Justice is Served! Zeller and Henson Take Home ACC Awards


After the voters screwed over North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall, fear set in.  Would they dare do this to Tyler Zeller or John Henson who both so clearly deserve the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards also?  I waited all day nervously by the TV, hovering over my laptop like a hawk, waiting on the news.  Then I saw that the Sporting News decided to throw their hat in the screw over UNC ring just before the ACC announcements came through.  I’m disappointed in myself that I was actually surprised a national media outlet refused to give the Tar Heels their just due.  On their All-American teams that they announced just hours ago, they chose to leave Zeller off their first team completely placing him on their second team.  The only other Heel to make any of their three teams, Harrison Barnes who was placed on the third team.  By this point in the day, I almost expected the ACC to find a way to give these awards to someone not sporting Carolina blue.

But apparently even the ACC voters, the same one’s that screwed over Marshall aren’t even that stupid.  Tyler Zeller was awarded with the conferences highest individual award, the ACC Player of the Year Award.  The senior center was the only candidate in my opinion and in the end he trumped Virginia’s Mike Scott for the honor.  Zeller became the Tar Heels rock this season playing the most consistent basketball not only on the roster but in the conference.  Big Z runs the floor better than any other big man in the nation.  He’s amongst the top three rebounders and defenders in the conference also, a side of his game that gets overshadowed by his offensive prowess.  If not for Henson, Zeller would be a prime candidate for the defensive player of the year award Henson took home.

"“This is just phenomenal,” says head coach Roy Williams. “It’s an outstanding recognition of an outstanding young man who has been playing big time basketball for us all year. He performed at a high level on extremely consistent basis and did so in every phase of the game.”"

"“It’s a very special honor, something you dream about when you are a young player,” says Zeller. “I am so proud to know that as a result my jersey will go in the rafters (at the Smith Center), which is another great honor. You look up there and see the names of the Tar Heels who came before you and you know that it’s a tremendous honor that my jersey will be up there with them."

John Henson once again took home the conferences defensive player of the year award becoming just the second player ever to win the award twice.  Henson blossomed his junior year becoming the all around player everyone envisioned when he arrived in Chapel Hill.  Henson added an offensive game to his dominate defensive reputation this season while also being one of the conferences top rebounders.  Henson led the conference with an amazing average of 10.3 rebounds per game and 16 double-doubles in 31 games.   The long, shot blocking machine was more than just a shot blocker this year.  Henson is a big time force inside the paint and his mere presence creates huge problems for opposing offenses.

"“John is a game-changing presence on defense, someone who has a direct impact on the opposition’s ability to score in every game,” says Williams. “He blocks at least three shots and probably alters at least that many that result in missed shots. Plus, he cleans up so many misses that help us start our break. He’s been a big factor for us.”"

Follow @Keeping_It_Heel