WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Roy Williams walked into the room, sat down at the table, adjusted the microphone and started talking. Within 18 seconds, the North Carolina coach broached the topic of Jeff Teague, and I couldn't help but wonder what took him so long.
|Jeff Teague could give Tyler Hansbrough a challenge when it comes to winning the ACC Player of the Year. (US Presswire)|
Sensational seems appropriate.
So does extraordinary.
Or whatever adjective you want to use, because there is no word (or amount of them) that would overstate the impact Teague made in leading Wake Forest to a 92-89 win over North Carolina here at the Joel Coliseum late Sunday night, and if it was your first glimpse of the burgeoning star, well, I hope you enjoyed it. Furthermore, you better get used to it. Because every season a guy emerges on the national scene without proper warning, and this season that guy appears to be Teague, the 6-foot-2 combo guard who has the Demon Deacons off to a 14-0 start and in possession of a legitimate claim to the nation's top ranking.
Do they deserve it?
"Nah," Teague answered, downplaying the significance. "Pittsburgh is playing well. Duke is playing well. I'll take wherever we're at."
The humble comment offered a glimpse into Teague's personality, which is that of a player who spent most of his high school career in relative anonymity and sort of figured that's the way it would always be. The sophomore calls himself a "late bloomer" because he was overshadowed by other guards in his class like one-and-done phenoms Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless and Eric Gordon -- in addition to Jonny Flynn (Syracuse), Nick Calathes (Florida) and Kalin Lucas (Michigan State).
In other words, Teague was off the radar, so to speak. And though it might be possible to remain that way even after scoring 30 in a win at BYU, finishing with 34 points, six rebounds and four assists against North Carolina tends to thrust a person into the national spotlight in a way that only Joe the Plumber can truly appreciate.
Thus, Jeff Teague is now a star ... whether he likes it or not.
(Jeff the Scorer?)
He's averaging 20.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists on the season, but that only tells part of the story. Teague is shooting 53.6 percent from the field, 54.1 percent from 3-point range and 84.8 percent from the free-throw line, and he's the obvious go-to-guy on this team, somebody who is faster in person than you think and seems capable of getting into the lane pretty much whenever he wants.