When the ACC started this year, the smart money for ACC Freshman of the Year went to Derrick Favors, and pretty easily so. Maybe a few thought John Henson or Dexter Strickland had a chance; Mason Plumlee and Milton Jennings might've received a look or two.
But it's safe to say that no one really thought Jordan Williams would be in the top two. I guess it's just funny how things work out sometimes, then, because Williams has had a sensational freshman campaign and sits just behind Favors in the best ACC freshman standings (which don't really exist).
Favors is still the frontrunner by a decent amount, but Williams - statistically, at least - isn't far behind. Check out the stat comparison:
|2009 - Derrick Favors||11.1||8.2||1.0|
|2009 - Jordan Williams||8.8||8.1||0.1|
Favors accounts for nearly 3 more points a game, but rebounding is about equal. If you were curious, here's how they've fared in ACC play:
As you can probably see, it's Favors that holds the upper hand in both major categories still - he is just a little bit ahead of J-Dub in both points and rebounds, though the gap is closer in ACC play than it is overall.
Jordan probably won't win ACC Rookie of the Year anytime soon with the amount of hype Favors had, but this may be his best chance to make up the gap. If he can get a double-double on the man in front of him in the race, he'll start to turn some heads and maybe steal a vote or two away from the more well-known Favors.
Similarities between the two are few and far between. Favors is built, an athletic machine that can leap out of the gym. Jordan is slightly pudgy. Favors came in with ridiculous fanfare and stayed close to home in his native Atlanta. Jordan traveled over 300 miles, and did so with very little in the way of accolades outside of his hometown honors. Favors is raw; Jordan is more refined (though still very raw). One will be in the NBA next year; the other, back in his dorm.
The differences make the matchup more entertaining. These two are very different, but they've put up similar stats and will go head to head on Saturday in a possible battle for the ACC Freshman of the Year award. J-Dub will certainly have his hands full with the athletic Favors, but he's defied the odds all year long and outplayed a lot of players that should've outplayed him.
Unfortunately, the Favors hype machine will be tough to overcome without a significant statistical advantage and possibly even some national attention. For that reason, Jordan will probably have to be nothing short of spectacular the rest of the year to even get close to Favors in the minds of southern voters. With that in mind, this matchup might actually not make a big difference.
But for us, it's a marquee event.