A big senior season has earned Notre Dame power forward John Mooney a big postseason honor.
First in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rebounding (12.8 per game) and fifth in scoring (16.5), Mooney was one of five players named Monday morning to first team All-ACC. He was joined by Duke’s Vernon Carey Jr. and Tre Jones, Louisville’s Jordan Nwora and Elijah Hughes of Syracuse.
Honors are determined by a vote from league coaches and select media.
No player earned more first-team points/votes than Carey (367), but his teammate, Jones, was named league most valuable player. Carey was not included by Duke on the list of players eligible to earn votes for player of the year. Mooney finished third in league MVP behind Jones and Nwora.
“It really is an amazing run that he’s on,” Irish coach Mike Brey said last month in regard to Mooney’s senior season. “He’s come a long way. I thought he’d be a good player for us. I didn’t know he’d be able to do this. it’s really neat to see.
“In the dictionary, if you look up stud, his picture’s next to it. The dude is a stud physically.”
Second in the nation in rebounding, the 6-foot-9, 245-pound Mooney landed at Notre Dame only after former Florida coach Billy Donovan left to coach in the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Mooney originally committed to Florida as a sophomore at Lake Brantley (Fla.) High School. He’s the third Irish player to earn first team All-ACC honors since Notre Dame joined the league in 2013. Guard Jerian Grant was a first team pick in 2015. Power forward Bonzie Colson was first team in 2017.
Notre Dame finished 19-12, 10-10 in the ACC. The Irish have won at least 10 league games four times in seven ACC seasons.
With 16 points and 11 rebounds in last week’s home loss to regular-season league champion Florida State, Mooney set the ACC record for double doubles in a season with 16. That broke the previous mark of 15 set by former Wake Forest power forward Tim Duncan. Mooney finished this season with 25 double doubles for points and rebounds. He leads the nation in doubles this season and is the only player in the ACC averaging double figures for points and rebounds.
He’s the first ACC player to lead the league in rebounding for consecutive seasons since North Carolina’s Sean May did it in 2004-05. His 46 career double doubles rank fourth in school history.
“He always had a knack for bouncing and being up there and rebounding,” Brey said. “A lot of it is a natural gift. He’s got great strength and great bounce.”
Mooney credits Irish assistant coach Ryan Humphrey, who tutors the team’s big men, with his development. Humphrey worked a lot over the past three seasons with Mooney, who went from an unknown reserve to one of the best bigs in one of the best leagues.
Like Mooney, Humphrey was a first team all-league pick (back in the Big East) as an Irish senior.
“He’s a tremendous mentor of mine,” Mooney said. “He’s definitely great for my development as a big, for sure. He’s the most positive guy I know. You can talk to him about anything hoops related or whatever.”
Mooney scored a league season low seven points in Saturday’s 64-56 win in the finale against Virginia Tech. It barely bothered him.
“There’s more things you can do to help your team besides scoring the ball,” said Mooney, who grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds with a team-high three steals. “I try to do whatever to help my team. We took care of business.”
Mooney was the only Irish to earn ACC postseason recognition. Sophomore guard Prentiss Hubb received two votes for most improved player. Classmate Dane Goodwin finished third for Sixth Man of the Year. One of four players nominated for the award, and owning the best numbers in terms of scoring (10.7) and minutes per game (25.9), Goodwin received nine votes.
Notre Dame opens ACC tournament play Wednesday against Boston College at 7 p.m. from Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum. The Irish are the No. 7 seed. The Eagles are No. 10.