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Duke And ACC Rookies Of The Year Part II

It’s amazing to consider the Duke greats who didn’t win this award.

Duke v GeorgiaTech
Chris Duhon roared as an ACC Rookie Of The Year

(Continued from Part I)

Sometimes Duke freshmen had great seasons but someone else had a better season. Johnny Dawkins is a prime example. He averaged 18.1 points per game in 1983. But Georgia Tech’s Mark Price led the ACC with 20.3 points per game and defeated Dawkins 83 votes to 53.

But again demonstrating the dominance of veterans in 1983, the ACC’s leading scorer finished ninth in the voting for All-ACC. Three seniors were voted first-team All-ACC.

Price’s selection started a run in which Georgia Tech players won the ACC Rookie of the Year Award four years in a row, eight times in 14 years, a list that also includes Tom Hammonds (1986), Dennis Scott (1988), Kenny Anderson (1990) and Stephon Marbury (1996).

Dawkins’ fate was shared by Tommy Amaker (Bruce Dalrymple), Bobby Hurley (Anderson), Grant Hill (Rodney Rogers), Luol Deng (Paul) and J.J. Redick (Bosh) all of whom had quality freshman seasons just not as good as the eventual winners.

Then there’s Elton Brand, who missed 15 games with a broken foot in 1998. Wake Forest’s Robert O’Kelly won instead.

A good case can be made for all of the above-mentioned winners. My only gripe comes with the 2000 voting, when North Carolina’s Joe Forte (48) votes edged Duke’s Jason Williams (43 votes).

Forte averaged 16.7 points for a UNC team that finished the ACC season at 9-7.

But look at what Williams did. He averaged 14.5 points and 6.5 assists per game for a Duke team replacing four first-round draft picks and he did so without a lot of ball-handling help. That 2000 Duke team went 15-1 in the ACC, six games ahead of North Carolina at the end of the regular season, when the voting took place.

But there’s another group of non-winners. Some of Duke’s greatest players came to Duke and interned as complementary players to veteran stars.

Let’s look at Danny Ferry, the consensus top player in the prep class of 1985.

In today’s world Ferry would be counted on the carry a team. But he was a freshman on a 1986 team with seniors Dawkins, Mark Alarie, David Henderson, and Jay Bilas and junior Amaker.

So he carried water. Actually he set screens and blocked out. Ferry averaged less than six points per game.

Three years later Ferry was a senior and one of the nation’s two best players, along with Arizona’s Sean Elliott. He played power forward while junior Alaa Abdelnaby and freshman Christian Laettner split time at center.

Laettner was a top-10 recruit but averaged around nine points and five rebounds as a freshman.

Three years later Laettner was a senior and the nation’s top player. Duke brought in top-five recruit Cherokee Parks but he averaged only five points per game backing up Laettner.

The trend continued. Power forward Shane Battier was a top-10 recruit but Duke’s 1998 team contained senior power forward Roshown McLeod, who made some All-America teams.

Battier averaged less than eight points per game.

Shelden Williams was a freshman in 2003 but split time at center with senior Casey Sanders. Williams averaged eight points and six rebounds per game.

Ferry, Laettner, Battier and Williams were all highly recruited. All have their jerseys retired, all four were first-team All-Americans and the first three were named national player of the year. All were selected in the top-six in the NBA draft, with Parks going 12th.

And none came close to winning ACC Rookie of the Year.

A different world.

Let’s recap. In his first 20 seasons at Duke Mike Krzyzewski had taken eight teams to the Final Four, while recruiting five players who would win a national player of the year award.

Without a single rookie of the year.

Guess who broke the streak?

Why, Chris Duhon, of course. Duhon came off the bench most of the 2001 season and averaged a modest 7.2 points per game.

But his competition that season included Clemson’s Tony Stockman, FSU’s Michael Joiner and Georgia Tech’s Halston Lane.

While all this was going on the NBA was starting to draft younger and younger, including players like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard and LeBron James, who went directly from high school to the NBA and became stars. And many of the top college players didn’t make it to their senior years. The top pick in every NBA draft in the 1980s was either a junior or a senior. In the ACC Ralph Sampson stayed four seasons at Virginia while players as talented as James Worthy, Michael Jordan and Dennis Scott stuck around for three seasons.

But this gradually changed during the 1990s. Kenny Anderson left Georgia Tech after his sophomore season in 1991. Four years later sophomores Joe Smith (Maryland), Jerry Stackhouse (UNC) and Rasheed Wallace (UNC) were picked first, third and fourth in the NBA draft.

Duke was immune for a long time. But that changed after the 1999 season when Elton Brand and William Avery bailed after their junior seasons and Corey Maggette after his freshman season. Maggette became the third ACC player, after Wise and Marbury (1996) to go pro after their freshman seasons. Early entries became par for the course for Duke, seven in the 2000s, including Deng after one season in 2004 and Josh McRoberts after two in 2007.

None of these was rookie of the year. Kyle Singler was Krzyzewski’s second, in 2008, when he averaged 13 points and six rebounds. Singler was the consensus number six prospect in a loaded 2007 prep class and the five players who were ranked ahead of him all left for the NBA after one season. Against all odds Singler stayed four years, even after winning Final Four Most Outstanding Player as a junior in 2010.

But get this. Since Singler not one ACC rookie of the year has stayed for four years. The last seven have stayed for one season.

What’s changed?

To be continued...