Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports
Who will be the ACC Player of the Year? Do you really care?
A little background for everyone who does not live within the home delivery limits of the News & Observer. The basketball season does not end with March Madness, nor does it begin with Midnight Madness. These dates might mean something in Atlanta or Lexington or Bloomington, but not here in Eastern NC. Here, the sun never sets on ACC basketball. So, it is assumed that you will be surprised to know the basketball world is troubled by the dilemma facing voters for Player of the Year, and also, the All-ACC Team. Here is the problem. Everyone who matters (read, the sportswriters in NC and, of course, the talking heads at ESPN) assumed Mason Plumlee and C.J. Leslie would be the POTY favorites, hands down. But, as luck would have it, Erick Green and Shane Larkin played buttinsky with this scenario. Now there are people saying Leslie might not even make third team All-ACC and that Plumlee may not be the best player on his own team. Of course, Plumlee is still the favorite to win, even though Leslie is not. Why? It falls into the category of "what do the very important people think?" The Vegas odds makers know the people who cast the votes are the very same people saying it should be Plumlee. It matters not that Duke is undefeated with Ryan Kelley in the lineup and has lost four games (one in a blowout) without him. That he came back after almost two months of inaction and scored 54 points in two games has no weight about who is the POTY in Durham. Plumlee, who never takes a shot from beyond five feet, does not lead the league in FG%. Or, in spite of being seven feet tall, does not lead in rebounding. But, forget Plumlee for a moment. Erick Green leads the nation in scoring and also happens to play in the ACC. Not only is he the leading ACC scorer, he leads by a ton. The next best scorer is almost eight points a game behind Green and he is incredibly listed in the top ten in FG% and assists. The fact he plays for the last place team works against him with voters, who like to say the best player needs to be on the best team. So, if that is the criteria, why is Shane Larkin not being mentioned in these discussions? He is clearly the best player on the regular season ACC Championship team and is having a decent year by any measure. I admit, his stats are not league leading, but he is the point guard and "on the floor" leader of the team. It is hard to imagine Miami at the top of the ACC standings without him. So, who is my POTY? I think you have to give it to the best player on the best team. Especially if that player is the floor general. My vote goes to Shane Larkin. To round out the top five I have Erick Green, Mason Plumlee, Richard Howell, and Joe Harris. My second five is Kenny Kadji, Ryan Kelly, Ryan Anderson, Seth Curry, and James Michael McAdoo. My third five is CJ Harris, Lorenzo Brown, CJ Leslie, Durand Scott, and Reggie Bullock. I did not put any GT players on my list for this reason. None have been consistent enough (or dominant enough to overcome the inconsistency) to warrant this level of praise. My top freshman five has Robert Carter, Jr., Devin Thomas, Rasheed Sulaimon, Marcus Paige, and TJ Warren.