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2017-2018 NBC Sports College Basketball Preseason All-American Teams


Today, we are rolling out the NBC Sports Preseason All-American teams.

Here is how the teams were picked: Each of the four writers for College Basketball Talk submitted their all-american teams.

The votes were then tallied, players were slotted into their spot and the teams were made.

One thing that is worth noting here: We did not build these teams based on the positions that the players play.

It worked out that we did not end up with any teams that had five point guards or four centers and a power forward – we wanted them to at least look like something you could talk yourself being into a starting five – but there was no effort to make sure we had a point guard, a shooting guard, a center, etc.

Anyway, I’m sure there are plenty of you that are going to disagree with who was named or where they were placed.

So without further ado, here is the NBC Sports Preseason All-American Team.

Grayson Allen and Devonte’ Graham (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)


DEVONTÉ GRAHAM, Kansas, Sr.: Graham spent the first three years of his Kansas career playing off the ball as Frank Mason III went from forgotten recruit in a class that included Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins to the NBC Sports. National Player of the Year as a senior last season. Those are the shoes that Graham is going to be asked to fill this year, and it’s not going to be easy.

But the 6-foot-1 senior has been a playmaker during college, even if he wasn’t the primary ball-handler for Kansas. He was recruited as a point guard and ranked as a four-star prospect as a point guard. I’ve always believed that being a point guard was as much a mindset as it was a skill-set, and I don’t think that mind-set goes away playing a different position for a few years. If anything, Graham’s ability to thrive in what was almost a 3-and-D role alongside Mason should make you more impressed with him as a player, not concerned about what he’ll be as a point guard.

GRAYSON ALLEN, Duke, Sr.: Go ahead. Scoff away. I know you want to. But these are the facts: As a sophomore, Allen was a second-team NBC Sports all-american, and we were far from the only ones to view him that way. As a junior, Allen was the NBC Sports Preseason National Player of the Year – again, we were far from the only ones that picked him – before he spent the season battling ankle issues and dealing with the fallout from his inability to stop tripping people. He had offseason surgery on the ankle, and he’s now healthy, according to Mike Krzyzewski.

If Allen didn’t have all the baggage – a big if, I know – there would be nothing controversial about this take. As it stands, I’m sure we will hear more about putting Allen on the first team than we do about all of the other players on this list, combined.

RELATED: A Different Shade Of Grayson
Michael Porter Jr., Missouri Athletics

ALLONZO TRIER, Arizona, Jr.: Despite missing the first 19 games of the 2016-17 season, Trier ended up last season as Arizona’s most dangerous scorer and go-to guy down the stretch of the year. He’ll almost assuredly end up being the focal point of the Arizona attack this year if, for no other reason than the simple fact that he may end up being the best scorer in college hoops next season. When you have a guy that could end up averaging 20 points for a team that is arguably the best team in the country, he gets named first-team all-american.

MILES BRIDGES, Michigan State, So.: Bridges is the NBC Sports Preseason National Player of the Year for the 2017-18 season. He’s a sensational talent, one of college basketball’s most thrilling athletes and a guy that surprised many with his decision to forego the NBA Draft and return for his sophomore season. His presence is one of the biggest reasons that the Spartans are my pick to win the national title.

RELATED: The Enigma of ‘Weirdo’ Miles Bridges

MICHAEL PORTER JR., Missouri, Fr.: Porter is probably the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft at this point. A 6-foot-10 wing that can play on the perimeter offensively and can guard fours, he is, quite literally, the personification of the evolution of basketball. Playing on a Missouri team that does not have a great supporting cast for him, there are a couple of factors that could end up impacting just how good his season is. The obvious question is going to be what position he plays. Porter is probably built to be a small-ball four or five at the college level, but he will likely end up playing the three this season.

The other question is going to be whether or not the Tigers are relevant nationally. I could see them being good enough to get a No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament, but I don’t think it would be crazy to predict them to be a bottom-half of the SEC team, one that misses the NCAA tournament the same way that Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz missed the NCAA tournament. If Missouri is an NIT team, Porter likely won’t end up being a first-team all-american in March.

RELATED: All In The Family – The Porter Package Deal

Miles Bridges (Rob Carr/Getty Images)


JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova, Jr.: This is Brunson’s year to become the star of a Villanova team that may never stop winning Big East titles. For stretches of last season, he was the best player for the Wildcats despite sharing the floor with first-team all-american Josh Hart. Brunson is everything a coach looks for in a point guard, and his impact on a game goes far beyond what shows up in the box score … and he averaged 15 points and four assists last season.

TREVON BLUIETT, Xavier, Sr.: For the first two weekends of the 2017 NCAA tournament, Bluiett was arguably the best player in the country. Hell, when he wasn’t dealing with an ankle injury, he might have been the best player in the Big East last year. A 6-foot-7 scoring machine, this will be Bluiett’s team, and with a roster that has quite a bit of young, unproven talent, Bluiett will be the one tasked carrying them for long stretches of the year. If Xavier pushes Villanova for a Big East title, he will be why.

BONZIE COLSON, Notre Dame, Sr.: Bonzie Colson is a walking bucket. Standing 6-foot-5 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Colson could not be a more perfect fit for Mike Brey’s small-ball offense. He’s borderline impossible to stop one-on-one, he’s unselfish and his length allows him to play as a five despite standing just 6-foot-5. After averaging 18 points and 10 boards as a junior, Colson should no longer be a secret.

ETHAN HAPP, Wisconsin, Jr.: Happ has developed into one of the nation’s best big men, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. Offensively, his ability to score in the paint and pass the ball out of the post allows Wisconsin to run their offense through him. The big question with Happ is going to be his jump shot. He’s been more or less a non-shooter throughout his college career, but he’s spent the summer doing what he can to extend the range on his jumper. If he is making threes – and, frankly, free throws – this season, he may end up being the best all-around big man in college basketball.

ANGEL DELGADO, Seton Hall, Sr.: This may be the first name that college basketball fans don’t recognize, but you should. Delgado is the anchor for a Seton Hall team that should start the season ranked in the top 20 and could end up pushing Villanova and Xavier for the Big East title. A 6-foot-9 native of the Domincan Republic, Delgado was one of the toughest and most productive big men in the country last season, averaging 16 points and 14 boards in Big East play as a junior.

Joel Berry II (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)


JOEL BERRY II, North Carolina, Sr.: The reigning Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Berry is the star leftover after Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley headed off to the NBA. We judge point guards on wins, and Berry’s led the Tar Heels to a 66-14 record the last two seasons which included a national title, a final-second loss in the national title game, two outright ACC regular season titles and an ACC tournament title. He’ll be asked to carry much more of the load this season.

RELATED: The origin of Joel Berry’s ‘Believe’ tattoo led to UNC’s redemptive title

BRUCE BROWN, Miami, So.: Brown is one of the nation’s best-kept secrets. He’s a powerfully-athletic, 6-foot-3 combo-guard that has added consistency to his jump shot throughout his time in Coral Gables. He should be one of the best two-way guards in college basketball for a Miami team that will give Duke and Louisville a fight for the ACC regular season title this year. Remember the name. It’s a pretty safe bet to come up again during June’s NBA Draft.

ROBERT WILLIAMS, Texas A&M, So.: The man known as Big Bob Williams – at least around these parts – shocked many when he opted to return to college for his sophomore season. Williams was something of an unknown, at least compared to the stars of the 2016 recruiting class, coming out of high school, but he quickly caught the attention of NBA folks that saw the 6-foot-10 athletic freak play. He told NBC Sports this summer that the hope of adding perimeter skill to his offensive repertoire drove his decision to return.

RELATED: Small-town star Robert Williams on his decision to skip the NBA Draft

DEANDRE AYTON, Arizona, Fr.: Ayton is going to be a fascinating player to watch this season. On the one hand, he has all the physical tools to make him the perfect prospect for the new era of basketball. He’s 7-foot with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, he has perimeter skills and a low post game, he makes threes, he protects the rim and he’s athletic and mobile enough to handle his own defending on the perimeter. He’s a perfect small-ball five. He also has major question marks about his motor. He looked somewhere between bored and lazy for large parts of his high school tenure, but when he turned it on, he was near-unstoppable. Which one shows up for Arizona this year may determine who the No. 1 pick is in the 2018 NBA Draft, and it also could end up being who is the 2018 college basketball national champion.

MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke, Fr.: Bagley, like Ayton, is going to be another fascinating test-case. As a 6-foot-11 left-hander, Bagley is a sensational prospect with the tools to be a new-age big man. He’s very much in the mix for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. But he also played in the high school and AAU ranks this past winter and summer, only deciding in April to make a run at getting eligible for the 2017-18 season. (He did.) He also put together a very disappointing 5-16 run through the EYBL season, which is not exactly awe-inspiring for a guy that was a year older than his competition. His fit within this Duke roster is, on paper, excellent, but this is a very young Duke team with a lot of guys accustomed to being superstars.

Marvin Bagley III (Reagan Lunn/Duke Athletics)


COLLIN SEXTON, Alabama, Fr.: Sexton is going to be one of the more intriguing players to watch this season. At 6-foot-1, he was one of the best scorers in the high school ranks last year. His addition to an Alabama team that is elite defensively and struggles to score is a match made in heaven … assuming that Sexton’s ability to score translates.

RELATED: Making a five-star – Collin Sexton’s sudden rise to Team USA MVP

JEVON CARTER, West Virginia, Sr.: You may only remember him for the hero-ball he played at the end of a loss to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, but Carter might very well end up being the Big 12 Player of the Year this season. Not only is he the best perimeter defender on this Press Virginia team, but he’s also the leading scorer for a group that can, at times struggle to get things together offensively.

CHIMEZIE METU, USC, Jr.: Metu is probably the best NBA prospect on a USC roster that is one of the most talented in the country. He doubled his production as a sophomore, but the next step this season will be to add a consistent perimeter shot to his arsenal.

JOCK LANDALE, Saint Mary’s, Sr.: How about this for a sentence: Jock Landale does not only project as the favorite to win the WCC Player of the Year award, it looks like he might end up doing that for the WCC champs. He doesn’t play for Gonzaga. Randy Bennett has done an incredible job with big, skilled land warriors, with Landale following in the footsteps of Omar Samhan and Brad Waldow.

MO BAMBA, Texas, Fr.: Bamba is going to be one of those guys whose impact goes well beyond what you see in the box score. One of the best front court defensive prospects we’ve seen come through college hoops in years, Bamba will provide a level of rim protection that will allow Shaka Smart’s team to gamble on the perimeter more than they have in the past.

RELATED: Mo Bamba’s mind is as bright as his hoops future

Jevon Carter (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)


KEVAUGHN ALLEN, Florida, Jr.: Allen is something of a boom-or-bust talent. Take the NCAA tournament last season, for example: he had 11 points on 3-for-21 shooting in the first weekend combined, then popped off for 35 points against Wisconsin in the Sweet 16.

MIKE DAUM, South Dakota State, Jr.: The leading returning scorer in college basketball, Daum is the rare future NBA Draft pick residing in the Summit League. How many 6-foot-9 guys do you know that average 25 points and shoot 42 percent from three?

TYLER DAVIS, Texas A&M, Jr.: There are defensive question marks with Davis, but I’m not sure there is a stronger player in college basketball. He and Big Bob Williams make up arguably the best front court in college basketball.

KEVIN KNOX, Kentucky, Fr.: Kentucky has a roster loaded with talented role players, but I’m not sure there is a star anywhere on this roster. Knox might be the closest we see to one this season.

YANTE MATEN, Georgia, Sr.: Maten is one of college basketball’s hidden gems. He might be one of the five best post players in the country, yet his presence on the Georgia roster keeps him out of view from the masses.

JORDAN MCLAUGHLIN, USC, Sr.: USC has a half-dozen players on their roster that will likely find a way to make an NBA roster at some point. I’m not sure McLaughlin is one of them, but he is arguably the most important player on the Trojan roster, one of the biggest reason they’re a preseason top ten team.

LANDRY SHAMET, Wichita State, So.: Shamet would have been a third- or fourth-team all-american this year if there was more clarity about the foot injury he’s currently dealing with.

REID TRAVIS, Stanford, Jr.: When he’s been healthy, Travis has been one of the most productive big men in college basketball the last three years. He’s also missed 35 games in a three-year career that already includes one medical redshirt.

Bill Self’s least impressive Kansas team is 40 minutes away from the Final Four

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OMAHA, Neb. — Kansas is vulnerable, exploitable and limited. The Jayhawks have no depth, are without a superstar and possess a middling defense.

They are Bill Self’s worst team.

And they have won the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles, secured a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and are a win away from the Final Four.

The Jayhawks shrugged off some late sluggishness to dispatch No. 5 Clemson 80-76 on Friday night in the Midwest Regional semifinal at CenturyLink Center to put themselves in the Elite Eight for the third-consecutive year with a date with Duke on Sunday.

This year has often been about what this Kansas team couldn’t do after the losses of Frank Mason and Josh Jackson and then the ineligibility of Billy Preston. Early-season losses to Washington and Arizona State, the latter at the usually impregnable Allen Fieldhouse, were the proof this Kansas team might finally be the one not to win a Big 12 title. Then Texas Tech beat the hell out of them in Lawrence and it looked like the streak was on its way to over.

Devonte Graham was a poor imitation of Mason.  Svi Mykhailiuk was too timid and inconsistent. Udoka Azubuike was foul-prone and unproven. The supporting cast was a rung or two lower than a team with national-championship aspirations could carry.

Those problems are real. Those issues are troublesome. Those deficiencies are critical.

In spite of it all, Kansas won the Big 12 by two games, ripped through the conference tournament and are on the doorstep of playing for a national championship.

Bill Self’s worst team has a chance to be the country’s best.

“I’m so proud of our team because I think of all the teams that we’ve had here, this would be the team that everyone would have thought would not be in this game,” Self said Friday. “And so, hey, we’re in this game. We’ve got a legitimate shot to go to San Antonio.

“You prepare the whole year to play in this game. So I think we’ll play with no what-ifs. I think we’ll let it go. I think we’ll be as loose as we can be and still you’ve got to make shots.

“I’d like nothing more than to take my team this year to San Antonio and let them experience what the best of the best is in college basketball.”

The key to Kansas’ season has been embracing its shortcomings. Azubuike is the only big they’ve got that can give them both scoring and defense consistently. It’s a 180 for a program that’s featured Thomas Robinson, Cole Aldrich, the Morris Twins and Jeff Withey. Kansas almost always plays through its bigs. This year, they’re playing around one.

“I never played like this,” Self said. “It just goes against the grain from the teams that we’ve had in the past, but these guys have figured it out. They’ve learned how to play through it, and we’ve had unbelievable guard play and unbelievable leadership from our vets, and had some guys have some outstanding seasons.

“There’s less margin for error but these guys have certainly rallied around that.”

Kansas’ shooting is why they’re in the Elite Eight. The Jayhawks are 10th nationally with a 40.5 3-point shooting percentage. It’s Azubuiike, though, that makes so many of those good looks possible. The man makes 77.5 percent of his shots from the floor. That demands defensive attention. And that means defenders aren’t shadowing shooters.

“He’s a guy we can throw the ball into and he can go get a basket,” Malik Newman, who had a team-high 17 points Friday, said. “I think his passing is underrated. That’s another big key for him. When we’re able to throw it in and the defense collapses on him, he is able to kick it out and find an open shooter.

“It just opens up the whole game for us.”

It’s opened up a whole world of possibility for Kansas and a world of hurt for their opponents.

“Most teams have somebody that you can kind of scratch off,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell mused. “So one of the reasons they’re so hard to guard is they’ve got a center that scores if he catches it deep, and he’s bigger than everybody on the floor so he does get position. And then you’ve got guards that can all make shots and drive by you and they play with great spacing.”

Now, Kansas isn’t full of slouches. Graham was the Big 12 player of the year, Azubuike’s talent was apparent even if it was raw before injury robbed him of a freshman year. Mykhailiuk is all-Big 12 while Malik Newman and LaGerald Vick were heralded prospects. Still, there’s not a lottery pick among them. No Andrew Wiggins or Ben McLemore or Josh Jackson. The fit is strange and the depth is zilch.

All that has eroded Kansas’ wiggle room for mistakes, but when they operate within their comfort zone, it can make for great offense. The first two minutes of the second half when the Jayhawks hit back-to-back 3s was a thing of beauty, ball movement and shot making. It was the blueprint for a buzzsaw.

Maybe Self’s worst team is pretty damn good.

Keenan Evans closes strong (again) as Texas Tech advances past Purdue to Elite Eight

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BOSTON — Second Half Keenan struck again on Friday night.

Keenan Evans scored 12 of his 16 points and handed out three of his four assists in the final 10 minutes of the game as No. 3-seed Texas Tech held off No. 2-seed Purdue, 78-65. Zach Smith and Justin Gray paced Tech early, combining for 26 points that helped the Red Raiders build a lead that reached as high as nine before Evans went into takeover mode. Zhaire Smith added 13 points of his own, while the Red Raiders forced 17 Purdue turnovers.

And with that, Texas Tech will to advance past the Sweet 16 for the first time since … ever.

This is uncharted territory for for the Red Raider program that has never been to an Elite Eight and will be playing for their first-ever trip to the Final Four.

“To build a program there has to be a lot of firsts so myself and Keenan have only been together for two years, so we’ve never been to the Elite Eight in two years,” Beard said. “That’s more accurate.”

It’s also fitting, really.

Because it more or less sums up what makes this Texas Tech program so interesting.

On a night where their three-leading scorers never really got going, the Red Raiders advanced on the stretch of two things: Their defense, and the fact that they can stay in a game on the nights when their best players don’t play their best.

With just over 10 minutes left in the game, when Purdue was getting ready to make one final run at advancing to the Elite Eight, is when Evans took over. And there’s no question about it: He closed out this game. Everything that the Red Raiders got on the offensive end of the floor came through Evans down the stretch, even the stuff that doesn’t show up in the score book; for example, the Red Raiders executed a pick-and-roll to perfection with three minutes left, but the lob that Evans threw to Zach Smith ended up as a missed dunk that Zhaire Smith was able to put right back in. Evans doesn’t get the assist, but he made that bucket possible.

I saw all that to say this: With 10 minutes left, the three leading scorers in the Tech program — Evans, Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver — were a combined 4-for-16 from the floor with just 11 points.

And Texas Tech held a 50-41 lead. If Evans is Texas Tech’s closer, this was a save that he earned with a three-run lead.

“It’s our identity,” Beard said. “We have a lot of faith in our whole roster, we use a lot of different guys and tonight was fitting. That is the way we have played all year.”

If that doesn’t sum up Chris Beard’s program, I don’t know what does.

No. 2 Duke goes inside to defeat No. 11 Syracuse

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OMAHA, Neb. — Second-seeded Duke made just 5 of its 26 3-point attempts against No. 11 Syracuse on Friday in the two ACC programs’ Sweet 16 matchup.

So the Blue Devils just went inside.

Marvin Bagley III and Wendel Carter, Jr. both had big games to help the Blue Devils outlast the Orange, 69-65, to put themselves in the Elite Eight on Sunday against top-seeded Kansas.

“This was a heck of a game,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I thought both teams played their hearts out. A great game to win, a really difficult game to lose, because Syracuse played such winning basketball.”

While Duke couldn’t beat the zone that took Syracuse from the First Four to the second weekend with its outside shooting, its two big underclassmen provided plenty of production. Bagley had 22 points and eight rebounds while Carter added 14 points and 12 boards.

“It was a hard fought game. We knew they were going to compete every second of the game,” Bagley said, “and we just tried to compete as well. We had a little point in the game where we started turning it over, and things weren’t going our way, but we stayed tough mentally and we finished it out.”

Bagley was on the receiving end of a number of lobs behind the Syracuse zone that helped the Duke offense stay out in front.

“We practiced it all week,” Bagley said. “We try to look for different things and different ways to score against that zone, and we did a great job at that and got the win.”

Tyus Battle had 19 points to lead the Orange. Oshae Brissett added 15 points and seven boards while Marek Dolezaj had 13 points.

Syracuse shot 53.8 percent from the floor in the second half while Duke shot 36.4 percent (and 11.1 percent from distance), but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Orange’s 16 turnovers or Duke’s 17 second-chance points.

Grayson Allen had 15 points and eight assists for Duke. The Blue Devils had 32 points in the paint.

Duke will now turn its attention to the Jayhawks, who defeated Clemson earlier Friday to make it to their third-straight Elite Eight. The game will tipoff Sunday at 5:05 p.m. (ET).

“We just got to come out ready to play from the beginning,” Bagley said. “We were kind of slacking in this game. I think we’ll be ready for that game. Everybody’s going to be up. We should be coming out strong.”

VIDEO: Allen-to-Bagley oop beats the Syracuse zone

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Usually, you’ve got to shoot a team out of a zone.

Duke might be able to dunk Syracuse out of it.

Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley connected for a beautiful alley-oop Friday in the second half of the Blue Devils’ Sweet 16 contest against the Orange.

That will work as a zone-buster.

VIDEO: Duke slaps the floor on defense…while playing zone

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Slapping the floor on defense has its advocates and its detractors.

Some applaud the old-school, hard-nosed nature of putting hand to floor. For others, its a bit corny.

What everyone agrees on is that you don’t drop a floor slap if you’re playing zone.

Unless you’re Duke, apparently.

Presumably, the whole point of slapping the floor is to psyche yourself and intimidate your opponent with aggressive man-to-man defense. Not sit-back-and-guard-this-spot-whether-there’s-a-guy-there-or-not defense.

C’mon, Duke. You’re making it too easy for your haters.