GREENSBORO, N.C. — Move over Lennie Rosenbluth and Buzz Wilkinson. Charles Scott and Grady Wallace, you now have company.
Randolph Childress, Harrison Barnes and the rest of ACC lore, please make room for a Canadian named Olivier Hanlan.
Hailing from the French Canadian town of Aylmer in the province of Quebec, the Boston College freshman guard etched his name in ACC Tournament history Thursday afternoon in one of the greatest performances ever in this historic event.
Hanlan scored 41 points in BC’s 84-64 victory over Georgia Tech in Thursday’s opening round of the 60th ACC Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum. Only Rosenbluth, who totaled 45 points for North Carolina in 1957, the year he won National Player of the Year and led the undefeated Tar Heels to the national championship, and Wikinson’s 42 points for Virginia in 1954 bettered Hanlan’s performance against the Yellow Jackets.
As remarkable as Hanlan’s point total is that he converted his last 12 shot attempts from the field.
“My last 12 shots were not really tough but my teammates were finding me in spots and I was trying to move around the wing because they were guarding me well,” Hanlan said. “So I was trying to spot up and get my feet and not miss the shots.”
Wallace, the last ACC player to lead the nation in scoring until Virginia Tech’s Erick Green did so this season, scored 41 points for South Carolina in a 1957 tournament game, and Scott, a former UNC star, also netted 41 points for the Heels in 1970.
That is some pretty high-rent district for Hanlan to settle. He just might be worthy of such inclusion, though.
Thursday’s performance wasn’t about a guy taking a bunch of shots and just scoring a lot. The 6-foot-3 wing did his damage converting 14 of 18 field goal attempts, including 8 of 10 from 3-point range. He didn’t dominate the ball at all. Hanlan’s efficiency rating had to be through the roof.
If that wasn’t enough, he had a fine defensive game, too.
In one sequence, teammate Patrick Heckmann scored a basket and before the scoreboard reflected the points, Hanlan had stolen the inbound pass, scored and was fouled. The points began a run for BC that was one of the more impressive in the ACC Tournament in years.
“It reminded me a play of (former Maryland star) Len Bias made against North Carolina in 1986 – the first time Carolina ever lost a game in the Smith Center – it was kind of a signature play for Bias, and I thought (about Hanlan), ‘Wow, that’s really good,'” said Al Featherston, an ACC historian who is covering his 45th ACC Tournament.
The No. 8 seed Eagles, which trailed 15-0 to start the game, turned a 28-15 deficit into a 38-35 halftime advantage. In fact, Hanlan and BC were so dominant that he alone outscored Georgia Tech 35-33 after Tech had opened the 15-point lead out of the gate.
Just two years ago, Barnes, then a freshman at UNC, scored 40 points, including the game-winning basket, in a quarterfinals victory over Clemson. Hanlan one-upped him.
“Greatest freshman performance I’ve ever seen,” Featherston said. “Not only do you top off Harrison Barnes’ offensive record of 40 points – he did it by shooting well… – but he did it playing great defense, too.”
Hanlan’s point total was the most ever by a Canadian in an ACC game of any kind, and his 494 points on the season are the most in a season by a Canadian. Only former Duke forwards Greg Newton (812 career points) and Dan Meagher (756) have scored more in their careers.
The performance by Hanlan also comes at a good time for BC. He was named the ACC’s Rookie of the Year a few days ago and now etches BC further into ACC consciousness, which should force the league’s more southern scribes to keep note of when Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame join next season.
BC easily could get lost in the shuffle. One may say the school already is as the only member above the Mason-Dixon line and without much athletic success for a while. Hanlan, however, had given observers a reason to keep an eye on the Eagles.