Are the Tar Heels Starting Five Also The ACC’s Starting Five? Not Quite, But Pretty Close.


This Sunday, Hollywood’s brightest stars will gather for the 84thAnnual Academy Awards capping off the 2012 awards season. However, in college basketball land the awards are far from over as individual honors are still very much up for grabs including the all-important conference accolades. John Henson is the reigning ACC defensive player of the year, and I foresee him taking home that honor again this season. Last year, believe it or not, not a single Tar Heel made first team All-ACC. Zeller, Henson and Barnes were all listed on the 2nd team with Barnes also taking home Freshman of the Year honors. Kendall Marshall along with Barnes earned spots on the all-Freshman team.

But that was last year. This year one could make a very strong case that Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Kendall Marshall and Tyler Zeller all deserve to be on the 1st team All-ACC. But of course, this ain’t happening. If we were talking about Duke players, there would be a slight chance that the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association would maybe stack the first team with four Blue Devils. I think we all know that will never happen to the Tar Heels. At the mention of 1st team all-ACC projections, Mike Gminiski stated that he believed Zeller, Barnes and Henson were all worthy of 1st team status but he doubt they would allow three Tar Heels on the 1st team.

I think Zeller and Henson have locked in their spots for the 1st team especially Zeller who is a senior. Henson leads the league in blocked shots, defensive rebounding and total rebounding. Zeller leads in the offensive rebounding category,is  2nd behind Mike Scott in field goal percentage and 7th in scoring. So that leaves the conundrum of Barnes and Marshall. Chances are one or both of these guys will wind up on the 2nd team All-ACC. Are you kidding me with the seasons these guys are having? Barnes is behind only Maryland’s Terrel Stoglin in the scoring category, and his field goal percentage is better than Stoglin’s. Harrison Barnes might end up on 2nd team, but I doubt that will bother him when he’s a top five NBA draft prospect.

This brings me to Kendall Marshall. After his performance in Raleigh, I don’t think anyone can deny his value as a player. But for the better part of the season he has not been a scorer but who cares? The guy is averaging 9.8 assists per game! The next closest assist man is Lorenzo Brown from NC State with 6.4. I would also like to point out that not a single Duke player ranks among the top 10 in ACC assist leaders. Not one. Not one Duke player this year could manage to average at least 2.8 assists a game. Marshall’s assist numbers are phenomenal and any other year he would be a no-brainer for 1st team honors. But, I see him being bumped down to the second team simply by the amount of talent he is surrounded by. So here are my predictions for 1st team All-ACC honors:

ACC 1st Team

Tyler Zeller-UNC

John Henson-UNC

Mike Scott-UVA

Terrel Stoglin-Maryland

Harrison Barnes-UNC

If the committee decides to put Barnes on the 2nd team, they will likely replace him with a Dookie (even though I have no clue who it would be). Austin Rivers deserves to be named Freshman of the Year and that’s where it should end. I know we are all biased, but the stats speak for themselves. Here is the link to the current individual ACC statistics. If you took away the team names, you would see FOUR Tar Heels with the most impressive statistics. It just so happens that UNC players are leading the ACC in almost every major individual category. But the ACC and the ACSMA will not give them the credit they deserve. As we all well know there are far too many journalists who abide by the ABC mentality, Anybody But Carolina. In the grand scheme of things these honors are a moot and insignificant point. But, I will leave you with this question. If you were coaching a team of 2011-2012 ACC players, who would be your starting five and how many of them would be dressed in baby blue?