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THE BIG COUNTDOWN: STL’s Preseason All-ACC Ballot

Here’s the ballot submitted for ACC accolades this preseason.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Notre Dame vs Louisville Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC’s Operation Basketball (read: ACC Basketball Media Day) takes place this coming Tuesday (October 8). As part of the proceedings, media members are asked to vote for the preseason All-ACC team, Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and predicted order of finish. In the name of full transparency, here is the ballot I submitted:

All-ACC Team

Jordan Nwora, Jr., F, Louisville
Tre Jones, So., G, Duke
Aamir Simms, Jr., F, Clemson
Cole Anthony, Fr., G, North Carolina
Mamadi Diakite, RS Sr., F, Virginia

For the first time ever, there are no players from the first or second All-ACC team returning to the conference. Seven of the players — Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy, Cam Johnson, Ty Jerome, and Coby White — went in the 2019 NBA Draft. The remaining three either graduated (Luke Maye), left early for the pros (Ky Bowman), or transferred (Kerry Blackshear). Only Louisville’s Jordan Nwora and Notre Dame’s John Mooney are back from the third team.

Nwora was the easiest pick for All-ACC (more on him in a minute), and Tre Jones seems like a no-brainer as he returns to build off of a solid freshman year at Duke. Aamir Simms has always impressed, and I like Cole Anthony to be ready to go from day one. Diakite is going to assume a lot of responsibility on this year’s Virginia squad, and if he steps up to the plate, he should have a resume to earn a spot here.

Also considered: Cassius Stanley, John Mooney, Elijah Hughes

Player of the Year

Jordan Nwora, Jr., F, Louisville

I really like this guy’s game. He tested the NBA waters, but decided to return to the Cards for at least one more season. Nwora led Louisville in both scoring (17 points per game) and rebounding (7.6 per game), numbers that were good enough for seventh and ninth in the league, respectively. He also shot 37% from behind the arc, which isn’t too shabby.

Rookie of the Year

Cole Anthony, Fr., G, North Carolina

Last year’s Rookie of the Year race was pretty much a two-man race before the season started (RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson), and the latter ran away with it before the calendar even turned to December. This season, there are a lot more candidates that could realistically take home the title. Duke’s Cassius Stanley is the most likely candidate from the Blue Devils (he can jump really, really high), but don’t overlook Vernon Carey, Wendell Moore, or Matthew Hurt out of that class of six freshmen. Louisville’s incoming class — which ranks third in the ACC — is highlighted by five star Samuell Williamson.

But, I’m going with Anthony. The hype around him appears to be legit. He has the ability to fit with more experienced players at North Carolina, and CBS Sports has him in the No. 1 spot of its 2020 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Louisville
  2. Duke
  3. North Carolina
  4. Virginia
  5. Florida State
  6. Notre Dame
  7. Syracuse
  8. NC State
  9. Clemson
  10. Miami
  11. Boston College
  12. Pittsburgh
  13. Georgia Tech
  14. Virginia Tech
  15. Wake Forest

The ACC seems to be three tiers this year. The top four (Louisville, Duke, UNC, and Virginia), the bottom five (Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, and Boston College), and the rest. I went with Louisville in the top spot because 1. their roster is solid and 2. they have a pretty favorable ACC schedule. Duke took the second spot thanks to their favorable ACC schedule, and I gave UNC the nod over Virginia because of the post-title rebuild for the Cavaliers.

Florida State returns some players (MJ Walker, Trent Forrest) from last year’s Sweet 16 team, and Notre Dame returns Mooney and gets Rex Pfleuger back from injury. Syracuse through Miami have a lot of questions but should be tough outs. Boston College and Pitt likely won’t struggle as much as in recent years. It could be a long season for the Techs and Wake Forest.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments! The official results will be out on Thursday, October 10.