The second-ranked Cavaliers (28-2, 16-2), the regular season league champions for a second straight year, were well represented in the conference’s honors. Junior guard Malcolm Brogdon was named to the all-ACC first team after leading Virginia in scoring this season with 13.7 points per game. Brogdon was a first-team coaches’ team selection last season, and he was recently named a finalist for the Wooden Award, given to the nation’s best player.
Junior guard Justin Anderson, who has not played since Feb. 7 because of a broken finger and then an appendectomy, was a second-team selection. Forward Anthony Gill (third team) and point guard London Perrantes (honorable mention) rounded out Virginia’s honors.
Atkins, the only ACC player to lead his team in both blocks (31) and steals (26), is the first Virginia player to win defensive player of the year in the award’s 11-year history. The team’s lone scholarship senior averaged 7.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game this season, his first as a regular starter for the Cavaliers.
Atkins was the only player the Cavaliers nominated for the honor, and some voters said they would have voted for Brogdon, who typically guarded the opponent’s best perimeter player, had he been an option. Both players made the all-ACC defensive team, and Brogdon got 12 more votes than Atkins. Virginia has the country’s top-ranked scoring defense.
Bennett is the ninth coach to win ACC coach of the year honors in back-to-back seasons. He also won a conference coach of the year award for the Pacific-10 when he was the coach at Washington State. Bennett, 45, guided the Cavaliers to their best 29-game record in program history this season. Virginia will play either Clemson or Florida State on Thursday in its first ACC tournament game.
Duke freshman center Jahlil Okafor won player of the year honors, while Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant finished second and Brogdon came in third with three votes. Joining Brogdon on the all-ACC first team were Okafor, Grant, Syracuse forward Rakeem Christmas and Boston College guard Olivier Hanlan.
D.C. Sports Bog: Two Maryland basketball teams, two top 10 rankings