Duke’s Singler named ACC’s top rookie

Published 11:45 am Wednesday, March 12, 2008

By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
DURHAM — From his first preseason practice at Duke, Kyle Singler was considered one of the Blue Devils’ go-to players.
After a season in which he lived up to that billing and kept Duke in contention for a league title, Singler was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s rookie of the year Tuesday.
Singler received 44 of a possible 90 votes cast by members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. Wake Forest’s James Johnson, who led the league’s freshmen by averaging 14.8 points, was second with 30 votes and North Carolina State’s J.J. Hickson was third with 11.
Singler, an overwhelming choice as the ACC’s preseason rookie of the year, was the Blue Devils’ second-leading scorer and ranked third among the league’s freshmen, averaging 14.2 points and making 42 percent of his shots while carrying the burden of being thrust immediately into the lineup.
Hours before Duke’s first practice of the preseason back in October, coach Mike Krzyzewski called Singler ‘‘our most well-rounded player as a freshman’’ and said Singler ‘‘is going to be a special player.’’
Then, by knocking down 3-pointers from the corner to stretch perimeter defenses and creating mismatches all over the court, the 6-foot-8 native of Oregon set out to prove Coach K right.
Singler emerged as one of the main beneficiaries of Duke’s switch to a drive-and-kick offensive philosophy. He led the Blue Devils in scoring seven times, was the size-deficient team’s leading rebounder 13 times, reached double figures in 24 of 30 games — only team captain DeMarcus Nelson (25) did it more often — and had four 20-point games.
Singler, the fifth Duke player named the league’s top rookie and first since Chris Duhon in 2001, snapped North Carolina’s stranglehold on the award. A Tar Heels player had claimed it in each of the last three years, with Golden State Warriors forward Brandan Wright winning it last year. Singler joins Jim Spanarkel (1976), Mike Gminski (1977), Gene Banks (1978) and Duhon as Blue Devils to win the award.