It’s awards season, which means I’m going to try to screw this up at least slightly less than Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway and the accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers did last Sunday night at the Oscars.

The ACC changed their All-ACC voting process this year. Instead of basically anyone with $20 being able to vote for the postseason awards, league officials decided to give each individual school four All-ACC votes (60 total). One vote is given to the head coach, one goes to the radio play-by-play and the last two are given to reporters covering the team, as chosen by the school’s athletic department.

This was done to eliminate any potential state or regional bias, as every school is now equally represented. This also means there is only one collective All-ACC team, whereas in years past there was a coaches’ All-ACC team and a separate team voted on by the media.

This year, the Winston-Salem Journal was lucky enough to receive one of the two media votes given to Wake Forest. Of course, Dan Collins was the obvious answer to fill out the ballot, as the long-time Wake Forest beat reporter has already forgotten more about the ACC than most any of us will ever know.

Unfortunately, as many of you know, Dan had an ill-timed shoulder injury earlier this season that kept him on the proverbial sidelines for a few months. Because of that, Dan was gracious enough to entrust me with this year’s All-ACC voting, which was to be completed by Saturday at midnight.

With transparency in mind, I figured I would go ahead and share my All-ACC ballot with you, the readers. I also received input from Dan, but he, of course, was courteous enough to make sure I felt like this was my ballot. The All-ACC teams and awards will be released by conference officials Sunday at 4 p.m.

Please feel free, if you have any questions or comments, to reach out to me. You can always find me on Twitter, @KeganLowe, or by email: kzlowe@wsjournal.com. I’d love to get some feedback. Even if it’s telling me how dumb I am for leaving off your favorite player.

One housekeeping note — we weren’t instructed to vote by position. Each of the three All-ACC teams did not need to have a point guard, shooting guard, power forward, etc. Although I did try my best to keep an even split of guards, wings and post players.

So, without further ado, here’s my 2016-17 All-ACC Ballot…

First-Team All-ACC

Justin Jackson, Jr., North Carolina

John Collins, So., Wake Forest

Luke Kennard, So., Duke

Bonzie Colson, Sr., Notre Dame

Donovan Mitchell, So., Louisville

This was, by far, the easiest part of the ballot for me to pick out.

Jackson, Collins and Kennard were my three finalists for ACC Player of the Year (which we’ll get to later), so they were absolute shoe-ins for First-Team All-ACC. Colson wasn’t far behind those three and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets some POY votes, as well. Mitchell wasn’t quite POY-caliber for me, but he was, in my eyes, easily the fifth-best player in the conference this year.

Second-Team All-ACC

Dennis Smith Jr., Fr., N.C. State

Dwayne Bacon, So., Florida State

Michael Young, Sr., Pittsburgh

Ben Lammers, Jr., Georgia Tech

Joel Berry II, Jr., North Carolina

I make up for having no point guards on my first-team by (unintentionally) having two point guards on my second-team. For me, Smith Jr. was probably the next in-line for a first-team selection. I know the Wolfpack had a disappointing season, but Smith Jr. averaged 18.5 points per game, led the ACC in assists with 6.3 per game, and was clearly one of the league’s most talented players from start to finish.

Florida State’s most productive player, Bacon was one of the most gifted scorers in the league. The same could also be said for Young, who led the ACC in scoring with 20.1 points per game. Young wasn’t just taking all the shots for a bad team, either. His teammate, Jamel Artis, averaged nearly 19 points per game (fifth in the ACC) and Young shot better than 46 percent from the field.

After averaging less than 12 minutes per game over his first two years, Lammers played 35 minutes per game and easily led the ACC in blocks per game (3.4) this year. He also averaged 24.4 points and 15.1 rebounds per-100 possessions and shot nearly 52 percent.

As ACC Regular Season Champions (and yes, that’s a thing), North Carolina is the first (but not the only) team to have two players receive All-ACC honors from me. While Jackson was the Tar Heels most productive player, Berry was seemingly their heartbeat. As Berry went, North Carolina went. And that’s saying something for a team that won the ACC by a full two games over its closest competition.

Third-Team All-ACC

London Perrantes, Sr., Virginia

Jayson Tatum, Fr., Duke

Davon Reed, Sr., Miami

Zach LeDay, Sr., Virginia Tech

Andrew White, Sr., Syracuse

Whereas the first-team took me no more than five minutes to decide on, I agonized entirely too long on this one. In some ways, this team feels like the most important and includes the most internal pressure because it directly decides who is left off for perpetuity.

Simply because of their team’s methodical, low-possession style of play, Virginia players are hard to place. Perrantes was clearly the Cavaliers go-to guy all season long, even if his per-game numbers are underwhelming at first glance.

Perrantes averaged almost 26 points and more than eight assists per-100 possessions. Those numbers aren’t far off from Smith Jr.’s (29.5 points and 10 assists), who is perhaps the ultimate stat-stuffer.

Tatum and Reed were fairly safe for me. Neck-and-neck with Smith Jr. as the best freshman in the ACC, Tatum was one of the few players in the league who could single-handedly win a game on any given night. Reed, meanwhile, was consistently Miami’s best player and its leading scorer.

There are numerous ways I could have gone with the third-team, especially the final few spots. Other guys in consideration were Artis, Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson), Bryant Crawford (Wake Forest), Kennedy Meeks (North Carolina) and Jerome Robinson (Boston College), among others.

Maybe not as well known, LeDay averaged 30.1 points and 13.8 rebounds on 56 percent shooting per-100 possessions. He was the best player on a better-than-you-think Virginia Tech team that led the ACC in nearly every shooting category.

White secured his third-team selection when he scored 40 points and went 8 of 9 from the 3-point line against Georgia Tech on the final day of the regular season. He was consistently Syracuse’s best scorer, averaging nearly 30 points per-100 possessions, and led the ACC in 3-point field goals made this season.

I’ve already rambled on too long regarding the All-ACC teams, so here is the rest of my ballot in much, much shorter fashion. I’ll pass along any thoughts I think are noteworthy as we go.

All-ACC Defensive Team

Isaiah Wilkins, Jr., Virginia

Kamari Murphy, Sr., Miami

Ben Lammers, Jr., Georgia Tech

Donovan Mitchell, So., Louisville

Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Jr., Florida State

All-ACC Freshman Team

Dennis Smith Jr., Fr., N.C. State

Jayson Tatum, Fr., Duke

Ky Bowman, Fr., Boston College

Josh Okogie, Fr., Georgia Tech

Johnathan Issac, Fr., Florida State

Player of the Year

Justin Jackson, Jr., North Carolina

The toughest individual award for me to decide on was also the biggest individual award. With all due respect to the great season Colson had, this was a three-man race between Jackson, Collins and Kennard for me. I honestly could have voted for any of them and had a solid argument for all three.

I ultimately decided to cut it down to two between Jackson (the best player on the best team, who also happened to be one of the three most productive players in the conference) and Collins (the most productive player, regardless of team record).

It was hard for me to justify voting for Kennard, when Collins had better overall statistics than the Duke sophomore and Jackson had similar statistics and was asked to do similar things on a team that finished three games ahead of the Blue Devils in the standings.

There were a multitude of factors that went into my decision, but ultimately I gave my vote to Jackson over Collins due to consistently great play against on a team that was consistently the league’s best, which included a mark of 14 or more points in all but one of North Carolina’s ACC games.

I’m not entirely sure I made the right pick and I’ve probably changed my mind 10 times since you’ve started reading this blog, but alas, that’s what I decided on Saturday night at 11 o’clock while sitting in a restaurant in Blacksburg, Va.

Defensive Player of the Year

Isaiah Wilkins, Jr., Virginia

Freshman of the Year

Dennis Smith Jr., Fr., N.C. State

Sixth Man Award

Marcquise Reed, So., Clemson

Seth Allen of Virginia Tech also deserves a quality mention here. It was close. In the end, I went with Reed, who averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists per-100 possessions. He also shot 44.4 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from the 3-point line and 89.5 percent from the free-throw line.

Most Improved Award

John Collins, So., Wake Forest

I’ll have more coming out about Collins in Monday morning’s edition of the Journal. Simply put, the Deacons sophomore had an unbelievable season after playing just 14.4 minutes per game a year ago.

Whether his improvement should be mostly accredited to more opportunity, physical development, or a little of both, is up for debate. But for me, there was no debate on this selection, considering Collins went from a sparingly used reserve to a legitimate ACC Player of the Year candidate in one year’s time.

Coach of the Year

Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech

This is going to sound strange, but I usually hate voting for Coach of the Year based on the simple premise of overachieving preseason expectations. But that’s exactly what I’m doing here.

The Yellow Jackets were picked to finish next to last in the ACC by the coaches and the media prior to the season. Yet, they responded by going 8-10 in conference play and sit firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

There was a real question – asked by people both inside and outside of the program – whether or not Georgia Tech would win an ACC game. For that reason, Pastner and Co. scheduled a Feb. 7 game against Division II Tusculum, just in case the Yellow Jackets hadn’t won since November or December.

To me, that shows a program that truly believed they were going to be very bad and they ended up being very respectable. Obviously, Lammers, Okogie and others deserve credit for playing well on the court, but Pastner led a team that knew it wasn’t supposed to be very good and they might end up in the NCAA Tournament. The fact that we’re even having that discussion is Coach of the Year worthy.

And finally, that’s it. Thanks for sticking with me until the end.

I’m headed up to Brooklyn on Monday morning for the ACC Tournament, so I’ll have plenty of coverage both in the print edition of the Journal and online at JournalNow.com throughout the course of the week. Stay tuned.

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