Unfortunately, the college basketball season is ending quickly. In the Atlantic Coast Conference, most teams only have five or six games left. That means, it is time to start determining the ACC awards.
Predicting the ACC Awards
The first team is relatively self-explanatory. There are some arguments that could potentially be made, but they fall flat. Lately, Jordan Nwora has really struggled, but he still is close to leading the conference in scoring. Mooney is a monster, and Hughes scores at will.
The second and third team are really tough to put together. Vassell, Johnson, and Diakite lead the second team as veteran presences that have held their teams together through tough stretches. Devoe and Simms are on bad teams, but have played really well in some games.
The third team is a collection of guys that have popped in big moments, but been no shows in other games. Each one of these guys has laid a dud, but they have also won their team games. Stanley and Forrest are the most notable here.
Player of the Year
Vernon Carey Jr.
This feels like a two-person race at this point. Carey has been a monster all season; even his bad games feel gigantic. He is the third leading scorer and third leading rebounder in the conference with 17.6 points and 8.7 rebounds. He has been the go-to guy for Duke, who sits atop the conference.
The only other argument that can be made is Tre Jones. He is the leader of the Blue Devils and has taken a big step forward from last year. Jones averages 15.8 points, 6.6 assists, and 4 rebounds. He is also one of the best defenders in college basketball. Expect these two Blue Devils to split the vote and maybe even the award.
The two guys that were supposed to contend for this were Cole Anthony and Jordan Nwora. Both have struggled mightily this season and gave away their chances for this award.
Rookie of the Year
Vernon Carey Jr.
Obviously, this race is not close. See above. If you want other names mentioned, Cassius Stanley, Cole Anthony, Landers Nolley II, and David Johnson have played well, but no one other than Carey should receive a vote here.
Coach of the Year
This is a close race. Hamilton wins because he lost a ton of talent from his Seminole team and they arguably got better. A team projected to finish in the middle of the pack in the ACC now has a chance to win the regular season crown. He also utilizes a ridiculously deep roster that seems to see individuals improve every game.
The other two coaches that deserve some recognition here are Mike Krzyzewski and Tony Bennett. Coach K is replacing three top ten picks and has helped a very young team grow quickly. Bennett and Virginia was dead in the water early in conference play, but have since turned it around and seem to be a tournament team. This is after losing their three best players to the NBA as early entrants, which was not part of the plan for Bennett.
Defensive Player of the Year
Diakite is a monster defensively. He can guard any big and has the ability to switch onto guards. He leads the conference in defensive win shares at 2.3. It is only fitting a Cavalier wins this considering they have the best defense in the nation. See the All-Defensive team for others that could receive votes here.
Most Improved Player
This is another tough award. The reason Boeheim gets the nod is because he has had no choice but to be great. Syracuse plays six guys and only three can really score. He has gone from 6.8 points per game to 15.6 points per game. It is safe to say, if he wasn’t there to help Hughes, the Orange would be in Tar Heel territory.
Other players that deserve mentioning here are Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Aamir Simms, and Garrison Brooks.
Sixth Man of the Year
There really are not many options here. In order to qualify for this, you may not start more than a handful of games. Patrick Williams has been outstanding for Florida State this year in his sixth man role. He is averaging 8.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
The other option is David Johnson. Johnson has been a huge boost off the bench for the Cardinals. He almost single-handedly beat Duke and has several other impressive games. He is averaging 6.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. Realistically, this award can go either way, but it would surprising if one of these two do not win.
First Team All-Defense
Mamadi Diakite, Kihei Clark, Tre Jones, Dwayne Sutton, James Banks III
This team was picked almost exclusively on defensive win shares. Obviously, there are several other factors that contribute to a well-rounded defender. The two Cavaliers are head and shoulders above the rest in terms of win shares. Jones is probably the best on-ball defender in college basketball. Sutton is a Swiss army knife for Louisville. Banks is one of the best shot blockers in the nation.
Notable omissions are Trent Forrest and Markell Johnson. Leaving off Forrest was impossibly hard, but figuring out who to take off so he could make the team is even harder.
First Team All-Freshman
Vernon Carey Jr., Cassius Stanley, Cole Anthony, Landers Nolley II, Joseph Girard III
This team is obviously led by the Blue Devils duo. Nolley has been outstanding for Virginia Tech and leads them in scoring. Girard has been impressive for the Orange registering plenty of points and steals per game to earn this spot. Anthony sneaks onto this team based off of numbers, but they fall flat when looking at team record. The Tar Heels record is similar when Anthony is off the court versus when he is on it.
David Johnson and Patrick Williams deserve consideration here, as well as Wendell Moore Jr.
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