Lehigh Mountain Hawks guard McCollum reacts after making a basket against the Duke Blue Devils during a college basketball game in Greensboro

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.

No. 22 Cincinnati’s loss to No. 16 Butler shines light on AAC’s struggles

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mick Cronin of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts against the Butler Bulldogs in the first half of the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Kelan Martin scored 20 points and Andrew Chrabascz added 12 points, four boards and five assists as No. 16 Butler bounced back from a tough loss at Indiana State to beat No. 22 Cincinnati, 75-65.

The Bulldogs had been undefeated on the season prior to the loss to the Sycamores, but their ranking was built on the fact that they had beaten Arizona, who was No. 8 at the time, as well as a trio of high-major programs that look destined for the NIT.

Cincinnati probably isn’t destined for the NIT. Their top 25 ranking is justified, which is what makes this win valuable. Quality non-conference wins matter, and this is just one of a handful of good wins for what has proven to be one of the most top-heavy conferences in the country. Villanova, Creighton, Xavier and Butler all look capable of reaching the Sweet 16 this season.

The opposite is true for Cincinnati, who look like the flag-bearer in a conference that isn’t really all that good. They’re the best team in the AAC this season, but that’s a conference that has consistently disappointed this year. SMU, Temple and UConn have all struggled more than we expected them to. Tulsa and Memphis are in rebuilding mode. Houston was supposed to be good this season but they’ve yet to live up to the preseason hype.

Think about it like this: The only team in the AAC without multiple losses on the season is now UCF. That’s … not ideal, and it’s going to be interesting to see just how many bids the league is able to generate.

Think about it. Temple has beaten West Virginia and Florida State while losing to New Hampshire and UMass. SMU’s best win is either Pitt or TCU, both of whom are borderline tournament teams. UConn beat Syracuse but has some atrocious losses on their resume. Houston beat Rhode Island but lost to Arkansas and LSU. Memphis beat Iowa, but Iowa’s not all that good. UCF’s best win is … Mississippi State?

Cincinnati’s lone quality win is at Iowa State, who is about to drop out of the top 25.

POSTERIZED: Wichita State’s Daishon Smith dunks on Oklahoma big man

WICHITA, KS - NOVEMBER 13:  Guard Daishon Smith of the Wichita State Shockers drives up court past forward Roschon Prince #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the first half on November 13, 2016 at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
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Daishon Smith is 6-foot-1.

Kristian Doolittle is 6-foot-7.

The lil guy won this battle:

Here’s another angle of the dunk, which sent Wichita State’s bench into hysterics:

POSTERIZED: Duke’s Grayson Allen with a Dunk of the Year candidate (VIDEO)

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-5-37-33-pm
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It looks like Grayson Allen’s toe is healthy. I’d say his explosivness is back:

Whoa.

Yeah.

POSTERIZED: Five-star Class of 2017 guard Trevon Duval dunks on 6’8″ defender

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Class of 2017 point guard Trevon Duval put down a huge poster dunk on a 6’8″ defender on Saturday as the five-star prospect showed why many consider him the top lead guard in high school basketball.

The 6-foot-2 Duval is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.

Nigel Hayes shines against as No. 17 Wisconsin beats Marquette

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 10:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers is fouled by Luke Fischer #40 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half of a game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 10, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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What a difference a year makes.

Last season at this time, Wisconsin dropped a home game to a Marquette team that was headed to the NIT.

This year?

The Badgers put six players in double-figures as they went into Milwaukee and knocked off Marquette, 93-84.

Bronson Koenig continued his hot shooting, finishing with 18 points and six assists while shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Vitto Brown chipped in with 15 points, Khalil Iverson had 16 and Ethan Happ chipped in with 11 despite battling foul trouble all afternoon.

But the really story here – hell, the story of Wisconsin’s season to date – has been the change in the way that Nigel Hayes plays.

Hayes was terrific again on Saturday. He had 17 points, nine boards, four assists and three steals. He shot 6-for-10 from the floor and attempted just a pair of threes, making one of them. He had the ball in his hands when Wisconsin was trying to kill off the game, and, more importantly, head coach Greg Gard has seem to start to take advantage of just how good Hayes can be as a facilitator.

There are a couple of points that need to be made here:

  1. When Hayes plays like this, he deserves to be in the all-american discussion. He’s averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 boards and 6.7 assists in the three games Wisconsin has played against high-major competition since the change, and the Badgers have won five straight games while playing easily their best basketball of the season.
  2. And it’s not just because of the numbers he puts up. When Hayes operates as Wisconsin’s de-facto point guard, it makes everyone else on the roster better. For starters, it allows Koenig to play off the ball, where he seems to be more effective. He’s at his best when he’s hunting shots and trying to create off the bounce, but his aggressiveness can be detrimental when he’s the only one touching the ball. It also means offense runs through Happ more often since Koenig isn’t dominating possession, and it lets guys like Brown space the floor because they’re actually able to get rhythm threes.

As of today, Wisconsin is the favorite to win the Big Ten, even if Indiana is far more likely to end up being a No. 1 seed in March.