Zeller named ACC Player of the Year; Rivers, Henson also honored

Posted March 6, 2012

— University of North Carolina senior Tyler Zeller was the overwhelming choice for ACC Player of the Year as announced by the conference Tuesday.

Zeller received 45 of the 62 votes from the media with Virginia’s Mike Scott garnering the second most at 14. Zeller’s teammates Harrison Barnes (2) and John Henson (1) also earned nods from the voters. ACC Logo 2012 men's ACC printable bracket

“It’s a very special honor, something you dream about when you are a young player,” Zeller said. “I am so proud to know that, as a result, my jersey will go in the rafters (at the Smith Center), which is another great honor. You look up there and see the names of the Tar Heels who came before you and you know that it’s a tremendous honor that my jersey will be up there with them.”

Zeller is the first UNC senior to be named Player of the Year since Phil Ford in 1978 and third consecutive senior to claim the award. He is the 14th UNC player to be given the honor and third in the last five years.

“This is just phenomenal,” head coach Roy Williams said. “It’s an outstanding recognition of an outstanding young man who has been playing big time basketball for us all year. He performed at a high level on extremely consistent basis and did so in every phase of the game.”

Zeller has scored 20 or more points nine times with highs of 31 against Appalachian State and 30 against Maryland. He’s grabbed 10 or more rebounds in 14 games and graded out as UNC’s defensive player of the game a team-high 11 times. He was also named the 2012 Academic All-America of the Year.

Duke’ Austin Rivers was a unanimous selection for ACC Rookie of the year a day after being just the seventh freshman to make the All-ACC First Team. The Blue Devils guard won the conference Rookie of the Week nine times on the year, one short of tying the all-time conference record for the honor.

Rivers became just the second unanimous Rookie of the Year in the conference following Tyler Hansbrough of UNC in 2006 and the sixth Blue Devil to earn the award.

“It is an honor to receive this award,” said Rivers. “Working hard throughout the season and having great teammates and coaches has really helped me and I am going to share this award with them. Individual awards are great, but at the same time we are all focused on winning championships as a team and that is what I want to win.”

UNC’s John Henson was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in his Tar Heel career. Only Sheldon Williams of Duke has won the award twice previously. Henson leads the ACC in both rebounds and blocks per game and was the only unanimous All-ACC Defensive Team honoree. He has an ACC-best 16 double-doubles in 31 games.

“John is a game-changing presence on defense, someone who has a direct impact on the opposition’s ability to score in every game,” said Williams. “He blocks three shots and probably alters at least that many that result in missed shots. Plus, he cleans up so many misses that help us start our break. He’s been a big factor for us.”

ACC Coach of the Year honors went to Leonard Hamilton of Florida State who guided the Seminoles to a 21-9 regular season record and 12-4 conference mark. Hamilton gained 21 votes, edging out Duke's Mike Krzyzewski who landed 20.

This is the third time the Coach of the Year award has been decided by one vote (1958, 1988). It is Hamilton's second time winning the honor.


ACC Player of the Year
Tyler Zeller, North Carolina (45 votes)
Mike Scott, Virginia (14)
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina (2)
John Henson, North Carolina (1)

ACC Rookie of the Year
Austin Rivers, Duke (62)

ACC Defensive Player of the Year
John Henson, North Carolina (56)
Jontel Evans, Virginia (3)
Michael Snaer, Florida State (3)

ACC Coach of the Year
Leonard Hamilton, Florida State (21)
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke (20)
Tony Bennett, Virginia (9)
Mark Gottfried, NC State (5)
Roy Williams, North Carolina (3)
Brad Brownell, Clemson (2)
Mark Turgeon, Maryland (1)
Jim Larranaga, Miami (1)

Editor's Note: Will be updated.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • 879wins Mar 8, 9:45 p.m.

    Class? We talking bout class? Dook has no class. We all know that. Even mike knows it. Live and die by the 3, baby! Live and die!

  • heelsfaninraleigh Mar 8, 1:18 p.m.

    Well deserved and he has class as well. Rivers could learn a thing or two about class after he... View More

    — Posted by Deacons

    River's is cocky, never heard about the finger thing; however... this "gesture" if true is no... View More

    — Posted by Coach K is still GREAT

    I know you aren't trying to say that the fans in the DES have even come close to showing the lack of class that the Crazies do. You are talking about something said in ONE game. And I thought it was just one woman who said it, not the whole crowd, but I might be remembering it wrong.

    Did Kay not have to step out on to the court Saturday night to make the crowd stop chanting "go to hell Carolina eat sh*t? And what about the lovely cries of "hey (insert name of Carolina starter) you suck as each player was introduced???

    Don't even try to start that mess about Carolina fans. Not to mention better behavior is expected from a player on the court than people in the stands.

  • heelsfaninraleigh Mar 8, 1:13 p.m.

    Well deserved and he has class as well. Rivers could learn a thing or two about class after he... View More

    — Posted by Deacons

    "friends" ??

    — Posted by BULLCityBGTD

    This has been widely reported. Don't act like Deacon is making it up. That type of action is hardly out of character for Travelin' Rivers.

  • heelsfaninraleigh Mar 8, 1:03 p.m.

    of course zeller wins acc player of the year. he played for both unc and duke!

    — Posted by BULLCityBGTD

    Another way to look at that is.... The only way Duke beats Carolina is if Carolina beats themselves.

    — Posted by DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT

    Yeah and he, along with most dookies, completely ignores the Dumblee shove in Zeller's back that caused him to knock the ball in the basket.

  • Ghost of Rameses Mar 7, 9:07 p.m.

    I'll probably get some razzin' from the Duke fans, but I am really puzzled that Coach K got 20... View More

    — Posted by ed taylor

    Keep it quiet and I'll tell you how K got those's the UNC controlled media.

    All well deserved and there could have been other considerations but Zeller was a no brainer and did all of it while still carrying a >3.5GPA in a challenging major. I kinda agree about Leonard with the 4 seniors and all but he has done a really nice job and he did beat UNC and Duke, not an easy task.

    #Zellerblood!!! #Hensonblood!!!

  • jandscroom Mar 7, 3:33 p.m.

    Wolfpack stories?

  • 903 national champions Mar 7, 9:40 a.m.

    Congrats to Zeller. Thought Scott deserved it being he did so much without as good of a... View More

    — Posted by RadicalMagick

    Coach K has always been a huge inspiration for me and I don't think there is any doubt he is a... View More

    — Posted by All the People

    Nice post and I agree.

    When the preseason rankings came out with Duke at #5, everyone said "What a crock, media bias, Duke is overrated as usual, they will struggle without Nolan and Singler, who's gonna score? the dumlees?". Fast forward six months and they finish #6 and people say "they were supposed to finish there, coach k just did what was expected".

    Sounds like the haters just want to have it both ways.

  • Proud2bUNC Mar 7, 5:39 a.m.

    Well deserved and he has class as well. Rivers could learn a thing or two about class after he... View More

    — Posted by Deacons

    Knowing how much UNC and Duke fans talk I cannot really believe that if Rivers gave UNC fans the... View More

    — Posted by All the People

    I tend to think it was probably his index finger to indicate that they are number 1. It might just look like it a flip off.

  • samr Mar 6, 10:53 p.m.

    First of all, I am a UNC fan. There is no way that anyone can argue that Austin Rivers was not the ACC ROY. When you get right down to it, what other hyped freshman who struggled early and ended up as ROY does he remind you of?

  • 1993 Tarheel Mar 6, 9:47 p.m.

    Rivers is a joke and won by default. All his trash talking prior to joining dook and since have... View More

    — Posted by arfamr1007

    He was the best Freshman this year in the ACC and the best player on the dook team...deserved. Tyler Zeller def the POY for the ACC this year. Congrats to all the kids!




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