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March 10th, 2017

Def Pen Picks: College Basketball’s All-America Teams

Def Pen Sports
College Basketball

(Frank Mason) Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA Today Sports College Basketball

The AP All-America Teams are college basketball’s highest honor. Normally announced near the end of March, right before the National Championship game, the All-America Teams highlight the 15 best college basketball players throughout the entire country. This season’s teams are shaping up to be the most up in the air as any in the award’s history.

With no clear Player of the Year and a great variety of elite talent across all of college basketball, there is no telling how the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team will turn out. Fortunately for those that are racking their brains about who will make each All-America Team, the team at Def Pen Sports can provide some clarity.

Note: The teams were voted on by Def Pen Sports’ Justin Hodges (@HodgepodgeHoops), Kam Harper (@BeantownLegacy), and Austin Reed. G=Guard, F=Forward, (U)=Unanimous

 

College Basketball’s 2017 AP All-America Teams

First Team All-America

G: Frank Mason, Kansas Jayhawks (U)

G: Lonzo Ball, UCLA Bruins

G: Josh Hart, Villanova Wildcats (U)

G: Luke Kennard, Duke Blue Devils

F: Caleb Swanigan, Purdue Boilermakers (U)

 

Second Team All-America

G: Justin Jackson, North Carolina Tar Heels

G: Malik Monk, Kentucky Wildcats (U)

G: Dillon Brooks, Oregon Ducks

G: Josh Jackson, Kansas Jayhawks

F: Johnathan Motley, Baylor Bears (U)

 

Third Team All-America

G: Markelle Fultz, Washington Huskies

G: Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga Bulldogs

G: Juwan Evans, Oklahoma State Cowboys (U)

F: Lauri Markkanen, Arizona Wildcats

F: Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

 

Honorable Mention

John Collins (WF), Monte Morris (ISU), Dennis Smith Jr (NCST), Donavan Mitchell (LOU)

 

Even though the teams were voted on collectively, each of the three writers had strong feelings about specific players.

Austin Reed on Frank Mason

Is there any doubt Mason would be a First Team All-American on our list? Not only is he the clear front runner for the Wooden Award, but he has racked up a few national player of the year awards from other publications. Mason improved as much as anyone in the country, going from a 13 points per game player last season to 20.5 this season. He also bumped his assists up to just over 5. In doing so, Frank Mason became the first player in Big 12 history to average 20 and 5 for an entire season.

College Basketball

(Caleb Swanigan) Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Hodges on Caleb Swanigan

Caleb Swanigan has been the best big man in college basketball this season and there is no debating that. He was the Big 10 Player of the Year by a complete landslide and was the primary reason that Purdue are the Big 10 Regular Season Champions. Swanigan had an astonishing 25 double-doubles on the season, including four 20-20 games. Anywhere except First Team All-America for Swanigan, who averaged 18.7 points and 12.6 rebounds per game this season, would simply be a tragedy.

Kam Harper on Lonzo Ball

Last year, UCLA went 15-17 and missed out on March Madness. After the addition of Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf, the Bruins finished with a 28-3 regular season record. Ball has proven to be one of the country’s best passers by leading in assists with 7.8 per game. His court vision and playmaking has elevated his teammates’ play all season, and it is evident in their shooting comparisons for the season.

College Basketball

(Nigel Williams-Goss) Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Reed on Nigel Williams-Goss

If there were a transfer of the year award, it’s pretty clear Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss would run away with it. It is not often a player transfers from a Power 5 school (Washington), to a team in the West Coast Conference (Gonzaga) and actually steps up in class. However. that is exactly what Williams-Goss did and he took that opportunity and ran with it, leading Gonzaga to a 29-0 start and an eventual 1 seed.

Gonzaga was supposed to be pretty good coming into the year but nobody expected them to start 29-0 and reach number 1 in the country at one point. Williams-Goss was the catalyst behind that with averages of 15-6-5. The way he leads his team and stuffs the stat sheet is why he deserves to make one of our All-American teams.

Justin Hodges on Malik Monk

Kentucky’s Malik Monk can be classified as one thing more so than anything else, and that is a scorer. Becoming the first freshman in 28 years to lead the SEC in scoring, Monk averaged over 21 points per game this season which was good for second best amongst Power 5 freshmen. Monk had the best individual performance of anybody in college basketball this season and also had one of the most proficient performances ever in his 47 point explosion against North Carolina. The SEC may have been an underwhelming conference as a whole this season, but Malik Monk was one of the best it has ever seen.

College Basketball

(Luke Kennard) Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Kam Harper on Luke Kennard

At the beginning of the season, I don’t think anybody could have predicted that Luke Kennard would be the leader of Duke this season. With a plethora of injuries, and Grayson Allen underperforming, Kennard stepped up and led the Blue Devils through difficult stretches all season long. Kennard led the ACC in scoring at 20.1 points per game and was sixth in field goal percentage at 50.4%. He was also second in the conference in three point shooting at 45% while making the sixth most with 76.

Austin Reed on Markelle Fultz

Some feel the way Fultz’s team played should cost him a spot on an All-American team. However, anyone who watched Washington at all this year knows just how good Fultz was and that he deserves a spot on one of the three teams. Should a guy who went out there and put up 23-5-5 in the Pac 12 be discredited because the rest of his team didn’t play defense? I don’t think so. Fultz’s numbers on a winning team are not only first team stats but National Player of the Year stats.

College Basketball

(Dillon Brooks) Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Hodges on Dillon Brooks

The Oregon Ducks are a top ten team in the country and were the PAC 12 Regular Season Champions for one reason, and that is Dillon Brooks. Perhaps the most under appreciated player in all of college basketball, aside from those who voted him as PAC 12 Player of the Year, Brooks has willed his team to levels of success that Oregon has never seen before. The statistics may not be all that glamorous, but when Dillon Brooks plays, the Ducks are as lethal of a team as there is in college basketball.

Kam Harper on Johnathan Motley Jr.

After a solid sophomore season, Baylor’s Johnathan Motley Jr. became one of the best players in the Big 12 Conference. Motley lead the Big 12 in rebounding with 10 per game, ranked 3rd in scoring at 17.5 points per game, and was tied for the most double-doubles in the conference. Motley’s improvement helped bolt Baylor from unranked in the preseason, to reaching number one in the polls for the first time in program history. His length and athleticism attributed to Baylor having one of the top scoring defenses in the nation, leading the Big 12 in that category.

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