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.