2012-13 College Basketball Preview: Mid-Major All-Americans

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of The Lists we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Yesterday Rob Dauster released his mid-major power rankings, so it only makes sense to take a stab at naming some mid-major All-Americans. Some choices are obvious, but there are a number of players that flew under the national radar last season who deserve mention on this list.

One important note: it was decided that the Atlantic 10, Conference USA, Mountain West and the BYU/Gonzaga/Saint Mary’s trio would not be labeled as “mid-major.” Below are the three mid-major All-America teams with a few honorable mention candidates to boot.

First Team 

G C.J. McCollum (Lehigh) 2011-12: 21.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.5 apg
McCollum was outstanding for the Mountain Hawks last season, and he became a household name (for casual fans, at least) with his 30-point performance in Lehigh’s NCAA tournament victory over Duke. McCollum’s scoring average increased just one tenth of a point from his sophomore campaign, but his field goal and three-point percentages were far better as he became a more efficient player.

G Isaiah Canaan (Murray State) 2011-12: 19.0 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.5 rpg
Canaan was the OVC Player of the Year and made multiple All-America teams as a result of his play last season. The Biloxi, Mississippi native is a very good shooter from beyond the arc, as he made 45.6% of his attempts in 2011-12. While Ed Daniel returns the loss of three seniors from the Racers’ 31-2 squad could mean that Canaan has to do even more from a scoring standpoint, and he’s certainly capable of doing that.

G Nate Wolters (South Dakota State) 2011-12: 21.2 ppg, 5.9 apg, 5.1 rpg
Wolters’ play last season was a big reason why the Jackrabbits made their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 2011-12. The senior was outstanding in SDSU’s win at Washington in December, going off for 34 points, seven assists and five rebounds. One interesting fact about Wolters’ junior season: he wasn’t even Summit League Player of the Year (ORU’s Dominique Morrison won). That honor, and a second straight NCAA appearance, are well within Wolters’ reach in 2012-13.

F Doug McDermott (Creighton) 2011-12: 22.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg
McDermott won MVC Player of the Year honors last season, and his name will be mentioned quite a bit in regards to various National Player of the Year awards in 2012-13. The junior from Ames, Iowa shot 60.1% from the field and 48.6% from three last season, and while it may be tough to duplicate those numbers there’s no reason why McDermott can’t.

F Tony Mitchell (North Texas) 2011-12: 14.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.0 bpg
Mitchell became eligible at the end of the fall semester for the Mean Green and made an immediate impact, playing well enough to earn Sun Belt Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Sun Belt honors (first time in the history of the league someone’s accomplished that). Mitchell’s already being discussed as a possible lottery pick, and the combination of his strength and athleticism make him a very difficult match-up for opponents.

Second Team 
G Anthony Ireland (Loyola Marymount) 2011-12: 16.1 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.9 rpg
Any discussion of the best point guards in the WCC (and the west coast) has to include Ireland, who was a big reason why the Lions went 8-1 in WCC road games last season.

G Frantz Massenat (Drexel) 2011-12: 13.7 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.1 rpg
Massenat, whose numbers improved a great deal from his freshman to sophomore season, is the likely preseason CAA Player of the Year on a team expected by many to win the league title.

G. D.J. Cooper (Ohio) 2011-12: 14.7 ppg, 5.7 apg, 3.7 rpg
Cooper was the leader of a team that made its first Sweet 16 appearance, and even with the change in head coach (Jim Christian replaces John Groce) the Bobcats can duplicate that feat in 2012-13.

F Robert Covington (Tennessee State) 2011-12: 17.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg 
A first team All-OVC performer Covington went off for 30 points and eight rebounds in the Tigers’ 77-72 win over Murray State (January 11), handing the Racers their first loss of the season.

F/C Mike Muscala (Bucknell) 2011-12: 17.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.7 bpg
While it was McCollum who received the national praise in March, it was Muscala whose team won the Patriot League regular season crown. On the season Muscala shot 50.3% from the field and 85.3% from the foul line.

Third Team 
G Will Cherry (Montana) 2011-12: 15.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2.3 spg
Cherry was Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year last season, and even with a knee injury sidelining him until December the senior will be one of the leaders for the reigning Big Sky champs.

G Shane Gibson (Sacred Heart) 2011-12: 22.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg
Gibson’s shooting percentages from last season: 51.0% from the field, 43.3% from three and 86.2% from the foul line despite being the focal point of the opposition’s scouting report. Is the 50/40/90 club possible for Gibson this season? It most certainly is.

F Ryan Broekhoff (Valparaiso) 2011-12: 14.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.3 apg
The reigning Horizon League Player of the Year, who led the conference in rebounding, returns in hopes of leading the Crusaders to the NCAA tournament. Broekhoff’s versatility allows head coach Bryce Drew to do a number of things with him, making for a tough assignment for the opposition.

F Julian Boyd (LIU Brooklyn) 2011-12: 17.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg
Boyd landed in some hot water during the offseason but luckily for he and the Blackbirds the end result is a two-game suspension. Boyd helped lead LIU to its second consecutive NEC title and was named league Player of the Year for his efforts.

F Jackie Carmichael (Illinois State) 2011-12: 13.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg
Carmichael’s a physically imposing figure and helped lead the Redbirds to the MVC tournament title game last season. Even with the loss of point guard Nic Moore and head coach Tim Jankovich, Illinois State is likely the biggest threat to Creighton and Carmichael is a big reason why.

Honorable mention: F De’Mon Brooks (Davidson), F Jake Cohen (Davidson), F Torrey Craig (USC Upstate), G James Ennis (Long Beach State), C Vander Joaquim (Hawaii), G Kerron Johnson (Belmont), G Lamont “Momo” Jones (Iona), G Ray McCallum Jr. (Detroit), G Preston Medlin (Utah State) and F Keith Rendleman (UNCW).

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.