2016-17 Mid-Major All-Americans

Kevin Hervey, AP Photo/Paul Vernon

Before we get into the meat of this post, let’s hold the annual tradition of laying out our “mid-major disclaimer”, or how we determined who was eligible for this team:

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 our 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 …

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Alec Peters could have not appeared on this list. He initially declared for the NBA Draft before withdrawing his name. After Bryce Drew left for Vanderbilt, it would have been understandable if Peters elected to enroll in a high-major school as a graduate transfer. But the 6-foot-9 big man decided to stay at Valparaiso for his final year. In many eyes, he’s the best mid-major player in the country this season, ranked the highest by NBC Sports.

A well-rounded forward, Peters averaged 18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game, shooting better than 44 percent from three (and that percentage was down from his sophomore season). He also led the Crusaders to the NIT championship game.


The Summit League race will be one to monitor throughout the winter. The Jackrabbits will be in the mix because of Mike Daum. The 6-foot-9 sophomore, who is certainly on NBA radars like others on this list, averaged averaged 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in his first season in Brookings.


The Conference USA Freshman of the Year burst onto the scene last season, averaging 21.4 points and leading the league in steals. Evans will likely be one of the top scorers in the nation, especially if he can improve upon his 30 percent three-point shooting. While he continues to put up the points — and being a pest on the other end of the floor — he could see an increase in assists per game, as he will undoubtedly have the ball in his hands on the majority of the Owls’ possessions.

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Kevin Hervey was a breakout star through 15 games of last season. He was close to averaging double-double, putting up 18.1 points and 9.8 boards. More importantly, the Mavericks were 13-2 and held wins over Memphis and Ohio State while taking Texas to overtime. His season — and subsequently, UT Arlington’s Cinderella hopes — were dashed when he tore his ACL during warmups of a showdown game with league champs Little Rock. He’s still working his way back to healthy, tbut he 6-foot-8 forward is the face of one of the scariest mid-majors in the country, bringing back all five starters from a 24-win team. Texas and Saint Mary’s are on UT Arlington’s non-conference schedule, and should be on upset alert.


The latest in a long line of Australians to star for the Gaels, Naar, like Matthew Dellavadova, Patty Mills and Mickey McConnell before him, led one of the best offenses in the country, ranked top-20 in offensive efficiency by kenpom.com. The 6-foot-1 junior was first-team all-West Coast Conference as a sophomore, averaging 14.0 points, 6.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.

  • January 14th
  • February 11th

Mark those dates down in your calendar. Emmett Naar going up against Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss will be appointment viewing.

CONTENDER SERIES: Duke | Oregon | Kentucky | Kansas | Villanova

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 19: Makai Mason #11 of the Yale Bulldogs dribbles the ball in the first half against the Duke Blue Devils during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 19, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Yale’s Makai Mason (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)



This time last season, Craig Bradshaw was tabbed as a Mid-Major All-American. However, by season’s end, Evan Bradds was the leading scorer for the Bruins. The 6-foot-7 senior is coming off a breakout junior campaign, posting 17.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He led the nation in field goal percentage, connecting on 72 percent of his attempts. Somehow, he only shot 71 percent from the free throw line. How many players shoot better from the floor than they do from the charity stripe?


Entering his senior season, Tim Kempton is poised to win the Patriot League Player of the Year for the third time. The 6-foot-10 center averaged 17.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game as a junior. With several guards capable of knocking down shots, teams are forced to pick their poison: double Kempton and give up open looks, or let him go to work on the block. He anchors the Patriot League favorite.


On the biggest stage, Makai Mason had a breakout performance: dropping 31 points win over Baylor in first round of the NCAA Tournament. Mason did average 16.0 points per game last season, but the reason for Yale’s success was its rebounding. It was among the best in the country. With Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod graduating, Mason is going to need to take over on a nightly basis. After spending the offseason working with the German National Team, Mason should be up for the challenge.


The reigning Atlantic Sun Player of the Year was highly efficient on offense during his junior campaign. He averaged 19.8 points, dished 6.0 assists (to 1.9 turnovers) and grabbed 4.0 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-1 guard also shot 52 percent from the field and a tick under 40 percent from three. The Ospreys have won 61 games (back-to-back 20-win seasons) and made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament during Moore’s career.


Despite several upset wins, Monmouth received more national attention for the four guys at the end of the bench than the five players on the floor. That’s unfortunate because the Hawks, who ended up being snubbed for an at-large bid, were really good. They should be the MAAC favorite again this season, with Justin Robinson leading the way. The diminutive point guard averaged 19.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists last year.

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17: Chris Flemmings #1 of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks reacts during the game against the Duke Blue Devils in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
UNC Wilmington’s Chris Flemmings (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)



The senior forward averaged 17.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, shooting 56 percent from the field, en route to MAC Player of the Year honors. The 6-foot-9 forward has improved leaps and bounds from his freshman season (3.8 points in 9.6 minutes per game). His improved ability to step out and shoot (37 percent from three last season) only benefits a Saul Phillips’ offense that requires spacing for its screen and rolls.


Chris Flemmings began his career in Division II. He ended last season as first-team all-CAA guard. Read more on his rise here. He averaged 16.2 points per game, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 31.9 minutes per game. The last time we saw Flemmings he was putting a scare into Duke, dropping 18 points on the Blue Devils in a near upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.


UAB returns four starters from a 26-win team last season. One of those players poised to make a jump should William Lee. The 6-foot-9 junior was named Conference-USA Defensive Player of the Year and earned third-team all-league honors. He was seventh in the nation in blocked shots, posting 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in 24.8 minutes per game.


Northern Iowa, like Saint Mary’s, isn’t far off from joining the other teams in the “mid-major disclaimer” mentioned above. Northern Iowa is a solid program and should be in store for another successful season despite the loss of Paul Jesperson, Matt Bohannon and Wes Washpun. That’s because Jeremy Morgan, who averaged 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 48.5 percent from the floor and 40.7 percent from 3-point range, should take a leap as a senior. While it’s certainly an ending Panther fans would like to forget, Morgan showed a glimpse of what he’s capable of in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by scoring 36 points — of 10-of-20 shooting — with 12 boards in a double-overtime loss to Texas A&M.


The 6-foot-7 senior is coming off a junior year where he averaged 17.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for the Tribe. He’s truly hard to matchup with. He’s got great size for a guard at that level, which allows him to get to the bucket — and the free throw line — with regularity. Defenses can back off him either considering that he connected on 36 percent of his threes last season.  Chris Flemmings is the preseason Player of the Year in the CAA, but Omar Prewitt will compete with him for those postseason honors, as William & Mary and UNC Wilmington fight for the top spot in the league.

Houston-Miami matchup a battle for respect

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Top-seeded Houston is in the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament, but the Cougars don’t feel they receive the proper respect.

Heading into the second weekend of the tournament, that feeling lingers despite the Cougars being just one victory away from their third straight Elite Eight appearance.

“A lot of people were pushing for us to lose,” Houston guard Tramon Mark said. “They didn’t believe we were a real 1 seed because of the conference (American Athletic) we play in. But I think we’re one of the best teams in the country still, and we proved it.”

The Cougars (33-3) look to take the next step when they battle fifth-seeded Miami (27-7) on Friday night in Midwest Region play in Kansas City, Mo.

Houston spent the entire season near the top of the national rankings and surely isn’t a surprise Sweet 16 participant.

“I put ourselves in a whole different category,” forward J’Wan Roberts said. “I don’t compare us to other teams. We just stick to what we do, and it shows. Other No. 1 teams got beat, but we didn’t.”

The Cougars and Alabama are the No. 1 seeds still playing. Purdue lost in the opening round and Kansas fell in the second.

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson tries to simplify the approach during March Madness.

“We’ve been here many times in the final 16,” Sampson said. “The next 40 minutes are going to be big. We’ve got to find a way to get the next 40 minutes, and then we’ll move on from there. If not, it’s over.”

Star guard Marcus Sasser (groin) is still gimpy despite scoring 22 points in Saturday’s 81-64 win over Auburn. On Thursday, Sasser proclaimed he will be “around 90 percent” for the game. Teammate Jamal Shead (knee) said he is 100 percent recovered.

Mark scored a career-high 26 points against Auburn.

The Hurricanes are in the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history. Last season, they reached the Elite Eight before being routed 76-50 by eventual national champion Kansas.

Star guard Isaiah Wong said it is a great era for the Hurricanes, who are just two victories away from matching the school record.

“It’s just an honor being part of this program, with the history we have,” Wong said. “We have a great team this year and last year too, and I feel like it’s great to see how we came up.

“My first year we wasn’t as good, but for the last two years, we’re going to the Sweet 16, and last year the Elite Eight.”

Still, guard Jordan Miller said that Miami also doesn’t receive the level of respect it should.

“I wouldn’t say underappreciated, but at the end of the day, all we can do is just come out and win basketball games,” Miller said. “I feel like winning a game in itself is a way to get recognition. We’re going to the Sweet 16. That’s a lot of recognition. We don’t necessarily care about what the media says.”

Wong averages a team-best 16.1 points and Miller is right behind at 15.1 Nijel Pack and Norchad Omier both average 13.4 points with the latter collecting a team-leading 10.1 rebounds per game.

Omier grabbed 17 rebounds in Sunday’s 85-69 victory over Indiana. That was a program record for boards in an NCAA Tournament game, surpassing the 14 he collected two nights earlier in a 63-56 victory over Drake.

“If I’m being honest, I really don’t know,” Omier said of his success. “I just like playing with my teammates. They always motivate me to go do what I love to do, and I love rebounding.”

Wong scored 27 points against Indiana.

Miami guard Wooga Poplar, who injured his back against Indiana, has yet to be cleared but will be in the starting lineup if he can play.

Houston holds a 9-5 series edge over Miami but the schools haven’t met in 52 years.

The winner faces either second-seeded Texas or third-seeded Xavier in Sunday’s regional final.

Punch thrown following Bowling Green-Memphis WNIT game

Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – A confrontation between two players in the postgame handshake line following Bowling Green’s win over Memphis on Thursday night in the Women’s NIT has been referred to campus police.

As the teams walked toward center court following Bowling Green’s 73-60 win in the Round of 16 game, Memphis’ Jamirah Shutes stopped to talk with Falcons’ player Elissa Brett. After a short conversation, Shutes appears to throw a punch at Brett’s face. Brett fell toward the scorer’s table and onto the sideline.

There was no immediate word about what caused the confrontation or if any player was seriously injured.

Bowling Green said in a statement that the incident is in the hands of the campus police.

“The incident that took place following tonight’s home WNIT game has been turned over to the BGSU Police Department,” the school said. “Bowling Green State University Athletics does not make comments about active police investigations. Our priority is with the health, safety and support of our student-athletes.”

Bowling Green coach Robyn Fralich didn’t directly comment on the incident after the game, saying only that they were “figuring all those things out,” as far as what happened in the handshake line.

Memphis’ office of sports information didn’t immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper reported that Shutes, who leads the Tigers in scoring, took an elbow to her face with 24 seconds left in the opening quarter and played just eight minutes in the first half. She returned to start the second half.

Shutes, a fifth-year player who finished with 13 points in her final game with the Tigers, was a second-team All-AAC selection this season.

Brett scored 15 points in the win.

South Carolina’s leading scorer Jackson heads to NBA draft

Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina leading scorer Gregory “GG” Jackson II said Friday that he’s entering the NBA draft after one season in college.

The 6-foot-9 freshman said on Instagram Live that his year in college with the Gamecocks helped him mature.

“Now, I’m declaring for the NBA draft, just like that,” he said.

Jackson, 18, is projected as a mid-first round selection.

He started 29 of 32 games for the 11-21 Gamecocks, averaging a team-high 15.4 points a game. He also led South Carolina with 26 blocks and 24 steals.

Jackson, from Columbia, was rated the No. 1 college prospect in 2023. But he reclassified to join his hometown team and first-year coach Lamont Paris.

Gonzaga beats UCLA 79-76 in Sweet 16 on Julian Strawther’s late 3-pointer

Gonzaga's Malachi Smith
USA Today
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LAS VEGAS — Gonzaga and UCLA played one NCAA Tournament game that left the Zags’ star player bawling, and another game that stunned the Bruins.

Add another to the list. Maybe the maddest one in March yet.

Julian Strawther hit a 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds left to answer a 3-pointer by UCLA’s Amari Bailey, lifting Gonzaga to a wild 79-76 win over UCLA Thursday night in the Sweet 16.

“It’s moments like that you can’t make up,” said Strawther, a Las Vegas native. “Those are literally the moments you dream of. To even make a shot like that in March Madness and just to be back home in Vegas is like the cherry on top.”

The Bruins (31-6), the West Region’s No. 2 seed, stormed back from an eight-point deficit in the final 1:05 and took a 76-75 lead on Bailey’s 3-pointer with 12.2 seconds left.

The Zags (31-5) brought the ball up the floor and Strawther stepped into a 3-pointer after a drop pass from Hunter Sallis, sending Gonzaga fans to their feet.

“As soon as it came off, it looked like it was on line,” Strawther said.

The Zags still had to sweat it out.

Gonzaga’s Malachi Smith stole the ball from UCLA’s Tyger Campbell, but Strawther only hit 1 of 2 free throws at the other end, giving the Bruins a chance.

Campbell’s 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the back of the rim, sending the Zags rushing off the bench and into the Elite Eight against UConn on Saturday while leaving the Bruins disappointed again.

“Every game, try not to get too high, try not to get too low,” said UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez, who had 29 points and 11 rebounds. “He hit a big shot and we lost.”

Strawther’s shot was reminiscent of the one Villanova’s Kris Jenkins made off a drop pass to clinch the 2016 national championship – a shot that came after North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit an off-balance 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left.

There’s a reason it looked familiar.

“That’s Jay Wright’s play that he used in Villanova-Carolina, the championship,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “That’s what we call it. He makes it all the time.”

It also is the latest chapter in what’s become the best West Coast rivalry in college basketball.

UCLA got the better of the teams’ first NCAA Tournament go-around, rallying from 17 points down to send the Zags out of the 2006 bracket and star Adam Morrison to the floor crying.

Jalen Suggs crushed the Bruins the last time, hitting a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Zags to the 2021 national championship game.

“I can’t even describe what he did. It’s crazy,” Gonzaga’s Drew Timme said of Strawther’s game-winner. “It’s just like that Jalen shot, man.”

Timme had 36 points for his record 10th NCAA Tournament game with 20 points.

The flurry of a finish started off more like a prize fight, each team taking its turn landing blows in a game of wild swings.

UCLA led by 13 at the half, but went on an 11-minute field goal drought as Gonzaga went up by 10 with 2:40 left. The Bruins took their rally turn and retook the lead, but left Gonzaga with too much time on the clock.

“We should have been tighter on Strawther,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “We were the whole game. We just weren’t on that play. If we were tighter then he couldn’t have looped behind.”

Timme kept Gonzaga in it during UCLA’s torrid first half and Gonzaga’s porous first-half defense tightened in the second, giving them a seven-point lead with 53 seconds left.

Jaquez brought the Bruins back in his final college game.

The Pac-12 player of the year scored on a three-point play and a layup to cut it 74-71 with 45 seconds left. Timme then missed two free throws, setting up Bailey’s shot.

Thankfully for the Zags, Strawther was on the mark with his long 3-pointer and Campbell was off the mark on his, sending Gonzaga to the Elite Eight for the fifth time under Few.

Florida Atlantic makes first Elite Eight, bounces Tennessee

fau tennessee
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Florida Atlantic, playing in just its second NCAA Tournament, moved within a victory of the Final Four by using a second-half push led by Michael Forrest to beat fourth-seeded Tennessee 62-55 on Thursday night.

The ninth-seeded Owls (34-3) will play third-seeded Kansas State in the East Region final at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Even before the tournament started, this was the unquestionably the greatest season in FAU history. Now it the Owls are one of the biggest stories in all of sports.

Johnell Davis led the Owls with 15 points and Forrest finished with 11, eight in a crucial second-half run where FAU took control.

The Volunteers (25-11), who were looking for just the second Elite Eight appearance in program history, shot just 33% – including 6 of 23 from 3-point range. Josiah-Jordan James and Jonas Aidoo scored 10 points apiece.


The Owls have never played Kansas State.