North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough Unanimous Choice as ACC's Rookie of the Year
March 7, 2006
By KEITH PARSONS
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - As expected, Tyler Hansbrough turned the competition for the Atlantic Coast Conference's Rookie of the Year into a one-man race.
The North Carolina center received all 108 votes for the award announced Tuesday, a day after he became the first freshman in ACC history to earn unanimous first-team all-conference honors.
"That part is mind-boggling, beyond your wildest dreams," Tar Heels Coach Roy Williams said. "I thought Tyler would be a major force for us. In my mind, he would be a starter from day 1, and he would be extremely important from Day 1."
It worked out exactly that way, as Hansbrough probably will become the first freshman in school history to lead his team in scoring and rebounding. He ranks second in the league in scoring (19 points a game) behind only Duke's J.J. Redick, and he is seventh in rebounding (7.6).
"I didn't have any individual goals, but I would say it's a good accomplishment," Hansbrough said. "I thought there were some things that I struggled with at the beginning. I tried to improve on those. With this team, I got a lot of experience early, and I think I adjusted well."
Along the way, the native of Poplar Bluff, Mo., set a Dean Smith Center scoring record with 40 points in a victory over Georgia Tech, which also broke the ACC's single-game mark for a freshman. Hansbrough capped the regular season with 27 points and 10 rebounds in North Carolina's upset at Duke.
That performance helped him win his 10th rookie of the week honor, tying the ACC record set by Georgia Tech's Kenny Anderson in 1990.
"We were putting a lot of pressure on him, and he certainly delivered," Williams said.
He did it consistently, too. Hansbrough reached double figures in points in all but one of his 27 games - he finished with six at Kentucky - and had six double-doubles. So far, he's shot 58 percent from the field and 75 percent on free throws, while leading the ACC with 8.2 attempts per game at the line.
"It's been amazing," teammate Wes Miller said. "He had such high expectations coming into this year, and for him to absolutely exceed those expectations is so impressive. He's made it look like a smooth transition."
Hansbrough is the second straight North Carolina player to be named rookie of the year, joining Marvin Williams. Williams was part of the mass exodus from campus following last season's run to the national title, as he, Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants all departed school early for the NBA.
Seniors Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel and Melvin Scott completed their eligibility as well, leaving the Tar Heels without their top seven scorers.
"I felt a little pressure, with everybody leaving and some people looking at me," Hansbrough said. "This is an individual award, but my teammates really helped me out. I'm not going to be too concerned with it now, because obviously, we have bigger things to worry about now."