Virginia Tech’s Erick Green, Virginia’s Joe Harris are part of all-ACC basketball team
By Mark Giannotto,
Virginia, meantime, likely needs another win or two if it hopes to have a successful Selection Sunday.
But that didn’t stop their star players from being featured prominently when the all-ACC teams were announced Monday afternoon.
They were joined on the first team by Duke’s Mason Plumlee, Miami’s Shane Larkin and North Carolina State’s Richard Howell.
In addition, Cavaliers forward Akil Mitchell was named third team all-ACC and teammate Jontel Evans earned all-ACC defensive honors for a second straight season.
Maryland center Alex Len, who led the conference in blocked shots, also was part of the all-ACC defense team.
However, it’s the first time since 1992-93 that no Terrapins player was selected for any of the three all-ACC teams.
Among local products, Duke’s Quinn Cook, an All-Met at DeMatha, also earned all-ACC third-team honors.
Green became the first ACC player since South Carolina’s Grady Wallace in 1956-57 to lead the nation in scoring; Green has averaged 25.4 points this season.
He’s also the first player from a major conference to lead the country in scoring since Purdue’s Glenn Robinson in 1993-94.
Green capped his regular season by tying his career high with 35 points in a loss at Wake Forest on Sunday. He finished the regular season with a school season-record 786 points, one more than Bimbo Coles in 1990-91.
Despite often facing double- and triple-teams and receiving little help from his supporting cast, Green was held below 20 points just three times. The two-time All-Met from Winchester also was remarkably efficient — he shot a career-high 48.2 percent from the field and averaged just 17 field goal attempts per game.
Green, who was named one of 15 finalists for the Wooden Award this weekend, led the nation in free throws made and attempted as well. His accomplishments are all the more remarkable considering he averaged just 2.6 points and shot 29.3 percent from the field as a freshman in 2009-10.
“I expected him to have a good year because he was a senior and he was a proven player in the ACC and he worked his tail off during the offseason,” Virginia Tech Coach James Johnson said. “But to put himself in position to lead the country in scoring, I didn’t think he would do that. I wasn’t thinking in those terms. He’s had a special year, an amazing year, and . . . he deserves every bit of it because he works so hard on his game.”
Harris, meantime, made a seamless transition into the role of go-to scorer this season after star Mike Scott graduated and moved on to the NBA.
Harris averaged a career-high 17 points, led the ACC in three-point shooting and finished as the league’s second-leading scorer in conference games.
The junior was the only ACC player to finish in the top 10 in overall shooting percentage, three-point percentage and free throw percentage.
He poured in a career-high 36 points, tied for the most by any ACC player this season, when Virginia upset No. 3 Duke on Feb. 28.
“You’ll never question Joe’s warrior mentality, how hard he’s gonna go and what he’s gonna do,” Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said after Harris had an uncharacteristically poor shooting performance in a win over Maryland on Sunday (4 of 18 for 15 points). “He added a couple more dimensions to his game from last year.”
Mitchell finished third in the ACC in rebounding (8.9 per game) and averaged 13.1 points. He registered 11 double-doubles, one more than Scott had a season ago, and thrived defensively even though he was forced to play out of position against bigger opponents.
“He’s so active and whether it’s on the glass, defensively . . . he finds a way to make an impact,” said Bennett, who called Mitchell’s production and improvement this year “a pleasant surprise.”
The ACC will announce its coach, player and rookie of the year Tuesday.
For the first time, the ACC’s coaches also will vote on an all-ACC team and it will be announced following this week’s conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C.