The University of Louisville was projected to finish third in the ACC Men’s Basketball title race this season in a vote of media attending the 2019 Operation Basketball event in Charlotte.
The Cardinals received 29 first-place votes, but trailed top-listed Duke and North Carolina in the overall voting. Louisville was 11th in last year’s preseason voting before rising to a tie for sixth in the final league standings with 10-8 conference record.
UofL forward Jordan Nwora was chosen the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, well ahead in the voting over North Carolina’s Cole Anthony and Duke’s Tre Jones. Nwora has received considerable acclaim as the 2019-20 season approaches, including being named a first-team preseason All-American by NBC Sports, Athlons, the Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook and a second team selection by Street & Smith’s Basketball Yearbook. He was noted as the top small forward in the nation by NCAA.com’s Andy Katz and Nwora was the third player listed in a recent Sports Illustrated story noting the Top 10 preseason candidates for 2019-20 national player of the year.
Honored as the 2019 ACC Most Improved Player, Nwora was the third-most improved scorer in the nation last season with his 17.0 scoring average (sixth in the ACC), up 11.3 points per game from his 5.7 average as a freshman. The All-ACC third team selection is one of five players in the ACC who scored 20 or more points on at least 13 occasions last season. Nwora scored in double figures in 31 of 34 games and produced nine double-doubles last season.
A junior from Buffalo, N.Y., Nwora was UofL’s leader in scoring and rebounding (7.7 rpg, ninth in the ACC). He was also among the ACC leaders in field goal percentage (.446, 12th), three-point field goal percentage (.374, ninth), three-pointers made per game (2.3, 11th), defensive rebounds (6.44 per game, fourth) and minutes played (31.9 per game, 21st).
An exercise science major who was named to the All-ACC Academic men’s basketball team, Nwora scored a career-high 32 points against Boston College in Louisville with 10 rebounds and four assists. Honored on the 2018 NIT Season Tip-Off All-Tournament team in November, he made at least three three-pointers on 16 occasions last season.
Louisville will open its season on Nov. 5 at ACC foe Miami, which was predicted to finish ninth in the ACC preseason vote. It is the earliest opening game ever for the Cardinals and the first time since 1981 they have played a conference opponent to open the season.
Last season, Louisville achieved a 20-14 record and participated in its 39th NCAA Tournament. Picked in the preseason to finish 11th in the ACC, UofL attained a 10-8 conference record and earned a tie for sixth in the final regular season standings. The Cardinals return six of their top seven scorers from last year and welcome a top 10 recruiting class.
ACC Preseason Order of Finish (first-place votes in parentheses)
1. Duke (51), 1564
2. North Carolina (19), 1493
3. Louisville (29), 1448
4. Virginia (12), 1405
5. Florida State, 1157
6. NC State, 1038
7. Notre Dame, 915
8. Syracuse, 910
9. Miami, 768
10. Pitt, 577
11. Clemson, 564
12. Georgia Tech, 437
13. Boston College, 382
14. Virginia Tech, 334
15. Wake Forest, 328
Preseason All-ACC Team
Jordan Nwora, Louisville, 95
Tre Jones, Duke, 89
Cole Anthony, North Carolina, 81
John Mooney, Notre Dame, 51
Mamadi Diakite, Virginia, 49
Markell Johnson, NC State, 39
Vernon Carey Jr., Duke, 19
Chris Lykes, Miami, 18
Garrison Brooks, North Carolina, 11
Trent Forrest, Florida State, 11
Preseason ACC Freshman of the Year
Cole Anthony, North Carolina, 89
Vernon Carey Jr., Duke, 8
Wendell Moore Jr., Duke, 5
Casey Morsell, Virginia, 3
Cassius Stanley, Duke, 3
Matthew Hurt, Duke, 3
Preseason ACC Player of the Year
Jordan Nwora, Louisville, 55
Cole Anthony, North Carolina, 31
Tre Jones, Duke, 19
John Mooney, Notre Dame, 3
Mamadi Diakite, Virginia, 2
Markell Johnson, NC State, 1
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