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Repeat ACC Steal Leaders

Jose Alvarado did something that only a handful of ACC players have ever done

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament- Florida State vs Georgia Tech
Mar 13, 2021; Greensboro, North Carolina, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets guard Jose Alvarado (10) celebrates after the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defeated the Florida State Seminoles 80-75 to win the 2021 ACC tournament championship game at Greensboro Coliseum. 
Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

He didn’t play a full season in 2021, but then no one else did, either.

Jose Alvarado did participate in the full slate of 26 games undertaken by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. That schedule, truncated by covid cancellations, included a pair of ACC Tournament victories, securing Tech’s first ACC title since 1993, and a quick loss in the NCAAs.

Given his furious commitment to defense, that span of competition allowed Alvarez, the 23-year-old product of Brooklyn, N.Y., to pace the ACC in steals per game (2.846). Alvarado is variously listed as anywhere from 5-11 to 6-2; we’ll take the 6-foot stature claimed by Georgia Tech.

Alvarado also set the league standard in steal average in 2020, making him one of just nine ACC players to repeat as the leader in that category since the stat was universally reported in 1977.

Just three ACC performers led the conference in steals in at least two straight seasons during this century.

Maryland’s Juan Dixon did it three times (2000-02), culminating in his selection as the 2002 ACC player of the year. Besides Alvarado, since Dixon only Wake’s Chris Paul (2004, 2005) repeated as the league steal leader. Paul was the ’04 ACC Rookie of the Year.

We can’t say for certain how Alvarez’s court thievery would ultimately stack up because, again, he played in a mere 26 games last season, averaging 37.1 minutes, to compile his 74 steals. Only NC State’s Sidney Lowe played so few games (24) while leading the ACC in steals in 1981, the Wolfpack’s first year under head coach Jim Valvano.

So, on the one hand, circumscribed opportunity clearly limited Alvarez’s ability to accumulate steals in 2021. On the other hand, the shortened season reduced wear and tear on a player notable for his all-out hustle and fiery leadership.

Either way, Alvarado was the most prolific steal producer in the ACC in the past 16 years.

The undrafted playmaker, a double-figure scorer throughout his college career, was good enough in summer league action to earn a two-way contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. Might be fun to see him play alongside Zion Williamson.

Repeat ACC Steal Leaders
Yrs. Led Leader Yrs. Led Top Avg.
3 Tyrone Bogues, WF 1985-87 3.1
Chris Corchiani, NS 1988-90 3.2
Johnny Rhodes, M 1994-96 3.7
Juan Dixon, M 2000-02 2.7
2 Jim Spanarkel, D 1977,78 2.7
Sidney Lowe, NS 1981, 83 2.4
Othell Wilson, V 1982, 84 2.4
Chris Paul, WF 2004, 05 2.7
Jose Alvarez, GT 2020, 21 2.8