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Year-Over-Year Stat Dominance Is Not Easy In The ACC

You don’t see a guy leading a category in multiple years very often.

North Carolina v Duke
 NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - APRIL 02: Armando Bacot #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels and Theo John #12 of the Duke Blue Devils reach for the ball in the first half of the game during the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal at Caesars Superdome on April 02, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

There’s a good chance UNC’s Armando Bacot will lead the ACC in rebound average in 2024. He led with 10.44 rebounds per game last season, edging Jesse Edwards, formerly of Syracuse, who finished with 10.31. Bacot is the career leader at North Carolina with 1,221 total rebounds.

Edwards is now at West Virginia, where Josh Eilert replaced longtime, hot-headed head coach Bob Huggins, who self-destructed over the summer.

Bacot’s per game rebound average is 9.25 per game over 132 games, which is impressive by modern standards but hardly groundbreaking. Among the ACC’s leading career rebounders, 14 posted higher rebound averages than Bacot.

Considering how good Bacot is – strong, aggressive, sure — that says a lot about the leaders, starting with Wake’s Dickie Hemric, who had 1,802 in 104 games, a 17.3 average, from 1952-55. He averaged 19.0 as a senior, a year when NC State’s Ronnie Shavlik set the ACC season mark with 19.5 rebounds per game.

Grabbing that many rebounds wasn’t all fluff. With no shotclock, game pace could be quite variable. (Stalls were easier if a team could competently dribble and pass.) Also, despite common belief, team shooting accuracy rivaled today’s levels by the early 1960s, creating fewer rebound opportunity.

Bacot also led the ACC in rebound average in 2022 (13.1) and, perhaps most notably, with 4.2 offensive rebounds per game in each of the past two years.

The five-year performer figures to distort league career rebounding records, joining select company in more ways than boards and NIL income. Look at season pacesetters in scoring, rebounds, field goal accuracy, free throw acuity, steals, assists, and blocks – the essential individual statistic categories – and the ACC has seen few three-peaters, a mere 25 in seven different areas over 70 years. Bacot could be a 26th.

Sprinkled among the multiple leaders were 10 ACC Players of the Year (including several repeaters). Counting four-time leaders Ralph Sampson (rebounds and blocks) and Tim Duncan (rebounds and blocks), around 40 percent of those who led in a major stat category in three different seasons were voted POY during their careers.

Sampson and Duncan led four times each in blocked shots. The only other four-time stat leader in any category was UNC’s phlegmatic playmaker Ed Cota, who paced the ACC in assists from 1997 to 2000.

There may have been other three- and four-time ACC leaders, but the league didn’t track assists until 1973, blocks and steals until 1977. Offensive rebounds? Forget about it.

Players Who Led ACC Three Or More Times
In Primary Statistical Categories
(* Indicates Four-Time Leader, $ Indicates POY)
Category Player, School Years Led
Scoring David Thompson, NCS (1973-75)$
Rebounds Billy Cunningham, NC (1963-65)$
Tom Owens, SC (1969-71)
Ralph Sampson, V (1980, 82, 83)$
Dale Davis, C (1989-91)
Tim Duncan, WF (1995-97)$
FG Pct. Carroll Youngkin, D (1959-61)
Bobby Jones, NC (1972-74)
FT% Charlie Davis, WF (1969-71)$
J.J. Redick, D (2003-05)$
Jack McClinton, UM (2007-09)
Assists Phil Ford, NC (1977-79)$
Tyrone Bogues, WF (1985-87))
Drew Barry, GT (1994-96)
Ed Cota, NC (1997-2000)*
Steve Blake, M (2001-03)
Steals Tyrone Bogues, WF (1985-87)
Chris Corchiani, NS (1988-90)
Johnny Rhodes, M (1994-96)
Juan Dixon, M (2000-02)$
Blocks Ralph Sampson, V (1980-83)*$
Derrick Lewis, M (1985-87)
Elden Campbell, C (1988-90)
Tim Duncan, WF (1994-97)*$
Shelden Williams, D (2004-06)