K.J. McDaniels' All-ACC campaign continues with State

Clemson's K.J. McDaniels dunks the ball over Virginia's Darion Atkins during the second half of their basketball game at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson on Saturday. No. 17-ranked Virginia held on to beat the Tigers, 63-58.

Mark Crammer Independent Mail

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson's K.J. McDaniels dunks the ball over Virginia's Darion Atkins during the second half of their basketball game at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson on Saturday. No. 17-ranked Virginia held on to beat the Tigers, 63-58. Mark Crammer Independent Mail

In an uphill battle for first-team All-ACC honors, K.J. McDaniels has picked the right time of year to kick it into another gear.

Going into Tuesday's 7 p.m. tip with N.C. State (16-9, 6-6 ACC), the Birmingham, Ala. native has already posted double-figures 21-of-24 games, but he's scored 19 or more points in four of Clemson's last five contests.

Against the nation's top scoring defense Saturday, McDaniels shot 6-of-13 from the field and 11-of-13 from the free throw line for 24 total, the most Virginia had allowed in 13 conference games.

Clemson (15-9, 6-6) has had 12 players named ACC first-team, bookended by forwards Vince Yockel (1958) and Trevor Booker (2010).

In just the last 10 seasons, Duke has had 13 and UNC has had 11 named among the ACC's five-best on the floor. In an expansion-era ACC nine of those 10 years, "Triangle" area players have made up 54 percent of the first team selections.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell recognizes his star junior would have a little more attention elsewhere, but it's a double-edged sword.

"Certainly I think at one of the more high-profile programs right now, that would be the case," Brownell said. "It's kind of like a recruiting question. Would he be the high-profile guy right there right now? There would be a lot of high-profile guys with him. Right now he's our high-profile guy and that's because of our situation.

"I do think he would get more recognition at some of those programs because those teams are followed more closely."

McDaniels is in the top-10 in six categories the ACC tracks, leading in blocks (2.8) and also pacing the conference forwards on free throws (85.8).

Politics can certainly play a factor with the top-five vote-getters taking the All-ACC honor. Brownell hopes McDaniels has done enough to grab the attention.

"I've been pushing him all year," he said. "Every time I talk to people I say I hope people take notice of the kind of player he is. He's having a fantastic year. His consistency is what we've all been hoping to see. I think he's starting to show that.

"When you have 24 or 30, those are huge games. Normal game is 15 or 16, for him to have huge games – he's playing at a very high level. I think people are starting to take notice of that."

McDaniels faces off Tuesday with a player almost guaranteed an all-conference selection in Wolfpack sophomore forward T.J. Warren. In ACC play, McDaniels (17.8 PPG) and Warren (22.2) pace the league in points a game.

N.C. State has been streaky, and they're coming off a heartbreaker.

The Wolfpack began ACC action 1-4, but recovered to win 5-of-6 before a date with No. 1 Syracuse Saturday. Syracuse-State was within three points either way the final six minutes of the game, where an Orange layup with seven seconds left proved to be the difference.

“They're playing really, really well," Brownell said. "Mark (Gottfried)'s done a good job with them. T.J. Warren, those of us coaches all felt like he was going to have a tremendous season and be the go-to guy for N.C. State.

"He's a guy that's unbelievably efficient. He's got a quick release and he's 6-foot-8...He's a tremendous matchup problem for anybody."

Brownell is "hopeful" sophomore center Landry Nnoko (flu) will be back to aid Clemson's defense against him. Nnoko missed the Virginia game, where the Cavaliers finished plus-13 in rebound margin.

Both sides are in the middle of the pack fighting for postseason tournament position. Clemson would be the No. 6 seed and N.C. State, 7, if the ACC Tournament started today.

Riding their longest losing streak coming in (3), the Tigers’ coach isn't panicking.

"We lost to a No. 1 team, No. (17) team at home and then in double overtime on the road," he said. "It's not like we've played that bad. We've played OK. Not good enough to win. We're not beating our guys up or anything like that. We still have a lot to play for."

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Comments » 10

michtiger writes:

The title says it all. McDaniels continues ACC campaign. wouldn't it be nice if he had some team mates to count on.

clmtgr92 writes:

I say it is more of a NBA draft improvement campaign. I don't see how he would want to return to this team next year.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

If you're making a case for him to be 1st team then who else do you have on the 1st team? I don't see any way he's getting put on the 1st team over TJ Warren, Jabari Parker, Tyler Ennis, or Marcus Paige. Those guys are locks. That's not politics, they've just had better seasons. And then what do you do with a guy like Malcolm Brogdon at UVa? He doesn't look as good statistically but he's the best player on a team that's 12-1 in the ACC. Lamar Patterson is a guy who is statistically in the top 10 in a lot of categories like McDaniels (but his team wins more). Should CJ Fair be the 5th 1st team guy if Syracuse goes undefeated? There's a strong case to be made for him. McDaniels could be the 5th guy on the 1st team but I think both he and the team have to finish really strong.

What were you implying about politics having to do with 1st team selection? You mentioned the triangle making up 54% of the 1st team over the past 10 years. The triangle schools have won 7 of the last 10 ACC tournaments and were in the finals in the other 3. They've won at least a share of the regular season championship in 9 of the last 10 seasons. When you dominate the league then it's only logical that you dominate the all-ACC 1st team. The best teams usually have the best players. That's why they win. Politics don't have anything to do with it. The media gave the ACC POY to Erick Green last year despite playing at VT and his team going 4-14 last season. Any politics there? Or did they rightfully recognize that he was the league's best player who happened to be playing on an awful team?

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to clmtgr92:

I say it is more of a NBA draft improvement campaign. I don't see how he would want to return to this team next year.

He'll want to return in order to have an even better year and possibly play his way into the 1st round and a guaranteed contract. This year's draft is going to be insanely deep. He'd be crazy to leave unless he just can't stand the thought of coming back to school.

BrandonRink writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

If you're making a case for him to be 1st team then who else do you have on the 1st team? I don't see any way he's getting put on the 1st team over TJ Warren, Jabari Parker, Tyler Ennis, or Marcus Paige. Those guys are locks. That's not politics, they've just had better seasons. And then what do you do with a guy like Malcolm Brogdon at UVa? He doesn't look as good statistically but he's the best player on a team that's 12-1 in the ACC. Lamar Patterson is a guy who is statistically in the top 10 in a lot of categories like McDaniels (but his team wins more). Should CJ Fair be the 5th 1st team guy if Syracuse goes undefeated? There's a strong case to be made for him. McDaniels could be the 5th guy on the 1st team but I think both he and the team have to finish really strong.

What were you implying about politics having to do with 1st team selection? You mentioned the triangle making up 54% of the 1st team over the past 10 years. The triangle schools have won 7 of the last 10 ACC tournaments and were in the finals in the other 3. They've won at least a share of the regular season championship in 9 of the last 10 seasons. When you dominate the league then it's only logical that you dominate the all-ACC 1st team. The best teams usually have the best players. That's why they win. Politics don't have anything to do with it. The media gave the ACC POY to Erick Green last year despite playing at VT and his team going 4-14 last season. Any politics there? Or did they rightfully recognize that he was the league's best player who happened to be playing on an awful team?

Yeah, he's the fifth guy in that group. Patterson and Fair are his competition. Fair is the threat because he was ACC preseason POY and has decent, but not as good as McDaniels numbers. With more NE media voting now, those two might get more of a look than McDaniels, who really puts a package together that's hard for either of them to top when you add in blocks, rebounds and free throw % to scoring.

I think it would be naive to not think that heavy N.C. influence on voting hasn't hurt non-Triangle players in the past, but certainly it was a pleasant surprise Erick Green won ACC POY last year.

But don't get me wrong, most of the 54 percent are legit star players, but they also get a little more attention and it's easier for them to make the list. My point, with Brownell's opinion in there, is that McDaniels' numbers are worthy of first-team All-ACC, but he's up against it from outside factors.

BrandonRink writes:

Case in point this week, K.J. McDaniels put up 54 points and had a game with 30/14 and 6 (!) blocks last week and didn't earn ACC player of the week honors. Who did? UNC's James McAdoo, with one game of 24 and 12. Heck, even N.C. State is almost outside of the loop...Warren put up 57 against Wake and Syracuse.

McAdoo wears UNC blue...McDaniels and Warren don't. I don't think it's a grand conspiracy, but it's a natural bias.

clmtgr92 writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

Case in point this week, K.J. McDaniels put up 54 points and had a game with 30/14 and 6 (!) blocks last week and didn't earn ACC player of the week honors. Who did? UNC's James McAdoo, with one game of 24 and 12. Heck, even N.C. State is almost outside of the loop...Warren put up 57 against Wake and Syracuse.

McAdoo wears UNC blue...McDaniels and Warren don't. I don't think it's a grand conspiracy, but it's a natural bias.

The announcers of the Clemson/UVA stated that if McDaniels was in a UNC or Duke uniform, the discussion would be about All-American not All-ACC. On a recent flight I sat next to an ex-ACC referee who confirmed that there is a NC triangle based bias in basketball officiating. He says it is not as bad today as it was in the past. I told him that I didn't mind as long as we got the calls in football.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

Case in point this week, K.J. McDaniels put up 54 points and had a game with 30/14 and 6 (!) blocks last week and didn't earn ACC player of the week honors. Who did? UNC's James McAdoo, with one game of 24 and 12. Heck, even N.C. State is almost outside of the loop...Warren put up 57 against Wake and Syracuse.

McAdoo wears UNC blue...McDaniels and Warren don't. I don't think it's a grand conspiracy, but it's a natural bias.

I don't know how Warren didn't get it. 57 points and if not for the Cat Barber turnover in the final seconds, they beat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome and go 2-0 for the week. The reason behind McAdoo is that they didn't lose and beat a ranked opponent? I don't get it either. The announcement from the ACC website makes a rather weak case for McAdoo. http://www.theacc.com/#!/news-detail/ACCMBB-Weekly-Award-Winners-Announced_02-17-14_s6dl20

I'm guessing that the ACC media's vote isn't made public. It would be interesting to see the voting breakdown as to who voted for who and how close the vote was. I would think that if there is/was a bias that ACC expansion would have diluted it.

SoCalTiger writes:

McDaniels is an island. He gets no help. Blossomgame looks like the only other player who might develop. I find it hard to believe that Brownell has been unable or unwilling to recruit guys who can score. If KJ had a clone, these Tigers would be dangerous. Just one other scorer could tip the scales in these losses so far. Why is Brownell unable to get elite players?

SoCalTiger writes:

in response to clmtgr92:

The announcers of the Clemson/UVA stated that if McDaniels was in a UNC or Duke uniform, the discussion would be about All-American not All-ACC. On a recent flight I sat next to an ex-ACC referee who confirmed that there is a NC triangle based bias in basketball officiating. He says it is not as bad today as it was in the past. I told him that I didn't mind as long as we got the calls in football.

I can't help but wonder if KJ wore a blue uniform, his playing time and exposure might not be as great. He is a freak, no doubt. A human highlight reel, for sure, but he might not be as great vying for playing time with the elite players in the triangle.

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