Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thornton Might Be Top Player

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thornton Might Be Top Player

Article excerpt

Byline: BOB THOMAS

Al Thornton has put together a worthy resume to be named Atlantic Coast Conference basketball player of the year.

Entering Wednesday night's game at Clemson, Florida State's senior forward led the ACC in scoring in league play (22.8 points per game) and ranked among the top six in rebounding (8.4 per game), field-goal percentage (.530) and free-throw percentage (.885).

Thornton's play has the Seminoles poised to crack the upper half of the ACC standings for a second consecutive season and make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998.

However, several factors work against FSU's high-energy performer in the player-of-the-year debate.

Count North Carolina sophomore Tyler Hansbrough, the leading scorer and rebounder on arguably the ACC's best team, as one of them. Then there are Boston College's Jared Dudley, Virginia guards J.R. Reynolds and Sean Singletary and Virginia Tech's Zabian Dowdell -- all worthy of consideration for the honor.

Here's yet another obstacle Thornton is facing. Only nine players from schools outside North Carolina -- the state with the largest number of votes -- have won player-of-the-year honors. Of those, only Maryland's Len Bias (1985, 1986) played on a team that didn't finish first or second in the regular-season standings.

While there might be some intrigue when it comes to player-of-the-year voting, ACC rookie-of-the-year choices and all-rookie selections are sure to leave some worthy candidates on the outside looking back at the honorees.

North Carolina is stocked with a wealth of worthy candidates, including forward Brandan Wright, point guard Ty Lawson and shooting guard Wayne Ellington. Georgia Tech's Javaris Crittendon and Thaddeus Young are strong contenders, as are BC's Shamari Spears, Maryland's Greivis Vasquez, Duke's Jon Scheyer, Clemson's Trevor Booker and Wake Forest's Ishmael Smith. …

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