NCAA 1st Team All-Americans
Updated: Mar 23, 2021
We are now officially in March, the best time of the year in the sports world. A couple of conference tournaments are already underway & we’ve got more starting this week. Safe to say, enough of the season has occurred for me to give you my picks for 1st Team All-Americans. This will be a group of the 5 best players in Division 1 College Basketball this season and will also function as a top 5 candidates for Player of the Year, culminating with the hands down choice for the Naismith award. None of these picks will surprise you or jump out at you in any way.
5. Jared Butler - Junior Guard - Baylor
After testing the draft waters last year, Butler chose to return to Baylor and is the lead guard for the second ranked team in the country, who were one of only two undefeated teams in the country up until this past weekend when they lost to #17 Kansas. He is averaging 17 points, 3 boards, and 5 assists per game on 49% shooting from the field. Besides being a big-time playmaker and shot maker, he is part of the best defensive backcourt in the country on one of the best overall defensive teams in the nation.
4. Cade Cunningham - Freshman Point Guard - Oklahoma State
Cade is the only freshman on my list and reasonably so as he is the main cog in the machine that is Oklahoma State. Even though the Cowboys were initially not eligible for postseason play this year due to the program's involvement in the huge pay-for-play scandal, Cade kept his commitment to play for OK State. The school appealed the postseason ban, and since the NCAA is reviewing the appeal, they are now eligible. Cade was projected to be the consensus #1 pick in this year’s NBA draft coming into this season and has sustained this crown thanks to his stellar play thus far this season. He is averaging 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists on 44% shooting from the field. He’s a 6’8 pass-first point guard who loves to get his teammates involved and also can take over the game for long stretches. His willingness to get his team involved has made them fun to watch and makes them a team to watch in March. Cade dropped 40 in an overtime win against Oklahoma, with most of his points coming down the stretch in the second half and overtime, which shows he can be a dynamic scorer when he chooses to.
3. Corey Kispert - Senior Forward - Gonzaga
Kispert has become the best player on a Zags team that is easily the most talented offensive team in college basketball, averaging 19 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Now, these aren't flashy numbers for the runner up for the Naismith Player of the Year award, but he’s close to cracking the 50-40-90 club in college basketball, which has only been done by 10 players previously. He’s shooting 56% overall from the field, 47% from three, and 87.7% from the free throw line. Although he technically doesn't qualify for the 50-40-90 club, his 47% three point shooting is truly impressive on his high volume. I should also mention the Zags are the #1 team in the country, & the last undefeated team standing.
2. Ayo Dosunmu - Junior Point Guard - Illinois
Like Butler, Ayo could have taken his talents to the NBA, but returned to play with his running mate, Kofi Cockburn. Without Ayo, Illinois would not be a top 5 ranked team, or even close to being ranked. They’d likely be in the bottom half of the Big-10 conference. He’s putting up 22 points, 7 boards, and 5 assists per game as a ball dominant point guard. His downhill attack towards the rim is hard to stop, as he is more of a scorer than a passing point guard. He’s having a hell of a season and will likely enter the draft due to his production this year.
Naismith National Player of the Year
1. Luka Garza - Senior Center - Iowa
Garza was the preseason National Player of the Year choice and has done everything to keep his spot atop college basketball Mount Olympus for personal awards. He’s quite possibly the singularly most dominant force in college basketball, averaging 25 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks on 56% shooting from the field. Garza is dominating one of the best conferences in the country, and the Hawkeyes would be going nowhere without him. He also became the all-time leading scorer in Iowa basketball history over the weekend.