If you didn't already know, and you were forced to guess (for the sake of this exercise, let's say someone is threatening you with the prospect of watching Monique's Oscar acceptance speech on an infinite loop), who would you say is the ACC's fourth leading scorer? I'm betting you wouldn't go with Duke guard Nolan Smith.
But it's true. Smith scores 17.6 points per game, third on his team behind Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer, and fourth overall in the conference. (Malcolm Delaney tops all scorers with 20.9 points per game.) You hear very little about this, likely because Smith seems a less integral part of his team's offense than either Singler and Scheyer, and possibly because Smith doesn't seem to have the same NBA expectations thrust upon him as Singler. He's not high profile. He's just good.
Duke fans ought to be thankful for this, because it's made Smith's decision about entering the NBA draft after his junior season -- which Singler is likely to do; Scheyer, a senior, is a late pick at best, and will probably head overseas when his college career is finished -- a foregone conclusion:
Nonetheless, Smith was asked during a Friday media availability whether he'll be back. "I'm coming back next year, of course," he said.
Good news for Duke, right? The Blue Devils may or may not lose Singler, but if they do they'll be losing their two leading scorers, who alongside Smith make up a huge chunk of minutes and production in Duke's rather imbalanced attack. (Imbalanced being a relative term here, of course; who wouldn't want three players averaging 17-plus minutes for their team?) Coach K's 2010-11 team will rely heavily on freshmen whose minutes waned as the ACC season picked up speed, and having Smith around to take over point guard duties for that team will be a major boost.
Enough of a boost to keep North Carolina fans in full-on post-blowout freak-out mode? Well, that's the goal. Achieving it will be a different story.