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Posted Thursday, March 17, 2005
Junior guard garners over half the vote en route to award
J.J. Redick rarely turns down a shot, and this was no exception.
In the final minute of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final, the Duke guard found himself open from about 25 feet -- well within his range. With Duke leading Georgia Tech by two points, Redick launched his fifth 3-pointer of the game -- and bounced it off the rim.
The ill-timed shot didn't end up costing the Blue Devils, who made their free throws down the stretch. And it didn't even earn Redick the ire of coach Mike Krzyzewski.
"When he took it was OK, because it was right there," Coach K said. "I'm not saying that if I were giving a clinic on end of game situations that I would say that, but you always have to follow the heart of your leader and let him show heart."
The Blue Devils did that all season, overcoming injuries and a depleted roster to remain at the top of the league. Redick led the way, and on Wednesday, he was named Player of the Year in the ACC by The Associated Press.
He easily beat North Carolina's Sean May and Wake Forest's Chris Paul in voting by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. Of the 121 ballots cast, Redick got 68 of them, followed by May (34) and Paul (11).
"I was a little surprised that I got it," Redick said. "It's just a huge honor, considering the number of great players in this league who all had great seasons. I think you could take a handful of guys and choose any one of them."
Redick joins Art Heyman (1963), Jeff Mullins (1964), Steve Vacendak (1966), Mike Gminski (1979), Danny Ferry (1988 & 1989), Christian Laettner (1992), Grant Hill (1994), Elton Brand (1999), Chris Carrawell (2000) and Shane Battier (2001) as Duke's ACC Player of the Year receipients. The junior led the ACC in scoring, free throw percentage and minutes played while helping the Blue Devils (25-5) finish third in the final AP poll. He also was named MVP of the ACC tournament after scoring 76 points in three games. His 35 points against North Carolina State in the tournament semifinals matched a school single-game scoring record for the tournament.
Duke begins play in the NCAA tournament in Charlotte on Friday as the top seed in the Austin Regional.
"I think so far, I've done a good job of leading this team, and I'm excited about this tournament," Redick said. "For us to be a No. 1 seed and 25-5 going into the tournament, that's really special."
Redick averaged 22.8 points and 37.1 minutes for the Blue Devils, and he also shot 94 percent from the free throw line. But his shooting from beyond the 3-point line is what makes him different from nearly every other player in the country.
In 30 games, Redick made 115 of 276 shots from long range, and his 42 percent shooting was good for fifth in the ACC.
"If he gets a little bit of breathing room, it's going up," teammate Shelden Williams said. "That's one of the things he can do."
Other Duke players marvel at his ability to make shots from long distances. In practice, when the team holds shooting contests from halfcourt, everyone essentially throws the ball at the goal.
Not Redick. Most of the time, he sticks with his regular form.
"J.J. has become a complete player," Krzyzewski said. "Everyone watches his shooting ability. He's found different ways to score; he's become our best off-the-ball perimeter defender; he's handled the ball; he's become a leader for us."
No one logged more court time, either. Redick played from beginning to end in 10 games, including an overtime loss at Maryland. In six others, he only missed a single minute.
"I think it is kind of a badge of honor, the number of minutes I play," Redick said. "There's a lot of teams that have a lot of depth, and their star players can afford to play only 30 minutes and play fresh every night. I've got to be the best conditioned guy in the league, and I've done that this year."
Assuming he stays for his senior season, Redick has an outside chance to surpass former Wake Forest star Dickie Hemric as the leading scorer in ACC history. Redick has 685 points this season to give him 1,769 for his career - 818 short of Hemric's mark.
Along the way, Redick could also pass Duke associate head coach Johnny Dawkins at the top of school's all-time list. Dawkins had 2,556 in his brilliant career.
"I don't think there's really any comparison," Redick said. "Coach Dawkins is probably the best player that's ever played here, and I'm certainly not that. Just to work with him every day and to play for him, it's a great honor."