Mid-Major All-Americans

Maodo Lo (AP Photo)
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Our “mid-major disclaimer”, or how we determined who was eligible for this team, as written on the Mid-Major Power Rankings:

The schools from the Power 5 conferences were excluded, obviously, as well as any program in the Big East, the American, the Atlantic 10 or the Mountain West. The WCC, with the exception of Gonzaga and BYU, were included, as was the Missouri Valley, with the exception of Wichita State. The Zags and the Shockers are top 25 programs nationally paying their head coaches many millions of dollars and recruiting like the big boys. And to me, BYU is still a Mountain West program that was forced to relocate because #football.

This is my plea: Don’t argue the semantics of who we rated as high-major vs. mid-major. That’s not the point of this. The point is to highlight the best players in the country that you’re probably not aware of.

So without further ado …

[MORE: Mid-Major Power Rankings]

MID-MAJOR ALL-AMERICAN FIRST TEAM

Maodo Lo, Columbia

The 6-foot-3 senior had an unbelievable junior campaign in which he helped carry the depleted Lions. Lo led the Ivy League in scoring at 18.4 points and also put up 4.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Also the league’s leader in 3-pointers, Lo made 84 of them while shooting a very good 43 percent from distance.

A.J. English, Iona

The senior guard was the only player in college basketball last season to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game. The 6-foot-4 guard is also an iron man, averaging 37.5 minutes per game last season and he still managed to improve his field-goal percentages with more minutes and shots. English had 17 outings of at least 20 points last season, including one stretch of seven consecutive games.

Justin Sears, Yale

A powerful forward who puts up stats across the board, the 6-foot-8 forward averaged 14.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game last season as the Bulldogs scored their most wins since 1949. Sears also shot 51 percent from the field while dealing with a ton of defensive attention from Ivy League opponents.

Shawn Long, Louisiana

With 52 career double-doubles, Long has more than any returning player in college basketball. Through his three-year career, Long holds averages of 16.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. While Long benefitted from having a pro point guard in Elfrid Payton to get him the ball his first two seasons, he succeeded and put up big numbers even after Payton left for The League.

Jameel Warney, Stony Brook

Already the two-time America East Player of the Year, Warney averaged 16.4 points and 11.7 rebounds per game for the Seawolves. The 6-foot-8 senior also averaged 2.4 blocks and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 53 percent from the field. In conference play, Warney has been nearly unstoppable the last two seasons.

MORE: Top backcourts | Top frontcourts | NBC Sports Preseason Top 25

Jalan West (AP Photo)
Jalan West (AP Photo)

SECOND TEAM

D.J. Balentine, Evansville

One of the best scoring guards in all of college basketball, Balentine already has 1,776 career points and averaged 20.1 points per game as a junior. The 6-foot-2 also put up 3.2 assist and 3.2 rebounds per game and made 74 3-pointers at a 39 percent clip.

Jalan West, Northwestern State

One half of the nation’s highest scoring duo a season ago, West averaged 20 points and 7.7 assists per game as a junior. Also a three-time all-defense selection in the Southland, West averaged 2.1 steals per game.

William Lee, UAB

We’re expecting big things out of the sophomore forward this season as the bouncy 6-foot-9 Lee had a solid freshman campaign. A former Mr. Basketball in Alabama, Lee only averaged 8 points and 6 rebounds per game last season, but he came on strong at the end of the year, posting double-figures in points in 10 of the final 12 games last season. Lee can also block shots (1.5 bpg) and hit 3-pointers (21-for-46), making him a versatile threat on both ends.

Alec Peters, Valparaiso

An incredibly dangerous offensive force, Peters put up ridiculous shooting splits (48% FG, 82% FT, 46% 3PT) while averaging 16.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. At 6-foot-9, Peters is a matchup nightmare because of his size and ability to hit jumpers from anywhere on the floor.

John Brown, High Point

Most casual college hoops fans have probably seen highlights of a John Brown dunk or two. But there is more to the high-flyer than assaulting rims. He’s a very good overall player and the favorite to be the Big South’s Player of the Year. Brown averaged 19.3 points and 6 rebounds per game last season.

MORE: Top leads guards | Top off guards | Top 100 Wings | Top 100 Bigs

Craig Bradshaw (AP Photo)
Craig Bradshaw (AP Photo)

THIRD TEAM

Craig Bradshaw, Belmont

An efficient scorer, the 6-foot-3 senior averaged 18.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range.

Juan’ya Green, Hofstra

A highly-productive, 6-foot-2 senior guard, Green averaged 17.1 points, 6.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game as a junior. If he improves on the defensive end and becomes a more efficient shooter (38 percent) he could have a huge year.

Stacy Davis, Pepperdine

A high-motor 6-foot-6 senior, Davis has become one of the most consistent performers in the WCC. Davis averaged 15.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a junior.

Thomas Walkup, Stephen F. Austin

The reigning Southland Player of the Year, Walkup is the engine that makes the Lumberjacks go. The senior averaged 15.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season while also earning all-defense honors in the Southland.

Joel Bolomboy, Weber State

One of he nation’s best rebounders, the 6-foot-9 senior has averaged double-figure rebounds the last two seasons. Last season, Bolomboy improved on the offensive end, as he upped his scoring to 13.3 points per game.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.