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2011-2012 College Basketball Preview: Preseason All-American Picks

Choosing a preseason All-American team is no easy task. When you think about all the great players in college basketball, narrowing it down to three teams of five is almost impossible.

But Jamal and I have tried our best, as we present to you our first, second, and third team All-Americans.

Our preseason Top 25 poll was somewhat tough. But we can both honestly say that narrowing down our particular lists were a whole lot tougher.

As with our poll, we’ll offer up our individual thoughts instead of condensing it into one list. Also, you can continue to follow our 2011-2012 preview series by clicking here.

And with that, let us begin!

Jamal Murphy

FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

Harrison Barnes6’8 sophomore forward, North Carolina

We all know the story; he got off to a slow start freshman year and rounded into easily one of the best players in the nation. For my money, he is the best player in the nation right now. The smooth forward averaged 15.7 points and 5.8 rebounds a game last year, so expect those numbers to rise significantly along with his 42% field goal percentage.

Jared Sullinger6’9 sophomore forward, Ohio State

Last year as a freshman, the big man averaged a double-double (17.2pts/10.2rbs) and shot 54% from the field. More impressively, Sullinger averaged only 2.4 fouls per game. He was the unquestioned leader of an Ohio State team that was #1 for much of the year before bowing out to Kentucky in the Sweet 16. Word is he checked in this year at a svelte 20lbs under last year’s playing weight.

Jordan Taylor6’1 senior guard, Wisconsin

You think of this guy as the consummate solid point guard who does whatever it takes to win. It’s easy to forget that he averaged 18.1 points per game last year, while shooting 43% from long range. He added an effortless 4 rebounds and 5 assists a game for good measure. Look for Taylor to have a dominant senior year.

Terrence Jones6’9 sophomore forward, Kentucky

With the current instability of the NBA, Jones and his advisers look like geniuses. Jones must’ve shocked Calipari when he decided to return to Lexington after averaging very close to 16 points and 9 rebounds and reaching the Final Four. He would have been a sure fire lottery pick, minus the paycheck. Instead, he can improve his skills, gain valuable experience and receive 1st Team All America recognition.

Jeremy Lamb6’5 sophomore guard, Connecticut

While the college great Kemba Walker deservedly received the lion’s share of the credit for UConn’s 2010-11 National Championship season, Jeremy Lamb played as valuable a role as any during the Huskies’ NCAA Tournament run. In fact, he could have passed for the “go-to guy” if we knew better. The unflappable Lamb averaged 15.3 points per game in the post season. He should be scarier now that he knows what he’s capable of.

SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

Tyler Zeller7’0 senior center, North Carolina

The highly skilled big man tied Harrison Barnes for the team lead in points per game last year at 15.7. Zeller also contributed 7.2 rebounds per game and shot 55% from the field with a deft touch around the basket, ala Antawn Jamison. An improved Zeller will only get better looks this season with so much more talent around him.

John Jenkins6’4 junior guard, Vanderbilt

Renowned as college basketball’s best shooter, Jenkins led a good Commodore squad by scoring 19.5 points per game, shooting 46% from the field, 41% from three, and 89% from the free throw line. He’s back to lead an even better team this year with everyone returning.

Tu Holloway
6’0 senior guard, Xavier

Tu Holloway became a household name to college basketball heads last year. You might be sick of hearing his name this year. The hard-nosed, do-it-all point guard from Long Island should dominate from start to finish this winter and spring. Holloway averaged 19.7 points, 5.4 assists, 5 rebounds and shot 87% from the foul line last year.

Tim Hardaway Jr.6’5 sophomore guard, Michigan

Killa Crossover Jr., without the crossover, wasn’t supposed to be as good as he was last year. At times, Hardaway was Michigan’s best player, as he averaged 14 points and 4 rebounds his freshman year. My bet is that Hardaway will be better than people expect again this season, since he will be the undisputed go-to guy.

Ashton Gibbs6’2 senior guard, Pittsburgh

Gibbs was another kid who made the smart decision to put off his NBA dreams for a year and return to school. He led the Panthers last year with 17 points per game and shot 49% from three and 89% from the foul line. Gibbs should be even better this year as he tries to prove that he is a complete player.

THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

Perry Jones III6’11 sophomore forward, Baylor

If the talented sophomore can put it all together this year, he’s 1st Team All America material. I think he’ll come close. Jones averaged 13.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and shot 55% from the field as a freshman.

John Shurna6’9 senior forward, Northwestern

Shurna put up 24 points a contest for the first 8 games of the 2010-11 season. After that, injuries nagged him and severely diminished his production. He finished with averages of 16.6 points and 4.9 rebounds and he shot 48% from the field and 43% from three point range. If Shurna stays healthy, look for him to average 20 plus points per game and have the Wildcats in the hunt for their first ever NCAA Tournament bid.

John Henson6’10 junior forward, North Carolina

The Tar Heels’ third best player averaged a double-double (11.7pts/10.1rbs) last season. That’s scary. Henson also swatted away 3.2 shots a game and shot 50% from the field. If those numbers improve, a 3rd Team All America selection may be a disservice.

Andrew Nicholson6’9 senior forward, St. Bonaventure

The Canada native is doing big things under the radar. Last season, Nicholson ran through the Atlantic 10 by scoring 20.8 points per game. He also grabbed 7.3 rebounds, blocked 1.5 shots and shot a ridiculous 57% from the field. Nicholson carried the Bonnies to an 8-8 conference record. If he can get his team over .500 this year, Nicholson will be on everyone’s radar.

Robbie Hummel6’8 senior forward, Purdue

A feel good story maybe, but Hummel averaged 15.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and shot 90% from the free throw line in 2009-10, prior to two knee surgeries that forced him to miss Purdue’s last 42 games. Those 2009-10 numbers are especially impressive considering Hummel shared the court with NBA draft picks JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore. Hummel has worked hard to rehab and strengthen his knee. If he’s healthy, look for a return to the big time.

Blake Lovell

FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

Harrison Barnes6’8 sophomore forward, North Carolina

Barnes will be in the Naismith Award race with Jared Sullinger, and is the best player on the best team in college basketball entering the season. I’d say that makes him first team All-American material. Opposing teams won’t be able to just key in on him, given all the weapons around him.

Jared Sullinger6’9 sophomore forward, Ohio State

I talked about this in our Ohio State preview piece with Joe Dexter, but think about how good Sullinger was last year for the Buckeyes. Now think about all the work he’s put in during the off-season, specifically on his body. He would have been the first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, and now he’s even better. Scary, scary thought for the opposition.

Jeremy Lamb6’5 sophomore guard, Connecticut

We saw what Lamb could do last year alongside Kemba Walker, but now we get to see what he can do as THE man on this team. I have no fear though that this guy can step his game up even more, and if he does that, then give UConn the chance to repeat as national champions. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to have Andre Drummond on the inside to relieve some pressure outside the paint.

Jordan Taylor6’1 senior guard, Wisconsin

The only worry I have about putting Taylor first team is the team around. Wisconsin is still gonna be a great team, but losing guys like Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil hurts. So Taylor is gonna be expected to do even more than he did during his outstanding junior season. The good thing is, he can, and he will.

Perry Jones III6’11 sophomore forward, Baylor

Baylor might be the best team in the Big 12 entering the season. And that is the case because of this incredibly talented player. He has to take his game to an even higher level this year though. He has all the potential in the world, and in terms of skill set, there’s no doubt that he’s one of the best in the country.

SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

John Henson – 6’10 junior forward, North Carolina

Jamal showed you this guy’s numbers above. It’s my belief that those numbers are only going to improve given the type of season we expect the Tar Heels to have. He’s one of the best defenders in college basketball, he can score, and he can block a whole lot of shots. The man can do it all.

Andre Drummond6’10 freshman center, Connecticut

We all know this kid could move up even higher. An absolute beast in the post. If anybody thinks they can take on the challenge score on this guy consistently, then be my guest. One of the best athletes in the country that will change the game for UConn.

Tu Holloway6’0 senior guard, Xavier

Could easily see this guy making the jump to the first team. The Musketeers are going to be really, really good this year, and it all starts with Holloway. He can do anything he wants at the point guard position. Yet again, another case of “great last year, gonna be even better this year.”

John Jenkins6’4 junior guard, Vanderbilt

He’s the absolute best shooter in the country. If you give him more than a few inches of space, he’s gonna hit the shot. The word is that his game off the dribble hasn’t improved big time, which makes him an even bigger threat for a Commodore team that has Final Four aspirations.

Terrence Jones6’9 sophomore forward, Kentucky

A lot of people didn’t expect him to return to Lexington this season. Or should I say, a lot of people (opponents) didn’t wanna see him return to Lexington. He’s got first team All-American potential, but with so many new weapons around him, his numbers might not show how fully valuable he is.

THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

Ashton Gibbs6’2 senior guard, Pittsburgh

Another could’ve been NBA draft pick, as Jamie Dixon has to be thrilled that Gibbs has returned for another season. He’ll carry the scoring load for the Panthers, and will likely be one of the best players in the best conference in America.

Tyler Zeller7’0 senior center, North Carolina

Let’s go ahead and add another North Carolina player to the mix, as Zeller is simply a dominating presence inside for the Tar Heels. Helped carry the scoring and rebounding load last season. Will help carry the scoring and rebounding load once again this season.

Anthony Davis6’10 freshman forward, Kentucky

This freshman stud will do it all for the Wildcats this season. One of the most athletic players in the entire country that will completely control the paint. He’ll get a lot of rebounds and he’ll block a whole lot of shots. That’s a guarantee.

Terrence Ross6’6 sophomore guard, Washington

Here’s my sleeper in the group. Ross only averaged 8 points per game last season. Let me say this: he’s not averaging less than 15 this season. He can score any way that he wants to and he’s going to have Washington right in the mix for a Pac-12 title.

Kendall Marshall6’3 sophomore guard, North Carolina

Yes folks, another UNC player. But hey, there’s a reason why they are on this list. We’re talking about a team that will be favored in probably every game they play this year. And Marshall is going to be the distributor to all of these great players. Thing is, he can score too.

Well there’s our list. What do you think? Who are your preseason All-American picks?

Want more college hoops talk? You can follow us on Twitter (@theblakelovell) and @Blacketologist, or check out our Facebook page for more college basketball discussion!

Topics: Best Ncaa Players, College Basketball Preview, Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Preseason All American

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  • iamferb

    I can go with those picks with the exception of two players: John Henson and Robbie Hummel. First Henson is a great rebounder and defender but all american teams are known for guys who can get buckets which Henson can not do. I have seen him play numerous times including in the summer (NC ProAms) where there is a lack of defense played and he simply can not find his own shot. He has no jump shot and struggles to create his own offense. The points he does score are off of offensive rebounds and dunks. With the addition of James McAdoo and PJ Hairston (both who I have seen play several times on the highschool circuit, PJ since the 7th grade and McAdoo since the 10th and both can flat out get buckets) I see less touches because dont see Roy running set plays to feed the ball to Henson for offense. He also becomes a liability in close games as well do to his paltry 47.9% shooting from the foul line so he has to come out of those games. UNC has too many options this year for offense so he will be the last option. As for Robbie Hummel coming off of two consecutive serious knee injuries to the SAME knee, him making an all american team wouldnt just be a feel good story, it would be the story of the year. .

    • BlakeLovell

      @iamferb A good point on Henson. Someone is gonna get lost in the shuffle this season at North Carolina. People talk about how coaches make the big bucks. Well, this is why Roy Williams makes the big bucks. All this talent and he’s gotta figure out who gets the minutes and who doesn’t. I still think Henson’s value in terms of rebounding and blocking shots is going to keep him in the game a lot. But maybe it does become an issue scoring-wise which would probably give him less of a chance to get on this team. Given his rebounding ability, he could get enough trash buckets to average 12 points or so though. That’s obviously a good problem for Roy to have, but man is gonna be tough trimming down his rotation.

      On Hummel, I still wanna see how he plays post-knee injury. He’s gonna be called upon to carry a lot of the load for Purdue this year since Johnson and Moore are gone, and that worries me a little. Hopefully Painter eases him back into things and he’s not going 40 minutes a game early in the year.

    • Blacketologist

      I hear what you’re saying re Henson and Hummel. Henson, I just couldn’t deny. He averaged a double-double last year and I thought he had room for A LOT of improvement. I see him showing improvement this season, especially mentally, where I felt he lacked a lot. I think the fact that the team is better plays into Henson’s hands, since like you said, he doesn’t have plays run for him anyway. He’s 6’10, long and athletic and there’s no way teams will be able to key on him. Not to mention his defense. I just see a big year.

      Hummel, I believe will come back strong. He may start slow, but knee surgeries can be come back from nowadays and Purdue will need him to produce in order to contend in the Big 10. The kid can play and I think he’ll produce.

      I hear you on Rivers, but I have a hard time putting my faith in any one freshman (as you can see there are none on my teams), but I know 1 or 2 freshmen will step up and make All America Teams out of Rivers, Drummond, Beal, Gilchrist, Davis, Turner, Teague, etc. It’s just a question of which ones.

      I like Curry and am rooting for him. But he’s only shown glimpses and I have to see it. I have yet to see him as impressive as his brother was at the same age. But we’ll see. That’s why they play the games!

      @iamferb

  • iamferb

    Players to Watch: Seth Curry and Austin Rivers of Duke. Seth after avg 20pts at Liberty before transferring to Duke. He comes from an NBA family (Dell & Steph) and Coach K has stated that has one of the highest basketball IQs for a player that he has had. I dont think UNC would argue after he averaged 21pts in 2 reg. season contest, including a 22pt 6rb 5a as the key player in their double digit comeback victory in Cameron last year. And the fact that he shot 43.5% from 3pt land as well, he should have a big year. Austin Rivers is considered the most prolific scorer coming from the highschool ranks and also comes from an NBA family (Doc Rivers). With the losses of Kyrie and Nolan he will get plenty of opportunities to light up the scoreboard.

    • BlakeLovell

      @iamferb Almost put Rivers on my third team. There’s just so many great players that it’s hard to narrow it down to 15. That’s all Jamal and I kept saying as we were working on this haha. The Curry/Rivers combo will be one of the best backcourts in the country, and both guys could easily be on this list by the end of the season.