NBCSports.com Way-Too-Early Preseason All-American team

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PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN FIRST TEAM

  • Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: Smart was the nation’s best freshman in 2012-2013, and made the decision to return to school for his sophomore year despite being a projected top five pick. He’s big, he’s strong and he’s got all the intangibles that make sportswriters spew the typical cliches: he’s a winner, he’s smart, he’s a leader. A 6-foot-4, physical point guard, Smart is a consistent jumper away from being the total package.
  • Russ Smith, Louisville: Smith is the prototype for back court players in Rick Pitino’s uptempo system. He’s a terror on the defensive end of the floor and is as aggressive as anyone in the country when getting out in transition. He made the jump from sideshow to superstar as a junior because of improved shot selection, and don’t be surprised to see his game continue to mature as a senior.
  • Andrew Wiggins, TBD: Simply put, Wiggins is arguably the best prospect that we’ve seen come through the high school ranks since LeBron James. He’s a skilled, 6-foot-7 wing that can score in any number of ways and is athletic enough to get his head to the rim. It doesn’t matter if he plays for Kentucky, Florida State or Grambling, he’ll likely end up being the Preseason National Player of the Year.
  • Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott is a two-time first-team all-american, and he’s heading into a senior season where he’ll be asked to carry the Bluejays into a new conference. With a couple of key pieces from last year’s team graduating, McDermott — who has a chance to score his 3,000th point next season — will need to carry an even bigger load next season.
  • Adreian Payne, Michigan State: The Spartans are going to be a national title contender next season, and Payne is going to be the difference-maker. As the only significant front court presence for the Spartans, there is going to be a lot of pressure on Payne’s shoulders to produce. He’s one of the most talented front court players in the country, but he’s battled with bouts of inconsistency. But with his size, athleticism and three-point shooting ability, if Payne puts it all together, he should have a huge year.

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN SECOND TEAM

  • Shabazz Napier, UConn
  • Aaron Craft, Ohio State
  • Gary Harris, Michigan State
  • Jabari Parker, Duke
  • Mitch McGary, Michigan

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN THIRD TEAM

  • Jahii Carson, Arizona State
  • Semaj Christon, Xavier
  • P.J. Hairston, North Carolina
  • Julius Randle, Kentucky
  • C.J. Fair, Syracuse

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN HONORABLE MENTION

Jordan Adams (UCLA), Kyle Anderson (UCLA), Isaiah Austin (Baylor), Chane Behanan (Louisville), Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado), Aaron Gordon (Arizona), Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), Joe Harris (Virginia), Aaron Harrison (Kentucky), Andrew Harrison (Kentucky), Cory Jefferson (Baylor), James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina), Jordan McRae (Tennessee), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke), Patric Young (Florida)

Reports: Duke’s Frank Jackson to declare for draft

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Frank Jackson will declare for the draft but will not be signing with an agent, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Previous reports had indicated that Jackson “planned” to return to school, and that still may end up proving true. But the combination of Trevon Duval potentially enrolling at Duke combined with the fact that there is zero downside to going through the draft process, it makes sense for Jackson to declare.

Jackson averaged 10.9 points and shot 39.5 percent from three. He’s projected as a mid-first round pick in 2018 by Draft Express, but at 6-foot-3, he’s too small to play the two in the NBA and has yet to prove he can be a point guard.

Jackson is the fourth Duke player to declare, following Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Luke Kennard. All three signed with an agent. Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden are both returning to school.

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

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This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

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Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

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Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

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North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.