Player of the Year:
Marvin Bagley III
Duke’s freshman Marvin Bagley was no doubt the most dominant player in the ACC. For a player who opted to graduate early from Sierra Canyon High School, he led the conference in both points and rebounds per game at 21.1 and 11.3. As hyped up as Bagley was entering the season, he still managed to shatter expectations and surpassed milestones in his first season with the Blue Devils. Bagley is a sure-fire All-American and will look to continue his miraculous season in both the NCAA Tournament and beyond.
Coach of the Year:
The Virginia Cavaliers are becoming one of the elite programs in college basketball. While Virginia isn’t the most exciting team to watch on tv, the attention to detail on both ends of the floor is what made this year’s squad successful. Winning both the regular season title and post season conference tournament, the Cavaliers comfortably ran through arguably the best conference in all of college basketball. While Virginia doesn’t have the McDonald’s All-Americans on its roster, Bennett is able to find diamonds in the rough who are willing to stick around for more than one season. The combination of basketball IQ, athleticism, and the effort to commit on defense is the formula Bennett has created for his successful run with the Cavaliers.
Clemson flew completely under the radar, and was in the top 25 for almost the entire season. The Tigers finished 11-7 in conference play and 24-9 overall, en route to a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Brad Brownell could very well be the coach of the year too, as the Tigers kept prevailing after losing Donte Grantham for the season. The length and athleticism of Clemson causes a lot of mismatches for opposing teams, making it difficult to score on as well as defend. Marcquise Reed stepped up as the front man for the offense and Elijah Thomas accepted his role as the anchor on defense. Clemson hopes to capitalize on its success after making the tournament for the first time since 2011.
While Boston College didn’t end its season on the right foot, the backcourt duo of Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman was terrific. Both players finished in the top 5 in points per game in the conference, and the Golden Eagles were able to reach the NIT Tournament after sitting at the bottom of the standings last season. Robinson score in double-digits in all but three games this season. He erupted for 46 points against Notre Dame on only 23 field goal attempts. As for Bowman, the sophomore scored 20 or more points in six of his last eight games to conclude the season. With another year of experience under their belt, the Golden Eagles are sure take the next step with the help from Robinson and Bowman.
As good of a regular season as the Cavaliers had, the loss to a 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament leaves a bad taste. The meteoric rise of Virginia ends bittersweet as the team completely collapsed when it counted the most. UMBC were in control the entire game and tore apart Virginia’s elite defense in the 74-54 blowout victory. The loss of freshman DeAndre Hunter just days before the tourney was significant. Without their most athletic player, Virginia’s offense sputtered, shooting 18.2% from three, 50% from the free throw line, and 41.1% from the field. On the other hand, the Retrievers were able to do whatever they wanted against the top ranked defense in the country. UMBC made 12 threes and shot 54.2% from the field. With the historic defeat, Virginia’s track record of underperforming in the NCAA Tournament continues in what was considered a Final Four season.
Yes Pitt was expected to be awful, but to not win a single conference game is embarrassing. None of the eight wins on the seasons were against any power five schools. Head coach Kevin Stallings was expectingly fired after Pitt’s worst season since joining the ACC. Pitt was able to land a meeting with Tom Crean to become the replacement, but he opted to fill the head coaching vacancy with Georgia. The firing of Stallings led to the domino effect of eight players asking to be released from the team. The bad news is adding fuel to the fire, as the Panthers’ once prominent basketball program is turning into hot garbage.
Most Improved Player:Luke Maye
Who would’ve thought that the former UNC walk-on would end up hitting one of the biggest shots in school history and then the following season become the catalyst on offense? Luke Maye is quite the journeymen, and has become the face of the Tar Heels after his All-ACC first team season. Maye’s scoring spiked from 5.5 to 17.0 during his junior year. He was also second in the conference in rebounds per game at 10.1. Although Maye is not physically opposing, his tenacious effort to rebound the basketball, the ability to spread the floor, and operate in the post is how he was able to prosper this season. With North Carolina as a 2 seed, Maye and the rest of the squad are hungry to get back to the Final 4 for their third consecutive year.
6th Man of the Year:DeAndre Hunter
The freshman big man played a crucial role for Virginia during his first year. Despite not being a starter, Hunter was able to make plays all over the court. He shot the ball very efficiently, making 48.8% of his shots as well as 38.2% from three and 75.5% from the foul line. Hunter never needed to command the ball in order to be effective. His athleticism was utilized to Virginia’s advantage, as he was able to play above the rim and recover 50/50 balls. Hunter’s real strength is his versatility on the defensive end, as he was able to guard any position on the court effectively. Hunter is sure to have a breakout season next year if he decides to come back to campus.
Transfer Player of the Year:Allerik Freeman
The former Baylor Bear decided to use his final year of eligibility to run with the Wolfpack this season. After an underwhelming season last year, NC State was able to capture a 9 seed in the tournament. Freeman averaged 16.1 points per game, including eight games with over 20 points. His best game was perhaps in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, where he scored 36 points in a losing effort to Seton Hall. Primarily known as a scorer, Freeman was able to become a more well-rounded during his time with NC State. He averaged a career high in assists, rebounds, and steals. The decision to transfer to NC State paid huge dividends for Freeman, as he was able to both win and become a better basketball player.
Defensive Player of the Year:Isaiah Wilkins
Virginia’s defense wouldn’t have been nearly as good without Isaiah Wilkins. His senior season was quite remarkable on the defensive end, averaging 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. Wilkins’s leadership was essential to the Cavaliers’ defense. While Wilkins isn’t particularly tall, he was able to match up against any player he needed to. His on-ball defense was suffocating, and opposing teams had to plan ahead of time how to get him less involved on defense. As the results show, those teams weren’t very successful at getting the initiative done, and Virginia was able to win all but one game in the ACC.
All ACC Teams
Wendell Carter, Duke
Kyle Guy, Virginia
Tyus Battle Syracuse
Devon Hall Virginia
Justin Robinson, Virginia Tech
Matt Farrell, Notre Dame
Marcquise Reed, Clemson
Omer Yurtseven, NC State
Ty Jerome, Virginia
Josh Okogie, Georgia Tech