After going through our third team All American pre season picks, it is time today to put out our selections for the second team.
G: Keith Appling, Michigan State Spartans
While his back court mate Gary Harris has been getting all of the love from most analysts, Appling has been put by the way side. If you’ve read previous articles on Busting Brackets, you should know that Appling is one of my biggest favorites and I strongly believe him to be tremendously underrated.
What Appling brings to his Spartans is solid leadership, veteran experience and some of the toughest on ball defense in the nation. Very few players take more pride in shutting down the opposition’s best player than Appling. On the perimeter, he is a nightmare to shake and wears down his man with constant attempts at stealing the ball. When it comes to picking off passes, Appling has lightning quick reflexes and uses his long arms to play the passing lanes as well as any other guard in the NCAA.
Offensively, he is no slouch either. Appling can create some opportunities for himself with the dribble and is a good facilitator for his teammates. While not a flashy guy, Appling has a great sense of the moment and knows when he has to take on a big scoring load and when he can take a step back.
The key to another strong Spartans year lies with Appling and his defense. While he may not ultimately be recognized as the key player he is, we are taking the time now to acknowledge it.
G: Shabazz Napier, UConn Huskies
Last week, we had a piece on Napier and how important he is for the UConn Huskies. Nothing has changed since the writing of the article. As the uncontested best player on his team, Napier has the keys to the Huskies’ offense and will be allowed to do what he pleases.
After taking a big step in the right direction in his junior season, Napier has a chance to prove he can be a legitimate NBA player but putting his stamp on the NCAA. Speedy and versatile on offense, Napier can score the ball any which way and is a great creator with the ball. His ability to find teammates with open looks will be a big factor in how well the Huskies do in the long run.
Defensively, Napier is quick and aggressive which leads to a lot of steals from the perimeter. His ability to grab rebounds as a lead guard is also important to set the pace for a UConn team that likes to run when the opportunity presents itself.
F: Julius Randle, Kentucky Wildcats
The biggest obstacle to Randle becoming an All American as a freshman is probably his teammates. Since joining one of the deepest Kentucky Wildcats team ever, Randle has been peg to be the headlining player. While he may share the court with a few returning players and some high profile recruits, Randle has been one of the few guys that has been compared favorably to Andrew Wiggins.
As a big forward, Randle has an interesting skill set. He can handle the ball much better than most guys his size and can shoot it pretty well from anywhere on the court. Offensively, Randle is comfortable taking control of the game from pretty much every facet. There is nothing defenders can really do to stop him from controlling the game in that way.
Kentucky is likely to have at least one player make an All American team and Randle has been its most advertised player. Because of that, it makes sense that he has the inside edge on making on these teams.
F: Jabari Parker, Duke Blue Devils
One of the reasons I know this will be a great year for talent in the NCAA is that Parker couldn’t crack the 1st team list. While he was the top player in his class for the longest time, until Andrew Wiggins reclassified, Parker is going to have to prove himself all over again in the NCAA.
While not a tremendous athletic specimen, Parker is one of the most polished freshman in the nation. He is comfortable in the post, more comfortable than most seniors, dribbles like a guard and can score from anywhere. Duke coach Mike Kryzewski is not usually all that keen on handing over the offense to a first year player but with Parker, it was a foregone conclusion.
In addition to being naturally talented, Parker is one of the hardest working players around and has amazing character. In short, he is what coaches would describe as the perfect player. With all those things going in his favor and having very limited flaws, it is very easy to predict that Parker will have a year worthy of being an All American.
C: Mitch McGary, Michigan Wolverines
After being one of the highest ranked recruits in the NCAA last year, Michigan fans were ecstatic when McGary chose to head over to Ann Arbor.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, McGary did not yield immediate results and was relegated back to the bench. It wasn’t until the NCAA tournament that the big man really started coming into his own.
When March Madness hit, McGary became another player altogether. He was a rebounding machine, came up with all the hustle plays and scored efficiently and often. In short, McGary had become the player the Wolverines pictured from day one.
For big men, the adjustment period from high school to the NCAA can be a lot harder than what smallers players have to go through. They find themselves in a much more physical game and for a lot of guys, the transition takes some time. It seems like that was the case with McGary but now that he has arrived, he is looking to stay.
While losing both Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr will undoubtedly hurt the team, it allows more possessions for McGary to prove what he can do. If he can keep up his effort from the NCAA tournament into this regular season, McGary should have no problem finding himself a spot on the All American lists by the end of the season.
That’s it for part three, check back tomorrow to see who made our first team.