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So, Guess Who The ACC’s Best Rebounder Is?

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NCAA Basketball: Duke at Boston College
 Feb 4, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles forward Steffon Mitchell (41) drives to the basket against Duke Blue Devils forward Wendell Moore Jr. (0) during the second half at Conte Forum. 
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

There ought to be a basketball award, like Best Supporting Actor at the Emmys or Oscars, for players who focus so singularly on tasks that undergird their teammates’ work, often to the exclusion of any acclaim, that few but professional coaches and evaluators notice what they do.

An argument can be made that this recognition should be given to someone with a handsome portion of assists to turnovers, a consistent valuer of the ball, a steady activator of opportunities for others. We wouldn’t protest, although being frequently entrusted with the ball gives a player an extra amount of both opportunity and visibility.

But when it comes to doing truly supportive work, laboring by the basket where elbows fly, skin is torn by fingernails, and bruises and the occasion broken bone are dispensed, nothing quite beats the players who clean up on the boards. They sacrifice to make the most of opportunities that fall within their grasp, like ’20 Duke senior Javin DeLaurier (430 career rebounds, 386 points).

The six returning ACC players who had more rebounds than points last season neatly break into two categories – sophomores trying to establish themselves and gain playing time and seniors already quietly proficient at executing their supportive tasks.

None perform the role better than BC senior Steffon Mitchell.

Mitchell finished a modest fifth in scoring (7.8-point average) among the low-flying Eagles and performed in relative obscurity, ending up 23rd in all-conference voting. But he led BC with 8.68 rebounds per outing, fourth in the league, and was third in the ACC in offensive rebounds (3.13 a game). His value was so clear to coach Jim Christian the 6-8 Minnesotan got starts in all 31 games the team played last season.

Mitchell is now the league’s top returning rebounder.

In Mitchell’s three years at Boston College he started all but 10 times, averaging 31.6 minutes. His point production in a season has yet to outstrip his rebounds, which at 763 are the most for a career by an active ACC player. Mitchell is tied for ninth in career rebounds in BC history.

If Mitchell matches last year’s total of 269 rebounds, he’ll rank third among all Eagles after Craig Smith (1,114, 2003-06) and Terry Driscoll (1,071, 1967-69), each of whom managed modest pro careers.

Remarkably, Mitchell also led the ACC with 68 steals. His average per game was second-best (2.19), a shade behind Georgia Tech playmaker Jose Alvarado in a statistical category dominated by guards.

Mitchell’s 137 career steals pace active ACC players, and will land him among BC’s top 10 all-time.

More Rebounds Than Points, 2020
(Minimum 100 Minutes Played)
Player, School Reb-Pts Mins. Status
Steffon Mitchell, BC 269-242 1009 senior
Trey Jemison, C 59-52 251 gone
Javin DeLaurier, D 110-109 411 gone
Sam Waardenburg, UM 181-176 849 senior
Bourama Sidibe, SU 242-193 767 senior
Justin McKoy, V 15-14 103 sophomore
John Ojiako, VT* 85-85 325 sophomore
Ody Oguama, WF 120-91 462 sophomore
* Equal totals