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The Fan's Guide to ACC Basketball established the league's first all-defensive team 17 seasons ago, and left the vote to the coaches. This remains the only all-conference squad chosen entirely by the ACC's 12 head coaches, who study players for a living.

The coaches vote for five defenders whom they consider the league's best regardless of position. They also are granted anonymity and given the option to cast votes for their own players, a privilege fully half of the coaches did not exercise in 2012.

This year coaches were relatively quick and united in focusing on four standout defenders. Voting for a fifth was all over the map.

Vote Totals Listed Beside Players (12 Votes Possible)
John Henson, NC 11
Bernard James, FSU 11
Jontel Evans, V   9
Michael Snaer, FSU     9
Durand Scott, Mia   3
Tanner Smith, C   3
Others Receiving Votes:
Erick Green, VT   2
Sean Mosley, M   2
Mason Plumlee, D     2
Andre Young, C   2
Deividas Dulkys, FSU   1
Daniel Miller, GT     1
Austin Rivers, D   1
Tyler Thornton, D     1
C.J. Williams, NCS     1
Tyler Zeller, NC   1

The mantle of top defensive squad in the ACC has slowly and quietly shifted from Duke to Florida State. This season, for the third time in the past four years, a pair of FSU players was chosen to the Fan's Guide All-Defensive team -- Bernard James, who got a single vote in 2011, and Michael Snaer. Coach Leonard Hamilton's players have now garnered the highest vote totals (or tied for the most) in four of the past five seasons.

Last year FSU held opponents to .363 accuracy, stingiest in modern ACC history and best in Division I. This season the conversion rate on opponents' field goals entering the ACC Tournament is .379, lowest in the league for the fourth consecutive season.

Key to Florida State's shot suppression: it leads the ACC in steals and is second in blocked shots. Last year FSU paced the conference in blocks and was second in steals. In both cases a key factor was the inside presence of James, among league leaders in rejections.

This season James had 69 blocks through 30 games, good for third in the ACC. James also ended the regular season tied with UVa's Mike Scott for fifth in the conference in rebounds, with 8.3 per game. "He guards the basket and erases mistakes," said an admirer. "And he rebounds."

Last year's leading vote-getter was Florida State's Chris Singleton, the eighth unanimous selection to the league's all-defensive team. This time James, a center, fell a vote short of a clean sweep of the ballots.

So did North Carolina forward John Henson, the only Tar Heel ever to repeat on the squad.

"Obviously Henson is the first guy that comes to mind," said one coach regarding the ACC's top defenders. Told a colleague failed to vote for Henson, a coach reached for his wallet and offered to contribute to a reeducation fund for whomever left off the ACC's single most disruptive defender.

Henson concluded the 2011 regular season with 94 blocks in 30 games. He wound up with 118. This year he's got 93 blocks in 31 games. His three-year total, 270, already ranks 11th in modern ACC history. (Despite constant reference to "all-time" leaders, this statistical category was not tracked by the ACC until 1976 or by the NCAA before the mid-80s.)

Henson and teammate Tyler Zeller - one coach wished to cast a sixth vote on his behalf -- form what a coach called "a lethal combination" inside. UNC held its regular-season opponents to cumulative 38.6 percent field goal accuracy, second-lowest against the Tar Heels since 1960. (The 1998 team forced .384 shooting.)

Two guards, Virginia's Jontel Evans and FSU's Snaer, tied for third place in the voting. Each was selected by nine coaches.

Evans is the first Cavalier chosen since 2000. He was praised for his on-ball defensive skill. Evans ranks fourth in the ACC with 48 steals. Snaer, big and quick, was likewise praised for hounding opponents.

The 2012 season also is notable as the first in the last 16 years in which coaches chose an all-defensive squad without including a Duke player. Running through a list of league teams aloud, one coach got to Duke and noted the Blue Devils were predominantly an offensive unit. He toyed with voting for one of Duke's guards, but quickly rejected the idea.

Mike Krzyzewski's teams still have as many overall selections, 21, as the next two teams combined - FSU with 11 and both Maryland and Clemson with 10 each.

Tied for fifth place in coaches' balloting with three votes each were Miami's Durand Scott and Clemson's Tanner Smith.

Smith's selection continues an impressive run for Clemson. This marks the seventh straight year at least one Tiger was honored, the league's longest ongoing streak. Five came under Oliver Purnell and two with Brad Brownell's guidance.

By contrast, a single Tiger made the first 10 Fan's Guide all-defensive teams.

Smith, a senior, was second in the ACC with 51 steals in 30 games. He had 30 in 16 league contests, more than anyone else. Clemson finished second to Florida State in steals as a team counting all games; the Tigers led in conference competition with 8.8 steals per outing.

Miami's Scott is the first Hurricane chosen for the coaches' defensive team since the school joined the league for the 2005 season. He finished tied for ninth in ACC action with an average of 1.3 steals per game. Scott's defensive competitiveness was praised as much as anything.

Multiple Selections (Since 1996):

  • 4 Shane Battier, D
  • 3 Juan Dixon, M; Jamon Gordon, VT; Alvin Jones, GT; Shelden Williams, D
  • 2 Solomon Alabi, FSU; Ishua Benjamin, NCS; Trevor Booker, C; Chris Carrawell, D; Toney Douglas, FSU; Chris Duhon, D; Tim Duncan, WF; Anthony Grundy, NCS; Vernon Hamilton, C; John Henson, NC; Josh Howard, WF; Dahntay Jones, D; Jamaal Levy,     WF; James Mays, C; DeMarcus Nelson, D; Tim Pickett, FSU; Chris Singleton, FSU; D.J.  Strawberry, M; L.D. Williams, WF

Henson's selection marks the 14th time the ACC's premier shotblocker made the Fan's Guide all-defensive team. The three leaders not selected were Georgia Tech's Alvin Jones in 2000 and Maryland's Lonny Baxter in 2002 and Ekene Ibekwe in 2007.

The conference's steal leader made the squad 12 times, although not this season.

N.C. State has experienced the longest current stretch without a selection. The last Wolfpack player chosen was shotblocker Cedric Simmons in 2006, a year prior to Sidney Lowe's arrival as head coach. That was also the most recent year in which the school earned an NCAA berth.

(12 Votes Possible Since 2006, 11 Votes In 2005, 9 Votes From 1996-2004)
2011 All-Defensive Team 2010 All-Defensive Team
Chris Singleton, FSU 12* Solomon Alabi, FSU 10
John Henson, NC 11 Chris Singleton, FSU     9
Nolan Smith, D   7 Lance Thomas, D   7
Iman Shumpert, GT   6 L.D. Williams, WF   6
Demontez Stitt, C   6 Trevor Booker, C   5
*  Unanimous
2009 All-Defensive Team 2008 All-Defensive Team
Toney Douglas, FSU 12* Marcus Ginyard, NC   9
Solomon Alabi, FSU 10 James Gist, M   8
Trevor Booker, C   8 Cliff Hammonds, C   6
Gerald Henderson, D   7 Tyrelle Blair, BC   5
L.D. Williams, WF   5 Toney Douglas, FSU   5
James Mays, C   5
2007 All-Defensive Team 2006 All-Defensive Team
Jamon Gordon, VT 11 Shelden Williams, D 12*
DeMarcus Nelson, D   9 Jamon Gordon, VT 11
James Mays, C   7 Vernon Hamilton, C    8
Vernon Hamilton, C   5 David Noel, NC    6
D.J. Strawberry, M   5 Cedric Simmons, NCS    4
2005 All-Defensive Team 2004 All-Defensive Team
Jackie Manuel, NC 10 Shelden Williams, D    8
Shelden Williams, D 10 Chris Duhon, D    7
Jamon Gordon, VT   6 Jamaal Levy, WF    6
Chris McCray, M   5 Tim Pickett, FSU    5
Jamaal Levy, WF   4 Isma'il Muhammad, GT    4
2003 All-Defensive Team 2002 All-Defensive Team
Josh Howard, WF   7 Juan Dixon, M    8
Dahntay Jones, D   7 Anthony Grundy, NCS    8
Steve Blake, M   5 Dahntay Jones, D    8
Chris Bosh, GT   5 Chris Duhon, D    6
Tim Pickett, FSU   5 Josh Howard, WF    4
2001 All-Defensive Team 2000 All-Defensive Team
Shane Battier, D    9* Shane Battier, D    9*
Alvin Jones, GT    8 Chris Carrawell, D    9*
Brendan Haywood, NC    6 Juan Dixon, M    7
Nate James, D       5 Adam Hall, V    4
Juan Dixon, M       5 Anthony Grundy, NCS    3
1999 All-Defensive Team 1998 All-Defensive Team
Shane Battier, D   8 Ishua Benjamin, NCS    7
Chris Carrawell, D     8 Steve Wojciechowski, D    7
Terrell Baker, FSU     6 Shane Battier, D    6
Alvin Jones, GT   4 Vince Carter, NC    4
Terrell Stokes, M   4   Alvin Jones, GT    4
1997 All-Defensive Team 1996 All-Defensive Team
Tim Duncan, WF    9*   Tim Duncan, WF    9*
Steve Wojciechowski, D    6 Johnny Rhodes, M      7
Ishua Benjamin, NCS       5 Stephon Marbury, GT    7
Greg Buckner, C    5 Chris Alexander, V       4
Harold Deane, V    4 Matt Harpring, GT                 4

Selections By School Since 1996:
12 11 10 09 08 07 06 05 04 03 02 01 00 99 98 97 96
BC    (1) x x x x 1 x x NOT IN THE ACC
C    (10) 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 x x x x x x x x 1 x
D    (21) x 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 1 x
FS   (11)   2 1 2 2 1 x x x 1 1 x x x 1 x x x
GT   (8) x 1 x x x x x x 1 1 x 1 x 1 1 x 2
M  (10) x x x x 1 1 1 1 x 1 1 1 1 1 x x 1
Mi   (1) 1 x x x   x x x x NOT IN THE ACC
NC  (7)   1 1 x x 1 x 1 1 x x x 1 x x 1 x x
NS   (5)   x x x x x x 1 x x x 1 x 1 x 1 1 x
V     (4)     1 x x x x x x x x x x x 1 x x 1 1
VT   (3) x x x x x 1 1 1 NOT IN THE ACC
WF  (8)  x x 1 1 x x x 1 1 1 1 x x x x 1 1
COURTESY OF: Barry Jacobs and Duke Basketball