it sure doesn't help.

Hustle, loyalty, respect

This isn't the place where guys can skate by on their ability. We want to see players who love the game and aren't afraid to mix it up, take the hard foul or do the dirty work needed to get their team over the top.

These are more guidelines than anything else; ultimately there's not going to be any set method to the madness. Will it be unfair sometimes? Sure. Biased even? You got that right.

But we at the PPP Command Center (it's a table at the Golden Corral) will do our best to recognize the best 10 (or so) the conference has to offer, in all its forms, every seven days (or so).

Without further Krzyzewski, the ACC Player Power Poll:

1. Richard Howell, NC State Wolfpack

Last game: 16 points, 18 rebounds vs. Duke (W 84-76).

Howell took down 18 boards against the No. 1-ranked team in the country – this guy cleans more glass than Windex. He goes after every rebound, every loose ball and every player driving to the basket that gets near him.

The 6'8" senior plays hard but not out of control – easier said than done – and does not need the team to run plays for him to score. Against Duke, he got 10 of his 16 points after offensive rebounds.

Many teams have a hustle guy who their fans love. Few have a guy as talented as Howell to fill that role.

2a. Kenny Kadji, Miami Hurricanes

Last game: 14 points, five rebounds, three 3-pointers vs. Maryland (W 54-47).

The dynamic big man for "The U" has picked up his scoring since teammate Reggie Johnson went down with a broken thumb. In his last six games, he averaged nearly 15 points and helped his team to a 3-0 start in ACC play.

Kadji, at 6'11", usually draws a big defender then makes him run across the court all night, taking shots from everywhere. The Miami senior can make the spectacular play on defense, too; on Thursday he blocked two shot attempts in a row by UNC's J.P. Tokoto, ending the Heels' chance at a comeback.

2b. Julian Gamble, Miami Hurricanes

Last game: Eight points, nine rebounds, four blocks vs. Maryland (W 54-47).

Gamble had only played more than 20 minutes once this season before Johnson got hurt. Since then, he's averaged 28-plus and made the most of that time.

A classic banger (center), he has averaged 9.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in the last seven games. More importantly, Gamble gives Miami the low-post presence needed for its half-court style of play, and frees Kadji to spread the floor on offense.

4. P.J. Hairston, North Carolina Tar Heels

Last game: 23 points, four rebounds, four 3-pointers at Florida State (W 77-72).

UNC fans have been waiting for an "I'm not letting my team lose today" performance from star player James Michael McAdoo. It looks like Hairston got tired of waiting.

With the Heels already dropping their first two games of ACC play, Hairston responded with a career-high scoring output Saturday. The sophomore made four of his nine 3-point attempts and chipped in four of the team's final eight points to secure the win.

5. C.J. Leslie, NC State Wolfpack

Last game: 25 points, six rebounds, two blocks vs. Duke (W 86-74).

Saturday featured the two best teams in the ACC and the conference's two best players: Leslie and Duke's Mason Plumlee. The two guarded each other most of the game and neither disappointed, with Leslie getting a little more help from his team.

On Feb. 7, do whatever needs to be done and get to a TV. You won't want to miss Round 2 of this heavyweight fight.

6. Erick Green, Virginia Tech Hokies

Last game: 28 points, five rebounds, two steals at Georgia Tech (W 70-65 OT).

PPP has a hard time hiding its admiration for Green; there's something about a great player on a hard-luck team that tugs at the collective heartsleeve – whatever a heartsleeve is.

Green leads the nation (yeah, the whole country) in scoring and chips in nearly five rebounds and five assists to boot. And there's not an official statistic for would-be assists (good passes that lead to good, but missed, shots), but we're pretty sure he'd be high up the rankings in that, too.

7. Devin Booker, Clemson Tigers

Last game: 12 points, eight rebounds, two blocks vs. Wake Forest (W 60-44).

Consistency is this guy's middle name. His parents had spectacular foresight.

You can write in at least a 12 and eight night for Booker every time out, and a special kudos goes out to him for stepping up his free throw shooting (15-for-19, 79 percent) in the last three games.

8a. Mason Plumlee, Duke Blue Devils

Last game: 15 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, two blocks at NC State (L 84-76).

Plumlee is one of the most dominant guys at any position in the ACC. The Blue Devils won't be losing much, so expect him among the rankings' regulars.

8b. Ryan Anderson, Boston College Eagles

Last game: 12 points, 10 rebounds at Wake Forest (L 75-72).

A bit of an off night for the super sophomore against Wake (5-for-12 shooting, 2-for-6 free throws). He makes the list because he gets 12 and 10 on an off night.

10. Ryan Kelly, Duke Blue Devils

Last game: Did not play at NC State (L 84-76).

How does a guy make the list when he's out hurt? Well apparently, he has to be a 6'11", deadeye 3-point shooter (52 percent) and a shot blocker who solidifies one of the best defenses in the country.

That, and his first game out Duke lost its first game of the season. So, yeah, he's important.

Rimmed out: Okaro White, Florida State; C.J. Harris, Wake Forest; Joe Harris, Virginia; Alex Len, Maryland; James Michael McAdoo, UNC; Milton Jennings, Clemson.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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