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It isn’t just the star players that have the ACC in the discussion for best conference in the country year-in and year-out. While it certainly doesn’t hurt to have names like Malcolm Brogdon, Brice Johnson, Grayson Allen and Cat Barber on your All-Conference team, there is a wealth of talent dispersed throughout the league that isn’t always the subject of national attention. The following 14 players are the ACC’s best “glue guys:” the players that will hold your favorite team together as college basketball hits its home stretch. (key stats in parentheses)
Virginia – London Perrantes (32.9 minutes per game, team-leading 4.4 assists per game, 51% from 3)
When one of the best players in the country is on your team, it can be hard to get significant media attention. Such is the case with London Perrantes. Malcolm Brogdon has deservedly been in the national spotlight for the last few months, but Perrantes is a major reason why UVA currently resides in the Top 5. The junior guard leads the ‘Hoos with 4.4 assists per game, but his real impact has been felt from three-point range. Perrantes is shooting a team-high 51-percent from distance, and his 48-percent mark from three in conference play is tops in the ACC.
North Carolina – Joel Berry II (30.2 minutes per game, team-leading 85% FT, team-leading 37% from 3)
Just like Perrantes, Joel Berry II works in the shadow of a highly-regarded teammate: All-American forward Brice Johnson. It is safe to say, however, that the Heels wouldn’t be regular-season ACC Champions without the sophomore guard. His minutes per game average is up exactly 17 minutes from a season ago, and his numbers have improved with the additional playing time. As Carolina’s leading 3-point shooter and the most accurate Heel from the foul line, Berry will be a key cog in UNC’s run towards the Final Four. If Roy Williams and company need a key shot late in a game to keep the season alive, Berry just might be the guy to step up.
Miami – Davon Reed (28.2 minutes per game, 11.3 points per game, 47% FG, 81% FT)
Despite playing virtually the same number of minutes this season as he did in 2014-15, Davon Reed’s production is up across the board. Reed is Miami’s third-leading scorer at 11.3 points per game, leads the ‘Canes’ backcourt in rebounding (4.1 rpg), and makes his presence felt defensively. At 6-foot-6, Reed has the ability to guard multiple positions and makes the ‘Canes a nightmare to match up with on both ends of the floor. His best game of the season came on Feb. 22 vs. UVA, as he keyed a Miami victory over the Cavaliers with 21 points on 5-of-6 shooting from distance. Reed will have a major say in how far The U advances this March.
Georgia Tech – Adam Smith (29.9 minutes per game, ACC-best 93 3-pt FGM, team-leading 41% from 3)
We’ve seen what Georgia Tech looks like without a perimeter scoring threat, and it wasn’t always pretty. Luckily for Brian Gregory and company, Virginia Tech transfer Adam Smith stepped in this season and helped turn the Yellow Jackets around. A year after losing virtually every close game it played, Tech caught fire down the stretch this season and won five out of six games, thanks in large part to Smith. He leads the ACC with 93 three-pointers made on the season (12 more than any other player), and is seventh in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (41%). Smith is the main reason Georgia Tech has postseason hopes.
Duke – Marshall Plumlee (30.7 minutes per game, team-leading 8.7 rebounds per game)
Amile Jefferson’s prolonged absence has made Plumlee not only Duke’s best big man, but the team’s only consistent threat from inside. The senior is averaging 30.7 minutes per game (21 more than he averaged in 2014-15) and Mike Krzyzewski has needed every one. Excluding Jefferson, who averaged 10.3 rebounds in his nine games this season, Plumlee leads the Devils with nearly nine boards per game, often hustling to keep plays alive and generate second chances for the Blue Devils. He is shooting a ridiculous 66% from the floor. Duke wouldn’t have 22 wins if it weren’t for Plumlee.
Virginia Tech – Justin Bibbs (32.1 minutes per game, 12.2 points per game, team-leading 47% from 3)
Virginia Tech wasn’t supposed to be a contender in the ACC this season, but 10 conference wins later, the Hokies are a popular candidate to make a Cinderella run in DC this week. One major reason that VT drastically outdid its preseason prediction is Justin Bibbs. As Buzz Williams’ top outside threat, Bibbs has raised his production across the board during his sophomore year, posting a 47% mark from downtown that is not only far and away the best mark of any Hokie, but is also second-best in the ACC this season behind London Perrantes. His 69 three-point field goals made is eighth-highest among conference players, and many have come at the most opportune times for the surging Hokies.
Syracuse – Tyler Roberson (30.8 minutes per game, team-leading 8.2 rebounds per game, 52% FG)
If you’re surprised Roberson is this high on the list, you shouldn’t be. As the conference’s leading offensive rebounder (3.9 per game) and ninth-leading rebounder overall, the high-flying junior has seemingly carried Syracuse to wins on multiple occasions this year. One example: Syracuse’s Jan. 18 win at Duke, where Roberson pulled down 20 boards and scored 14 points to lead the Orange to a rare win at Cameron Indoor Stadium. His numbers are even more impressive considering it is more difficult to rebound out of a zone, the defense ‘Cuse head coach Jim Boeheim hangs his hat on. Roberson has the ability to single-handedly take over a game by manufacturing extra chances for Syracuse’s offense, and he’ll need to have a big week in DC if the Orange want to go dancing.
Pitt – James Robinson (31.4 minutes per game, ACC-best 4.4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, team-leading 5.1 assists per game)
As James Robinson goes, so goes Pitt. The senior guard runs the show for Jamie Dixon’s Panthers, and he often does it in impressive fashion. The Maryland-native leads the ACC with an impressive 4.4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and also leads the conference in total assists with 153. He dropped 11 dimes in a Jan. 31 win over Virginia Tech and then flirted with a triple-double on Feb. 16 vs. Wake by posting 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. It isn’t a stretch to say Robinson is the best passer in the ACC.
Louisville – Quentin Snider (27.8 minutes per game, team-leading 3.5 assists per game, team-leading 40% from 3)
Quentin Snider did a little bit of everything for Louisville this season. Not only did the sophomore lead Rick Pitino’s team in assists per game, but he was also the Cardinals’ best three-point shooter, an impressive feat considering that both Damion Lee and Trey Lewis are accomplished long-range shooters. Snider posted the fifth-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference and was a key factor in U of L’s 71-65 win over UNC on Feb. 1 (seven assists, one turnover).
North Carolina – Isaiah Hicks (18.1 minutes per game, 9.2 points per game, 61% FG)
As the ACC’s Sixth Man of the Year this season, you would be hard-pressed to find a player who is more productive per minute than Isaiah Hicks. Despite playing less than 20 minutes per contest, the junior forward nearly averages double-figure scoring and shoots a scorching 61% from the floor. On Jan. 9 against Syracuse, Hicks poured in 21 points on 5-of-5 shooting and was 11-of-13 from the foul line in just 22 minutes of action. He has steadily improved during his three seasons in Chapel Hill, and the only thing holding him back at this point is playing time. The sky's the limit for Hicks.
Florida State – Devon Bookert (25.8 minutes per game, 40% from 3, 47% from 3 in conference play)
Bookert’s minutes are down this season due to the arrival of a talented freshman class in Tallahassee, but the senior guard has made the most of his opportunities. The Alaska native leads qualified FSU shooters with a 40% mark from downtown, and he has raised his play even more against conference foes: Bookert’s 40 three-pointers in ACC play are eight-most in the conference, and he is second in three-point percentage in conference games at 47%, trailing only London Perrantes. Florida State needs to string together a few wins this week in DC to have a shot at the Big Dance, but the Noles can pull it off if Bookert gets hot.
Virginia – Isaiah Wilkins (21.4 minutes per game, 4.0 rebounds per game, 51% FG)
While his stats aren’t necessarily eye-popping, Wilkins has been the textbook definition of a glue guy for Tony Bennett and company. His role has drastically increased from a season ago, as he’s averaging 21.4 minutes per game this season, up from 9.4 MPG in 2014-15. Despite the still-limited minutes, Wilkins is fourth on the team in rebounding and makes several hustle plays each game that don’t show up in the box score. His 51% field goal percentage is third on the team among players who play at least 20 minutes per game.
Georgia Tech – Charles Mitchell (24.8 minutes per game, 9.9 rebounds per game, 51% FG)
Mitchell is just one component of a solid four-man rotation in the post for the Yellow Jackets, but is arguably the most important of the group. The senior transfer from Maryland leads Georgia Tech with 9.9 rebounds per game, more than four more than any other player, and his 3.8 offensive rebounds per game is second in the ACC. Additionally, Mitchell’s 307 total rebounds on the season trails just Brice Johnson and Zach Auguste among ACC players. Mitchell’s demeanor might be his most important asset, as he has the type of personality that never allows teammates to get down. That trait is important to a team like Georgia Tech, who struggled in close games before ultimately righting the ship late in the season.
Notre Dame – Bonzie Colson (25.7 minutes per game, 11.4 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game)
Colson has taken his expanded role in Notre Dame’s offense in stride, as the sophomore forward has stepped his game up with his playing time in his second year playing for the Irish. He solidified his spot on this list on Jan. 16 at Duke, when he scored 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Notre Dame to victory in what was undoubtedly the best performance of his career. Colson is 13th in the ACC in rebounds per game at 6.9, a stat that makes him the second-leading rebounder for Mike Brey behind All-ACC performer Zach Auguste. Colson should be a fixture in South Bend for the next two seasons.