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ACC First Team Freshmen Rare, Staying Is Even Rarer

Not many stay past freshman year anymore.

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Apr 6, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Jahlil Okafor (15) defends Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky (44) during the second half in the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Apr 6, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Jahlil Okafor (15) defends Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky (44) during the second half in the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Jahlil Okafor was – and remains – a rare talent.

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With his size, savvy, dexterity, skills and overall athleticism, Okafor led the 2015 Blue Devils in scoring (17.3 points per game), rebound average (8.5), field goal accuracy (.664) and blocked shots (54). He was fourth on the squad in assists (49). He also led in turnovers (95). OK, not so good.

Officially Okafor’s field goal percentage was best ever by an ACC freshman.

One reason Okafor wasn’t a more dominating defensive force was a clear mandate to protect himself from foul trouble – he had five more personals than teammate Amile Jefferson in some 300 more minutes on the court yet didn’t foul out of a game all season.

Meanwhile Justise Winslow accounted for 5 of Duke’s 7 disqualifications on the year, with overeager Grayson Allen garnering the other two.

The 6-11 Okafor wound up as the 2015 ACC player of the year, the only freshman ever to win that honor. In fact, he’s only the ninth freshman since 1973, when first-year players became eligible for varsity competition, to be chosen for the All-ACC first team.

That means freshmen have commanded a piddling 4.2 percent of all possible first-team berths.

UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough was the only freshman earning the ACC’s highest honors who expended all four years of college eligibility. Five of the nine went pro after one season, including the last three, all Duke players – Austin Rivers, Jabari Parker and Okafor.

NOTABLE NEWCOMERS
Freshmen Chosen First Team All-ACC
Name, School Year Chosen Years in College
Skip Wise, Clemson 1975 One
Kenny Anderson, Georgia Tech 1990 Two
Joe Smith, Maryland 1994 Two
Stephon Marbury, Georgia Tech 1996 One
Antawn Jamison, North Carolina 1996 Three
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina 2006 Four
Austin Rivers, Duke 2012 One
Jabari Parker, Duke 2014 One
Jahlil Okafor, Duke 2015 On