A Tribute to the Seniors in ACC Basketball

(AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

The ACC basketball season is coming to a close and many seniors will be playing their final games in a college uniform.

The one-and-done’s make their mark quickly, but it is the senior class that has spent four to five years developing and serving their program. Here is an overview of the seniors that have made the biggest impact in the conference, and some of their most memorable moments.

Steffon Mitchell, Boston College

A jack of all trades. That is exactly how to define Steffon Mitchell.

A post scorer, a shooter, a rebounder, a versatile defender — Mitchell contributed in any way possible to the Eagles program. In 2020, he was recognized for his efforts with a spot on the All-ACC team. During that season, Mitchell averaged 2.2 steals for game, the tallest player in the Top 30 leaderboard.

“His 43 minutes, 21 points, 15 boards, and 6 assists against Virginia Tech encapsulates his time in the Eagles uniform,” a Boston College student recalled. There, he carried BC past the Hokies in a nail-biting overtime affair.

Aamir Simms, Clemson

When Tigers fans heard that Aamir Simms would be returning to school for his senior year, their entire perception on the upcoming season changed. Simms was the lifeblood of the team — the anchor on defense and always reliable to score on offense.

On January 11, 2020, Aamir Simms had a heroic performance in Clemson’s first ever win in Chapel Hill. The 6 foot 8 center nailed a three in the final seconds to send it to overtime before clinching the game with a layup. Simms finished the night with 20 points, 6 assists, and 4 blocks.

M.J. Walker, Florida State

M.J. Walker is a microcosm of Leonard Hamilton basketball. The 6 foot 5 combo guard will help take down any roster with length, versatility, and toughness.

Over the last few years, Florida State has produced several early departures to the NBA: Patrick Williams, Devin Vassell, Mfiondu Kabengele. However, Walker has remained a consistent part of Hamilton’s rotation since his freshman season.

Last week, Walker joined elite company in becoming the newest member of Florida State’s 1000 career points club. He is the only Seminole in history to have done that in less than 25 minutes per game.

Jose Alvarado, Georgia Tech

Jose Alvarado has a unique swagger about him that gives off excitement and positive energy to his teammates.

As far as his skill-set goes, that certainly speaks for itself. He might be a generous 6 feet tall, but Alvarado plays defense in the post like he is 6’6″. He also leads the ACC in steals for the second year in a row.

Oh, and did I mention that Alvarado is one of the most perennial scorers in the conference? He averaged double figures in each of his four years, including 16 points per game in 2021.

From late game heroics to his famous air guitar celebration after three pointers, Alvarado’s presence will certainly be missed.

Chris Lykes, Miami

As the shortest player in power conference basketball, Chris Lykes leading Miami teams was just a joy to watch. Unless you were a fan of the opponent, in which case he was the more frustrating than anything.

Offensively, he managed to create space enough space for himself so that he could nail outside shots with his quick release. On defense, he would aggravate the best of point guards, posing a constant on-ball threat.

Lykes managed his way to multiple 15+ points per games in his sophomore and junior years. He was poised for an even bigger senior season before a devastating injury held him out.

Garrison Brooks, North Carolina

Garrison Brooks was a walking highlight reel and the consistent presence in the interior of the Tar Heels defense.

In 2020, it was especially impressive how he showed up night in and night out, despite the struggles around him. He averaged 16.8 points and 8.5 rebounds, which earned him preseason ACC Player of the Year in 2021. While he has not been able to match last year’s production, Brooks has remained the lifeblood of the UNC program.

Devon Daniels, NC State

From the time he stepped on campus as a sophomore transfer from Utah, Daniels changed the entire dynamic of the Wolfpack offense. He was not the tallest player for the wing position, but his ability to score efficiently on all three levels was critical.

Although Daniels was may not be the most well-known player in the ACC, he certainly played as big of a role for NC State as any player for their respective team.

“Devon Daniels is the embodiment of what you want in a basketball player — tough, gritty, and will always shine on the big stage,” Inside Pack Sports contributor Ryan Williams recounts. “He left it all on the court every night and his effort could never be questioned.”

Jay Huff, Virginia

Even as an underclassman getting just a few minutes per game, the “Hoonicorn” electrified crowds at John Paul Jones Arena like nobody before him.

Why? He was not the best player in recent UVA history by any means. But there was something about a 7 footer who is also a knockdown perimeter shooter that makes him special. Aside from his combination of size, skill, and athleticism, he brought endless energy with an innate composure all at once.

Throughout his five years in Charlottesville, Huff has grown as a leader, an NBA prospect, and has even become a married man.

“It has been a great joy for me to have had [Huff] in the program…and I am thankful for his commitment to Virginia basketball,” Coach Tony Bennett said on Senior Night.