There’s a reason coaches go on the road to watch potential recruits play. It’s because you can tell more about a player, regardless of the sport, by seeing him in person than on video.

That’s why it shouldn’t be a surprise that so many ACC basketball coaches have turned to conference rivals to help reload their rosters off the transfer portal.

They’ve seen them play. Some multiple times. And they know what they’re getting. Especially those who put up big numbers last season in games against their new teams.

If you can’t beat ‘em, get ‘em to join you.

Fifteen ACC players have done just that so far this offseason. Two in the past 2 days. With the potential for more on the way.

Here’s a look at the 5 that have the potential to make the greatest impact in 2024-25.

Jaeden Zackery, Clemson (from Boston College)

Zachery has been a productive player in the ACC for 3 seasons. So you can bet that Brad Brownell was already well aware of what the 6-foot-2 combo guard could do before seeing him 1st-hand in the opening round of the ACC Tournament in March.

But if there was any doubt, his 22-point performance in BC’s upset of the Tigers clearly sealed the deal for Brownell when he took to the portal in search of a replacement for departing guard Joseph Girard.

Zachery has the kind of complete game that, like Girard, should fit nicely into Clemson’s system, particularly if lead guard Chase Hunter decides to return for a 5th season. He averaged 11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists for the Eagles last season while leading the team with 63 steals and shooting 41% from 3-point range.

TJ Power, Virginia (from Duke)

TJ Power? The same TJ Power who averaged only 2 points and 6.7 minutes per game for the Blue Devils last season?


That same TJ Power.

If you’re confused as to why he’s on this list, I refer you to Tyler Nickel of Virginia Tech. They’re very similar players. Tall sharpshooting wings who didn’t get a lot of run on their respective teams as freshmen.

Nickel also averaged only 2 points and around 6 minutes per game while shooting just 22% from 3-point range for North Carolina in 2022-23. Then he transferred to Tech, saw his court time go up to around 24 minutes and his 3-point percentage rise to just under 40% while averaging 8.8 points per game.

The bottom line is that shooters need to shoot. They need to get into the flow of the game and get into a rhythm to be effective and you can’t do that sitting on the bench for long stretches. Given extended playing time, Power has the potential to give the offensively-challenged Cavaliers the kind of perimeter threat they’ve lacked over the past few seasons.

Jalen Warley, Virginia (from Florida State)

While Tony Bennett is banking on Power’s potential to bolster his team’s scoring punch, the addition of Warley gives the Cavaliers an experienced, proven performer to fill the void left by Reece Beekman’s entry into the NBA draft.

Beekman wasn’t just the 2-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He was also UVa’s point guard and leading scorer. And Warley has the potential to fill all those rules.

A former top-50 recruit who was recruited by Bennett out of high school before committing to the Seminoles, Warley is coming off a junior season in which he averaged a career-high 7.5 points per game to go along with 2.8 assists and a 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s played in 96 college games with 58 career starts.

Although he’s a natural point guard, he has the size at 6-7 and the quickness to defend multiple positions, which makes him a natural for Bennett’s style of play.

Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, NC State (from Louisville)

Kevin Keatts has had good luck with big men who started their college careers at Tennessee. So now that Wolfpack cult hero DJ Burns has used up his eligibility, the State coach has gone to the well with Huntley-Hatfield.

The 6-10, 240-pound big man played a season for the Volunteers before transferring to Louisville, where he was one of few bright spots on a team that will go down as one of the worst in ACC history. He averaged 12.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last season while shooting 56.7% from the floor.

He was especially good against the Wolfpack.

Huntley-Hatfield posted a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double on Jan. 13. He then put up 17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals while making the Wolfpack work for an opening round of the ACC Tournament – a game that turned out to be the springboard for an improbable run to the Final Four.

The addition of Huntley-Hatfield became even more important when power forward Mohamed Diarra unexpectedly entered the NBA draft.

Maliq Brown, Duke (from Syracuse)

Jon Scheyer saw all he needed to see from Brown on Jan. 2 when the athletic 6-8 forward went off for a career-high 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting, to go along with 7 rebounds against the Blue Devils at Cameron.

He should fit nicely into the power forward spot vacated by the transfer of Mark Mitchell.

Brown is a prime example of the theory that a player’s greatest improvement comes between his freshman and sophomore years. After averaging 5.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in about 20 minutes per game off the bench in 2022-23, his numbers jumped to 10.3 points and 5.9 rebounds last season while shooting an efficient 69.8% from the floor.

He’s also a strong defender, which would end up being his greatest asset to what promises to be another loaded Duke team.