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Even In July, ACC Hoops Heats Up the Court

Not that there's ever really a shortage of talent in the ACC, but this year is looking like it will be a particularly interesting year in the conference -- specifically in the state of North Carolina. The lead story is obviously the defending champs (Duke) bringing back most of its roster and adding McDonald's All-American point guard Kyrie Irving and transfer Seth Curry into the mix. North Carolina tries to bounce back from an NIT season with some highly touted McD's All-Americans of their own, led by elite two-guard Harrison Barnes. Then there's North Carolina State, which finds itself with that exceptional talent in C.J. Leslie that should give Sidney Lowe a fighting chance with the Wolfpack.

Much of the country has to wait until October for Midnight Madness to see these squads, but for those of us lucky enough to live in North Carolina, the N.C. Pro Am in Durham is the place to be. The league takes place at NCCU on Tuesday and Thursday nights, for those of you in the area. (More info on the league can be found here.)

Much of the excitement on Tuesday was for the one-on-one matchup with C.J. Leslie and Harrison Barnes in the game between Team Stackhouse (a mostly UNC squad) and Team McGladrey (a mostly N.C. State squad). A short clip of Barnes, who is wearing No. 3 in black, and Leslie, who is wearing No. 7 in white can be seen below. (Caution: some mild profanity is shouted in the background.)


The actual night was so highly anticipated -- filling the gym to its capacity at 3,100 -- that some players even had a hard time getting in.
⇥Tracy Smith has played basketball for as long as he can remember. But on Tuesday night, he experienced a basketball first: Smith had to pay someone so he could park in their backyard and get to his game.⇥

⇥"This is just crazy," said Smith, a rising senior at N.C. State. "I never thought I would ever have to pay to get to my own game. I wasn't even late, the game is at 8 and I was here at 6:30."⇥


⇥Smith was one of the fortunate ones. He said his girlfriend kept calling him trying to get in the gym, but to no avail.⇥

Barnes put up 25 and Leslie put up 21 as Team Stackhouse took the game, but both incoming freshmen from N.C. State might've been upstaged by Kyrie Irving, who managed to drop 35 points in his N.C. Pro Am debut. In the video below, Irving is wearing No. 10 in black. You'll also get a look at Seth Curry (No. 5 in white), Miles Plumlee (No. 7 in white) and Josh Hairston (No. 16 in white).


The N.C. State-UNC showdown repeats itself again next Tuesday. Carve out a parking spot early if you plan to attend. (Second video via↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.