This was definitely one of the more interesting votes we've had. From the get-go it was a three-way race, and I think Joe Harris's candidacy was assisted just enough by his signature on a three-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers in recent days. Two of those years are guaranteed, a very rare move for a second-round pick in the NBA and as much of a guarantee as you'll ever see that Harris has made the team. Cleveland has been working on Harris's supporting cast ever since drafting him. For now he'll have to do with some castoff from the Miami Heat, but Joe has faced down similar challenges in the past and I'm sure he'll be willing to share some of his shots.
Harris was actually not my own vote for the winner, but I think his story is a fantastic one regardless. We have been phenomenally privileged to watch his career in Charlottesville - the kid from Chelan, Washington, who took a chance on a struggling program, worked his butt off for four years and rewarded himself, his coach, and his fans with a long-sought championship, taken from the ACC's Darth Vader under some of the brightest spotlights in the country. And now he gets to go play with basketball's biggest star on basketball's biggest stage. Four years of humble and hard-working, excellent basketball, rewarded with a championship and a multi-million dollar contract - it's a story you never seen in college hoops anymore.
For posterity, here are the voting results:
Joe Harris - 39
Morgan Brian - 36
Danielle Collins - 24
Jasmine Burton - 12
Nathan Kirby - 5
Kevin Parks - 3
Mark Cockerton, Alex Domijan, JB Kolod - 1
Elly Buckley, Denny McCarthy, Nick Sulzer, Courtney Swan - 0
Harris wins with one of the lowest (if not the lowest) vote totals in voting history, but that's much more a testament to the strength of the competition this year. Collins put a national championship trophy in the case and Brian is one of the 8 or 10 best players of her sport in the whole country, not just in college. Congrats to the winner and the nominees for once again representing the University of Virginia with nothing but the best.