Colleges

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.

66 Comments

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  • Tarheel born Mar 6, 1:14 p.m.

    Congratulations and well deserved. Truly there was no other choice!

    GO HEELS!!

  • Celt Mar 6, 1:16 p.m.

    Congratulations from Duke. Zeller was a great choice for POY.

  • jrt0856 Mar 6, 1:24 p.m.

    Rivers didnt make the 1 or 2 or 3 team sporting news aa team, I guess David Glenn is going to be really upset. zeller and barnes made 2 and 3 team also I think Scott made.

  • mxteam44 Mar 6, 1:26 p.m.

    Glad to see Zeller win it, and have his jersey hanging from the rafters at the Smith Center! Also glad to see a 4-year player get rewarded for his dedication on the court and in the classroom. Awesome job Mr. Zeller!!!

    Austin Rivers...........no brainer! As much as I dislike him, and think he's awfully cocky, he seems like a bright kid, and speaks very well in interviews. I can't knock on him too hard. Heck of a player!

    Glad to see Leonard Hamilton win also. He's done a great job this year. I know K has done a terrific job also with the parts and pieces he's had to work with this year, so it was basically a coin toss between the two.

    Now let's get these tournaments started and see where the chips fall!!!

    Go Heels!!!!!

  • lmiller2 Mar 6, 1:38 p.m.

    Last time UNC #44 won ACC player of the year I believe it was Larry Miller in the 60's. Still can't understand why they didn't retire his jersey.

  • bpayne812-take two Mar 6, 1:42 p.m.

    Congrats to all three players.

  • BlueDeviIs00 Mar 6, 1:42 p.m.

    Huge congrats to Big Z! He had a great season, and 100% deserved this award. I think the most impressive thing to me was how he bounced back from those last 2 minutes vs Duke, to become even more determined and even a better player. He truly is a class act and a great kid, very happy for him.

    Austin Rivers for FOY, John Henson for DPOY were no brainers. Congrats to both, again well deserved!

    Although I would have liked to see Coach K win the COY, you really can't argue against Hamilton. Take out his non-conference Ivy league losses, and he did a tremendous job this season. I am assuming the COY is based strictly on conference games, and if thats the case- no problem with Hamilton winning.

    Congrats to all, very well deserved and cant wait for the ACCT! Go Duke!

  • itsnotmeiswear Mar 6, 1:51 p.m.

    Congrats to all of them, and I'm especially glad to see a true student-athlete win the POY award.

  • kmor27886 Mar 6, 1:54 p.m.

    Congrats Smeagol!!! You have your "precious".

  • Mr. French Mar 6, 1:55 p.m.

    I hate the holes...but this was the right choice. Dude is a heckuva player.

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