March 5, 2012
As a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, one of the great privileges I have is voting for the organization’s All-American college basketball team. Below were my selections for the 2011-12 season.
Harrison Barnes (North Carolina) – The Tarheels have any number of players that could be considered for All-American status, but my nod goes to Barnes. Barnes is a downright freakishly athletic player and while some critics will complain that he needs to average more than five rebounds as a 6’8” forward, he’s a mismatch nightmare and can step out and hit three-pointers. He makes 40% of them and also averages 17 points a game – doing all of that for the ACC’s regular season championship team is good enough for me.
Anthony Davis (Kentucky) – As a true freshman for the Wildcats, Davis has been as good as advertised. His 15 points and ten rebounds per game only scratch the surface, though. Davis may be the best defensive player in the country, which for a first-year player is incredibly rare. He also leads the nation in blocked shots with nearly five per game and could lead Kentucky to yet another deep NCAA Tournament run.
Marcus Denmon (Missouri) – Denmon is the second leading scorer in the Big 12 and has the Missouri Tigers gunning for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The senior is one of those players who have gotten better each year and in 2011-12, he is averaging career highs in scoring, rebounding, and assists.
Draymond Green (Michigan State) – The Spartans’ promotional mailer to voters says that Green is the most versatile player in the country. Head coach Tom Izzo says he’s never had a player that’s been asked to do as much as him. Green has had 20 points, ten rebounds, and five assists in five games this year (more than anyone else in Division I) so all of that sounds about right to me.
Darius Johnson-Odom (Marquette) – Marquette has surprised fans all season and Darius Johnson-Odom has been a huge reason why the Golden Eagles were in the top ten heading into the weekend. Jae Crowder could be the better overall player for Marquette, but he’s disappeared in several games this season and Johnson-Odom is the motor that makes the team go.
Kevin Jones (West Virginia) – Playing for NCAA bubble team West Virginia, Jones hasn’t gotten the recognition he’s deserved. But he’s been unquestionably the best player in the Big East, one of the toughest conferences in the country. And in averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per game, he may be the best player in all of America.
Doug McDermott (Creighton) – Players from mid majors don’t generally receive a ton of respect when it comes to All-American teams, but McDermott clearly deserves the honor. At more than 23 points a game, he’s the third leading scorer in all of college basketball and Creighton is a top 25 team with only five losses heading into this past weekend.
Arnett Moultrie (Mississippi State) – Moultrie is in a similar position as Jones. He’s been largely ignored playing for unranked Mississippi State, but is also one of the top players in his conference. Moultrie is the leading rebounder in the SEC and the fourth leading scorer. He could have the Bulldogs back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.
Thomas Robinson (Kansas) – Robinson not only got my vote to represent the All-American team, but was my Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year selection as well. The forward averages just under 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Kansas Jayhawks, a top five team. The thing I like most about Robinson, though, is that he’s played even better against big time opponents. In five games with top ten foes in Duke, Missouri, and Baylor, he’s averaged 23.4 points and 13 rebounds.
Jared Sullinger (Ohio State) – Sullinger has disappeared in some recent games against Wisconsin and Illinois, but his 17 points and nine rebounds per contest are clearly enough for All-American status. He is in the top three in both scoring and rebounding in the Big Ten this season and his Buckeyes are one of the best teams in the country.