Yesterday, our own JoeSchu made the case for Jerian Grant as the conference's Player of the Year, but unfortunately for Irish fans, the ACC media disagreed, opting overwhelmingly for Duke super frosh Jahlil Okafor. The conference's media contingent weighed in on the full slate of postseason awards, but unfortunately, no members of the Notre Dame media participated in that voting.
We solve all that today with One Foot Down's official selections for all the major awards for this ACC regular season, including Player of the Year, and our selection may surprise you (probably not, though!). You can compare our votes now to some of our preseason predictions as well.
Without further ado, here are the official results from the voting conducted by 4pointshooter, JoeSchu, ndroyalsfan, PadRah, and myself:
Quinn Cook - Duke Blue Devils (unanimous)
Jerian Grant - Notre Dame Fighting Irish (unanimous)
Jahlil Okafor - Duke Blue Devils (unanimous)
Montrezl Harrell - Louisville Cardinals (4 votes)
Also receiving votes: Anthony Gill - Virginia Cavaliers (2 votes with 2 votes for 2nd-team)
Not much disagreement here, other than for that last selection where Syracuse's Rakeem Christmas and Boston College's Olivier Hanlan barely edge out Virginia's Anthony Gill based on 2nd-team votes. Some felt that the best player on the best team should be rewarded over a great player on a bad team, while others felt that Hanlan's accomplishments on a team without much other high-level talent deserved to be rewarded. I'm a little surprised that Christmas didn't easily nab that last spot, but the votes are the votes.
Justin Anderson - Virginia Cavaliers (unanimous)
Tyus Jones - Duke Blue Devils (unanimous)
Anthony Gill - Virginia Cavaliers (2 votes with 2 votes for 1st-team)
Malcolm Brogdon - Virginia Cavaliers (3 votes)
Pat Connaughton - Notre Dame Fighting Irish; Sheldon McClellan - Miami Hurricanes; Kennedy Meeks - North Carolina Tar Heels (tie: 1 vote each)
A whole lotta Virginia here, which is a testament to just how freakin' good they have been without having a true superstar. Anderson likely would have been an easy 1st-team selection were it not for his injury, but as it stands, 3 Cavaliers make up the majority of our second team. Tyus Jones also earns plenty of love, and we landed on a three-way tie for that last spot, including Notre Dame's own Pat Connaughton.
Player of the Year
Jerian Grant - Notre Dame Fighting Irish (unanimous)
C'mon, did you really think we'd pick anyone else? We love this guy, and he has had one of the best seasons in Notre Dame history. If you expected us to go with anyone else, that's on you.
Freshman of the Year
Jahlil Okafor - Duke Blue Devils (4 votes)
Also receiving votes: Tyus Jones - Duke Blue Devils (1 vote)
JoeSchu is still bitter over the whole Player of the Year vote and appeals to arguments of the true value of the point guard Jones versus the big man Okafor, but Jahlil Okafor has had one of the best seasons offensively of any one-and-done players we have really ever seen. He's a marvel in the post and will be fun to see in the NBA for a long time. He deserves some hardware.
Coach of the Year
Tony Bennett - Virginia Cavaliers (3 votes)
Also receiving votes: Mike Brey - Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2 votes)
This one hurts. I went with Brey, who orchestrated one of the best turnarounds in ACC history from last year to this year in probably the best season of a career of a man who has won three conference coach of the year awards before.
But we give this one to Bennett, who has led the Cavaliers to a second-straight regular season title without the blue chip recruits or the historically dominant program to get there. He has been remarkable, including barely missing a beat when his best player went out for the last month.
Most Improved Player
Rakeem Christmas - Syracuse Orange (4 votes)
Also receiving votes: Justin Anderson - Virginia Cavaliers (1 vote)
Christmas was just incredible this year after a so-so career up until this point. The worst part of the whole Syracuse saga is that a player as good as Christmas does not get a chance to close out his career in the March festivities despite improving over a four-year career arc to become one of the best players in the country. He's a lot of what we love about college basketball, so it's too bad he doesn't get a better ending. Still, the guy gets some hardware for his massive, massive improvements.
Most Underrated Player
Olivier Hanlan - Boston College Eagles (2 votes)
Also receiving votes: Pat Connaughton - Notre Dame Fighting Irish; Demetrius Jackson - Notre Dame Fighting Irish; London Perrantes - Virginia Cavaliers (1 vote each)
Boston College's Hanlan takes home our most underrated player selection, as he toils away for one of the conference's bottom-feeders. Still, he's the conference's leading scorer, nearly a point-and-a-half per game clear of second place, and is relatively efficient in doing so considering the burden he has on that team as really its lone option.
A couple Irish players picked up a vote, as senior Connaughton and much-improved sophomore Jackson impressed enough, as did Virginia's Perrantes, the unsung assist leader on the conference's best team.
Defender of the Year
Tie (2 votes each)
Rakeem Christmas - Syracuse Orange
Malcolm Brogdon - Virginia Cavaliers
Also receiving votes: Darion Atkins - Virginia Cavaliers (1 vote)
We couldn't come to a consensus on this one, as three voters chose to reward the best defense in the conference, with one of those voters going for the big man Atkins over match-up nightmare Brogdon. That gave Brogdon just a tie with the Orange's Christmas, who keeps popping up all over our voting after his stellar senior season and managed to play stiff, aggressive defense most of the season despite shouldering his team's offensive load as well.