We had our writers cast ballots for a slate of all-conference preseason honors, to include 1st and 2nd team, all-freshman, and player, rookie, and defensive player of the year. Twenty different players got votes for one of the two All-ACC teams, none a consensus, nine different freshmen got votes for the rookie team, but at least there was largely consensus in the player of the year debate. The takeaway? The top-level of talent isn’t as clear cut, isn’t as immediately obvious as it has been in years past. The ranking was so nebulous that a couple of our writers shied away from even picking beyond the first team.
First Team All-ACC
Jordan Nwora (Jr., Louisville) – 40 Points – The preseason player of the year, and highest-returning vote-getter from last year’s all-ACC teams, Nwora arguably could’ve gone pro last year. The combo forward scores, defends, and rebounds very well. The unquestioned lead dog for a trendy Final Four pick, expect Nwora’s hype-level to stay elevated all season long as he looks to pad his draft stock. He’s the quintessential modern 4, a big physical forward who’s equally comfortable playing on the perimeter as he is fighting in the paint.
Markell Johnson (Sr., NC State) – 40 Points – The fourth year floor general has been a major player for two straight years now. Coach Kevin Keatts gives Johnson a green light both to facilitate and to score. He’s the Pack’s leading returning scorer (12.6 ppg), which he did behind a stellar 42% 3-point-percentage, and also led his team with 4.2 apg. And that assist number was down from his sophomore year when he led the ACC with over 7 dimes a game. Sky’s the limit in his final season.
Cole Anthony (Fr., North Carolina) – 40 Points – Cole is the ACC’s only real can’t-miss freshman prospect this year. He was a Top 5 prospect out of Oak Hill who is a naturally gifted scorer and passer. Expect him to put up numbers akin to what Coby White did last year. Anthony is the only ACC player projected by NBADraft.net to be taken in the NBA Draft Lottery next summer, and we’re comfortable saying he’ll get both the points and the assist totals to justify this position.
Chris Lykes (Jr., Miami) – 25 Points – The former WCAC player of the year was asked to do everything by coach Larranaga his sophomore year on a very thin Canes team. He led his team in scoring (16.2 ppg) and assists (3.2 apg). He does have his limitations, however, shooting only 32% from deep last year after shooting 35% as a freshman, and coughing up 2.9 turnovers a game. While the Canes will bring in a new assortment of wing options to share in the scoring load, Lykes will likely still be the alpha option. If he can get the Canes back into the NCAA Tournament, expect all-conference honors to go with it.
Brandon Childress (Sr., Wake Forest) – 25 Points – The ACC’s best point guard that no one talks about, Childress’s production is obscured by Wake Forest’s dismal results. He led the Deacons in scoring (14.7 ppg) and assists (4.0) while limiting turnovers and shooting effeciently. Brandon is one of the ACC’s feel good stories, a very lightly recruited guard out of HS who many felt only got an offer to Wake due to his lineage, he’s proven he belongs among the ACC’s best.
Tre Jones (So., Duke) – 25 Points – Many are expecting the sophomore point guard to take a big step forward this year now out of the shadows of Zion and RJ. The #15 overall recruit in 2018, Jones made his bones as a cool facilitator (5.3 apg) and defensive pest. Without as obvious a crop of ball-dominant scorers joining him this year, Jones will have the opportunity to take on more of a scoring role to complement his passing, though his 3-point shooting will need to improve. NBADraft.net has him as an early 2nd rounder in next summer’s draft.
Mamadi Diakite (RS Sr., Virginia) – 25 Points – Diakite’s modest junior numbers (7.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg) took a massive leap when thrust into a larger role in the NCAA Tournament, averaging over 10 points and 8 boards a game. He’s in line to become a focal point of the Virginia offense this year, and with additional minutes should see his scoring jump to be as impressive as his shot-blocking prowess. Currently projected as the 32nd pick in the upcoming draft, Diakite is in line for a big senior year.
Second Team All-ACC
John Mooney (Sr., Notre Dame) – 20 Points – An all-ACC third-teamer last year, Mooney exploded onto the scene by averaging a double-double on the year (14.1 ppg, 11.2 rpg). In conference play, he was even better, and was arguably the league’s best all-around big man despite being hidden on last-place Notre Dame. There’s no reason to think the Irish will shy away from feeding Mooney again this year, as his 38% 3-point percentage makes him very difficult to defend.
Vernon Carey (Fr., Duke) – 15 Points – The headliner of Duke’s freshman class, Carey is a consensus Top 10 prospect and projected 1st rounder in next year’s draft. Strong and athletic with a scorer’s touch, he’ll be featured as the Devils’ inside threat from the get go, and should see as many minutes as he can handle at the 5-spot. expect him to rack up both points and rebounds in Duke’s energetic systems.
Elijah Hughes (RS Jr., Syracuse) – 10 Points – The lone returning starter from last year’s NCAAT squad, Hughes will be a near lock to lead the Orange in touches after scoring almost 14 points a game last year. A 37% 3-point shooter last season, Hughes also provides the Orange their most effective floor-spacing threat, so expect him to push for twenty points a game while the rest of the Cuse roster figures itself out.
Nik Popovic (Sr., Boston College) – 10 Points – Another standout on a bad team, Popovic will be the unquestioned focual point of the Eagles attack after 14.5 points and 7.2 rebounds a game as a junior. He scores efficiently on the blocks, and is an effective if unspectactular shot blocker. Expect his effiency to drop this year as defenses key on him more, but his volume should increase as well.
Temple Gibbs (Sr., Notre Dame) – 10 Points – The most consistent outside scoring presence on the Irish, Gibbs was a volume shooter for the Irish, shooting over 12 times a game. While his 3P% was lacking (32%) he still averated 13.4 ppg while pairing that with a 3.4:1.2 A:TO ratio. The Irish are expected to climb back into the NCAAT discussion this year, and Gibbs taking one more step forward would be a big part of it.
|Seattle Hoo||StLouHoo||Valentine||Karl Hess||Maize|
|First||Cole Anthony||Cole Anthony||Mamadi Diakite||Jordan Nwora||Jordan Nwora|
|First||Markell Johnson||Chris Lykes||Jordan Nwora||Cole Anthony||Chris Lykes|
|First||Tre Jones||Elijah Hughes||Markell Johnson||John Mooney||Brandon Childress|
|First||Temple Gibbs||Jordan Nwora||Vernon Carey||Markell Johnson||Markell Johnson|
|First||Mamadi Diakite||Nic Popovic||Cole Anthony||Tre Jones||John Mooney|
|Second||Brandon Childress||Harlond Beverly||Mamadi Diakite|
|Second||Tre Jones||Matthew Hurt||Dwayne Sutton|
|Second||Christian Keeling||Brandon Childress||Chris Lykes|
|Second||Braxton Key||Jay Huff||Brandon Childress|
|Second||Vernon Carey||Wendell Moore||Christian Keeling|
All-ACC Freshman Team
Cole Anthony (North Carolina) – 15 Points – The best freshman in the league by most all accounts, Anthony has drawn rave reviews already in his limited appearances as the Tar Heels’ starting point guard. He both scores and facilitates, and should rack up gaudy stats in his one season in the ACC. The biggest no-brainer selection of this team.
Vernon Carey (Duke) – 15 Points – The closest thing to a sure-bet 1-and-done of Duke’s current freshman class, Carey will be handed the starting 5 spot and asked to immediately provide a post scoring presence for the talented Blue Devils. The top-10 prospect arrives with a college ready body and skillset, though will run into one of the most challenging collections of big men the ACC has had in some time.
Casey Morsell (Virginia) – 10 Points – There are other freshmen in the ACC ranked higher than Morsell, but few who have the opportunity and degree of roster-fit that he does. Already being compared to former 1st-team all-American Malcolm Brogdon, Casey will be given the opportunity to earn the starting 2-guard spot after the big NBA exodus from the Cavs’ backcourt. As starting PG Kihei Clark is more pass-first, it leaves Morsell as the potential designated bucket-getter in the champs’ guard rotation.
Samuell Williamson (Louisville) – 10 Points – The lone McDonald’s All-American in the Cardinals’ big, well-rated six-man freshman class, Williamson is being touted as an immediate major contributor on the wing. He’ll step into the 3-spot vacated by VJ King’s departure, and have a lot of talent around him to draw defensive attention. The drawback, sharing touches with a veteran cast may ultimately diminish his stats as a freshman.
Various – 5 Points – With the league lacking many obvious future-pros in the freshman class, the remaining votes were split between five different rookies. Point guard Jalen Cone and forward Landers Nolley (redshirted) at Virginia Tech, wing Patrick Williams at FSU, stretch-big Matthew Hurt at Duke, and guard Harold Beverly at Miami are all well-rated prospects who will step into favorable roster situations for big potential contributions this season.
|Freshman||Cole Anthony||Harlond Beverly||Cole Anthony|
|Freshman||Samuell Williamson||Cole Anthony||Vernon Carey|
|Freshman||Patrick Williams||Vernon Carey||Matthew Hurt|
|Freshman||Landers Nolley||Casey Morsell||Casey Morsell|
|Freshman||Vernon Carey||Jalen Cone||Samuell Williamson|
Freshman of the Year
Freshman of the Year
|ROY||Cole Anthony||Cole Anthony||Cole Anthony||Cole Anthony|
Defensive Player of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
|DPOY||Mamadi Diakite||Mamadi Diakite||Mamadi Diakite||Mamadi Diakite|
Player of the Year
Player of the Year
|POY||Jordan Nwora||Cole Anthony||Jordan Nwora||Jordan Nwora|