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Okafor is first freshman in ACC Men's Basketball history to earn league's highest individual honor
Virginia’s Bennett, Virginia’s Atkins, Syracuse’s Christmas, NC State’s Anya also honored by ACSMA
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor has been chosen as the 2014-15 Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, as announced today by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA).
Okafor was the choice of 44 members casting ballots. The Chicago, Illinois, native finished ahead of Notre Dame senior Jerian Grant, who placed second with 14 votes and Virginia junior Malcolm Brogdon, who received three votes.
Syracuse senior Rakeem Christmas, Boston College junior Olivier Hanlan, and Louisville junior Montrezl Harrell all received one vote for the honor.
Okafor was also selected as ACC Freshman of the Year, while Virginia’s Tony Bennett received ACC Coach of the Year honors. Virginia senior Darion Atkins garnered ACC Defensive Player of the Year accolades, Syracuse senior Rakeem Christmas was named as the Most Improved Player, and NC State sophomore Beejay Anya was voted Sixth Man of the Year.
The first freshman in ACC history to be named ACC Player of the Year, Okafor ranked second in the league with 17.6 points per game, third with 9.2 rebounds per game, and first in field goal percentage (.668). He was voted as the ACC Rookie of the Week eight times and Player of the Week once.
One of 15 finalists for the Wooden Award, Okafor was a unanimous selection as ACC Freshman of the Year.
The first to be named ACC Coach of the Year in back-to-back years since Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in 1999-2000, Bennett led Virginia to a 16-2 record in league play to repeat as regular season ACC champions for the first time in program history. Bennett received 52 of the 64 votes, followed by Notre Dame’s Mike Brey (6), Duke’s Krzyzewski (5), and NC State’s Mark Gottfried (1).
Atkins was a key contributor for the nation’s top defense, which held opponents to 50.2 points per game. On the year, the native of Clinton, Maryland, led the Cavaliers in blocks with 31 and had a team-high 112 defensive rebounds. The first Virginia player to win the award since it was instituted in 2005, Atkins was picked on 26 ballots, ahead of Syracuse’s Christmas (15) and Miami junior Tonye Jekiri (10).
Christmas led the league in scoring improvement from last season, upping his output by 11.7 points per game to rank third in the ACC in scoring at 17.5 points per game. A junior forward from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Christmas was selected on 24 ballots, followed by Miami’s Jekiri (14), Duke senior Quinn Cook (6), and NC State sophomore Anthony ‘Cat’ Barber (6).
A sophomore from Washington, D.C., Anya blocked 84 shots on the season, which is second on NC State’s single-season blocks chart and the most in the league this year. He picked up 26 votes for Sixth Man of the Year, ahead of Duke sophomore Matt Jones (13) and Georgia Tech junior Charles Mitchell (10).
ACC Player of the Year
Jahlil Okafor, Fr., Duke (44)
Jerian Grant, Sr., Notre Dame (14)
Malcolm Brogdon, Jr., Virginia (3)
Rakeem Christmas, Sr., Syracuse (1)
Olivier Hanlan, Jr., Boston College (1)
Montrezl Harrell, Jr., Louisville (1)
ACC Freshman of the Year
Jahlil Okafor, Duke (64)
ACC Coach of the Year
Tony Bennett, Virginia (52)
Mike Brey, Notre Dame (6)
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke (5)
Mark Gottfried, NC State (1)
Defensive Player of the Year
Darion Atkins, Sr., Virginia (26)
Rakeem Christmas, Sr., Syracuse (15)
Tonye Jekiri, Jr., Miami (10)
Montrezl Harrell, Jr., Louisville (8)
BeeJay Anya, So., NC State (3)
James Robinson, Jr., Pittsburgh (1)
Cameron Wright, Sr., Pittsburgh (1)
Most Improved Player
Rakeem Christmas, Sr., Syracuse (24)
Tonye Jekiri, Jr., Miami (14)
Quinn Cook, Sr., Duke (6)
Cat Barber, So., NC State (6)
Terry Rozier, So., Louisville (4)
Michael Gbinije, Jr., Syracuse (4)
Jaron Blossomgame, So., Clemson (3)
Jamel Artis, So., Pittsburgh (2)
Michael Young, So., Pittsburgh (1)
Sixth Man of the Year
BeeJay Anya, So., NC State (26)
Matt Jones, So., Duke (13)
Charles Mitchell, Jr., Georgia Tech (10)
V.J. Beachem, So., Notre Dame (8)
Chris Jones, So., Pittsburgh (7)