GREENSBORO, N.C. — A year ago, Boston College guard Olivier Hanlan made quite a splash in his first ever appearance in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, scoring a career-high 41 points in a first-round victory over Georgia Tech.
When the 14th-seeded Eagles (8-23, 4-14) are reunited with 11th-seeded Georgia Tech (15-16, 6-12) Wednesday night in the first round of the ACC Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum, it could be Hanlan’s last game in a BC uniform.
Sources with knowledge of the situation have indicated that the 6-foot-4-inch Hanlan will explore the possibility of leaving school early for the NBA. If he doesn’t sign with an agent, however, he would retain his eligibility.
And the departure of BC’s scoring leader (18.6 points per game) could trigger an exodus of several other players — including 6-2 sophomore guard Joe Rahon, a native of San Diego who averaged 9.0 points, and 6-8 junior forward Ryan Anderson, of Long Beach, Calif., who averaged 14.3 points and 7.1 rebounds — according to other team sources. Those sources indicated both Rahon and Anderson may be considering transferring to West Coast schools.
“I feel those are types of things I’m going to talk about after the ACC tournament,’’ Hanlan said following Sunday night’s 78-68 loss at North Carolina State, a game in which his team-high 29 points failed to offset the career-high 42 by T.J. Warren.
“I don’t really like to focus my attention on that, because that sometimes can distract a lot of players,’’ Hanlan said. “So I’ll take these next few days and focus on this tournament coming up and after that we’ll see what happens.’’
If Hanlan were to leave early, it would leave fourth-year coach Steve Donahue heading into the final year of his five-year contract needing to replace his top three scorers and top rebounder from this season.
It also could hasten BC athletic director Brad Bates to make a change in a program that has been in decline the last two seasons and has seen fan interest wane over that stretch, as evidenced by the disappointing turnout of 2,273 for BC’s home finale against Florida State March 4.
Contacted Monday, Bates declined to comment about the basketball program or the future of its coach.
Hanlan was asked if he felt a scoring performance like last year’s would be needed this season in the opener of the conference tourney, and said, “I don’t really look at it like that.
“Whenever I’m aggressive, and I don’t think the game too much, I feel like I play pretty good. I think we’ll have other guys step up, it’s a five-game tournament and anything can happen. We’ve seen a lot of upsets in the past week with top teams falling, so whoever shows up and whoever is making shots is going to win.’’
The Yellow Jackets defeated BC in both regular-season meetings by a combined margin of 11 points. Georgia Tech enters the tournament on the heels of victories at Syracuse, 67-62, and vs. Virginia Tech, 62-51, in Saturday’s home finale.
BC enters having absorbed losses to Florida State and N.C. State. The Eagles did topple then-top-ranked Syracuse from the ranks of the undefeated in a 62-59 overtime victory Feb. 19 at the Carrier Dome, but they would need a similarly shocking run of the table in the ACC tourney to keep their season alive.
“It has been a tough year, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of close losses,’’ said Hanlan, referring to the 23 setbacks the Eagles suffered this season. It’s the second time in Donahue’s tenure that the Eagles have lost more than 21 games in a season. They lost 22 in his second season, 2011-12.
“Obviously, it’s not the season we were expecting, but we just have to look at this ACC tournament as a new season,’’ Hanlan said. “It’s a five-game tournament and we just have to take it step by step and anything can happen, so we just have to stay positive.’’Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.