CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Feeling out All-America teams, Hoiberg's risk/reward strategy

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Yes, I do really think Jacob Pullen will be a first-team All-American.

And I kind of like Fred Hoiberg taking troubled Royce White.

Let's do Five for Friday.

Taking a chance on Royce White is what a program like Iowa State must do to succeed in the Big 12. (AP)  
Taking a chance on Royce White is what a program like Iowa State must do to succeed in the Big 12. (AP)  
1. Will Jacob Pullen actually be a first-team All-American?

Like Pullen told me last week, yes, he should be. The 6-foot guard averaged 19.3 points for an Elite Eight team, got 34 in a matchup with fellow All-American candidate Jimmer Fredette, 28 in a back-and-forth affair with Jordan Crawford and he will be the leader of a team ranked in the top 10 of most preseason polls and picked by some to win the Big 12. To me, that's the stuff of a first-team All-American.

2. What other returning players could be first-team All-Americans?

How about something like ...

G: Jacob Pullen (Kansas State)
G: LaceDarius Dunn (Baylor)
G: Nolan Smith (Duke)
F: Kyle Singler (Duke)
F: Marcus Morris (Kansas)

A possible second team could be ...

G: Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech)
G: Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
G: Shelvin Mack (Butler)
F: Elias Harris (Gonzaga)
F: JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)

3. Will any freshmen be legit candidates?

Of course. In fact, I'll almost certainly have a freshman or two on my preseason All-America teams when it comes time to pick them. The guys most likely to get serious looks are Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, Kentucky's Enes Kanter and North Carolina's Harrison Barnes. It should surprise nobody if Sullinger and Kanter average double-doubles (or something really close). As for Barnes, well, he might look a lot like the nation's best player by January, if not sooner.

4. Any thoughts on Iowa State enrolling Minnesota's Royce White?

It's the latest sign that Fred Hoiberg understands he must take risks to succeed at Iowa State, and that he's willing to use his can-do-no-wrong reputation around campus to make things happen, which is why I like the move. Let's be honest: Iowa State is a difficult job, and there's probably no way for the Cyclones to get a prospect the caliber of White unless that prospect is flawed (and by flawed I mean a convicted criminal who is, best I can tell from his actions of the past year, a little crazy).

I can't promise this will work for either side, or that White won't end up kicked off the team before ever playing a game. But too often guys like Hoiberg think they can rely on their NBA background and celebrity to succeed; they don't understand the grind or what it takes to jumpstart a career. Clearly, Hoiberg is different. He recognizes his administration isn't going to stand in the way of "The Mayor" trying to make Iowa State relevant again, and so he's doing what he thinks is necessary to make the program relevant again.

It could backfire, as I'm sure Hoiberg knows, and he probably doesn't need to fill his roster with criminals (See: Gonzalez, Bobby). But taking White is a move that suggests the first-year coach at least understands the risks required to push the Cyclones to the top half of the Big 12 and that's something I can respect because I like people who "get it." Hoiberg seems to "get it." It's an approach that won't guarantee success, but it should at least give him a chance.

5. Have you seen Deadspin.com's America's Dumbest Student-Athlete series?

Yes, and it is both hilarious and sad. What the guys over there have done is ask professors, tutors, anybody, to anonymously submit questionable work submitted by questionable student-athletes, and so far they have entries from Villanova, Maryland and North Carolina State. I can't vouch for the validity of the entries. But if you believe the entries are valid you won't believe these people actually sit in college classrooms. It's stunning, really, not much different than something my first-grader could put together. I would encourage all of you to check it out. Again, it's hilarious and sad. But mostly hilarious.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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