The Washington Times - February 18, 2009, 05:57PM

Who’s the smart pick for ACC player of the year?

What’s that? Tyler Hansbrough? Only if it’s last year?


Jeff Teague? Only if it’s last month.

The correct answer is Ty Lawson. And it shouldn’t be close as he and North Carolina prepare for tonight’s visit from N.C. State (and Saturday’s trip to Comcast Center).

Lawson owns a 3.40 assist/turnover ratio, which would be the best figure in ACC history since the league began charting the stat in 1980.

Here, in fact, are the league leaders who have posted a ratio above 3.00 in that stretch:

Player (Year)
Assists Turnover Ratio
Sidney Lowe (1983) 
271 81 3.35
Tyrone Bogues (1985)
207 62 3.34
Danny Ferry (1986)
119 39 3.05
Steve Wojciechowski (1997) 
176 58 3.03
Ervin Murray (2001)
84 26 3.23
Nate Johnson (2004)
125 39 3.21
Ty Lawson (2009)
160 47 3.40

If doing this chart reminded me of anything, it’s how much of a pain it is to spell out Wojo’s name.

But what it also illustrates Lawson is absurdly efficiently for a guy who scores as much as he does. Ervin Murray and Nate Johnson, while nice players earlier this decade, were not guys who struck fear into the hearts of opponents when they tried to score.

In short, Lawson might be enjoying one of the crispest point guard seasons in the ACC since the shot clock was introduced.

In conference play, he leads the ACC in both assists and field goal percentage. There’s a nice 16.3 scoring average, and it’s pretty clear he was the difference in Carolina’s victories at Duke and Miami last week. Nationally, he’s second in assist/turnover ratio behind Pittsburgh’s Levance Fields.

As for value, it comes down to this question: How much does Carolina lose when Ed Davis or a now-healthy Tyler Zeller replace Hansbrough compared to how much the Tar Heels lose when Lawson is replaced with Bobby Frasor or Larry Drew II?

It’ll be curious to see if Lawson’s brilliance is actually recognized, because with a half-dozen games left in the regular-season, it’s clear he’s authoring a truly special season in Chapel Hill.

—- Patrick Stevens