USA TODAY Sports college basketball All-American team – USA TODAY
USA TODAY Sports’ Nicole Auerbach says you shouldn’t be surprised if these small school teams make a magical run in the NCAA tournament.
USA TODAY Sports
Thirteen schools, four classes and seven conferences are represented on the 2017 USA TODAY Sports men’s college basketball All-America teams. Nearly all of them will have the chance to lead their teams to a run in the NCAA tournament.
TheÂ players listed in alphabetical order:
Lonzo Ball, Fr., G, UCLA: Must-see TV anytime heâs on the court, Ball emerged quickly as one of the nationâs most exciting and entertaining players, leading UCLA through an unbeaten nonconference slate that included a win against Kentucky at Rupp Arena. Heâs taken what would have been a talented UCLA offense and turned it into the countryâs most efficient offense, one marked by a lightning-quick transition game and how-did-he-do-that passes.
Ballâs season stat line, as impressive as it is, doesnât even do him justice âÂ 14.9 ppg, 7.8 apg, 6.2 rpg â because none of that shows just how much he controls any game heâs part of. But any opposing coach understands that â almost immediately.
Dillon Brooks, Jr., F, Oregon:Â Had he not been injured at the start of the season, thereâs a good chance Brooks would be getting national player of the year consideration. But heâs the reason these Ducks have turned into one of the most explosive offenses in the nation â and a team opponents will not want to see anywhere close to their draw in the NCAA tournament.
Brooks, who is averaging 16.0 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.7 rpg, has played his best basketball since the start of February â which, not coincidentally, has coincided with some of Oregonâs most dominant performances Â (as well as a couple of head-scratchers weâll just ignore for now). Thereâs a reason Oregon will be a trendy Final Four pick when the bracket is unveiled, and that reason is simple: Brooks.
Josh Hart, Sr., G, Villanova: The Wildcats lost two key players from their national championship team to graduation, yet Villanova barely has skipped a beat. Hart is why. He hasÂ led the team in scoring for each of the past two seasons (18.7 ppg this year), but this season he has added a few new wrinkles to his game. Heâs worked to improve his jump shot â and heâs shooting nearly 5% better from beyond the arc this season as a result â and heâs improved his assist-to-turnover rate this season as well.
But beyond that, heâs become a leader for Villanova, a guy who admittedly leads by example more than he does vocally, but a critical piece in a team thatâs handled all the pressure that comes along with defending a title â¦ and put itself in position to land a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday and give itself the best shot of anyone since Florida in 2007 to win back-to-back national championships.
Frank Mason III, Sr., G, Kansas:Â Thereâs a very high bar to clear at Kansas. To become one of the Jayhawks’ all-time greats âÂ which coach Bill Self believes Mason is, and that his jersey will hang in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse â you haveÂ to be somewhat legendary. And Mason, an under-recruited kid who originally committed to Towson, has turned into just that over the course of a storied four-year career in Lawrence.
Perhaps most impressive: Just how consistently excellent Mason has been this year, as a senior, starting with a 30-point effort against Indiana and a buzzer-beater to beat Duke to open the year and 16 other games in which he scored at least 20 points. Heâs averaged 20.5 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.2 apg this year.
Caleb Swanigan, So., F, Purdue: Swanigan has been undoubtedly one of the best players in all of college basketball this season âÂ and he also might be the nationâs most improved player at the same time. Consider this: Heâs averaging 8.4 more points, 6.2 more minutes, 4.2 more rebounds and one assist per game more than he did a season ago. Heâs shooting significantly better from the field overall, and he has posted 25 double-doubles this season.
But the greatest part of Swaniganâs rise is just how hard heâs had to work for it, and how much the kid nicknamed âBiggieâ has overcome in life to get here â all the weight heâs had to lose, and so much instability in his home life growing up â to now shine on the sportâs biggest stage.
Josh Jackson, Fr., G, Kansas
Justin Jackson, Jr., F, North Carolina
Luke Kennard, So., G, Duke
Malik Monk, Fr., G, Kentucky
Nigel Williams-Goss, Jr., G, Gonzaga
DeâAaron Fox, Fr., G, Kentucky
Ethan Happ, So., F, Wisconsin
Lauri Markkanen, Fr., F, Arizona
Monte Morris, Sr., G, Iowa State
Johnathan Motley, Jr., F, Baylor