We'll have to settle for an individual honor at the end of an otherwise disappointing season. Freshman Devin Wilson was named to the ACSMA (Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association) ACC-All Freshman team along with Duke's Jabari Parker, Syracuse's Tyler Ennis, Virginia's London Perrantes, and UNC's Kennedy Meeks.
Imagine taking over the position and jersey number of the reigning ACC Player of the Year, Erick Green! All Devin Wilson did was obliterate the school record for assists by a freshman with 143, adding a full assist per game over Hank Thorns 113 back in 2007-08. Not only was it the best for a freshman, it was the 5th highest total listed in the Tech media guide. The guide itself says that Dave Sensabaugh has the school record with 192 in 1975-76, but the list itself starts in 1979-80, and since then the number Wilson put up was surpassed only by Bimbo Coles, Jamon Gordon, and Malcolm Delaney. Coles being the only one to put up more than 160 in a year with 172.
Wilson also set records for free throw attempts (178) and minutes played (1043), or right around 34 minutes per game. Many games Wilson was forced to play wire to wire, and he held up admirably despite not having consistent finishers around him.
Of the five honorees, I'd have voted Wilson third for Freshman of the Year, ahead of Perrantes and Meeks. Due to the high volume of minutes foisted on him by Coach James Johnson, he had little choice but to perform. The experience will prove invaluable as VT's two team leaders will be sophomores Ben Emelogu and Wilson.
Wilson's 4.8 assists per game ranked 66th nationally, and one must wonder how many more we left on the table by being so shaky on attempts at the rack. While Wilson's assist-to-turnover ratio was modest at 1.59 to 1 (paling in comparison to the efficient Ennis); he wasn't blessed with other ballhandlers to ease the load, and a few outlying turnover games really (six games of 5 or more) inflated that number.
Wilson had a really nice stretch taking care of the ball in January for a month not allowing more than 2 in any game. Quite noticeably, when Wilson attempted to pick up the scoring, the turnovers increased as he drove to the hole, got trapped and stripped with no viable outlets and got little respect from officials. Next year he'll get those calls and go to the line even more.
Not to be lost in the equation is that VT was one of the worst teams in the country at holding onto the ball AND taking the ball away. While he was largely on his own as the primary ballhandler, the accountability for those problems is something he needs to own. This award is definitely a symbol of hard work and perseverance. He fought and clawed for every assist, point, and (rarely) steal. In a season of too many lowlights, Wilson stood out as a ray of hope for the future of Tech basketball.
Joey Van Zegeren was not named to the Coaches ACC-All Defensive Team. Averaging the 2nd most blocks per minute, and most likely altering more shots than anyone in the league apparently does not count for much. With 16 games of two or more blocks, and eight games of three or more blocks, there wasn't a more consistent interior defensive presence in fewer minutes.
Perhaps it was the foul trouble. JVZ reached four or more fouls 13 times, including five foul-outs. He needs to go to Roy Hibbert school in the off-season to learn to train officials on how to watch him go straight up. Once the officials can trust that he's dedicated to the discipline, it's possible JVZ could be cleanly blocking four shots a game in 28-32 minutes a night.
As it was VT ranked in the top 40 all year in personal fouls per game, with just under 17. With less of a bench, I'm sure there was a mandate to play it safe with the contact, but fouls are there to be used, in as much as pitching around a good hitter with an open base can be useful. The team needs to learn better when to be aggressive and when to lay back. This is easier said than done in the Tobacco Road Conference, where the rulebook changes on the fly at times.
Nobody on Top 3 All-ACC Teams or Honorable Mention
Anybody surprised? Nobody? Good, you've been paying attention all year.