CBS Sports' 2017-18 Preseason All-America Teams: Returnees command respect
Only three freshmen filled the 15 slots on our preseason All-America picks.
The biggest issue facing college basketball -- besides rampant cheating and the ongoing FBI investigation, of course -- is a lack of familiarity with the players. Everybody knows the coaches. Roy. K. Cal. Self. Izzo. Huggs. Few. Shaka. Most of the bigger names are recognizable around the country by one word or a single letter. But the players? Not so much. Duke is the preseason No. 1. And yet a casual sports fan probably couldn't name more than two dudes on Duke's roster. They know Grayson Allen because he trips. They know Marvin Bagley because they follow the NBA Draft. But outside of that, nothing. Consequently, preseason All-America lists are always littered with new/anonymous names because the relevant names from the previous season have typically moved on.
This year is no exception.
There are one-and-done future lottery picks on this list. There are four-and-done future overseas players on this list. You likely recognize some of the names. You might not know others. The only thing they have in common, in some cases, is that they all project as elite college players for the season that gets underway Friday with games from coast to coast - plus in Germany and China.
We accepted ballots from various CBS Sports writers and analysts, then tabulated the votes. The results are below -- meaning these are the preseason CBS Sports All-Americans -- to go along with. The postseason CBS Sports All-Americans will be selected just before the Final Four. In between, we'll watch the games, embrace the storylines and enjoy the twists and turns of another long, and hopefully fun, college basketball season.
CBS Sports Preseason All-Americans
Jalen Brunson | Villanova | Junior | Point Guard
Brunson has helped Villanova win 67 games the past two years and take back-to-back Big East titles -- plus the 2016 national championship. So good luck describing him as anything other than a high-level winner. The 6-3 junior averaged 14.7 points and 4.1 assists as a sophomore while shooting 54.1 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from 3-point range. The only question, to the extent that there is a question, is how Brunson will handle being the face of a program in the absence of Josh Hart. But put me down as someone who is unconcerned. Elite point guards don't usually fade as they get older. So I'm assuming Brunson's junior year will be his best season to date.
Devonte' Graham | Kansas | Senior | Guard
It's not often that a school can lose a National Player of the Year and still have another serious National Player of the Year candidate on the roster. But that's very much the case at Kansas -- where Graham could be this season's Frank Mason. Like Mason, Graham was lightly recruited coming out of high school, nothing close to a five-star prospect. But, also like Mason, he's developed into an undeniable star. And the smart money has him leading Kansas to an incredible 14th straight Big 12 title. Graham averaged 13.4 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 38.8 percent from 3-point range last season. I expect all of those numbers to go up with Mason in the NBA. This is Graham's team now. And KU having back-to-back National Player of the Years is absolutely possible.
Miles Bridges | Michigan State | Sophomore | Forward
Bridges is the first power-conference player in more than two decades to average 16 points, eight rebounds and two assists as a freshman and return for his sophomore season, which is a reminder of why it was at least somewhat surprising that he decided to return to school. Simply put, players that productive and talented usually don't. But Bridges did. So Michigan State is a serious Final Four contender. And-- mostly because we think the 6-7 forward will be the nation's best player while leading the Spartans to a Big Ten title and then some. If he averages 20 and 10, nobody should be surprised. If he provides highlight-reel dunks every game, nobody should be surprised.
Michael Porter Jr. | Missouri | Freshman | Forward
Missouri went 8-46 in SEC games over the past three seasons. And yet the school recently announced that it has already sold all season tickets for this season, which is the byproduct of firing Kim Anderson and hiring Cuonzo Martin. More specifically, it's the byproduct of firing Anderson and hiring Martin, who subsequently added the father of a five-star forward guaranteed to make a huge impact in the SEC. I've said it before but it's worth repeating: I, like Martin, NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.. Or mother. Or grandmother. Doesn't matter. Talent is the No. 1 ingredient for winning in college basketball, and Porter is an amazing talent. He'll score in bunches, rebound enough, break records in Columbia and likely lead the Tigers to the
Bonzie Colson | Notre Dame | Senior | Forward
Colson is one of only two CBS Sports All-Americans (first, second or third team) from last season who returned to school, which sounds excessive but, like I mentioned above, is actually fairly normal for the sport. He averaged 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 52.6 percent from the field, and 43.3 percent from 3-point range, for a Notre Dame team that finished tied for second in the ACC and won 26 games last season. Yes, he's an undersized power forward, which is why he's a super-productive player who doesn't necessarily project as a first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. But that has absolutely nothing to do with his ability at the collegiate level. So while some of the players below him on this list will definitely be drafted above him next June, it's doubtful many of them, if any of them, will out-produce Colson game after game after game.
Joel Berry | North Carolina | Senior | Guard
Berry is the reigning Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four and somebody who spent the early part of last season looking like a legitimate National Player of the Year candidate. Ultimately, that race was won by Mason. But it was Berry who exited with the national championship and highest individual postseason honor. His return to UNC ensured the Tar Heels would be a preseason top-20 team. And even though Berry is going to miss the start of the season because of, the expectation is that he'll be back soon and ready to try to lead the Tar Heels to a third consecutive Final Four.
Grayson Allen | Duke | Senior | Guard
Allen is more famous (or infamous) these days. And that's too bad. Because those viral clips have overshadowed the fact that he's a really nice college basketball player who already owns one national championship ring and could reasonably lead this Duke team to another. Allen will benefit from the enrollment of Trevon Duval, who will allow the senior guard to play off the ball and focus on scoring. That reality will make Allen better. And it should make Duke better, too.
Allonzo Trier | Arizona | Junior | Guard
Whether Sean Miller will or will not make his first Final Four this season is debatable and to be determined, obviously. And the ongoing FBI investigation has cast a shadow over the program, either way. But if Miller does finally break through, Trier will be among the biggest reasons. The 6-5 guard missed a chunk of games last season after he reportedly tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. But when he returned he averaged 17.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range.
Marvin Bagley | Duke | Freshman | Forward
Bagley's late reclassification and enrollment at Duke is what pushed the Blue Devils to No. 1 in the, and he's done nothing to make anybody believe he's undeserving of the hype. Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski hasn't hesitated to describe Bagley's natural gifts and predict his bright future. And anybody who watched Bagley on the summer circuit in recent years knows he's a rare prospect who is athletically overwhelming, uniquely skilled and blessed with a motor that pushes him to play hard even when he could probably get away with going half-speed. In a word, he's special. Double-doubles should come often.
Ethan Happ | Wisconsin | Junior | Forward
Happ has one of the highest KenPom ratings of all returning players, for what it's worth. And he was considered by some, for much of last season, to be a serious challenger to Caleb Swanigan for Big Ten Player of the Year honors. Personally, I never saw it. But that says more about the dominance of Swanigan than Happ. Because Happ was -- and is -- very good. He averaged 14.0 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 58.6 percent from the field last season for a Wisconsin team that won 27 games and lost by only a point in overtime to Florida in the Sweet 16.
Landry Shamet | Wichita State | Junior | Guard
Shamet missed almost all of Wichita State's preseason workouts while recovering from foot surgery, which obviously isn't ideal. But he'll play in the season-opener, as coach Gregg Marshall told CBS Sports' Matt Norlander. And he is the most important player on a preseason top-10 team that should transition smoothly from the Missouri Valley Conference to the American Athletic Conference.
Jevon Carter | West Virginia | Senior | Guard
The Mountaineers have won 79 games the past three seasons and done so without many, if any, players a casual college basketball fan would recognize by name or face. That's a testament to Bob Huggins and the style of play. But don't discount Carter. He's active and good - somebody who averaged 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.5 steals last season.
Trevon Bluiett | Xavier | Senior | Forward
Bluiett has averaged double-figures in points all three years at Xavier and enters his final season of college with 1,585 career points. Barring injury, the 6-6 guard should eclipse the 2,200-point barrier. Barring a surprise, he should have the Musketeers competing at or near the top of the Big East standings once again.
Angel Delgado | Seton Hall | Senior | Forward
Delgado is one of the nation's most productive players - somebody who averaged 15.2 points and 13.1 rebounds for a Seton Hall team that won 21 games last season. That he's back suggests Seton Hall should return to the NCAA Tournament. And if the Pirates are really good, like a real challenger to Villanova in the Big East, this Third-Team label will look low in hindsight.
DeAndre Ayton | Arizona | Freshman | Center
Nobody has ever questioned Ayton's talent. Only his motor. Because for every dominant performance he provided on the summer circuit over the years, there'd be another where he seemed disinterested. But, by all accounts, that frustrating trait hasn't surfaced much in preseason workouts at Arizona. He's been tremendous, I'm told. And it's possible Ayton could lead the Wildcats to a national championship and then become the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
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