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American Conference Tournament Preview, Bracket and Conference Postseason Awards

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American Player of the Year: Semi Ojeleye, SMU

Ojeleye was one of the most improved players in the country this season, churning out a season where the 6-foot-8 forward averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 boards while shooting 43.1 percent from beyond the arc. He was the biggest reason that Tim Jackovich and company were able to win the outright AAC regular season title.

American Coach of the Year: Tim Jankovich, SMU

While Johnny Dawkins at UCF deserves some credit for the season that the Knights had, it’s Jankovich that deserves the Coach of the Year award in the league. He took over in July for Larry Brown after his aburpt decision to resign and has taken a team that goes six-deep to the league’s regular season title over a very good Cincinnati team. That’s impressive.

First-Team All-AAC

  • Semi Ojeleye, SMU (POY)
  • Dedric Lawson, Memphis: Lawson put up crazy numbers for Memphis this season, numbers that rivaled what Ben Simmons did a year ago for LSU.
  • Rob Gray, Houston: Gray was the leading scorer in the AAC for a Houston team that was a factor in the NCAA tournament picture until a late loss to Cincinnati.
  • Jalen Adams, UConn: After a slow start to the season, Adams came on strong down the stretch to keep UConn’s season from being a total disaster.
  • Troy Caupain, Cincinnati: Caupain didn’t have a great year as a senior, but he’s the steadying hand at the point that led this group to a 16-2 league record and a potential top five seed in the NCAA tournament.

Second Team All-AAC:

  • Damyean Dotson, Houston
  • B.J. Taylor, UCF
  • Kyle Washington, Cincinnati
  • Shake Milton, SMU
  • Sterling Brown, SMU

RELATED: Player of the Year | Coach of the Year | NBC Sports All-Americans

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The Bracket

When: March 9-12

Where: Hartford, CT

Final: March 12th, 3:15 p.m.

Favorite: SMU Mustangs

It’s hard not to pick the AAC regular season champs to add to their trophy collection in Hartford this week. The biggest issue for this team is going to be their depth. They play six guys and will have to win games on three straight nights to cut down the nets. That won’t be easy to do.

And if they lose?: Cincinnati Bearcats

I’m not sure there is a tougher team in the conference that Mick Cronin’s club. If it wasn’t for a loss at UCF that was the result of a missed wide-open dunk with less than 10 seconds left, the Bearcats would have won a share of the league title, with their only loss coming on the road against SMU. This is a really good team.

Other Contenders:

  • Houston: Kelvin Sampson has done a good job with this group. The duo of Rob Gray and Damyean Dotson can put up points with the best of them.
  • UCF: B.J. Taylor is one of the most underrated players in the league, while 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall has developed into a force at center this season.

Sleeper: UConn Huskies

UConn has played better down the stretch of the season, and not only do they have one of the best players in the league in Jalen Adams, but they will be playing this tournament in UConn’s secondary home court, the XL Center in Hartford. As we’ve seen in the mid-major ranks this week, it’s not easy to win games in March on the road.

The Bubble Dwellers: None

Defining moment of the season: It may still be coming. The AAC plays their tournament final just hours before the Selection Show is scheduled to start. If SMU or Cincinnati fails to make it to the AAC title game, they’ll give the Selection Committee headaches as they try to put the finishing touches on the bracket with a possible autobid playing.

CBT Prediction: SMU and Cincinnati play a thriller in the final that the Bearcats win.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.

 

N.C. State lands second transfer of day with Utah’s Devon Daniels

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A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.

Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.

The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.

N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.