John Wall is the CBSSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
And, yes, I know he hasn't played a college game yet.
But that doesn't matter.
Because preseason accolades should serve as a predictor of things to come, and what's coming is an incredible season from the Kentucky freshman who will lead the Wildcats to the Final Four, at least. Thus, Wall gets the nod. So put him down as the early favorite to become the third freshman in four years to be named the CBSSports.com National Player of the Year, joining Kevin Durant (2007) and Michael Beasley (2008).
"He's chasing it," UK coach John Calipari said. "He's absolutely chasing it."
To expand on that point, Calipari talked about Wall being in the gym at 11 some nights, putting up shots with a manager and leading by example. And then there's this: "John is picking this stuff up quicker than Derrick [Rose] and Tyreke [Evans] did; he's more comfortable in it," Calipari said. "Now he's not all the way there yet, and there will be a learning curve. But he's going to be one of the better players in the country, I would guess."
The best, in fact.
And just to make clear what kind of talent we're dealing with, understand that if Wall could've entered last June's NBA Draft, some franchises would've debated whether to take him or Blake Griffin with the No. 1 overall pick. Assuming the Clippers still took Griffin, the Grizzlies would've selected Wall second. And if there were a way to deal Hasheem Thabeet (and his Twitter account) for the rights to Wall right now, I'm confident the Grizz would make that trade and celebrate appropriately.
The guy is that gifted.
And that's why he highlights the CBSSports.com Preseason All-America team.
Guard: John Wall (Kentucky)
Why he's here: Lots of times coaches don't know what they have in a player until the player gets on campus. Sometimes they are pleasantly surprised, other times greatly disappointed. So with that in mind -- and with the knowledge that Calipari has long believed Wall was a special, Rose-like talent -- I asked the first-year UK coach if he had seen anything since Wall enrolled to make him think Wall won't be as special as anticipated. Calipari's response: "No."
Why he's here: Warren played the role of Blake Griffin's sidekick last season, and he played it well; he was a lottery pick, if he wanted. But Warren instead opted for a sophomore season at OU. He'll keep the Sooners near the top of the Big 12 and prove to be one of the nation's elite scorers.
Why he's here: Aminu averaged 13.8 points and 8.2 rebounds last season despite playing with two -- how to put this delicately? -- ballhogs in Jeff Teague and James Johnson. Those guys are gone. And though it's unclear if Wake Forest can win more without them, there's no doubt Aminu will flourish in their absence.
Why he's here: Harangody has averaged a double-double each of the past two years and developed into a Fantasy owner's dream. The losing took a toll last season and cost the forward some of the attention he deserved. But Mike Brey now has a team good enough to make the NCAA tournament, primarily because he's getting one more season from a player good enough to win Big East Player of the Year honors.
Why he's here: Aldrich got 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds last season while leading KU to a surprising Big 12 title. He didn't have to return to school, but he did. And the byproduct is that Bill Self's Jayhawks are the favorite to win their second national championship in three years despite every key player from the previous title team (except for Sherron Collins) having moved on.
|Second Team||Third Team|
|G: Sherron Collins, Kansas||G: Kalin Lucas, Michigan State|
|G: Avery Bradley, Texas||G: Manny Harris, Michigan|
|F: Kyle Singler, Duke||F: Gordon Hayward, Butler|
|F: Patrick Patterson, Kentucky||F: Craig Brackins, Iowa State|
|F: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech||F: Trevor Booker, Clemson|
Thirty other players under consideration
Players listed in alphabetical order
|• Solomon Alibi (Florida State)||• Lazar Hayward (Marquette)||• Tyler Smith (Tennessee)|
|• James Anderson (Oklahoma State)||• Xavier Henry (Kansas)||• Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati)|
|• Luke Babbitt (Nevada)||• Robbie Hummel (Purdue)||• Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas)|
|• Talor Battle (Penn State)||• Damion James (Texas)||• Isaiah Thomas (Washington)|
|• Matt Bouldin (Gonzaga)||• Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech)||• Evan Turner (Ohio State)|
|• Kenny Boynton (Florida)||• Greg Monroe (Georgetown)||• Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi State)|
|• DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky)||• E'Twaun Moore (Purdue)||• Greivis Vazquez (Maryland)|
|• Ed Davis (North Carolina)||• Scottie Reynolds (Villanova)||• Kemba Walker (Connecticut)|
|• Devan Downey (South Carolina)||• Samardo Samuels (Louisville)||• Terrico White (Ole Miss)|
|• Devin Ebanks (West Virginia)||• Larry Sanders (VCU)||• Chris Wright (Dayton)|
|2009-10 Season Preview/Conference Countdown Schedule|
|Monday, Oct. 5||Preseason Top 25 (and one)||Monday, Oct. 26||Coaches on the Hot Seat|
|Wednesday, Oct. 7||Preseason All-America Team||Wednesday, Oct. 28||Ranking the best of the non-BCS|
|Friday, Oct. 9||Impact Freshmen||Friday, Oct. 30||No. 6: Pac-10|
|Monday, Oct. 12||Programs on the Rise||Monday, Nov. 2||No. 5: SEC|
|Wednesday, Oct. 14||Programs on the Decline||Tuesday, Nov. 3||No. 4: Big East|
|Friday, Oct. 16||Midnight Madness | From Kansas||Wednesday, Nov. 4||No. 3: ACC|
|Monday, Oct. 19||Player rankings: Points/Combos||Thursday, Nov. 5||No. 2: Big Ten|
|Wednesday, Oct. 21||Player rankings: Wings||Friday, Nov. 6||No. 1: Big 12|
|Friday, Oct. 23||Player rankings: Big Men||Monday, Nov. 9||Brackets: Parrish | Palm|