ACC All-Time Series Part 1

1991: Duke players Grant Hill and Christian Laettner high-five each other in celebration during the NCAA Championship against Kansas in 1991. Duke defeated Kansas 72-65. (Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images)

LWOS is beginning a series to choose the best player, coach, and team of each power conference team in the NCAA. First up is part one of the ACC All-time series. The ACC has a storied basketball history and has two of the greatest programs in college basketball history.

ACC All-Time Series Part 1

Boston College Eagles

Best Team: 2005-06

The 2005-06 Boston College squad was part of a stretch of consistently solid years. This particular season, they went to the Sweet 16. They finished 28-8 and were ranked near the top ten all season. This was good enough to earn them a three seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Best Player: Jared Dudley

Jared Dudley played 130 games for the Eagles from 2003-07. Over his career, he averaged 15.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. He was awarded the ACC Player of the Year in his senior season, as well as being named an All-American. Dudley was a major part of the best Boston College teams.

Honorable Mention: Reggie Jackson

Best Coach: Al Skinner

Al Skinner coached Boston College from 1997-2010. In those years, he won 247 games for a winning percentage of 60 percent. He also took Boston College to the tournament in seven of those 13 seasons. Since Skinner left, Boston College has really struggled to make noise. They have had talent, but are not winning many games.

Clemson Tigers

Best Team: 2017-18

The 2017-18 Clemson Tigers finished the season 25-10 with a loss in the Sweet 16. Clemson does not have a deep basketball history, but this team was one of the most talented ever. They were well constructed with veteran guards and a solid big. Ultimately, if Donte Grantham was healthy, this team could have advanced even further. This broke a streak of six straight years without making the NCAA Tournament.

Best Player: Horace Grant

Horace Grant played for Clemson from 1983-87. Ignoring his freshman season when his minutes were low, he averaged 16.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He was also named an All-American and ACC Player of the Year. There are not many Clemson basketball players that receive national recognition.

Honorable Mentions: Larry Nance, Trevor Booker

Best Coach: Rick Barnes

Don’t blink or you might miss his tenure. Rick Barnes coached the Tigers from 1994-98. In that short time, Clemson was ranked every year, had a winning record every year, and made it to the NCAA Tournament three times. Barnes won 74 games during this stretch, giving him a 61 percent winning percentage.

Duke Blue Devils

Best Team: 1991-92

The 1991-92 Duke Blue Devils finished the season 34-2, losing by a combined six points on the road at Wake Forest and North Carolina. Duke went wire to wire as the number one team in the nation. This team helped Duke go back-to-back. Led by Christian Laettner, Duke went on to play in two extremely memorable games. First, they knocked off Kentucky who was number six in the nation, after a dramatic buzzer-beater by Laettner. Then, they rolled over the Fab Five and Michigan by 20 in the National Championship.

A close second is the 1990-91 team who knocked off an undefeated UNLV team that beat Duke by 30 in the National Championship of the previous season. This was an important step for Duke to win the National Championship and then stake their claim as one of the best teams. The other team to mention is the Class of 1982 that “saved Coach K.” Without this team, all the years after would not have happened.

Best Player: Christian Laettner

For his career, Laettner averaged 16.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. These numbers do not do his impact justice. Laettner led his team to four straight Final Fours, won two National Championships, the Wooden Award, and two All-American nods, all while being the most hated player in college basketball. No one can deny the talent that Laettner had and no one could stop him except himself. The 2018-19 team needed to do more in the postseason to be considered. 

Honorable Mentions: Zion Williamson, JJ Redick, Jay Williams

Best Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Mike Krzyzewski took over on the Duke sideline in 1980. In 40 years, he amassed 1,084 wins in 1,375 games. He is the all-time winningest coach in men’s college basketball history and he racked up five National Championships with the Blue Devils. This was the easiest pick to make on the list. 

Florida State Seminoles

Best Team: 1992-93

The 1992-93 Seminoles finished the year 25-10 and lost in the Elite Eight. They were hovering around the top ten all season but could not breakthrough. This team had five NBA players including Sam Cassell, Charlie Ward, and Bob Sura

The 2018-19 Seminoles were a very close second. They are extremely deep, which is a hallmark of Leonard Hamilton teams. Ultimately, they lost in the Sweet 16 which was the main reason for them finishing behind the 1992-93 team.

Best Player: Sam Cassell

Cassell played for the Seminoles from 1991-93. In his two seasons, he averaged 18.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. While he was a stud in college, Cassell is the best NBA player from Florida State, as well. Even though they are known as a football school, the basketball program is firing on all cylinders and there will be someone to take Cassell’s crown soon.

Honorable Mentions: Charlie Ward, Dwayne Bacon, Malik Beasley

Best Coach: Leonard Hamilton

Hamilton has been on the Seminoles sidelines for 19 seasons. Overall, he earned 382 wins for a win percentage of 63 percent. Hamilton brought back Florida State from the dead. They have been to the NCAA Tournament seven of the last twelve years and are knocking on the door of a Final Four.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Best Team: 1984-85

The 1894-85 Yellow Jackets started the run of solid seasons for Georgia Tech basketball. This team finished 27-8 and lost in the Elite Eight. They were the first Yellow Jackets team to make the NCAA Tournament in more than 20 years. Starting with that season, they rattled off nine straight tournament berths. 

The other team considered was the 2003-04 team that lost in the National Championship game. The main difference was the historical context. The 1984-85 team really started Georgia Tech basketball. The 2003-04 team got hot at the right time and streaked through March.

Best Player: Mark Price

Mark Price suited up for the Yellow Jackets 126 times. He averaged 17.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. He also was All-ACC four times and was an All-American. While he may not have been the most talented player to go through Georgia Tech, he was very consistent and part of the best Yellow Jackets team ever.

Honorable Mentions: Chris Bosh, Stephon Marbury, Jarrett Jack

Best Coach: Bobby Cremins

Cremins coached Georgia Tech from 1981-2000. He had the Yellow Jackets ranked for most of his time and made the tournament 10 out of 19 years. Cremins won 354 games for a 60 percent winning percentage. He also won three conference crowns and made one Final Four. Paul Hewitt finished a close second.

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