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2020 ACC Turnover Leaders

Stats don't always tell the whole story though

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Virginia
 Feb 29, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Tre Jones (3) drives to the basket as Virginia Cavaliers guard Kihei Clark (0) defends in the first half at John Paul Jones Arena.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Few lists are more assiduously avoided than qualifying among turnover leaders.

Turnovers are regularly bemoaned and seldom celebrated. In fact over the years a few ACC sports information directors and, occasionally, coaches, purposely avoided enumerating individual and team turnovers because they were deemed “negative” statistics.

In listing individual leaders on its website, the NCAA ranks players in 27 different statistical categories. Total turnovers go unacknowledged. (So do personal fouls and disqualifications, for that matter.)

The stat certainly isn’t complimentary, although a nuanced view often makes turnovers seem far more palatable.

Players who carry the scoring weight for their team, especially those creative in their offensive forays, are prone to losing the ball as they fulfill their role.

A great (and, sad to say, largely forgotten) performer like Maryland’s Len Bias, a two-time ACC player of the year (1985, 1986) and two-time league scoring leader, routinely had more turnovers than assists. Bias’ offensive effectiveness simply negated the impact of his turnovers. They were the price of doing business.

Heavily employed playmakers also are subject to accumulating turnovers as they run their team’s offense. The fewer their miscues, the smoother their team operates as a unit.

A recent online ranking included Duke’s Bobby Hurley among the 50 greatest college players ever. He did, after all, pilot three straight squads to national championship games, with NCAA titles the outcome in 1991 and 1992.

During Hurley’s career (1990-93) he committed 534 turnovers. Yet each year he had more assists than miscues, his 1,076 assists the most in modern NCAA history. (The stat wasn’t compiled widely until 1973.) His aggression and daring in running Duke teams more than made up for his wild tosses, overly zealous drives and occasional stumbles, punctuated by pained facial expressions.

So look more carefully at players whose names appear in the chart below; they may not be as flawed as they appear. Three carried the scoring for their teams in 2020, six were their teams’ second-leading scorer.

Among the potent point-producers leaving a large turnover residue was Duke’s Tre Jones, the 2020 ACC player of the year. His ratio of assists to turnovers was third-best in the league, even as he stood second in assists, fifth in scoring (16.2-point average) and tied for 12th in total turnovers.

We’ve chosen not to go into detail comparing last season’s leaders to prior years, as notably fewer games were played in 2020.

ACC Leaders In Turnovers, 2020
(* Indicates Returning Player)
Turnovers Player, School Mins Min/TO A:TO Scoring Rank, Team
111 Xavier Johnson, PU* 1110 10.0 1.47 #2
105 Kihei Clark, V* 1112 10.6 1.68 #2
101 Markell Johnson, NS 1059 10.5 2.08 #2
97 Derryck Thornton, BC 912 9.4 1.02 #2
95 Michael DeVoe, GT* 984 10.4 1.01 #1
94 Trey McGowens, PU 1111 11.8 1.26 #3
92 Trent Forrest, FS 954 10.4 1.35 #2
88 Brandon Childress, WF 1059 12.0 1.57 #1
87 Landers Nolley II, VT 969 11.1 0.89 #1
85 Prentiss Hubb, ND* 1127 13.26 1.91 #3
82 Moses Wright, GT* 941 11.5 0.34 #3
78 Al-Amir Dawes, C* 926 11.9 0.97 #4
78 Tre Jones, D 1027 13.17 2.37 #2