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ACC Most Improved Player Candidates

ACC Most Improved Player

It’s been almost a decade since a Syracuse player won ACC Most Improved Player. The last Orange player to get that award was Rakeem Christmas back in 2014-15. This year, SU might have multiple candidates. Here’s a list of six candidates that could win the award.

Maliq Brown – Syracuse

Maliq Brown has been the star of the show for SU in the past few games. A career-high 26 points against Duke will do that. But Brown’s solid play has extended all season long. He’s averaging 10.3 points per game, which ranks fourth on the Orange. It’s come efficiently too, on 75.7% true shooting, which is better than any other player in the country.

Despite the offensive prowess Brown has shown, his biggest improvements have come on the defensive end. Last year, he tallied 0.9 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. This year, that’s up to 2.2 steals and 0.9 blocks. Brown might be one of the best defenders of his size in the country, and would be a deserving ACC Most Improved Player.

Quadir Copeland – Syracuse

Quadir Copeland also had a few-game stretch where he led the way for Syracuse, highlighted by 22 points and 9 rebounds in a win over Pittsburgh. It’s hard to pick a single area of improvement for Copeland. He’s gotten a bigger role, and has turned that into more points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, all on much better efficiency. Out of any player on this list, Copeland started with the least production. While his counting stats still trail the others, it’s hard to say his doesn’t fit the criteria for ACC Most Improved Player.

Hunter Sallis – Wake Forest

Hunter Sallis has absolutely exploded for the Demon Deacons this year, nearly quadrupling his scoring output. Plus, he’s improved his three-point shooting percentage from 26% to 36%, a massive jump. Sallis is a great example of being patient and waiting to get the role you deserve, and it’s paid off, as he’s led Wake Forest to a solid 11-4 record so far. For his impressive scoring alone, Sallis is a leading candidate for ACC Most Improved Player.

Wooga Poplar – Miami

The departures of Jordan Miller, Harlond Beverly, and Anthony Walker were always going to leave more reps for the Canes players that stayed. But Wooga Poplar has done more than slight improvement, he’s taken on a whole new role for Miami. The guard doubled his points per game, and has shot more efficiently from every spot on the court. The only thing holding Poplar back is an underwhelming record by the Hurricanes.

Lynn Kidd – Virginia Tech

Similar to the other players on this list, Lynn Kidd has become a much better scorer than he was last year. What makes him stand out is that he’s one of the best at what he does in the entire ACC: rebounding. Kidd ranks in the conference top ten for boards per game, and is particularly good at boxing out on the defensive end. It’s always nice to see someone that was a career role player break out in their senior season, and that’s the type of narrative it takes for someone to win ACC Most Improved Player.

Ian Schieffelin – Clemson

Everything that’s been said about Lynn Kidd applies to Ian Schieffelin, except he’s an even better rebounder. In fact, the Tigers center is the best offensive rebounder in the nation. What holds Schieffelin back is a smaller offensive role. He has the second-lowest scoring average of anyone on this list. Still, being one of the best players on the boards in the conference is impressive, and if Clemson gets back on track with wins, then Schieffelin could absolutely win ACC Most Improved Player.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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