NBCSports.com 2013-2014 College Basketball Preseason All-American Team

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

NBCSPORTS.COM PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, So.

Smart shocked the college hoops world when he announced back in the spring that he would be returning to school for his sophomore season. It was great news for the Pokes, however, as they now have a chance to win the Big 12. Hopefully, Smart spent the offseason making his jumpshot more consistent, because that’s the only thing that he does not excel at on a basketball court. He’s tied with Aaron Craft atop the intangibles leaderboard.

FIRST TEAM

Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, Fr.: There’s an argument to be made that Wiggins will enter the season with more hype surrounding him than any freshman in the history of college basketball. How about this for expectations: if he averages 18 points and 8 boards, it will be seen as a disappointing season. Yeesh. Wiggins is an absurdly athletic, 6-foot-8 wing with the physical tools to one day be some combination of Scottie Pippen and Tracy McGrady. But is he ready to reach that level right now?

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Getty Images

Russ Smith, Louisville, Sr.: Smith may not be much of an NBA prospect, but he’s the perfect player for Rick Pitino. A ballhawk defensively, Smith proved himself capable of being an efficient scorer last season, even winning KenPom.com’s Efficiency Player of the Year award a season ago. It will be interesting to see if the 5-foot-11 Smith plays more point this season in an effort to audition to NBA teams.

Julius Randle, Kentucky, Fr.: Randle is a beast. Plain and simple. The 6-foot-9 lefty is going to score a lot of points and grab a lot of rebounds simply because he’s bigger, stronger, more athletic and more aggressive than so many of his collegiate counterparts. It doesn’t matter that he’s only a freshman. Ironically enough, the only thing that could really end up holding Randle back is the fact that John Calipari is going to experiment with playing him on the perimeter.

Doug McDermott, Creighton, Sr.: Ho-hum, just a third straight season where Doug McDermott will end up being an All-American, which is incredible considering the kid went to Creighton over Northern Iowa and even his own father didn’t think he was good enough to get a scholarship when he was at Iowa State. McDermott is the best scorer in the country, and he’ll have a chance to prove it as the Bluejays make their way into the Big East this season.

SECOND TEAM

Jahii Carson, Arizona State, So.: The most electric talent this side of Andre Wiggins is must-see TV whenever he steps onto the court.

Gary Harris, Michigan State, So.: We’re going to get a chance to see just how good Harris can be now that his shoulder is healthy.

Jabari Parker, Duke, Fr.: Parker is arguably the most skilled player in the country and will be the star of the ACC favorite Blue Devils.

C.J. Fair, Syracuse, Sr.: Fair has spent three years as one of the most underrated and consistent players in the Big East. Let’s see if that translates to the ACC.

Mitch McGary, Michigan, So.: He’s massive, he plays hard, he attacks the glass and he’s got a lot more skill to his game than he’s had a chance to show thus far.

THIRD TEAM

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

Aaron Craft, Ohio State, Sr.: Craft is the best on-ball defender in the country. He’s also a leader and a winner, two skills you cannot teach. Can he score more this season?

Shabazz Napier, UConn, Sr.: Like Fair, Napier has had a terrific career at UConn that’s been somewhat overshadowed thanks to Kemba Walker and UConn’s APR.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, Jr.: The 6-foot-6 point guard is going to have a chance to show what he can do to a national audience in the resurgent Pac-12.

Adreian Payne, Michigan State, Sr.: Consistency is the key for Payne, who is a lottery pick if he can ever figure out how to bring it on a nightly basis.

Aaron Gordon, Arizona, Fr.: The nation’s best dunker will be a star if he accepts that he’s a prototype stretch four at the college level.

HONORABLE MENTION

  • Isaiah Austin, Baylor, So.
  • Markel Brown, Oklahoma State, Sr.
  • Semaj Christon, Xavier, So.
  • Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, Sr.
  • Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, So.
  • Tyler Haws, BYU, Jr.
  • Rodney Hood, Duke, So.
  • Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga, Jr.
  • Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, So.
  • James Young, Kentucky, Fr.

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

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Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.

Bruce Pearl: ‘Good chance’ Auburn returns four players testing the waters

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Bruce Pearl told reporters on Monday that there is a “good chance” that his Auburn program will return all four of the players that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft.

“I think there’s a good chance they’re all going to consider coming back,” Pearl said. “There’s a chance they’re all going to come back, but that’s been the case since the beginning.”

“I just feel as we get closer to the deadline and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in.”

Those four players are Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown was the leading scorer for the Tigers last season, while Heron was arguably their best player and Harper a steady floor general that is the piece that holds everything together. Wiley did not play after he was ruled ineligible as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. If he returns he will be eligible to play the 2018-19 season.

Heron will be the most interesting decision of the four. A former McDonald’s All-American, when he declared for the draft last month, he announced that he intended to sign with an agent. But he has told reporters in the last week that he never actually signed and is still “50-50” on whether or not he will return. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Wiley was, but he did not make enough of an impression to earn himself a first round guarantee. Brown and Harper are very unlikely to be drafted, but both juniors will get feedback from NBA teams on what they might need to do to play their way into the league.

Auburn is coming off of a year where they shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee, but they struggled down the stretch of the season after Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome ankle injury. As it stands, under the assumption that Heron and Wiley are gone, we currently have the Tigers ranked as a top 15 team in the country in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

With Heron and Wiley back, however, Auburn will have the pieces to make a case as one of college basketball’s five best teams next season.

Forward Lance Thomas transferring from Louisville

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With Anas Mahmoud out of eligibility and Ray Spalding having made the decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, new Louisville head coach Chris Mack had some holes to fill in the front court ahead of his first season at the helm. There’s now another departure to account for, as it was announced Tuesday afternoon that 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas has decided to transfer.

Thomas, who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school, appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game.

Losing Thomas may not appear to be a big deal based upon his production as a freshman. But, given the combination of player departures and misses on the recruiting trail this spring it can also be argued that Louisville is not in a position where it can afford any more personnel losses.

Louisville is now down to four scholarship players in the front court, wings V.J. King and Jordan Nwora and forwards Malik Williams and Steven Enoch, with Enoch eligible after sitting out last season after transferring in from UConn.

Williams made 12 starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, with King averaging 8.6 points per game and Nwora 5.7 points per game. Enoch played in 29 games at UConn during the 2016-17 season, averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per appearance.

Four-star wing Romeo Weems commits to DePaul

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DePaul landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2019 Tuesday afternoon, as four-star small forward Romeo Weems announced that he will be a Blue Demon. Weems, who attends New Haven HS in New Haven, Michigan, picked DePaul over Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon and is considered by most major scouting services to be a Top 50 prospect in the 2019 graduating class.

The 6-foot-6 Weems plays his grassroots basketball for The Family on the Nike EYBL circuit, averaging 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this spring. Weems also has experience playing for USA Basketball, as he was part of the Under-16 team that won the FIBA Americas U16 title last year. Weems will also be part of the training camp from which the Under-17 team will be selected next month in preparation for this summer’s FIBA Under-17 World Championships.

DePaul managing to land a commitment from a prospect of Weems’ caliber, a versatile wing who can defend multiple positions while also being productive offensively, could be the shot in the arm that Dave Leitao’s program so desperately needs if they’re to improve their standing within the Big East.

Since making the move from Conference USA in 2005, DePaul has finished above .500 in a season just once (20-14 in 2006-07) with that also being the only time in which the Blue Demons finished above .500 in Big East play (9-7). Since Leitao, who led DePaul to its most recent NCAA tournament in 2005, returned for his second stint at the school the Blue Demons have gone 29-65.

Getting out of Allstate Arena and moving to the new Wintrust Arena ahead of last season was an important move for the DePaul program, but it’s been clear that the rebuild won’t be a “quick fix.” Bringing in a talent of Weems’ caliber should help DePaul moving forward, with the key now being to recruit well enough to ensure that the talented wing has ample help when he arrives on campus next year.

Among the players currently on the roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019 are guards Devin Gage and Justin Roberts and wing Darious Hall, who will sit out the 2018-19 season after transferring to DePaul from Arkansas. Hall appeared in 35 games for the Razorbacks this past season, averaging 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in just under 15 minutes per game.