ACC Basketball

ALL-ACC First, Second and Third Teams | 2015 Edition

(Dennis Nett | dnett@syracuse.com)

Another regular season is done and before we look ahead, let’s talk about the players that made a difference in 2014-15. The ACC player of the year award was easy, the rest of the list was tough in spots. There are players I wish I had higher, others I’m still not sure about, but here it is.

ACC PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Jahlil Okafor, Duke (Fr)
This one was easy. No player in the Atlantic Coast Conference drew the attention that Okafor did. Despite drawing double teams nearly every time he touched the ball…he averaged 17.6 points per game, shooting a league best 67% from the floor. He grabbed 9.2 rebounds (first in offensive rebounds with four per game) and was sixth in blocks (1.4)

FIRST TEAM

G – Jerian Grant, Notre Dame (Sr)
No player was probably more important to his team than Grant. I’m not sure the Irish finish above .500 in the conference without him. He was fifth in the ACC in scoring (16.8), hit nearly 50% of his shots from the floor, led the league in assists with 6.7, was tied for fifth in steals (1.8) and had the ACC’s best assist-to-turnover ratio (3.2).

G – Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia (Jr)
His stats won’t pop out like other first team players, but he did average 13.7 points per game and finished second in the league in FT percentage (86%). However, he makes it on the first-team because he was by far and away the best on-ball defender in the league, always guarding the best guard/wing on the floor and doing it well.

F – Justise Winslow, Duke (Fr)
I’ll be honest, if Justin Anderson didn’t miss eight games, this spot would belong to him. Yet, it’s still a surprise to see Winslow here. I went back and forth on a variety of players here, but in the end, outside of Jerian Grant, I couldn’t find a guy better at setting the tone of the game than Winslow. Once he got healthy, he became unstoppable. Since late January, he’s averaged 15.3 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game. He’s shot 48% from the floor and has hit more than 50% of his shots in nine of his last 11 games, hitting 40% from three overall.

F – Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse (Sr)
After averaging about four points per game in his first three years at Syracuse, Christmas exploded in the post as a senior, averaging 17.5 points per game. He also pulled in 9.1 rebounds, hit 55% of his shots from the floor and finishing second in the conference in blocks with 2.5 per game.

F – Jahlil Okafor, Duke (Fr)
I already talked about him above, so what more can I say? Offensively, I have never seen a more polished freshman big man since I started watching college basketball 30 years ago.

 SECOND TEAM

G – Olivier Hanlan, Boston College (Jr)
He led the ACC in scoring with 19.4 on a truly bad Boston College team. In the final ten games of the regular season he average 25.4 points per game. The Eagles only won four games in the ACC. Without Hanlan, they win none. He was 8th in FG percentage (46% from floor), 8th in 3-pt shooting (36%) and he did it playing the most minutes at 37.7 per contest.

G – Quinn Cook, Duke (Sr)
Without many folks paying attention, Cook actually tied teammate Jahlil Okafor in points per game in ACC games at 16.8 PPG. He hit on 46% of his shots from the floor, was fourth in three-point shooting percentage (40.4%) and was first in threes made with 2.8 per game. His 88.5% FT shooting percentage would have been the best in the ACC, but he didn’t take enough to qualify (he was 77-87 from the line).

G – Justin Anderson, Virginia (Jr)
Again, Anderson would have easily been on the first-team if it wasn’t for the eight games missed. He averaged 13.4 points per game, grabbed 4.3 rebound and dished out two assists per contest. He hit a stunning 48.4% of his threes, but thanks to the time off, failed to qualify.

F – Montezl Harrell, Louisville (Jr)
Arguable my favorite player in the ACC, only because I’m a sucker for enthusiasm and I love the fact he wanted to originally play for Virginia Tech. Anyhow, the big guy inside was 8th in scoring (15.8 points per game), second in rebounds, behind just Miami’s Tonye Jekiri with 9.4 boards per contest. He was third in FG percentage (57%), 10th in blocks (1.3) and no player standing taller than 6’8 played more minutes (34.6).

F- Brice Johnson, North Carolina (Jr)
He’s a highly efficient scorer, averaging 12.6 points per game, hitting 57% of his shots. He’s seventh in the ACC in rebounds at 7.9 per game and he blocked 1.2 per contest.

THIRD TEAM

G – Tyus Jones, Duke (Fr)
There are plenty of things the freshman needs to work on and he’ll need to shoot at a higher percentage inside the paint (under 40% on the season), but when it matters, I want him holding the rock. Think about it…17 against Michigan State, 22 against Wisconsin, 21 against Connecticut, 17 against Virginia and a combined 44 points in two games with North Carolina…all wins. It also helps that he’s second in the ACC in assists (5.7), first in FT shooting (88%), 9th in steals (1.5) and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8)

G – Terry Rozier, Louisville (So)
The Cardinals’ guard is fourth in the ACC in points (17.5), 7th in free throw shooting (77%) and first in steals among players not dismissed this season (2.0). For good measure, he grabs a solid 5.4 boards per game and dished out 2.8 assists. His only problem is his shooting percentage, as it dipped at the end. He hit just 41.6% from the floor, 32.1% from deep.

F – Trevor Lacey, NC State (Jr) 
Lacey finished 6th in scoring, averaged 16.1 points per game and third in three-point shooting, hitting 40.7 from deep. He also grabbed a solid 4.5 boards per game, dishing out 3.4 assists. Meaning no disrespect to Virginia Tech’s Adam Smith and Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton, if I’m down three and need a bucket to tie, I’d want Lacey taking the shot.

F – Anthony Gill, Virginia (Jr)
Let’s call him a Ken Pom guy, as Ken has him rated the seventh most efficient player in all of college basketball. The six in front of him are, Frank Kaminsky, Karl-Anthony Towns, Stanley Johnson, Seth Tuttle, Delon Wright and Jahlil Okafor. Why the love? Well, Gill shoots the ball at a high percentage (13.4 PPG, 59.3% from the floor), he’s solid on the glass (team high 6.7 boards per game) on both ends of the floor, he’s a big guy who knows how to get to the FT line (a team high 134 times) and he rarely turns it over despite spending most of his time in high traffic areas.

F – Tonye Jekiri, Miami (Jr) 
This final spot came down to Kennedy Meeks, Jamal Artis, Marcus Paige, Michael Young, Jaron Blossomgame and Pat Connaughton. All are worthy to be on the third-team. Instead, I decided to go with Jekiri. Listen, he’s not as good as these other guys, but I decided to find space for the ACC’s top rebounder. He’s the only guy to average double-digit boards, grabbing 10.2 per game (5th in offensive rebounds, 1st in defensive) and he was fourth in the league in blocks with 1.5. No, he never was much of a scoring threat, but he did manage nine double-doubles in ACC games.

JUST MISSED THE CUT: 

Kennedy Meeks, Jamal Artis, Marcus Paige, Michael Young, Pat Connaughton, Tonye Jekiri, Jaron Blossomgame, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Darion Atkins, Devin Wilson, , Anthony Barber, Michael Gbinije, Aaron Brown and Sheldon McClellan.

 

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