DeCock: NC State's Warren tops my all-ACC ballot

Posted by Luke DeCock - staff columnist on March 11, 2014 

The ACC and Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association do not disclose individual ballots in all-ACC voting, which is baffling. No one should be voting who isn’t willing to stand behind their ballot. Here’s mine, with explanations for some of my decisions.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

T.J. Warren, N.C. State

I understand why people voted for Jabari Parker, and you can make a great case for him. He’s unquestionably the best pro prospect and best pure player in the ACC. But I feel like what Parker did Saturday, I’ve seen Warren do several times this season. If Parker had been that aggressive and assertive more consistently, he would have been a shoo-in. But Warren was the ACC’s most consistently dominant player, and he only got better as the season wore on. I’m a huge Marcus Paige fan, and I look forward to covering him when he’s North Carolina’s coach some day, but I had him a distant third behind Warren and Parker. Assuming everyone expected to turn pro does turn pro, Paige should be preseason player of the year next October.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Jabari Parker, Duke

Easy. Tyler Ennis looked like he would make this a race at one point. He didn’t.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

K.J. McDaniels, Clemson

Tough choice here over Virginia’s Akil Mitchell, the best defensive player on the league’s best defensive team.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Brad Brownell, Clemson

Eventual winner Tony Bennett is a good choice for the work he’s done rebuilding Virginia’s program (without compromising his vision) and the season the Cavaliers had. So, for that matter, is Roy Williams, for maneuvering through the post-P.J. transition, and Williams and Mike Krzyzewski always get overlooked for this award despite annually outcoaching their peers. But Brownell turned what appeared to be a dismal roster into a legitimately competitive team. The guy can flat-out coach. Now he needs to recruit some talent before he gets another vote from me.

FIRST TEAM

(listed alphabetically)

Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia

K.J. McDaniels, Clemson

Marcus Paige, North Carolina

Jabari Parker, Duke

T.J. Warren, N.C. State

I had Syracuse’s C.J. Fair ahead of Brogdon right up to the last minute, but Brogdon was so much better in ACC play and so vital to his team’s success, I ended up moving him ahead of Fair. A stronger finish from Syracuse, and Fair might have held position. The other four were stone-cold first-team locks for me.

SECOND TEAM

Eric Atkins, Notre Dame

Tyler Ennis, Syracuse

C.J. Fair, Syracuse

Rodney Hood, Duke

Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh

Some pretty good players here, and four were easy selections. I’m surprised I had Atkins so much more highly rated than everyone else. He looked great every time I saw him. (He ended up first on the honorable mention list.)

THIRD TEAM

Joe Harris, Virginia

James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina

Daniel Miller, Georgia Tech

Codi Miller-McIntyre, Wake Forest

Akil Mitchell, Virginia

McAdoo lost out to Atkins for my fifth second-team spot but easily could have been there. I’m thrilled Miller, one of the ACC’s more annually underrated players, cracked the third team. Tough choices on the others. Harris was disappointing compared to last season, but still such a good player. Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan put up big numbers on a very bad team. Miller-McIntyre, who received very few votes, always impressed me in person. I went with him and defensive ace Mitchell over others like Hanlan, Dez Wells, Rion Brown and Talib Zanna.

ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM

Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse

K.J. McDaniels, Clemson

Daniel Miller, Georgia Tech

Akil Mitchell, Virginia

Aaron Thomas, Florida State

Beyond McDaniels, Miller and Mitchell, all of whom were easy and eventual selections, it got a little hazy for voters. I liked Christmas’ work in Syracuse’s 2-3 zone and Thomas’ perimeter defense.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

Rion Brown, Miami

Paige won, and he has certainly improved from last year, but he was so good in the ACC and NCAA tournaments last season, so to me he’s just picked up where he left off. I would have expected nothing less from him. Same goes for Warren, who finished second in the voting; his performance is as much due to opportunity as improvement, because he was trapped behind C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown and Richard Howell last season, but played like this in spurts when he had the chance.

Brown was a useful but limited bench player for the Hurricanes for three years and played his way onto the All-ACC third team as a senior. No one saw that coming. That to me is more what the spirit of this first-year award should represent.

SIXTH MAN

Justin Anderson, Virginia

He was a game-changer off the bench for the Cavaliers and he ended up winning. No complaints here.

ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM

Tyler Ennis, Syracuse

Jabari Parker, Duke

London Perrantes, Virginia

Devin Wilson, Virginia Tech

Michael Young, Pitt

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