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Mamadi Diakite and Kihei Clark land on All-ACC teams

Braxton Key also earned an All-ACC honorable mention

<p>Kihei Clark and Mamadi Diakite are leading Virginia in assists and points, respectively,</p>

Kihei Clark and Mamadi Diakite are leading Virginia in assists and points, respectively,

Senior forward Mamadi Diakite and sophomore guard Kihei Clark both received All-ACC honors for the 2019-20 season, the league office announced Monday.

In his last year at Virginia, Diakite was named to the All-ACC second team — his first career All-ACC honor. Diakite leads the team in scoring, with 13.7 points per game, and has scored in double digits in 26 of 30 games this season. 

Diakite is also a crucial cog in Virginia’s top-ranked scoring defense, which holds teams to just 52.4 points per game, on average. He is first in total rebounds, second on the team in blocks and third in steals. Due to his contributions, Diakite earned a spot on the All-ACC defensive team as well.

“You have to make plays defensively as much as offensively,” Coach Tony Bennett said after Virginia played Duke Feb. 29. “[Diakite] really made some nice plays too. He, at times, allowed us to not double. He was going on [Vernon Carey Jr.], who’s a load. [Diakite] guarded him one-on-one at times. He had that look in his eyes.”

After taking on a leadership role this season, Clark was selected to the All-ACC third team. In the absence of former Virginia guards Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome, Clark is having a career year in points, assists and rebounds. He is the Cavaliers’ second-leading scorer, averaging 10.8 points per game, and is third in the entire conference in assists, averaging 5.9 per game.

Clark is a critical part of Bennett’s system — both on offense and defense — and is leading the ACC in minutes as a result. On average, he plays 37.1 minutes per game out of a possible 40 minutes.

“[Clark] is a gamer,” Louisville Coach Chris Mack said after Virginia’s win over the Cardinals March 7. “I mean look at all the plays he has made down the stretch. I have seen it since he was in AAU when he was in California. He is a floor general. He makes his mistakes, but he doesn’t bow his head or put his head down. He continues to play, and he’s got some moxie, that is for sure.”

In his second and final season at Virginia, senior guard Braxton Key was also one of eight players who earned an All-ACC honorable mention. Since arriving in Charlottesville, Key has been an important wing player for Bennett and the program. After helping the Cavaliers win a national championship last year, the Alabama transfer has stepped up in 2019-20. He is third on the team in points and first in rebounds, averaging 9.9 and 7.4, respectively. 

Additionally, Bennett came in second in the ACC Coach of the Year race, with 12 votes to Florida State Coach Leonard Hamilton’s 62. Despite losing four major members of last year’s championship team, Bennett has led the Cavaliers to second-place finish in the ACC regular season standings with a conference record of 15-5.

Diakite, Clark and Key and the rest of the Cavaliers will be back in action Thursday when the ACC Tournament begins in Greensboro, N.C.

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