What follows is an unprecedented All-ACC ballot. Relegating two of the conference’s top three scorers to second team and bypassing the league’s top three teams to find the player of the year?
In 29 seasons of ACC coverage, I’ve never considered such a combination. But here goes:
Stoglin was easier to drop because even his coach, Mark Turgeon, questions his shot selection and defense. For all his talent, Barnes’ season fall just shy of the top five.
By the way, the last ACC leading scorer not to make first team was Clemson's Terrell McIntyre in 1999.
Some might question Marshall, who averages a modest 7.2 points. But he averages 9.6 assists, which would equal the ACC record set byN.C. State’s Chris Corchiani in 1991.
Third team: Miami’s Kenny Kadji, Virginia Tech’s Erick Green, Duke’s Seth Curry, Florida State’s Bernard James and N.C. State’s Lorenzo Brown.
All freshman: Rivers, Maryland’s Nick Faust, Virginia Tech’s Dorian Finney-Smith and Boston College’s Ryan Anderson and Dennis Clifford.
All defense: Henson, Snaer, James, Virginia’s Jontel Evans and Clemson’s Tanner Smith.
Defensive player of year: In most years, Evans’ ball-hawking would merit this award. But the 6-foot-11 Henson is freakish, with spidery arms that disrupt shots and passes. He leads the league in blocked shots and rebounds.
Coach of the year: Another tough call. North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Krzyzewski, Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, Clemson’s Brad Brownell, Miami’s Jim Larranaga and N.C. State’s Mark Gottfried all distinguished themselves.
Miami’s 9-7 ACC record is its best in nine seasons of membership. N.C. State won its most league games since 2006.
But Virginia’s Tony Bennett earned my vote – go ahead with the homer accusations – by coaxing a 9-7 ACC record out of an already offensively challenged team that then lost KT Harrell and James Johnson to transfers, and Assane Sene (ankle) and Malcolm Brogdon (foot) to injury, perhaps for the season.
Player of the year: The most difficult choice in memory. Zeller and Scott are beyond worthy, their numbers strikingly similar.
Scott averages 17.9 points and 8.3 rebounds, Zeller 16.3 and 9.3. They rank 1-2 in the ACC in shooting percentage, Scott at 57.3, Zeller 54.9.
In conference games: Scott 19.6, 7.7 and 54.7 percent; Zeller 18.5, 9.7 and 56.9.
The nod in such cases almost always goes to the player on the best team, and since North Carolina won the regular season and Virginia tied for fourth, I’m guessing Zeller will prevail.
In fact, the last ACC player of the year to hail from a team that finished below third in the standings was Maryland’s Len Bias in 1986, when the Terps were sixth.
Although Krzyzewski endorsed Zeller after Carolina trounced Duke on Saturday, I voted for Scott, especially after he scored a career-high 35 points Sunday to carry the Cavaliers over Maryland, 75-72 in overtime, to all but cinch their first NCAA tournament bid since 2007.
The reasons: On many nights, Scott is Virginia’s only viable scoring option and defenses smother him. Still, he thrives, taking and making far more difficult shots than Zeller. Conversely, Zeller is surrounded by All-ACC teammates such as John Henson, Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall. Double Zeller, and those guys are bound to make you pay.
Without Zeller, North Carolina is still a top-20 team. Without Scott, Virginia isn’t a top 100 team.
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