So I was on the road the past three weeks, sitting side-by-side with coaches from all levels, and while watching the nation's best high school prospects I would sometimes ask for assistance on a possible All-American team for this upcoming season.
I heard lots of names.
But literally nobody said the same five names.
Which underlined something I've been thinking about for a while -- specifically how there probably won't be a single consensus preseason All-American in college basketball. There are no freshmen entering with the hype of a Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Julius Randle. Most of the remaining accomplished players from last season exhausted their eligibility (Doug McDermott, Shabazz Napier, Russ Smith) or left school to chase millions (Nick Stauskas, T.J. Warren, Kyle Anderson). In fact, for only the second time since 2003, not even one first-, second- or third-team Associated Press All-American is back in college.
|2013-14 AP first team|
|2013-14 AP second team|
|F||T.J. Warren||NC State|
|F||Melvin Ejim||Iowa State|
|2013-14 AP third team|
|F||Cleanthony Early||Wichita St.|
They all either exhausted their eligibility or entered the NBA Draft after last season, and eight of the 15 players listed were subsequently selected in the first round of June's NBA Draft. Good for them. But the by-product is that picking a preseason All-American team this year isn't the simplest of tasks, which is way different from last year when basically everybody started with McDermott, Marcus Smart and Smith -- the evidence is here and here and here and here -- before simply adding two more names.
Seriously, are there any automatics this year?
Again, for just the second time since 2003, not even one first-, second- or third-team Associated Press All-American is back in school. Meantime, this group of freshmen simply does not have the same level of hype as last year's group of freshmen, and the class was diminished when SMU signee Emmanuel Mudiay -- a potential star who could've theoretically done for the Mustangs what Derrick Rose once did for Memphis, i.e., push a veteran core to a new level of success -- decided to pursue a lucrative professional contract in China rather than fight to get through the NCAA's Eligibility Center. Add it all up, and what you get is a healthy dose of confusion because there just isn't a perfect preseason All-American team to be assembled.
That said, I took a stab at picking a preseason team here ...
|G||Fred VanVleet||Wichita St.|
|G||Marcus Paige||N. Carolina|
Those are all nationally relevant players from teams ranked in the top 10 of the preseason Top 25 (and one), which makes them reasonable choices, I think. But I could've just as easily gone with Tyus Jones (Duke) or Juwan Staten (West Virginia) instead of VanVleet. Or with Ron Baker (Wichita State) or Caris Levert (Michigan) instead of Paige. Or with Sam Dekker (Wisconsin) or Stanley Johnson (Arizona) instead of Hollis-Jefferson. Or with Georges Niang (Iowa State) or Karl Towns (Kentucky) instead of Harrell. Or with Cliff Alexander (Kansas) or Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin) instead of Okafor.
Bottom line, there just aren't any clear-cut preseason All-American choices this year.
At least 15 or 20 players could reasonably be placed on a first team.
And that's a pretty rare thing for this sport.