As part of the team of media covering ACC's 50th annual Operation Basketball in Charlotte, I was given the opportunity to vote in the preseason media poll. Any time I'm asked to vote, I consider it an honor and responsibility. Knowing I'd be asked for my opinion on Wednesday, I spent several evenings doing research, so I could cast an educated ballot.
In the spirit of accountability, here are my votes, alongside the overall results, for comparison.
Rookie of the Year: Again, I was on the landslide side of things. Duke freshman Austin Rivers was the pick on 57 of the 59 ballots, including mine. Maryland's Nick Faust and Carolina's James Michael McAdoo split the remaining two votes.
I had Virginia Tech two spots higher than the rest of the media, in fourth place. In a year where a third of the teams in the conference have first-year coaches, I gave the Hokies the nod based on the presence of veteran coach Seth Greenberg.
In seventh and eighth, I flip-flopped the overall poll's eighth and ninth place teams, putting NC State ahead of Clemson. I made the decision after speaking to Clemson coach Brad Brownell. One half of the players on Clemson's roster are freshmen, and he sounds like he thinks they're in for a long year.
In ninth and tenth were Maryland and Georgia Tech, which matches the overall poll. I flip-flopped the bottom two teams, putting Wake in last and Boston College just ahead of them. I also made the call on Wake after talking to new coach Jeff Bzdelik, who sounded less than enthused about the upcoming season.
ACC Preseason All-Conference Team: I put two Tar Heels on the team. Harrison Barnes was a unanimous pick, and I was one of the 47 of the 59 voters who chose John Henson.
I left Tyler Zeller off, and it wasn't really close in my mind, although 46 other voters put him on the team. I gave more consideration to Kendall Marshall than Zeller. Marshall's sixth-place finish in scoring on his own team, 93 turnovers, and 42% shooting kept him off in the end.
I voted for Malcolm Grant of Miami, who got on the team with 32 votes.
That left two spots on my ballot. One of them went to Austin Rivers. Coach Mike Krzyzewski alls him th team's only player who can break down defenses. While he'll have a learning curve, the switch will get flipped early on this season, and he'll be considered one of the top offensive forces in the conference by the end of the year.
The ACC didn't release a list of "others receiving votes," so I don't know how close Rivers came, but he was left off the All-Conference team.
My final spot was going to be another guard. As I said above, I considered Marshall, but it came down to Curry and Terrell Stoglin of Maryland.
Stoglin outscored Curry last season, 11.4 to 9.0. He outshot Curry 46% to 42%, and he recorded 30 more assists. If I'm picking Rivers to have an All-ACC season, he'll be taking shots and points away from Curry. I also thought Curry would struggle as he transitioned to the point and also see his numbers drop.
Meanwhile, a depleted Maryland team will be looking for more from Stoglin.
I went with Stoglin for my fifth spot. Twenty ACC voters picked Curry, tying him with Virginia's Mike Scott for the final spot.
One more vote would have gotten Curry sole custody of the spot. He was sixth on my ballot. We'll find out how accountable I'm held the next time I'm in the locker room at Cameron, I guess.