NCAA: All-American Selections
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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Being named an All-American is one of the highest individual honors college basketball has to offer, ranked only behind the Player of the Year award. The competition for spots on the first and second team is going to be absolutely fierce this season as there are much more than just 10 worthy candidates. It’s important to note that the selection from All-American teams is based purely on collegiate production and is in no way shape or form indicative of a player’s stock of pro potential. With that said, here are our picks for the 2012 All-American teams and the Player of the Year.
Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin) – 6’1, 195 lbs. Guard
This is the year that Taylor is finally going to get the publicity and respect he deserves. After a solid three-year career that has seen him go from a seldom-used reserve as a freshman to a legitimate star as a senior, Taylor is poised to have his biggest year yet. The Badgers are his team to lead and he is going to be able to really shine now that Jon Leuer isn’t there taking up the spotlight. Taylor’s defensive prowess puts him over the other extremely talented point guards in the country.
Jeremy Lamb (UConn) – 6’5, 185 lbs. Guard
It would be a major shock if Lamb doesn’t come out of the gates really hot and pick back up where he left off last year when he was the Huskies’ second best player in their run to a national championship. While he will be looked to as a leader this year, it’s not like he’s going to be overwhelmed with unrealistic expectations. His strong supporting cast will allow him to be patient, let the game come to him and not feel the need to force things. When he did that last year he was pretty spectacular, which he should be again this year from start to finish.
Harrison Barnes (North Carolina) – 6’8, 210 lbs. Forward
We all remember how things played out at the beginning of last year for Barnes, who was the first freshman ever named to the preseason All-American team. He got off to a slow start, showing that he wasn’t deserving of the honor. That’s not the case this year, though. Barnes finished his freshman year like an All-American and according to reports has only continued to grow during the summer. He’ll be one of the most productive players in the nation this year for a Tar Heels team that is the favorite to win it all. Don’t be surprised if he ends up with the Player of the Year award too.
Thomas Robinson (Kansas) – 6’9, 237 lbs. Forward
This may be looked at as a stretch pick by a lot of people, but it’s hard not to think that Robinson is on the verge of breaking out in a way that would make him one of the nation’s top five players. In limited minutes last year he showed great ability and this year he won’t have two top 15 picks taking the bulk of the minutes ahead of him. Kansas suffered a big hit to their recruiting class, putting even more responsibilities on the shoulders of Robinson. With the way he’s looked over the summer, there’s no reason to think that he won’t thrive.
Jared Sullinger (Ohio State) – 6’9, 280 lbs. Center
There may not have been an easier pick on this list than Sullinger, who would have been a top three pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The big man dominated inside last year for the senior-laden Buckeyes, who will depend on him even more heavily now that they’re a much younger team. Sullinger is reportedly leaner and more versatile than he was last year, when he was already unstoppable. The addition of a face up game and a better physique would make him undoubtedly the best big man in the country for the second-straight year.
Tu Holloway (Xavier) – 6’0, 185 lbs. Guard
Leaving Holloway off of the first team was a brutally tough decision made mainly because it’s going to be quite difficult for him to top what he did last year in 38 minutes of work a night. That doesn’t take away from how great of a player he is, though. Few will stuff the stat sheet like Holloway will this year, though. He’s one of the best prospects to come out Xavier in recent years and is one of the reasons why they can justify their claim as a high-major program.
Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh) – 6’2, 190 lbs. Guard
All that’s left of Pittsburgh’s big three, Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown and Gibbs, from last year is Gibbs. Gibbs, who led the team in scoring last year, will be called on to have a huge senior year by head coach Jamie Dixon. It’ll be a necessity for the Panthers if they’re going to compete in the Big East and make noise in the NCAA Tournament like they want to. Being overshadowed won’t be an issue for him this year. He’ll have a chance to show just how good of a point guard, shooter and defender he truly is.
Perry Jones III (Baylor) – 6’11, 235 lbs. Forward
In reality, a second-team All-American selection would be a disappointment for Jones because he is really a first-team talent who could arguably be a top three pick in the 2012 draft. It just happens to be where we feel most comfortable ranking him right now. He has potential and versatility that can’t be matched by any other player in college basketball. However, he hasn’t made the most of them yet. When everything finally clicks for Jones he’s going to be frightening to match up with. Until then, he’ll still be good, but nothing close to what he can be.
Terrence Jones (Kentucky) – 6’9, 252 lbs. Forward
No underclassmen’s decision to stay in school was wiser than Jones’, who is now the leader of a young and talented Wildcats team looking to give Coach Calipari his first ever national championship. There’s a strong case to be made for him to be on the first team, which he very well could end up on by season’s end. Where he ends up will be determined by his consistency and how he meshes with his new teammates. While Coach Cal will look to him to be a catalyst, he’ll have other options to look quickly look to as well if he doesn’t deliver as expected.
Anthony Davis (Kentucky) – 6’10, 220 lbs. Center
If Sullinger didn’t like being a student-athlete more than millions of dollars, Davis would have been on the first team. Since he doesn’t, though, it’s impossible to rank him ahead of the Ohio State big man before he’s even played his first collegiate game. Davis’ potential is well documented. He’s a game-changing athlete on both ends of the court who should be nothing short of dominant. On a Kentucky team loaded with talent, he’s the best prospect. His guard background makes him a threat everywhere on the floor.
Honorable Mentions: Kendall Marshall (North Carolina), John Jenkins (Vanderbilt), Kris Davis (Syracuse), Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure) and Andre Drummond (UConn).
National Player of the Year Pick: Jared Sullinger
To put it simple terms, Sullinger has no equal. Some players may be as skilled and some may be as strong, but nobody contains the combination of both that Sullinger does. When he is on his game he cannot be guarded one-on-one and sometimes double teams aren’t even enough either. Coming up short in last year’s quest for a national title and seeing his senior teammates crying at the end of the season served as great motivation for Sullinger. He’s a man on a mission. While his Buckeyes are far from a lock to win the title that eluded them last year, it’s certain that Sullinger will be incredibly productive as they put forth their best effort.
Senior NCAA and NBA analyst Yannis Koutroupis will be hosting his weekly chat on Friday November 11th at 11 am EST. You can get your questions into him here.