WASHINGTON DC – Postseason awards are an incredibly subjective pursuit. And in the interest of full disclosure, I wasn’t among the few who were blessed with a vote for the ACC’s superlatives this year.
But if I had been, I would have cast my ballot for almost all of those who won their respective categories.

But not all.

North Carolina’s RJ Davis had Player of the Year wrapped up even before he went off a Smith Center-record 42 points against Miami a few weeks ago. Hubert Davis turned Coach of the Year into a formality by leading the Tar Heels to the regular season conference championship and beating Duke twice while Virginia’s Reece Beekman and Clemson’s Ian Shiefflein were also no-brainers for Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player, respectively.

The only disagreement is with the choice of Notre Dame’s Markus Burton as the league’s Freshman of the Year.

That’s not a knock against Burton. He’s a fine player who was Indiana’s Mr. Basketball as a high school senior. And he backed that up with a strong rookie season for the Irish.

The 5-foot-11 point guard ranked 5th in the ACC in scoring at 17.3 points per game.

Scoring, however, shouldn’t be the only criteria used to determine the award. There are other factors that are equally important. Some that don’t always translate to the stat sheet.

That’s why Duke’s Jared McCain was much more of a deserving candidate.

His 13.3 points per game average heading into this week’s ACC Tournament admittedly isn’t as good as Burton’s. But it’s the 2nd-most among the league’s freshmen.

The rest of their stats are comparable. Burton is averaging 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 43.3% from the floor. McCain is averaging 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 45.8%.

But McCain isn’t being asked to put up big numbers on a daily basis. He’s surrounded by 5-star talents such as 1st-team All-ACC selection Kyle Filipowski and fellow guards Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor.
At the same time, though, McCain had a knack for stepping up and doing whatever the Blue Devils have needed when they’ve needed it most.

He’s scored 20 or more points 7 times, including a 35-point effort in which he made 8 3-pointers in a win at Florida State on Feb. 17. He’s helped address Duke’s most glaring deficiency by becoming a more aggressive rebounder, posting 4 double-digit efforts in a 5-game stretch midway through the ACC schedule.

And the 6-3 shooting guard has been one of his team’s most tenacious and effective on-the-ball defenders.

Most of all, his contributions have helped keep the Blue Devils near the top of the league standings despite a rash of injuries that has their lineup in flux for most of the season.

Take McCain out of the lineup and Duke isn’t the No. 2 seed and the co-favorite with North Carolina, according to FanDuel, here in DC. It might not even be in the top-4. Take Burton out of Notre Dame’s lineup and there isn’t much lower you can go than the No. 12 seed in a 15-team league.

I rest my case.