Player of the Year:
Tre Jones (Duke)
After a freshman season in which he was overshadowed by his teammates, Tre Jones decided to forgo entering his name into the 2019 NBA Draft, instead opting to return to Durham for his sophomore season. What a decision that was for the point guard from Minnesota. Jones drastically improved on his biggest weakness, his jump shot, as his three-point field goal percentage jumped from 26.2% as a freshman, to 36.1% in his second stint. He also showed that he truly is an elite playmaker and floor general, as he finished tied for sixth in the ACC in scoring (16.2 ppg), was second in total assists and assists per game, and was third in assist to turnover ratio. He also averaged nearly two steals per game, and played about 35 minutes per contest as well. His well-rounded stats, along with his impact as the clear leader of this year’s Duke squad rightfully earned him the official ACC Player of the Year title as well. The decision to return to school was absolutely the right decision for Tre Jones, as he showed faith in himself in his gamble of returning to school for a second season, and backed it up on the court.
Team of The Year:
Florida State Seminoles
It is safe to say the 2019-2020 season was the best ever for the Seminole basketball program. Not only did they win the regular season conference title for the first time in program history, they ended the year with 26 regular season wins, with 16 of those coming in ACC play, both school records. They finished with four wins over ranked opponents, the most in the conference as well. This season was even more astonishing for the Seminoles when you consider the fact that they began the year unranked in the preseason polls. FSU was a fun team to watch, as they lacked a true “star player”, instead opting to share the ball, and more often than not were able to turn their defense into easy offense. Look for Florida State to continue the momentum into next season, as their defensive-minded style of play should continue to excel in this day and age of college basketball.
Coach of the Year:
Leonard Hamilton, Florida State
The Seminoles most likely would not have experienced the success they did this season had it not been for the guidance and leadership of their veteran head coach, Leonard Hamilton. He stayed true to his brand of play and coaching style, and was rewarded with the best season of his career, and in Florida State’s history as well. A huge reason as to why the ‘Noles were so successful was Hamilton’s ability to develop his three best players: Devin Vassell, Trent Forrest, and MJ Walker. All three experienced the best years of their college careers this past season, and all have the potential to be players at the next level. The Seminoles looked like the best coached team in the conference, and were clearly the best on the defensive side of the ball, as they forced the most total turnovers, and had the highest turnover per game average of any ACC team. This team truly bought in to what Leonard Hamilton was preaching to them, and as a result experienced a dream season.
Freshman of the Year:
Vernon Carey (Duke)
The freshman big man was truly a force to be reckoned with for the Blue Devils this season. He finished fourth in the conference in scoring (17.8 ppg), third in rebounding (8.8 rpg), first in field goal percentage, and fifth in blocks per game with nearly two. He had 15 double-doubles in 31 games, which was good for second most of any freshman in the country. Carey was one of the top-ranked recruits of his class, and was a hot commodity for coaches around the country, and for good reason. There were times where the 6’10, 270-pound behemoth looked virtually unstoppable. Vernon Carey was able to show off his elite skill set while playing under Coach K, and appears to be one of the most promising young big men in the basketball world.
Top 5 NBA Prospects in the ACC
5. Tre Jones (Duke)
Jones was the best all-around player in the ACC this season, which earned him the ACC Player of the Year Title. He does everything well, but no part of his game would truly be considered “elite”. After returning to school for his sophomore season, Tre was able to show improvement in his biggest area of weakness, his three-point shot, as his percentage rose nearly 10% from 26.2% to 36.1%. A team looking for a true playmaking floor general will gladly welcome Jones to their squad, as he has shown he can be trusted with the ball in his hands, and is a leader and true floor general.
4. Devin Vassell (Florida State)
After making a huge jump in his playing time and contribution from his freshman to sophomore seasons, Vassell showed he has the three-and-D skillset that NBA scouts love. He was the best player on his team this season, and truly did show he has the potential to be an impact player at the next level for many years to come. He averaged 12.7 points per game, shot 41.5% from behind the arc, and averaged 1.4 steals and a block per game on the defensive side of the ball. Vassell’s seemingly perfect fit in the modern-day NBA gets him on this list.
3. Jordan Nwora (Louisville)
Standing at 6’7, 225-pounds, Jordan Nwora has an NBA-ready body, and an NBA-ready skillset on the offensive end of the floor. He is a highly-skilled three level scorer, and has the tools to be a good-to-great player at the next level. He finished third in the ACC in scoring at 18 points per game, was eighth in rebounds at 7.7, was eighth in field goal percentage, and was third in threes made per game at 2.5. The only knock on Nwora was his inability to show up in some of Louisville’s biggest games this past season. Expect Jordan Nwora to make an immediate impact in the NBA, whenever he decides to enter his name into the draft.
2. Vernon Carey (Duke)
If we are going off of potential at the next level, Vernon Carey may have the highest ceiling of any player in the conference in my opinion. Like I said earlier, there were times he looked absolutely unstoppable for the Blue Devils this season. At 6’10, 270 pounds, he is a savage in the paint and on the boards, and a walking double-double. On top of that, he has a competent three-point shot, which is valued so highly for big men in this day and age of the NBA. If he can develop that stroke into something defenders have to respect, there is no reason that Carey can’t be a consistent All-Star for many years to come.
1. Cole Anthony (North Carolina)
UNC finishing last in the ACC standings only goes to show how much of an impact Anthony had on his team. After going down with a knee injury early in the season and missing a couple of months, the Tar Heels looked lost and at times incompetent without his leadership and superb playmaking abilities. When he was on the court, though, Anthony showed he is an elite ballhandler and passer, as well as a top-notch athlete who can dunk on virtually anybody at any time. The elite athleticism also allows for him to be a pest on the defensive side of the ball. Although he did take questionable shots throughout the season and could have definitely been more efficient with his scoring, the potential is clearly there for Cole Anthony to be an absolute stud and one of the future best point guards in the NBA.
First Team All-ACC
PG: Tre Jones (Duke)
SG: Elijah Hughes (Syracuse)
SF: Jordan Nwora (Louisville)
PF: John Mooney (Notre Dame)
C: Vernon Carey (Duke)
Second Team All-ACC
PG: Cole Anthony (North Carolina)
SG: Devin Vassell (Florida State)
SF: Landers Nolley II (Virginia Tech)
PF: Garrison Brooks (North Carolina)
C: Mamadi Diakite (Virginia)