Singletary, Reynolds Earn All-ACC Honors

Sean Singletary landed on the first team All-ACC list for the second straight season.

Virginia point guard Sean Singletary earned first team All-ACC recognition for the second consecutive season as announced on Monday. He becomes the first UVa men’s basketball player to earn first team honors twice since Bryant Stith landed on the first team for three consecutive seasons from 1990-1992. The Hoos’ J.R. Reynolds garnered a second team nod.

Singletary joined North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough, Boston College’s Jared Dudley, Florida State’s Al Thornton, and Virginia Tech’s Zabian Dowdell on the first team. Hansbrough, Dudley, and Thornton were unanimously selected by the 106 voting members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA).

In a media interview earlier in the day, Singletary said it would be an honor if he were selected to the team again this season.

“It would mean that I have great coaches and great support from my teammates,” Singletary said early Monday before the news was announced. “If I am able to get that honor, then I’ll be very proud and very blessed.”

It isn’t surprising that Singletary earned first team recognition for the second straight season. Besides the fact that his team shared the regular season ACC Championship, Singletary improved his production from his sophomore season.

A year ago, he averaged 17.7 points (17.4 ACC), 4.4 rebounds (4.0 ACC), 4.2 assists (4.1 ACC), and 1.9 steals (1.4 ACC); he also shot 40.0% overall (38.8% ACC), 34.7% from 3-point range (29.8% ACC), and 84.5% from the free throw line (88.1% ACC).

As a junior this season, nearly every category increased overall and in conference play. He averaged 18.8 points (17.7 ACC), 4.5 rebounds (4.9 ACC), 4.6 assists (4.3 ACC), and 1.3 steals (1.3 steals). He also shot 39.7% overall (40.7% ACC), 40.3% from 3-point range (39.0% ACC), and 88.4% from the free throw line (82.5% ACC).

Singletary leads the Cavaliers in scoring (544, 18.8 ppg.), assists (134, 4.6 apg.), steals (36, 1.24 spg.), and average minutes played a game (958, 33.0 mpg.). He ranks fourth in the ACC in scoring, second in free throw percentage, second in 3-point field goals, sixth in assists, and 10th in minutes played. He has scored in double figures in 19 consecutive games and has tallied 20 or more points in a game 12 times this season. He was named the ACC Player of the Week in consecutive weeks on Jan. 2 and Jan. 8.

Virginia coach Dave Leitao says the numbers only partially tell the story, though. He believes that Singletary understands the game and his position better. Leitao also thinks that the point guard has become a better leader among his teammates.

“He’s grown. Obviously, he’s not just averaging more points or whatever, but his role within the team [has grown]. He’s been a much better leader. He’s learning the game – he knows the game, I think, from his position a lot better than he did at this time last year,” Leitao said. “He understands me and us, the other coaches, a whole lot better. So his place is better than it was last year. Whether he goes out there and gets 20 points as a result is of less consequence because I know that he’s learned so much from last year’s experiences to this year.”

J.R. Reynolds led the All-ACC second team honorees.

Reynolds led the second team’s vote getters, which also included Maryland’s D.J. Strawberry, Boston College’s Tyrese Rice , Duke’s Josh McRoberts, and North Carolina’s Brandan Wright. Wake Forest senior center Kyle Visser the third team, which also listed Georgia Tech’s Javaris Crittenton, N.C. State’s Brandon Costner , Virginia Tech’s Jamon Gordon , and Miami’s Jack McClinton.

Reynolds is averaging 18.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists a game. He is sixth in the ACC in scoring (second in ACC play at 20.0 points a game) and fourth in free throw percentage (.823, 149-181). He was named the ACC Player of the Week on Jan. 22. The senior guard has also scored in double figures in each of the last 19 games and has scored at least 20 points in 11 games this season. He is currently 12th on Virginia’s all-time scoring list with 1,618 career points.

“It is unfortunate that six players couldn’t make first team because J.R. is deserving of that,” Leitao said in a press release. “Getting as close as he did speaks to that. Having J.R. rewarded is a credit to his hard work and the consistency he has shown this season.”

Singletary points to Leitao and the coaches for making him a better player and a more mature person. He credited Leitao for coming into the Virginia program and making the players better, both on and off the court.

“He’s helped me become a way more mature player and he helped me understand situations. But it’s not all about basketball with him,” Singletary said. “He’s helped teach me how to live and just, you know, how to be a good young man. You know what, he’s meant a lot to us and he’s meant a lot to me personally. I really appreciate him for it.”

“In terms of the maturity, it really helps. It’s really easy, well not easy, but manageable to deal with certain situations having a coach like that,” he added. “Like I said, I really appreciate him for coming in and helping me.”

And What About You, Coach? The ACC announces the remainder of its awards on Tuesday. That includes Player of the Year and Coach of the Year as voted on by the ACSMA.

Reporters asked Leitao on Monday what it meant to be considered as a top candidate in his second year at Virginia, especially considering the fact that the ACC has a who’s who list of coaches with Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, and Gary Williams among others.

“Obviously, there’s some flattering parts to it, but knowing myself and anybody that knows me, it’s really about Virginia and the guys in here. In a team sport, even when you talk about Sean being first team all league or what have you, it’s a little bit unfair because there’s so many other parts to it that go unnoticed,” Leitao said. “The guys that don’t play as much have as much to do with our success as I do. So, yeah you’re proud and you get to put a plaque on the wall or whatever, but more importantly it’s a recognition that you’re doing good things and that’s all we want to do.”

When On Rome … Leitao appeared on The Jim Rome Show on Monday prior to meeting with the area media at the John Paul Jones Arena. The nationally broadcast radio show airs in Charlottesville from noon to 3 p.m. on WKAV 1400 AM. Topics ranged from the No. 2 seed to the Duke-UNC incident to his players accepting defensive coaching.

The national exposure is good for the program, Leitao said.

“It does a lot. If you take sports personalities let’s just say, whether they’re print, [radio or TV] media, or internet, or what have you, they go seasonal. Right now, football is not going on, baseball is in spring training, so everybody’s focus is on the NCAA and the tournament,” Leitao said. “So the teams that are in it are more talked about obviously than those that are not. So from a program standpoint, you want to be in that discussion because more people are listening, more people are paying attention, more people are watching television and if you can make yourself noticed, that’s the biggest recruiting tool that you can have for your program. Obviously, and ultimately, fortunately or not, that’s how you’re judged. If we can use it at this early stage in our development to help speed up the process, then that’s good for us.”

Appreciating Accomplishment. Saturday’s 78-72 setback at Wake Forest cost the Cavaliers the outright regular season ACC Championship, a fact that was solidified when North Carolina defeated Duke on Sunday. That left Wahoo fans – and players and coaches no doubt – disappointed with what could have been.

Two days later, however, Leitao said the players should be proud of what they accomplished in the 2006-07 regular season. After all, an 11-5 ACC record and shared title is impressive.

“I think they were still a little down from Saturday,” Leitao said on Monday. “I think yesterday’s events might have helped them a little, but we were talking about, and we hadn’t talked about it a lot during the season, some historical things. If we had won, it would have been the first time since 81 that it had been done here. That was something, I think, that they really wanted and as a result, I think they’re still a little disappointed.”

“But as I try to let them know, there’s not many people and there are 10 other teams in this league that can’t say that they were champions and they have to be really, really proud of that,” he continued. “Hopefully as they’re walking out of here today, they have a little bit better perspective on that.”

Jason Cain, Singletary, and Reynolds preceded Leitao in the interview room Monday. All three seemed to be appreciative of what sharing the title in the always competitive ACC means. All three still seemed to have Saturday’s loss in mind, though. The theme? It’s disappointing, but they have to focus on the next task at hand – advancing in the ACC Tournament on Friday night.

“It’s nice to be co-ACC champs, but it would be a lot better if we were the sole champions,” Singletary said. “… We’ll carry a chip on our shoulder, but not because of Saturday’s loss – because to be a good team, you always have to feel like that. We have to put this loss behind us even though when you look back on it, it kind of bothers you – but you have to be grateful for what position you’re in and just forget about it.”

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