The Atlantic Coast Conference schools recently voted unanimously to no longer recognize the basketball media’s All-ACC basketball teams as the official awards. Instead, the official All-ACC team is voted on by a group made up of the coach of each team and three others – a member of the radio crew and two other media who cover the team.
The Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association members had determined the official ACC all-conference team since the league’s formation in 1953-54.
Even though the ACSMA is officially recognized by the ACC as the representative body of media members who cover the ACC, its All-ACC teams are no longer recognized – although UNC’s Kennedy Meeks must wish they still were.
Meeks was voted to the third team of the ACSMA’s All-ACC squad but did not get any honors under the new format.
Of course, perhaps the newer members of the ACC think that’s a good thing. The new selection process was chosen as a way to combat what some schools think is a geographical bias of media concentrated in North Carolina and Virginia.
Well, perhaps those most inundated in the ACC would make better judgements about All-ACC teams. Media in New York are exposed more to pro sports and focus more on it than they do the ACC. Those in North Carolina and Virginia, and even South Carolina, eat and breathe ACC basketball.
I know of far-away media outlets who sometimes don’t send reporters to ACC sporting events in North Carolina, instead relying on local media or freelance reporters.
Would someone who covers Syracuse – and Syracuse only – really have a better feel for the players in the ACC than even someone like me who has followed the league my entire life – keeping up mostly with Duke, North Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest?
Ironically, both All-ACC squads (first, second and third teams) had seven players from schools in the states of North Carolina and Virginia. So, I’m not sure the geographical bias came into play.
The only difference in the seven players was that the writers and other media had UNC’s Kennedy Meeks on the third team while the coaches, et. al. team had Duke’s Jayson Tatum instead.
Of those two, I thought Meeks deserved the spot. Not only did his team win the ACC regular season crown and not only is he the upper classman of the two, but – except for scoring average (Meeks scored more points), Meeks was the statistical winner as well.
Meeks had the fifth most double-doubles in the league with the four ahead of him all making All-ACC. Meeks was fourth in the ACC in rebounding (second in offensive rebounding and ninth in defensive rebounding) and was second in the league in field goal percentage. Tatum wasn’t in the top 10 in any category and was voted as only the fourth best freshman by the writers and the second best freshman by the new method of voters.
Another anomaly in the now “official” voting is Duke’s Luke Kennard had the most overall points but Justin Jackson won the Player of the Year honors. Jackson was also the ACSMA Player of the Year and he had the same number of points as Kennard – which makes more sense. Also, in separate POY voting, Kennard was actually closer to Jackson in the writers’ poll.
Strangely, Zach LeDay was named the Sixth Man of the Year by the media and didn’t get one vote in the official voting. Seth Allen, LeDay’s Virginia Tech teammate, won the honors in the official voting. Both usually came off the bench and both are good choices. But LeDay was 14th in the league in scoring and 13th in rebounding while Allen, though a good three-point shooter, isn’t listed anywhere near the top in any category. Perhaps this was just a definition of “Sixth man” thing.
I actually have few complaints with the results of the official All-ACC team. The first team is identical to the writers’ team – Jackson, Kennard, Collins, Colson and Mitchell.
Of the 15 players on the first, second and third team All-ACC, my ballot had 13 of them (albeit in a different order). The only players I left off were Tatum and Davon Reed of Miami. I chose Jamel Artis of Pittsburgh instead. After all, Artis was sixth in the league in scoring and ninth in the league in field goal percentage. Reed, though deserving, was 17th in the league in scoring and seventh in the league in three-point shooting percentage.
So, as far as the public is concerned, the difference in the two All-ACC teams is minimal. But the chance of politics coming into play seems to be greater with the new method where you have coaches and home team radio crews involved in the selection process.
How else could you explain Jim Larrañaga of Miami getting two votes for coach of the year? He got no votes in the media polling.
Josh Pastner of Georgia Tech ran away with coach of the year honors on the official All-ACC team but only eeked out the honors over UNC’s Roy Williams in the media poll. The latter seems to be a better reflection of the season. Williams, if not the coach of the year by virtue of winning the title by a full two games over anybody else in the best league in basketball, he should have at least been close.
Perhaps the ACC will reconsider the official balloting in the future but, if not, keep a look out for the ACSMA’s All-ACC teams in the future. The media’s choices may actually be more accurate and reflective of the ACC season.
ACSMA news release
ACC Player of the Year Justin Jackson leads the 2016-17 Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA) post-season awards and all-conference team announced on Sunday.
Jackson was named on 20 of 49 ACSMA ballots to win the Player of the Year award and was a unanimous choice for the All-ACC first team, along with Duke sophomore Luke Kennard. Wake Forest sophomore finished second in the Player of the Year voting, with 14 votes. He also made the All-ACC first team, along with Notre Dame junior Bonzie Colson and Louisville sophomore Donovan Mitchell.
Georgia Tech’s Josh Pastner won Coach of the Year honors in his first season in the ACC, edging out North Carolina’s Roy Williams, 15 votes to 14. Yellow Jackets junior Ben Lammers was voted Defensive Player of the Year, Virginia Tech’s Zach LeDay was named Sixth Man of the Year and Collins was voted Most Improved Player.
Jackson, a junior from Tomball, TX, finished seventh in the ACC in scoring, averaging 18.3 points per game. He was second in the conference with 2.66 3-pointers per game, in helping to lead the Tar Heels to their 31st ACC regular season championship.
Kennard, a sophomore from Franklin, OH, led the ACC in scoring, averaging 20.1 points per game. He also finished in the top ten in several other categories, including field goal percentage (sixth), 3-point field goal percentage (second), free throw percentage (fourth).
Collins, a sophomore from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, led the conference in field goal percentage (.623), finished second in rebounding (9.8) and third in scoring (19.1 ppg). He was the main reason the Demon Deacons won seven more ACC games this season than last.
Colson, a junior from New Bedford, MA, led the ACC in rebounding (10.4 rpg) and finished 10th in scoring (17.0 ppg). He was also a top ten producer in field goal percentage (fourth – .523), free throw percentage (ninth – .807) and blocked shots (sixth – 1.42 pg).
Mitchell, a sophomore from Greenwich, CT, led the league in steals (2.13) and finished 12th in scoring (15.9 ppg).
NC State freshman Dennis Smith, Jr., the ACC’s assists leader (6.26, to go along with 18.5 ppg) leads the second team. He’s joined by Pittsburgh senior Michael Young (19.9 PPG, 6.8 rpg), Florida State sophomore Dwayne Bacon (16.9 ppg), North Carolina junior Joel Berry, II (15.1 ppg) and Clemson redshirt senior Jaron Blossongame (17.3 ppg, 6.2 ppg).
The third team consists of Georgia Tech junior Ben Lammers (14.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.32 bpg), Virginia senior London Perrantes (3.9 apg), Syracuse graduate transfer Andrew White, III (17.9 ppg), North Carolina senior Kennedy Meeks (9.1 rpg) and Boston College sophomore Jerome Robinson (8.7 ppg).
Thirteen of the 15 ACC schools are represented by at least one player on the first, second and third teams. Only regular season champion North Carolina has more than one player (three, one on each team).
Lammers was the leading vote-getter for Defensive Player of the Year as well as the All-Defensive Team. He’s joined on that team by Collins, Colson, Mitchell and Virginia junior Isaiah Wilkins.
Smith is only the second NC State player to win the Freshman of the Year award and the first since Hawkeye Whitney shared the award with Duke’s Mike Gminski in 1977. He received 41 of 49 possible votes to easily outdistance Duke’s Jayson Tatum. He and Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac are joined on the All-Freshman Team by Tatum, Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie and Miami’s Bruce Brown.
ACC news release
Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year Justin Jackson of North Carolina leads the official 2016-17 season award winners and All-ACC basketball team announced by the league on Sunday.
Jackson, a junior from Tomball, Texas, was the choice of 24 members of the voting panel (15 ACC head coaches, selected media) that cast ballots for this year’s postseason honors. Wake Forest’s John Collins placed second with 15 votes.
The voting panel selected NC State’s Dennis Smith Jr. as the ACC Freshman of the Year. Georgia Tech’s Josh Pastner was voted the ACC Coach of the Year, while Virginia Tech’s Seth Allen earned recognition as Sixth Man of the Year. Wake Forest’s Collins was voted the ACC’s Most Improved Player, and Georgia Tech junior Ben Lammers received the nod as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Jackson and Collins are joined on the All-ACC first team by Duke sophomore Luke Kennard, Notre Dame junior Bonzie Colson and Louisville sophomore Donovan Mitchell. Jackson, Kennard and Colson are also among the 15 college players that were named to the John R. Wooden Award national ballot on Saturday.
The 6-foot-8 Jackson is seventh among ACC scorers at 18.3 points per game, and his 85 field goals from 3-point range rank second in the conference. Jackson also averaged 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while helping lead the Tar Heels to a 26-6 overall record, the ACC regular-season title and the No. 1 seed for this week’s New York Life ACC Tournament at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Jackson has posted 16 games this season of 20-or-more points and has led UNC in scoring in 13 of the last 19 games. He has connected on at least five 3-point shots in five games this season and has 11 games with at least four made 3-pointers.
Duke’s Kennard is the only unanimous selection to this year’s All-ACC first team and leads the conference in scoring at 20.1 points per game. The Franklin, Ohio, sophomore ranks second among ACC players in 3-point field goal percentage (.450), sixth in overall field goals percentage (.504) and fourth in free-throw percentage (.847). He has scored in double figures in 30 of Duke’s 31 game, eclipsing the 20-point mark a team-high 16 times and registering three games of 30-or-more points.
Wake Forest’s Collins leads the ACC in field goal percentage (.623), ranks third among conference scorers with 19.1 points per game and is second in rebounding with 9.8 per contest. After averaging 7.3 points and 3.9 rebounds while starting one game as a freshman in 2015-16, Collins is a major reason the Demon Deacons (18-12) enter this year’s New York Life ACC Tournament on a high note and with a strong case for NCAA Tournament consideration. The West Palm Beach, Florida, sophomore has been a model of consistency, scoring 20-or-more points in 12 consecutive games late in the season – tops in the ACC this year and the most at Wake Forest in more than four decades. He has posted double-doubles in 15 games.
Notre Dame’s Colson leads all ACC players with 18 double-doubles this season, including 10 in conference play. The 6-foot-5 junior from New Bedford, Massachusetts, leads the league in rebounding at 10.4 per game and is the 10th leading scorer at 17.0 points per game. In leading the Fighting Irish to a 23-8 overall mark and a No. 3 ACC Tournament seed, Colson has posted seven 20-point, 10-rebound performances this year. All seven of those performances have come against Power 5 conference teams, including four ACC opponents.
Louisville’s Mitchell averages 15.9 points per game while leading the ACC in steals with 2.13 per outing, and the sophomore has been at his best during the stretch run of the regular season. Over the last 18 games, Mitchell is averaging 19.2 points per game and has made 55-of-132 3-point field goal attempts (.417). He has scored in double figures 23 times this season. The Greenwich, Connecticut, native has scored at least 16 points in 10 of his last 11 games and has nine 20-point games this season.
After being overwhelmingly chosen as the ACC preseason Freshman of the Year by the league’s media members last October, NC State’s Smith met expectations by ranking fifth among ACC scorers with 18.5 points per game and leading the league in assists with 6.3 per contest. Smith has also registered 60 steals in 31 games (1.94 per game), second among ACC players in that category. The Fayetteville, North Carolina, native became the only player in conference history to register two triple-doubles in the same season and has scored at least 30 points in an ACC-best four games.
Smith is joined on the All-ACC second team by Florida State’s Dwayne Bacon (16.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg), Georgia Tech’s Lammers (14.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg), North Carolina’s Joel Berry II (15.1 ppg, 3.7 apg) and Virginia’s London Perrantes (12.8 ppg, 3.9 apg).
Pitt’s Michael Young (19.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame (17.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Syracuse’s Andrew White III (17.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Miami’s Davon Reed (15.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Duke’s Jayson Tatum (16.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg) comprise the All-ACC third team.
Georgia Tech’s Pastner, who won 167 games in his seven seasons at head coach at Memphis, was chosen the ACC Coach of the Year in his first year with the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech began the season having lost its top four scorers from the last season’s squad that tied for 11th place in the ACC and was tabbed for a next-to-last finish in the league’s preseason media poll. Instead, Pastner’s team will open play in the ACC Tournament on Tuesday following a 17-win regular season that includes victories over nationally-ranked conference opponents North Carolina, Florida State and Notre Dame.
Virginia Tech’s Allen has come off the bench in 24 of the 29 games in which he has appeared, averaging 13.1 points, 3.3 assists and 2.3 rebounds while playing close to 29 minutes per contest. The redshirt senior from Woodbridge, Virginia, has scored in double-figures 21 times and enters the New York Life ACC Tournament with 20-or-more points in three of his last seven games. Allen played pivotal roles in both Virginia Tech’s one-point wins over Clemson with a big steal and a 3-pointer in the final 1:31 in a road win Jan. 22 and the game-winning shot with 3.8 seconds left at Blacksburg on Feb. 21.
Georgia Tech’s Lammers leads the ACC and ranks third nationally with 3.32 blocked shots per game (103 in 31 games). The 6-foot-10 native of San Antonio, Texas, is third among ACC rebounders, with over two-thirds of his 284 total rebounds coming at the defensive end. Lammers has also been a reliable inside defender for the Yellow Jackets, who have limited their opponents to a collective .398 shooting percentage from the floor and 67 points per game.
NC State’s Smith and Duke’s Tatum are joined on the All-ACC Freshman Team by Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac (12.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg), Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie (15.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Boston College’s Ky Bowman (14.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg).
Virginia’s Isaiah Wilkins, Louisville’s Mitchell, Miami’s Reed, Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Duke’s Matt Jones join Georgia Tech’s Lammers on the 2016-17 All-ACC Defensive Team.