All head coaches and select players from each ACC team gathered in Charlotte, N.C. this afternoon for ACC Operation Basketball, the conference’s annual media event. Among the topics discussed were the predicted order of finish, the All-Conference team, Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year. Let’s take a look at some highlights from the afternoon’s action.
Each head coach spoke to the media about their team’s prospects in the coming year. Check out Coach K’s season preview with Sage Steele on SportsCenter, which aired earlier today.
Next up: the ACC Preseason Poll. While meaningless, they are undoubtedly enjoyable to look through and analyze. While there is a clear cut favorite this year, the rest of the ACC seems to be a jumbled mess.
1. Duke (61)
2. Virginia Tech
3. North Carolina (1)
4. North Carolina State
5. Florida State
9. Georgia Tech
10. Boston College
12. Wake Forest
As you can see, some idiot gave North Carolina a first-place vote. [Update: apparently, the vote for UNC was an honest mistake. But that doesn’t make that guy any less of an idiot.] At least sixty-one other people acknowledged Duke’s superiority. Last season, as disparate as Duke and UNC were (see: 82-50), both teams were voted at this very event to finish tied for first place. While Duke is far and away the best team in the conference, the teams finishing second through fifth could easily change. N.C. State will definitely surprise people this year, while Virginia Tech may be (for once) a tad bit overrated. Ryan Harrow will give the Wolfpack something to get excited about, while Virginia Tech may not be as good as the media makes them out to be, especially with heralded transfer Allan Chaney unable to play this year due to a heart infection. Our pals over at North Carolina will ride Prince Harry all season. However, the loss of Will Graves, is huge…in more ways than one. (See what I did there?) UNC will face depth issues in the frontcourt for the duration of the year.
The coaches and media also voted for the preseason All-Conference team, which was once again dominated by Blue Devils. Headlined by preseason All-America favorites, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, the rest of the squad was filled out by a trio of upperclassmen – Virginia Tech senior Malcolm Delaney, N.C. State senior Tracy Smith, and Florida State junior Chris Singleton. The only real surprise here was to see no love for Prince Harry here. But we’ll talk about him in a little bit.
In other news, the Kingler was also chosen as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, leading the way with 38 votes. No real surprises there. Kyle is the most accomplished returning player in college basketball, and is the senior leader of the most talented team in college basketball. However, guys like Malcolm Delaney or Prince Harry could give Kyle a run for his money here, especially since they look to be the focal points of their team’s offensive sets. Regardless, it would be nice to see Kyle get his due as one of the most complete players Duke has had in recent memory. He should lead the candidates in this category as well as voting for National Player of the Year.
The final award that was voted upon was for ACC Rookie of the Year. Obviously, Prince Harry Barnes ran away with this one, garnering 46 media votes. Barnes, who revealed that his nickname is the ‘Black Falcon’ (I’ll let you all take that for what you will), will enter this season with an unbelievable amount of hype. Guys like Gary Parrish have already crowned him as the leading candidate for National Player of the Year, comparing him to the likes of Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and John Wall in terms of impact. But after seeing Kyrie on court with the team last Friday, I can’t help but think that K1 will be making a serious play for this award. While Barnes will be doing his best to impersonate MJ himself, Kyrie will have the reins to the most explosive thoroughbred in the NCAA this year. I won’t be surprised in the slightest if Irving takes home Rookie of the Year honors.