Erick Green and Mason Plumlee Are all-ACC First Team, But Who Should Join Them?Posted by Jimmy Kelley on March 4th, 2013
Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @JimmyKelley_
Unlike the ACC Player of the Year Award, All-Conference honors are handed out based on who had the most outstanding season in relation to the other players in the league. However, much like the POY award, there are different schools of thought about how the team should be ordered. Do you honor the five best players regardless of position, or do you fill it out like any other team with one player from each of the guard, forward and center spots? Personally I believe in the former and based on that there are two players who simply cannot be left off of this year’s All-ACC first team: Erick Green of Virginia Tech and Mason Plumlee of Duke. But who has earned the other three spots? There are a handful of contenders for those three slots with a few playing their way onto the team and a few others on their way out.
After Plumlee and Green the first logical place to look is at who has played well in big games and has the stats to back up their play on the court. The first three players that come to mind here are Richard Howell, Shane Larkin and Joe Harris. Each plays a major role for his team, each is his team’s steadying force and each player has had a transcendent game against Duke.
Howell’s may be the easiest case to make because he is the truest center in the league and is averaging 12.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in ACC games (12.8 PPG/11.1 RPG overall) and his 16-point, 18-rebound effort against Duke was one of the first truly impressive games of the ACC season. He is the rock on an otherwise inconsistent team that has gotten mixed results from both their talented freshman class and star junior forward, C.J. Leslie. This has not been the season many thought was in store for the Wolfpack, but without Howell it could have been much worse.
Larkin’s case is grounded in the eye test. He has only had one double-double this season and it came in the Hurricanes’ 27-point win over Duke when he tallied 18 points and 10 rebounds to go with five assists. His averages both in conference (14.1 PPG, 4.8 APG, 4.2 RPG) and overall (13.8 PPG/4.3 APG/, 3.9 RPG) are underwhelming for a point guard but all you need to do is watch how he carries himself on the court to flesh out how important of a player he has been to Miami’s success. He has handled himself well down the stretch of close games and has emerged as a sophomore leader on a team full of seniors and fifth-year guys.
Harris made his case on Thursday night against Duke when he started drawing comparisons to Larry Bird from some writers by dropping 36 points on the Blue Devils and looking positively unstoppable. He’s second in the league in scoring at 17.1 points per game and is shooting a staggering 49.9 percent from the field and 46.3 percent from three. He’s arguably the second-most valuable player in the league behind Green and, despite the egg UVA laid against Boston College, could have the Cavaliers’ NCAA Tournament bound. He has been outstanding and his case is one of the best in the league unless something drastic happens in the next two games.
Those are the three players who should be joining Green and Plumlee on the all-ACC team but there are a few “honorable mentions” who will get serious consideration or perhaps even steal a spot on the team.
- Ryan Anderson, Boston College: 15.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG; BC’s most talented player (for now); had good games against Duke and Miami.
- Seth Curry, Duke: 16.9 PPG, 45.7 percent FG%, 43.3 percent 3FG%; Duke’s go-to guy for big shots; case gains momentum when considering he doesn’t even practice.
- Lorenzo Brown, NC State: 12.6 PPG, 7.0 APG; one of the best game managers in the conference; NC State looked awful without him running things.
- Reggie Bullock, North Carolina: 14.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 48.8 percent FG%, 44.4 percent 3FG%; UNC’s steadiest player throughout the year; playing well down the stretch in smaller lineup.
- C.J. Leslie, NC State: 15.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 53.6 percent FG%; can dominate when he shows up to play, but has disappeared more than a few times.