ACC Basketball: Preseason Picks for Individual Awards and All-Conference Teams

Ryan SatskyContributor IIISeptember 20, 2012

ACC Basketball: Preseason Picks for Individual Awards and All-Conference Teams

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    By winning an ACC Player of the Year award, that player inserts himself into the same category as Michael Jordan, Len Bias, Ralph Sampson, David Thompson, Christian Laettner, Tim Duncan and Tyler Hansborough, just to name a few.

    As the ACC's best player, the company he joins gives the award an incredible amount of honor.

    In addition to the league's most prestigious award, we take a look at the prospects for the ACC's other top individual awards, as well as the All-Conference teams.

    While it is unsurprising that North Carolina, Duke and NC State are well-represented throughout these slides, many other schools have multiple members in these predictions as the ACC is sure to be one of the most competitive conferences once again.

    Here is a look at my preseason predictions for the ACC's top honors.

All-Freshman Team

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    G - Marcus Paige, North Carolina

    G - Rodney Purvis, NC State

    G - Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke

    F - Alex Murphy, Duke

    C - Shaquille Cleare, Maryland

    It is impossible to include all worthy candidates in All-Conference teams like these— leaving talented newcomers such as Justin Anderson and TJ Warren just below the cut.

    Alex Murphy is the only redshirt freshman on the team, having sat out the 2011-12 season for Duke. Murphy is the younger brother of Florida standout Erik Murphy, and should be productive as a versatile interior threat for the Blue Devils.

    The guards on this team feature a trio of McDonald's All-American playmakers—all playing inside the state of North Carolina. Purvis and Sulaimon are known for electrifying scoring outputs, while Paige will be primarily acting as a distributor for a loaded UNC squad.

    Lastly, we have the big-bodied, wide-framed animal from Maryland, Shaquille Cleare. The Bahamian native should finish as one the league's top rebounders.

All-Defensive Team

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    G - Lorenzo Brown, NC State

    G - Michael Snaer, Florida State

    G - Jontel Evans, Virginia

    F - Kenny Kadji, Miami

    C - Daniel Miller, Georgia Tech

    Defense is often an overlooked aspect of basketball, which is why it is important to honor each league's top defenders at the end of every season.

    This squad features three lockdown on-ball defenders from the guard position.

    Lorenzo Brown is in prime position to lead the ACC in steals for a second consecutive season, as long as he can remain healthy. Jontel Evans and Michael Snaer are two of the quickest, chaotic guards in the conference, and should create havoc for opposing offenses every game.

    Daniel Miller, a 6'11" center from Georgia Tech, finished second in the ACC in blocks per game last season as a sophomore. Look for Miller to improve on that mark this season.

    Kenny Kadji possesses some of the most impressive physical tools in the nation, allowing him to be a top-notch defender. His combination of length, strength and quickness gives him the ability to shut down most forwards and centers.

All-ACC First Team

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    G - Michael Snaer, Florida State

    G - Lorenzo Brown, NC State

    F- James McAdoo, North Carolina

    F - Kenny Kadji, Miami

    F - CJ Leslie, NC State

    Unsurprisingly, NC State leads the way with two out of the five members on the All-ACC First Team. CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown form one of the deadliest guard-forward combos in the nation.

    James McAdoo's numbers suffered from an inevitable lack of playing time as a freshman last season, but UNC's entire frontcourt has cleared out for McAdoo to showcase his talent. McAdoo should be a consistent 20 point, 10-rebound type performer.

    It seems like Michael Snaer has been lighting it up in Tallahassee forever, but the well-rounded guard is now entering his senior season for Florida State. Snaer will once again be Florida State's go-to scorer this season.

    It's astonishingly rare for a 6'11'' power forward to carry range beyond the three-point line, but Kenny Kadji is that versatile. Expect Kadji's already impressive totals of 11.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 42.0 three-point percentage to increase as he continues to develop and put in quality minutes as a junior.

All-ACC Second Team

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    G - Erick Green, Virginia Tech

    G - Seth Curry, Duke

    G - Nick Faust, Maryland

    G - Shane Larkin, Miami

    F - Mason Plumlee, Duke

    The All-ACC Second Team features two recognizable Duke stars, and then three evolving standouts who you may not know as well.

    Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee are seasoned veterans who both found themselves a spot on the All-ACC Third Team last season. I see both of them taking a step up, earning second-team selections.

    Nick Faust is a superb athlete who will be the featured offensive weapon in a high-powered offense at Maryland. Despite several inconsistencies as a freshman last season, Faust has the talent to be a frequent 20-point scorer as a sophomore.

    I truly believe Erick Green is one of the five most talented basketball players in the ACC, but unfortunately, he won't be on the five most productive. Virginia Tech could be painstakingly bad this season following a brutal offseason exodus, and Green's output will suffer as a result. Nonetheless, Green is a former All-ACC second teamer who should provide big numbers for the Hokies.

    Finally, there's Miami's crafty point guard, Shane Larkin. The 5'11'' sophomore showed terrific poise and commendable progress as a young freshman in 2011-12. Look for Larkin to break out as the ACC's top point guard.

All-ACC Third Team

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    G - Ian Miller, Florida State

    G - Marcus Paige, North Carolina

    G - CJ Harris, Wake Forest

    F - Ryan Anderson, Boston College

    F - Richard Howell, NC State

    While Wake Forest will most likely finish the season towards the bottom of the ACC standings, they will likely have a player finishing towards the top of the ACC scoring race in CJ Harris. Harris was a member of the All-ACC Third Team just a season ago

    Another example of a league bottom-dweller with a stud player is Boston College's Ryan Anderson. Anderson was a unanimous All-Freshman team selection last season after averaging 11 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest.

    NC State checks in with a conference-leading third player on one of the three All-Conference teams with double-double specialist Richard Howell. It will be interesting to see if Howell can maintain his production from last year without the help of DeShawn Painter, a 6'9'' center who transferred to Old Dominion.

    Ian Miller has been a role player for the majority of his career at Florida State. With major contributors like Luke Loucks, Deividas Dulkys, Bernard James and Xavier Gibson all having graduated, the opportunity is present for Miller to capitalize and make his junior campaign a tremendous season.

    Barely edging out his teammate Reggie Bullock to become the only freshman on one of the three teams is point guard Marcus Paige. With a lack of point guard depth on the UNC roster, Paige, a talented scorer and facilitator, will be thrown in the starting lineup immediately.

Defensive Player of the Year: Michael Snaer, Florida State

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    A member of the 2011-12 All-ACC Defensive team, Florida State's Michael Snaer has consistently been proving his worthiness of receiving the 2012-13 ACC Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.

    Snaer has been performing at a high level defensively for the past three seasons, but has often been overshadowed by players his elder. This is the year all that changes.

    His defensive statistics don't necessarily pop out at you. Averaging just 1.1 steals and 2.8 defensive rebounds per game as a shooting guard, it is understandable that his contributions on the defensive end of the floor have gone unnoticed.

    While his stats obviously aren't wowing anyone, it is his on-ball containment skills that warrant this selection. Snaer is gifted athletically at 6'5'', 200 pounds, and has tremendous speed which allows him to guard point guards, shooting guards and even some small forwards.

    Snaer will be a major leader on both ends of the floor for the Seminoles this season, and is my pick fot ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

Coach of the Year: Jim Larranaga, Miami

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    Jim Larranaga is a former recipient of the National Coach of the Year award for leading one of the most memorable Final Four runs in history while at George Mason in 2006. In 2012-13, Larranaga may be receiving some new hardware.

    In just his first season at Miami in 2011-12, he led the Hurricanes to their first ever conference record above .500 during their eight seasons in the ACC.

    This season, Larranaga and the Hurricanes have the talent to garner a single-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament. This would culminate Larranaga's quest of reinstating Miami as a basketball powerhouse, something it has not been considered since the late 1990's with now-Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton.

    The Canes' roster boasts such stars like Reggie Johnson, Durand Scott, Kenny Kadji and Shane Larkin. With these premier players, Miami will possibly be able to work their way into the top four of the ACC standings and achieve a conference tournament first-round bye.

    If Larranaga can accomplish that feat, his incredible work should be recognized with an ACC Coach of the Year trophy.

Rookie of the Year: Marcus Paige, North Carolina

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    Marcus Paige may not have been the highest ranked 2012 ACC recruit, but he should have the most productive freshman season, earning him 2012-13 ACC Freshman of the Year honors.

    Paige will be featured more prominently in his team's offense than other high-profile freshman ACC guards like Rasheed Sulaimon and Rodney Purvis, thus giving him the nod.

    The talented, 6'1'' point guard will start right away for North Carolina, as Kendall Marshall is now in the NBA. Marshall's backup from last season, Stilman White, is not with the team this season.

    Paige will see plenty of time with the ball in his hands. He has the physical capabilities to drive through the lane, find his teammates on the wings or in the low post or finish the play himself.

    I see Paige as an instant contributor who can average 12 points and six assists per game. Those tallies should be enough for him to be selected as the conference's top freshman.

Player of the Year: CJ Leslie, NC State

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    CJ Leslie has always had an unbelievable amount of talent, physicality and promise. This is the year everything all comes together for him, as he is my pick to win the 2012-13 ACC Player of the Year.

    Leslie is a beast at 6'9'', 210 pounds. He works hard in the low post like a true power forward, but can stretch the floor out similarly to Chris Bosh.

    As a sophomore for NC State last season, Leslie totaled 14.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest as his Wolfpack received an No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

    If Leslie can stay out of foul trouble, which has haunted him previously, he can certainly evolve into a 20-point, 10 rebound-per-game-type player.

    With a host of supreme talent surrounding him, the 2012-13 ACC Player of the Year award is a legitimate possibility for Leslie. All he has to do is go out every game and earn it, because his talent will surely take him there.