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NBC Sports 2017 College Basketball All-American Teams

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FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

Frank Mason III, Sr., Kansas (20.5 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.2 rpg, 49.3% 3PT)

Mason has been unbelievable this season. He leads the Big 12 in scoring and ranks fourth nationally in points-per-game among the top six leagues. He’s fourth nationally in three-point shooting amongst players that average at least four threes attempted, and he’s doing all that while playing nearly 90 percent of the minutes for Kansas this season. But there’s more to it than just the numbers. He’s the heart and soul of a Kansas team that is currently No. 1 in the country and that just won the Big 12, the toughest conference in the country, according to KenPom, by four games.

Josh Hart, Sr., Villanova (18.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.2 apg)

There may not be a more consistent player in college hoops this season than Hart, whose ability to defend multiple positions and rebound from the guard spot is one of the major reasons Villanova’s small-ball lineups work. This difference between Hart this season and Hart in past season is that he’s become a much better three-point shooter this year, and his assist numbers are way up. He’s had a terrific season, and it’s not done yet; the Wildcats have a real shot of repeating as national champs.

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Lonzo Ball, Fr., UCLA (14.9 ppg, 7.8 apg, 6.2 rpg, 42.4% 3PT)

Lonzo’s stats are out of this world, and the fact that he plays on a top five team that is going to have a shot to make a run at a Final Four certainly helps his cause. But, like Mason, Ball’s numbers don’t tell the whole story. Ball totally changed this UCLA team this year. He brought a culture of unselfishness. He turned them into one of the best passing teams in basketball a year after they went 15-17 and looked incapable of sharing the ball. And he’s just a freshman?

Caleb Swanigan, So., Purdue (18.7 points, 12.8 boards, 2.8 assists)

Swanigan has carried Purdue this season, leading the Boilermakers to a first-place finish in the Big Ten standings and putting them in a position to do some damage in March. He’s posted 25 double-doubles this season. He’s the centerpiece of Purdue’s offense, the guy that the ball runs through on every possession, and he’s able to do it despite the myriad of double-teams that he faces. He’s put up numbers this season that rival that of Tim Duncan, which tells you all you need to know.

Luke Kennard, So., Duke (20.1 points, 5.3 boards, 45.0% 3PT)

Who had Luke Kennard as the best player on Duke this season? Well, he has been, and it’s really not all that close. The sophomore carried the Blue Devils for the first month of the year, as their three key freshmen and Grayson Allen all battled injuries, and he hasn’t slowed down since. Duke’s season turned around once everyone in the program accepted the fact that Kennard, whose efficiency has been off-the-charts this year, was the guy that had to touch the ball on every single possession.

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 09: Luke Kennard #5 of the Duke Blue Devils battles for a loose ball against Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 9, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Luke Kennard and Justin Jackson (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

Nigel Williams-Goss, Jr., Gonzaga (16.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.7 apg)

Williams-Goss is the best player, the leader and the go-to guy for the only team in the country with just one loss this season. His ability to quickly adapt to Mark Few’s offense is why the Zags were able to land wins over the likes of Florida, Arizona and Iowa State earlier this season. Gonzaga is one of the deepest, most-balanced teams in the country, and Williams-Goss leads them in scoring (by a wide margin), assists and minutes.

Malik Monk, Fr., Kentucky (21.2 ppg, 41.4% 3PT)

Monk is the single-most dangerous weapon that there is in college basketball this season. No one has put together a better performance that the 47 points he had in a win over North Carolina … except for Monk, as that might not be the most ridiculous thing he’s done this season. He scored 31 points in the second half and overtime to lead Kentucky back against Georgia. He scored 30 points in the second half against Florida in a game where the Wildcats didn’t have De’Aaron Fox and earned themselves the SEC regular season title. He’s scored at least 20 points in a half six times this season.

Justin Jackson, Jr., North Carolina (18.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg)

Jackson, this season, developed into one of the elite players in the country. He was the best player in the ACC during conference play and the go-to guy for the Tar Heels, who won the loaded ACC by two games. His ability to consistently bang home open jumpers while attacking off the dribble is not something we’ve seen out of him before. He is why the Tar Heels have a chance to win a national title.

Josh Jackson, Fr., Kansas (16.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.1 apg)

It’s weird: Frank Mason III is so clearly the Player of the Year candidate coming from the Kansas Jayhawks, but I’m not sure there’s many people out there that would argue against the idea that Jackson is the best player on Kansas. His ability to slide to the four has allowed Kansas to play small-ball, and that, in turn, is what has made this team so dangerous.

Johnathan Motley, Jr., Baylor (17.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.4 apg)

With Rico Gathers off to the NFL, things opened up for Motley in the paint this season, and he dominated there. The Bears are a Final Four contender this season because of the fact that they are elite defensively and play a ground-and-pound style offensively, and it’s Motley that allowed them to do both. He’s a hoss on the block offensively and part of their Twin Towers defensively.

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10: Johnathan Motley #5 of the Baylor Bears cheers on his team during a game Texas Longhorns in the first half during the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 10, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Johnathan Motley (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

Jawun Evans, So., Oklahoma State (18.7 ppg, 6.3 apg)

Evans is in the conversation with Frank Mason and Monte’ Morris as the best point guard in the Big 12 this season. Think about that for a second. He’s been phenomenal, and he’s led the Pokes back to the NCAA tournament. If you get a chance, watch the highlights of the 22 points and 15 assists he put on Kansas over the weekend.

Monte’ Morris, Sr., Iowa State (16.2 ppg, 6.2 apg, 4.6 rpg)

Morris has been around forever it seems, but he had the best year of his outstanding career this season, leading an Iowa State that doesn’t exactly have a great roster into a tie for second in the Big 12. Over his last 11 games, Morris had 73 assists and just seven turnovers. That just about sums him up.

Dillon Brooks, Oregon (16.0 points, 2.9 assists, 2.7 boards)

Brooks missed some of the early part of the season coming back from a foot injury this summer, but his return marked the return of Oregon to being a national title contender. He’s hit three game-winning threes this season and has rightfully earned the reputation of one of the best big-shot makers in the country. In league play, he averaged 17.9 points.

John Collins, Wake Forest (19.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg)

Who saw this coming from Collins, who averaged 7.3 points on a bad Wake Forest team last season? A foul-plagued performance in a win at Virginia Tech on Saturday snapped a string of 12 straight games where Collins scored at least 20 points. He’s the biggest reason the Demon Deacons appear to be tournament-bound.

Lauri Markkanen, Arizona (15.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 42.8% 3PT)

Markkanen is a true seven-footer that’s shooting better than 42 percent from three. And he’s European. How often do you think he’s heard his name followed by the words “next Dirk Nowitzki”? Whatever the case may be, Markkanen helped to carry Arizona, the Pac-12 co-champs, during the 19 games that Allonzo Trier missed.

DES MOINES, IA- DECEMBER 17: Guard Monte Morris #11 of the Iowa State Cyclones drives to the basket during the first half against the Drake Bulldogs on December 17, 2016 in the Hy-Vee Classic at Well Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
Monte Morris (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.

South Carolina fans raise money to send “Gamecock Jesus” to Final Four

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South Carolina fans are sending one of their most recognizable compatriots to represent them this weekend.

Gamecock Jesus is heading to the Final Four.

South Carolina super fan Carlton Thompson is following the Gamecocks to Glendale as his fellow fans have raised over $7,500 to send the man known as “Gamecock Jesus” to Arizona for the team’s Final Four meeting with Gonzaga on Saturday night.

Thompson’s long hair, beard and presence at South Carolina games, even in lean times, earned him his nickname and apparently a following fervent enough to foot the bill for quite the trip.

“I’ve always dreamed it would be like this,” Thompson said last week about fan support at Gamecock games to the Post and Courier. “For years and years, it was so sparse with the crowds at the games. But once they started winning, the crowds started coming.”

Thompson is a 63-year-old VA hospital nurse, and has been attending South Carolina games for nearly 50 years.

Maryland’s Melo Trimble declares for the NBA Draft

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Melo Trimble’s career as a Maryland Terrapin is coming to an end. The junior guard is declaring for the NBA Draft and will sign with an agent.

“I am confident and excited to pursue an opportunity to play in the NBA,” Trimble said in a release. “I am proud of what my teammates and I were able to accomplish these past three seasons at Maryland. I developed many great relationships and friendships and together we able to create some very special moments for Maryland basketball. I want to thank Coach Turgeon for all of his support. He always believed in me. He challenged me and really helped in the development of my overall game. I am a more complete basketball player because of Coach Turgeon and the coaching staff. To stay at home and attend the University of Maryland is the best decision that I ever made and it was truly special to play in front of my family, friends and our amazing fans. Maryland will always be home.”

There was no better winner in college basketball the last three years than Melo. He changed the trajectory of Mark Turgeon’s program, winning 79 games in three years and ending his career 30-8 in games decided by six points or less. As a junior, Trimble and the Terps earned a No. 6 seed to the NCAA tournament, but they lost in the first round to Xavier. It was the only time in Trimble’s career that he didn’t reach the Sweet 16.

“Melo Trimble is a winner,” Mark Turgeon said on twitter. “Humble, hard-working, dedicated. Words can’t express what he’s done for our program. Always #StayMelo!”