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Chop Shop Blues

The ACC’s most foul-prone players over the last three seasons.

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Kansas vs Duke
Wendell Carter, shown here after fouling out against Kansas in the NCAA tournament, was Duke’s worst offender when it came to foul trouble in 2017-18.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

If you thought the way officials’ calls went last year advantaged offensive players, you can bet most of those listed below probably agreed. Of the top 11 personal foul totals compiled over the past three seasons, the majority occurred in 2018.

The recent leader in fouls was North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks. The forward had 121 personals in 2016 and, by frequently failing to move his feet on defense, was a major producer of unnecessary free throw opportunities for opponents and limited playing time for himself.

Now two of the top three contemporary foulers return, led by big men Paschal Chukwu of Syracuse and Clemson’s Elijah Thomas.

No active fouler sends rivals to the line with the alacrity of Hicks, or sub DeJuan Coleman of Syracuse, or NC State shotblocker Beejay Anya. But Thomas and Chukwu, a 7-2 center, are sufficiently prolific at fouls per minute to rank with the best. Thomas is a 6-9 junior. Chukwu, a transfer from Providence, is a senior.

Chukwu was second among last year’s Orange in rebound average at 6.8, but eclipsed putative leader Oshae Brissett (8.8 per game) when calculating per minute (one per 4.0 versus the sophomore’s 4.3). Thomas paced Clemson with a rebound every 3.1 minutes.

In both cases, the hurly-burly under the boards understandably contributed to their foul totals. One key difference – Chukwu fouled out of seven games, Thomas two.

Chukwu’s disqualification total last year tied for the fourth-most in a season since 2004. He was eclipsed by Virginia Tech’s Kerry Blackshear, Jr., a fellow senior. Blackshear matched Duke’s Brian Zoubek and fellow Hokie Jeff Allen with eight each in a season over the past 15 years.

Blackshear is a DQ dandy. Over two years at Blacksburg he’s fouled out of a startling 13 games.

Top Personal Fouls by Individual, Last Three Seasons in ACC
(Asterisk Indicates Returning Player)
PF Player, Team Season Min. Gs. Min. Per PF
121 Isaiah Hicks,NC 2016 723 40 5.97
116 Paschal Chukwu, SU* 2018 1008 37 8.68
111 Elijah Thomas, C* 2018 874 37 7.88
108 Beejay Anya, NS 2016 772 33 7.15
107 Tonye Jekiri, Mi 2016 993 35 9.28
107 Ray Spalding, UL 2018 995 36 9.29
105 Wendell Carter, D 2018 997 37 9.48
103 Brice Johnson, NC 2016 1121 40 11.08
102 DeJuan Coleman, SU 2016 649 37 6.36
102 Marek Dolezaj, SU* 2018 1032 37 10.12
102 Kerry Blackshear, VT* 2018 831 33 8.16

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