On Sunday, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced their annual postseason awards. Virginia Cavaliers guard and fifth-year senior Malcolm Brogdon was a common name in the ballots, earning ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors. This marked the first time since the Defensive Player of the Year award’s introduction that a player has won both awards.
Perhaps the most fitting part about Brogdon’s individual accolades is how little he thinks about his game individually. The team-oriented senior has the ability to average over 20 points a game, yet has been the coach on the court, maintaining the team’s deliberate pace and doing what he needs to help his team win, and for this reason has been overshadowed by more “exciting” NBA prospects.
In 2015, Brogdon received the third-most votes for ACC Player of the Year, behind Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant and Player of the Year winner Jahlil Okafor of Duke. With both players leaving for the NBA before this season, the 2016 award was Brogdon’s to lose. He received an overwhelming 38 of 51 votes, while Brice Johnson of North Carolina came in a distant second place, as the two were the only candidate who received more than 3 votes. Brogdon became only the third player in UVa program history to take home this prestigious, joining the ranks of Barry Parkhill and Ralph Sampson.
With Brogdon also winning the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Virginia coach Tony Bennett’s pack-line defense has now featured two consecutive award winners, with forward Darion Atkins holding the 2015 award. While Bennett and the Cavaliers are thought of for their team defense, the ‘Hoos have had a individual defensive superstar each of the past two seasons, with Atkins’ elite shot-blocking ability, and Brogdon’s ability to shut down the opposition’s best offensive weapon.
Brogdon was also a unanimous selection to the All-ACC First Team along with UNC’s Johnson, marking the second straight season Brogdon has been on the All-ACC First Team, after being named to the Second Team in his sophomore season. Cat Barber of North Carolina State, Grayson Allen of Duke, and Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame rounded out the First Team.
Tony Bennett expressed his feelings on what Brogdon brought to the Virginia basketball program. “What a legacy he will leave behind. You don’t usually see a guy improve as much in his senior year like Malcolm has.”
His improvement this season is especially impressive given his performance over the years. Since becoming a starter in his sophomore season, he has led the team in scoring every season, and doing so while guarding the best player on the opposing team.
The awards for Malcolm are less of a testament to his 2015-16 season, and more of one to his illustrious career at the University of Virginia.
Tony Bennett has his best-ever recruiting class coming through next season, but it will take the talents of many to replace the efforts Malcolm Brogdon gave in his final year in Charlottesville. His offensive and defensive skills, as well as his leadership, which will be tested in his final crack at ACC and NCAA Tournament runs, are a complete package that does not come around often.