Austin Johnson's All-ACC Ballot

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

For seven of the last nine seasons, I have submitted an All-ACC basketball ballot as a member of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. It’s a privilege that is probably scoffed at by most real journalists, but something I’ve taken seriously as primarily an internet writer since 2006 and something I will continue to take seriously as long as they allow me to vote.

There are no specific instructions on the ballot other than ‘regardless of position’ for the various teams. Here are the general criteria I use to determine my nominations.

  • These are individual awards, not team awards. I admit that I do factor in team performance as something of a tie-breaker however.
  • I do not care about per game statistics. I live in a per possession world because that’s how games are won and that’s how performance should be evaluated.
  • I do not care about out of conference play. These are ACC awards and how you played in Nov/Dec does not impact my decision-making.
  • Ultimately, this is one man’s opinion. I watch way more ACC basketball than I should, but I do not see close to every game – plus I trust stats more than my own eyes. And, like everyone else, I bring my own biases to the table that I’m probably not even consciously aware of having.

Player of the Year - T.J. Warren, NC State

Ultimately for me it came down to Warren, Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels and Duke’s Jabari Parker. Ultimately Warren’s ungodly usage percentage and eFG percentage in conference play carried my decision to put Warren at the top. McDaniels superb all-around play, especially on the defensive end, would make him my second choice. I don’t believe a vote for any of those three players is the wrong choice. Here’s a quick side-by-side comparison to illustrate the point:

Player PER eFG% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg
Warren 32.6 0.557 10.7 8.1 3.3 1.9 10.8 36.0 115.3
Parker 27.7 0.485 19.1 5.8 2 4.5 12.5 31.3 112.5
McDaniels 27.3 0.481 12.3 13.3 2.3 7.9 13.2 29 111.5

Rookie of the Year – Jabari Parker, Duke

While there was a time when Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis had a shot at this award, Parker has created enough separation that I didn’t see it as particularly close.

Defensive Player of the Year – Akil Mitchell, Virginia

In ACC play, the Cavaliers basically blew away the field when it came to defensive efficiency. Mitchell was the post defensive presence for the team and best defensive rebounder – according to David Teel, a fantastic beat reporter up in Virginia, Mitchell was the name that came up most consistently from opposing coaches when it came to game planning. McDaniels also ends up 2nd place for this award, which just feels mean at this point. Sorry K.J.

Coach of the Year – Tony Bennett, Virginia

16-2… so yeah.

1st Team All-ACC

T.J. Warren, NC State
K.J. McDaniels, Clemson
Jabari Parker, Duke
Marcus Paige, North Carolina
Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia

We’ve discussed the top three, so let’s talk about Brogdon and Paige. The most difficult position to properly evaluate using metrics is point guard, as they tend to have lower usage percentages and higher turnover rates. So in some sense you are left with simply evaluating them on how they run a team and how well they do their job – mainly taking care of the ball and executing the offense. I thought Paige was the best point guard in the league, despite several bad shooting games, as his combination of defense and ball security was a big reason why UNC’s offense worked at all this season. Brogdon did it all for Virginia, including posting a fantastic A/T ratio while posting the highest ORtg among anybody using more than 20 percent of their teams possessions.

2nd Team

Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh
Rodney Hood, Duke
C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
Rion Brown, Miami

That means Patterson is the victim of numbers, a truly deserving first teamer who ends up on my second team. The rest of this team feel pretty self-explanatory with the exception of Brown. He did some really nice work on otherwise very unimpressive offensive team and quietly had one of the best years of any guard in the league.

3rd Team

Olivier Hanlan, Boston College
James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina
Talib Zanna, Pittsburgh
Okaro White, Florida State
Joe Harris, Virginia

Again, not much here. Props to McAdoo for learning how to be efficient and take a few less bad shots, which helped push him over the top this year. The last couple of spots could have gone to any number of players, including Dez Wells at Maryland or Aaron Thomas at Florida State.

All-Defensive Team
Akil Mitchell, Virginia
K.J. McDaniels, Clemson
Marcus Paige, North Carolina
C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Joe Harris, Virginia

Mitchell and McDaniels are the obvious ones, while Paige has been the best defender (he’s won UNC’s defensive player of the game award 10 times this season, per Brian of the wonderful Tar Heel Blog) for the league's second-best defense in North Carolina. Fair is a key cog in Syracuse’s always frustrating zone, the third best defense in the league. And the Virginia’s historic defense – it sports the best defensive efficient in conference of any team in the Pomeroy era – helps get Joe Harris the final spot.

All-Freshman Team
Jabari Parker, Duke
Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
London Perrantes, Virginia
Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina
Michael Young, Pittsburgh

Things thin out quickly after the top three freshman. Perrantes had a 130 offensive rating as the starting guard, so he was a clear 3rd choice for me after Parker and Ennis. I also added Meeks, who led Carolina in rebounding percentage and shot the ball well in conference play. Young rounds out the picks as another positive contributor off the bench for Pitt.

Most Improved – Marcus Paige, North Carolina

If I’m being honest, I’m not really a fan of either new award. This is the ‘used to suck but now awesome’ award, so basically a giant backhanded compliment. Brogdon was hurt, so I don’t think he qualifies, but Patterson, McDaniels, Paige and Warren all look like potential winners. I went with Paige because his improvement lies so much more in getting better as opposed to just getting a lot larger percentage of playing time/shots.

Season MP eFG% TRB% AST% STL% TOV% USG% ORtg
2013 30.9 0.395 5.6 24.2 2.2 22.9 17 94.2
2014 35.8 0.519 4.4 25.4 2.5 12.8 21.3 119.4

Sixth Man – Aaron Thomas, Florida State

I really had no idea what to do here, as the only player in my top 20 as far as All-ACC candidates who wasn't a starter was Thomas. And he started 10 of 18 ACC games. So yeah, this is gonna be a ‘close enough’ award for Thomas who was very important offensively for Florida State this year and came off the bench enough for me to justify giving him this award. This award is silly.

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