Last week, I gave you the nominees. Now, it’s time for the awards.
Early in this season, I thought it would be one of the toughest seasons ever to pick the all-conference teams. The league is just loaded with top-quality players! As the season went on, things shook around a bit and actually became pretty obvious. The first five really shouldn’t be up for much debate. I think the good arguments will be over the other teams and the POY and FOY awards.
So, without further ado, here we go.
J.J. Redick – The best scorer in the league by far. He should have had competition from Rashad McCants and Justin Gray, but they didn’t step up to his level even before McCants got sick. Guillermo Diaz was actually the closest competition.
You’ll be seeing Redick on most All-American teams too.
Raymond Felton – He has been simply awesome since that Duke snafu. He may be the ACC’s most nationally underrated player. Now that he’s hitting his jumper, he’s deadly. I love his game.
Chris Paul – Everybody’s All-American pretty much lived up to the hype. He may not have been quite as dominant as some expected, but then those people asked too much. Paul has had an awesome year. More on that in a bit.
Shelden Williams – He has been solid all year, as evidenced by several national columnists touting him as the national player of the year at one point. He won’t be that, but he’ll likely be an All-American (as will all of these first team choices). The best defensive player in the conference by far.
Sean May – Like Felton, May has been on an absolute tear of late. If he’d played this well all season, he’d be a great choice for conference Player of the Year.
Guillermo Diaz – He’s had a phenomenal breakout season. In most years, scoring 20+ ppg in conference games would put you on the first team.
Justin Gray – Not quite as good a year as last year, but he’s still a deadly shooter. He’s #3 in the conference in scoring (ACC games only).
Eric Williams – The big man made huge strides this year. He outplayed both May and Shelden Williams in his first matchups against them. The reason I notch him below those two is that he’s not quite as good a rebounder or defender as either. He scores more points than May, but May’s a more gifted offensive player.
Julius Hodge – His numbers aren’t far off from last year’s ACC Player of the Year season, but anyone who’s watched NC State play would know that he hasn’t been the same. He hasn’t been the leader or made the clutch plays he made last season. That said, he’s
still the most versatile player in the league.
Jarrett Jack – I love the way Jack plays. He is tough physically and mentally although I wonder about his confidence sometimes. Georgia Tech has struggled to meet expectations this year, but not because of Jack. He carries them at times, which is very difficult from the point guard position.
Sharrod Ford – Ford has had moments of greatness this year for a struggling team.
Daniel Ewing – Ewing is sort of the Julius Hodge of Duke – he’s asked to do everything. He did it all very well, but has showed signs of strain lately.
Zabian Dowdell – Strange name – good game. Virginia Tech is the classic greater-than-the-sum-of-their-parts team, but Dowdell stands out for his shooting. The fact that he’s fourth in the league in minutes per game tells you something too.
Nik Caner-Medley – Caner-Medley plays ugly, but he’s been the only Terrapin to come to play every night. He might kick the ball into the upper deck while driving to the hole from time-to-time, but he’s also hit a ton of big shots this year. Without Caner-Medley, this Maryland team might have been a failure of Duke ’95 proportions.
John Gilchrist – In contrast to Caner-Medley, Gilchrist is largely responsible for Maryland’s failures this year with his uneven and petulant play. On the flip side, when he has it going, the guy is unstoppable. He should be better than a third team player, but at the same time, I came close to leaving him off for Devin Smith or Jawad Williams.
Rashad McCants – Man, did I screw this up. I originally wrote this on Friday and somehow completely forgot McCants. I had always meant to include him, but somehow missed him. I only noticed when someone wrote a long defense of him in the comments. Instead of knocking someone off, I’m just going to have six guys on my Third Team. Yes, I’m a retard.
McCants is a guy with First Team talent who has Second Team numbers this year. He has missed so many games at the end of the year though, he drops to Third Team. Back when he was playing, he’s really not much worse than last year, but he just hasn’t had a hot streak like he had at the end of last season. So many other guys in the league have been hot that you just can’t justify putting McCants higher. While his scoring is down this season, his overall game, defense especially, is much improved.
Player of the Year:
Chris Paul – This is basically a three man competition between Paul, Felton and Redick. I tend to lean towards the point guards because, well, they’re point guards. The number ones are asked to do so much in college basketball that you have to give them credit beyond what the statistics show. The good ones (CLICHE ALERT! CLICHE ALERT) are coaches on the floor. So, that leaves Felton vs. Paul. Felton’s team is a game ahead of Paul’s right now, but Paul ate Felton up head-to-head.
Toss up, right?
Well, take a look at the conference numbers. Paul scores more, hands out more assists, shoots free throws better, shoots threes better, gets more steals and has a better ATO ratio.
It’s gotta be Paul.
Freshman of the Year:
Sean Singletary – This one’s gonna get some dissent, I’m sure. Marvin Williams of North Carolina has had a great freshman year. He’s touted by some as the best NBA prospect in the league. He’s the leading scorer and rebounder among freshman. So, how could I pick Singletary?
I’ll tell you why – because Singletary was much more valuable to his team. Like I mentioned in the POY debate, point guard is a tough, critical position. While Williams gets to come off the bench for Carolina and take whatever the defense gives him, Singletary has to run Virginia’s offense and defense. He hasn’t been perfect at it – he is a freshman – but he’s been pretty damn good.
While Williams is #1 for freshmen in scoring and rebounding, Singletary is #2 in scoring and #1 in assists. He’s also #4 in the league in ATO ratio – probably the best measure for how a point guard runs an offense. Singletary is tough, quick and creative. Whoever coaches Virginia next year is getting quite a prize.
Again, it’s close. I love Marvin, but I gotta go with the guy who’s setting the table over the guy who’s eating off the king’s china.