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(RNN) – And the award for ACC PPP Player of the Year goes to … Miami point guard Shane Larkin.
Say, that's a nice looking trophy. Wait, is that a baseball?
(Huddles the PPPollsters)
Yes, I'm sure it's a baseball. It has stitching on it. When is the last time you saw someone sew a basketball?
That is some nice engraving though – "SHANE LARPIN." Larpin? No, please tell me this is a bad dream. Who did you put in charge of the trophy? Cranky old man??
Do you realize how much glaucoma medicine he's on right now? I know it's legal in that state; he still shouldn't be taking care of something so important. Tell me you did not just say "It's the thought that counts."
For Krzyzewski's sake, let's get to the list.
ACC Player Power Poll: Final standings
1. Shane Larkin, Miami Hurricanes
Season averages: 13.7 points, 4.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 2 steals. Three PPP wins, four appearances.
The sophomore topped the charts while leading the Hurricanes to their first-ever ACC title of any kind, with a conference record of 15-3.
The 5'11" point guard is an absolute speed demon who drive to the basket, shoots the ‘J' and find his teammates for open shots. He also plays tough defense, had the most steals in conference play and is an above average rebounder for his position.
Plus, he's the son of a Baseball Hall of Famer (Barry Larkin) and got his nickname, "Sugar Shane," from Deion Sanders. Cool shoes, too.
The ‘Canes slipped down the stretch, losing three of five, but they recovered in time to beat Clemson 62-49 on Sunday and cut down the nets at home.
Game of the year: 18 points, nine assists, four rebounds Feb. 9 against North Carolina (W 87-61).
2. Richard Howell, NC State Wolfpack
12.7 points, 10.6 rebounds, 56 percent shooting. One PPP win, four appearances.
Howell led the conference in rebounding this season and put together some monster games while teammates played through ups and downs.
The senior uses his big frame (6'8", 257) to out-muscle guys in the paint and is highly-skilled at anticipating where the ball will come off the glass. He also shows good court vision for an interior player, both in his passing and his spacing on the floor.
His overall hustle, including his willingness to dive on the floor for a loose ball, inspired the PPPollsters to dub him "The High Priest of Hustle." Well, that and the beard.
GOTY: 16 points and 18 rebounds Jan. 12 against Duke (W 84-76).
3. Joe Harris, Virginia Cavaliers
17 points, 2.3 3-pointers, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists. One PPP win (tie), four appearances.
Shooter Joe helped his team get a top-4 seed and first-round bye in the ACC tournament after it beat Maryland on Sunday, 61-58, in overtime. The 6'6" junior averaged 20.4 points in the last 12 games of the season.
Harris is among the best in the nation in 3-point percentage (44 percent), but he's not a one-trick pony. He has shown the capability to take his defender off the dribble and gallop to the hoop.
He, along with the rest of the ‘Hoos, have all bought in to coach Tony Bennett's defensive strategy, making him one of the ACC's top all-around players.
GOTY: 36 points, seven rebounds, two blocks Feb. 28 against Duke (W 73-68).
4. Mason Plumlee, Duke Blue Devils
17.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks. One PPP win, three appearances.
Plumlee 2.0 (his brother, Miles, played at Duke) entered the season as the favorite to win player of the year honors, and his effort has been good enough to earn the accolade. The 6'10" senior finished the season strong against rival North Carolina, getting 23 points and 13 rebounds in the 69-53 win.
Plumlee is part of a new generation of big men, guys who can run the floor along with their smaller counterparts. His combination of footwork and strength gets him where he wants to be around the basket, which is why he makes 59 percent of his field goal tries.
GOTY: 30 points, 9 of 11 shooting, nine rebounds Feb. 7 against NC State (W 98-85).
If award-givers looked solely at individual play and effort, Green would be leaving Virginia Tech with a wheelbarrow full of MVP trophies. The senior became the first ACC player to lead the nation in scoring since 1957 (Grady Wallace of South Carolina for you trivia buffs).
While Green's hard work paid off on the stat sheet, his teammates failed to have the night-in, night-out success needed to get Virginia Tech more wins.
The PPPollsters have to admit the hard-luck Hokies got to be one of the teams we couldn't help but like, and we were relieved they gave their star player a win against Clemson on senior night Feb. 2. Duke clobbered them the next game (85-57), but hey, baby steps.
GOTY: 35 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals March 10 at Wake Forest (L 90-79).
6. Olivier Hanlan, Boston College Eagles
14.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists. Three PPP appearances.
From one of the most entertaining upperclassmen to one of the exciting fresh faces – Hanlan scored in double figures all but two games of the conference schedule.
The first-year player is still learning on the job, but his development has helped the Eagles turn the type of games that were close losses in early January to victories in March. They closed out the season on a three-game winning streak, most recently a 74-72 victory Saturday versus Georgia Tech.
GOTY: 26 points, seven rebounds, three 3-pointers Feb. 19 against Maryland (W 69-58).
7. Akil Mitchell, Virginia Cavaliers
13.1 points, 8.9 rebounds 1.2 steals. Three PPP appearances.
As good as Harris has been for UVA, Mitchell may have been the most entertaining on the court. The rangy 6'8" junior could switch a game's momentum in a second by forcing a turnover on defense and taking it cross-court for a tomahawk jam.
His play has gradually grown more aggressive as the season went on, and his scoring has increased because of it. Mitchell allows Virginia to have a true inside threat to go along with their long-distance shooters.
GOTY: 19 points, 12 rebounds Feb. 28 against Duke (W 73-68).
8. Ryan Kelly, Duke Blue Devils
14.6 points, 53 percent 3-point shooting, 5.6 rebounds, 1.6 blocks. One PPP win (tie), two appearances.
No, it can't be … It is! He's back! It's the White Raven!!
The man with the worst nickname in the history of humanity made a dramatic return in March after being out nearly two months with a foot injury. With Kelly, Duke may be primed for a long run into the postseason, as they have not lost yet this season when he played (18-0).
GOTY: 36 points, seven rebounds, seven 3-pointers March 2 against Miami (W 79-76).
9. Michael Snaer, Florida State Seminoles
14.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists. One PPP win, two appearances.
Snaer's season fell below many folks' expectations this season. But his four game winners in the final seconds show how confident and dangerous a player he is.
The most recent came Thursday against Virginia, and it gave the ‘Noles a 53-51 win. After a victory in the season finale against NC State, FSU looks ready to defend its ACC tournament title from a year ago.
GOTY: 19 points, four rebounds, three assists, GW shot Jan. 30 against Maryland.
10. Devin Thomas, Wake Forest Demon Deacons
8.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.4 blocks. One PPP win, two appearances.
Thomas is still a work in progress, but he has shown glimpses of the star that he could be if he keeps working hard. The freshman had strong performances against some of the best front lines in the ACC, and he gave his team one brilliant outing in the upset of NC State.
He has shown the desire to perform well at both ends of the court. He plays with a lot of emotion, too, making his development all the more fun to watch.
Maybe a year or two down the road, it could be Thomas who earns the ACC PPP POTY. Hopefully, they'll get his name right on the trophy …
(Takes a long look at the other PPPollsters)
And not stick a hockey puck on the top.
GOTY: 25 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, four blocks Jan. 22 against NC State (W 86-84).
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