RALEIGH, N.C. — Jared Dudley grew up in California watching the Atlantic Coast Conference and its star players with reverence. Now his name will be permanently etched alongside the best of the them.
The Boston College forward who cheered for North Carolina as a youngster was named the ACC's player of the year Tuesday, putting him in a class with Antawn Jamison and the other Tobacco Road stars he once idolized.
"Watching them growing up, and then going first to the Big East and the ACC, and to cement myself to be played of the year in the ACC, it's a huge honor for me," Dudley said. Winning the award in this conference "means more to me than just being a player of the year."
Dudley received 45 of a possible 106 votes by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association to become the first Boston College player to win the award. This is the school's second season since leaving the Big East for the ACC.
Florida State's Al Thornton finished second with 30 votes, North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough was third with 19 and Virginia's Sean Singletary rounded out the list with 12 votes.
Dudley, a four-year starter, also joined Thornton and Hansbrough as unanimous selections to the all-ACC team.
The Boston College star was the ACC's second-leading scorer and top rebounder, finishing the regular season with averages of 19.3 points and 8.5 rebounds. He also stepped forward and kept the Eagles competitive after the midseason dismissal of starting center Sean Williams.
The Eagles remained near the top of the conference for the rest of the season, hold the No. 4 seed in this week's ACC tournament in Tampa, Florida, and are a lock to receive their fourth straight NCAA tournament berth.
"It's clear that he makes a significant difference in our club in everything that we do, and all the success that we have, the ball goes through him," coach Al Skinner said. "Without him, we wouldn't even have a chance to compete in this league."
BC's transition to the ACC has been much easier than perhaps expected because of Dudley's consistently strong play. Last year he was the team's second-leading scorer behind Craig Smith and helped lead the first-year Eagles to the ACC tournament finals.
This year, he either led or shared the team lead in scoring in 14 of 29 games, and was its top rebounder 18 times. He also led the team in 3-point shooting, free-throw shooting and minutes played.
"I've always been that glue guy, the one guy that did everything," Dudley said. "Now I'm the glue guy who has to score. It's a lot on my plate, a lot on my hands, but you have to do your duty."
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