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Now that the college basketball regular season has ended, it’s time to hand out some conference awards. At CBS Sports, we had our group of college basketball writers (Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander, Sam Vecenie, Chip Patterson, Jon Rothstein, Doug Gottlieb, and Jerry Palm) vote on honors for each of the six major conferences. The awards handed out are Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and two all-conference teams.
Here are our ACC award winners.
ACC Player of the Year: Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
Two weeks ago, this was one of the most hotly-contested player of the year awards. But in the end, the CBS Sports panel voted unanimously to crown Brogdon as our ACC player of the year. How does that happen? Well, Brogdon undeniably closed his season well. But I also like to think it was a matter of simply beginning to appreciate his game a bit more.
Simply put, Brogdon is the best two-way player in the country. A dynamic scorer whose per-possession stats line up across the board with elite scorers like Cat Barber and Grayson Allen, as well as an elite defensive player who is responsible for shutting down players in Virginia’s defense. His final regular season shooting line of 47.4/41.1/87.4 is among the best in the country for volume scorers who are responsible for as many possessions on offense as he is, and he’s statistically one of the best players in the country at coming off of screens and scoring. Brogdon needs to be appreciated more for the offensive weapon he’s turned into. Hopefully this will help that along.
ACC Coach of the Year: Jim Larranaga, Miami
This one was not nearly as unanimous as player of the year, as three different coaches — Larranaga, Tony Bennett, Mike Krzyzewski — all received votes. Larranaga ended up winning out though, and this is a fine choice in the end.
All Larranaga came within a game of doing was leading Miami to its second ACC title in four years. Given that the Hurricanes won one league title in the 61 years of its basketball existence before Larranaga, that seems pretty outrageous. He’s done a great job of finding marginal recruits and/or transfers and turning them into real players. Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan, and Kamari Murphy were Big 12 players who have found second life in Coral Gables after transferring. Tonye Jekiri had never played organized basketball until 2010 before becoming a legitimate defensive force in the ACC. Ivan Cruz Uceda was an older recruit from Madrid who played JUCO for a year before finding a home at Miami. Larranaga has found a way to assemble a roster on the margins that can compete for an ACC title. That, along with his tremendous game-planning and coaching acumen, makes him well-deserving of this honor.
ACC Defensive Player of the Year: Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
This one came down to two players: Miami’s Jekiri and Brogdon. Jekiri covers for a lot of different holes in Miami’s defense. He’s a good rim protector, a terrific pick-and-roll defender, and one of the ACC’s best defensive rebounders. His versatility is superb and has allowed Miami to post a top-five defense in the league. Louisville’s Chinanu Onuaku also deserves mention, but he’s not quite as versatile as Jekiri.
In the end though, Brogdon is the winner. He embraces difficult matchups for Virginia, and can guard just about any player on the floor 1 through 4. From 6-foot-9 Brandon Ingram to 6-foot Cat Barber, all were left wanting when matched up with Brogdon this season. He also helps to cover a lot of holes in Virginia’s often help-heavy pack-line scheme, using his length to cut off angles. Another thing he does really well is contest shots, using his massive hands to bother opposing shooters. There are plenty of solid defensive players in the league, but Brogdon stands out.
ACC Freshman of the Year: Brandon Ingram, Duke
As expected, there are plenty of really good freshmen in the ACC this season. Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon have been excellent at Florida State. Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon have done a really nice job at Syracuse. Bryant Crawford was good in a losing situation at Wake Forest. Donovan Mitchell at Louisville is going to be a player.
But in the end, can it be anyone else other than Ingram? He averaged nearly 17 points and seven rebounds on the season, but upped those numbers to nearly 19 and eight in ACC play. The tall forward is a terrific shooter and scorer, plus a long defender and feisty rebounder even with his limitations with his bulk right now. Simply put, there are just so few players around the country who can match up with his skill level and athleticism combination at that size, making him an impossible guard. He’ll be a top-two pick in the upcoming NBA Draft for good reason.
CBS SPORTS ALL-ACC TEAM
Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
Grayson Allen, Duke
Cat Barber, NC State
Brandon Ingram, Duke
Brice Johnson, North Carolina
Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame
Sheldon McClellan, Miami
Michael Gbinije, Syracuse
Damion Lee, Louisville
Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson