Zeller named ACC Player of the Year; Rivers, Henson also honored
Posted March 6, 2012
Greensboro, N.C. — 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. 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.