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UNC Basketball: Cole Anthony receives preseason ACC honors

It’ll be a Cole world in the ACC this year, as the dynamic freshman is already being praised by media voters.

Jordan Brand Classic Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Yesterday afternoon the ACC released the results of the media voting that took place at 2019 Operation Basketball. Media members voted on who they thought would be the team to win the conference this year, as well as individual awards for who they thought would be the best players during the 2019-20 season.

To get the first bit of news that was announced out of the way: Duke received the most votes to finish the conference as ACC champions, followed by UNC at second place, and Louisville at third. The results of the team votes were surprising for a couple of reasons — Louisville has received a lot of buzz that they may be the team to beat in the conference this year, and also Duke may be bringing in the most unimpressive recruiting class that they’ve had in quite a while, though they are bringing back players like Tre Jones, Joey Baker, and Alex O’Connell. Regardless, UNC being second place in the voting helps reaffirm that the Heels should be strong contenders for the ACC title this season, which is good news for fans.

One other thing that was reaffirmed in the voting is that Roy Williams landed a really good player this past spring, as Cole Anthony received numerous individual player honors. They are as follows:

  • Preseason All-ACC First Team
  • 2nd place in the Preseason ACC Player of the Year voting (Jordan Nwora had the most votes)
  • Preseason Freshman of the Year

To break this down a bit, Anthony was voted onto a Preseason All-ACC First Team that includes Jordan Nwora, Tre Jones, John Mooney, and Mamadi Diakite. He received the third-highest amount of votes, only being passed by Jones and Nwora. When taking a look at the list of players that were voted onto the Second Team, it’s likely that Anthony’s position will hold throughout the season barring any tragic events that may occur. It’ll be exciting to see a UNC freshman at the top of the league after Coby White fell short last year and made it onto the Second Team.

As far as the Preseason ACC Player of the Year award goes, I think that by the time this season is over Nwora and Anthony will absolutely be the players that are the most considered for this honor. Nwora is returning for his junior year at Louisville following a very impressive season last year. He finished his sophomore campaign averaging 17 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. Should his production stay around that ballpark this year, Anthony should be able to contend well with him. However, if Nwora achieves his final form this season, it’s likely that the preseason voting is 100% correct, and we may not see Anthony finish as the best player in the conference.

Despite the possibility that he may not finish as the best player in the league, it’s really hard to fathom a world where Cole Anthony doesn’t finish as the ACC Freshman of the Year. In a year where Duke managed to recruit very good but not elite talent, Anthony received 89 votes from media members, while Vernon Carey came in second place with only 8 votes. The players that follow them on the list are Wendell Moore Jr., Casey Morsell with Virginia, Cassius Stanley, and Matthew Hurt. If we’re being very honest, there’s not a whole lot of analysis needed here — Cole Anthony is 100% starting the season as the best incoming freshman in the 2019 class, and he has a very strong chance of finishing the same way.

What do you all think of how the media voted for the preseason awards? Do you think Cole Anthony will live up to all of the hype? Also, do you think that North Carolina is rightfully the second best team in the conference going into the season? Let us know in the comments below.