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NBC Sports 2017 College Basketball All-American Teams

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FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

Frank Mason III, Sr., Kansas (20.5 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.2 rpg, 49.3% 3PT)

Mason has been unbelievable this season. He leads the Big 12 in scoring and ranks fourth nationally in points-per-game among the top six leagues. He’s fourth nationally in three-point shooting amongst players that average at least four threes attempted, and he’s doing all that while playing nearly 90 percent of the minutes for Kansas this season. But there’s more to it than just the numbers. He’s the heart and soul of a Kansas team that is currently No. 1 in the country and that just won the Big 12, the toughest conference in the country, according to KenPom, by four games.

Josh Hart, Sr., Villanova (18.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.2 apg)

There may not be a more consistent player in college hoops this season than Hart, whose ability to defend multiple positions and rebound from the guard spot is one of the major reasons Villanova’s small-ball lineups work. This difference between Hart this season and Hart in past season is that he’s become a much better three-point shooter this year, and his assist numbers are way up. He’s had a terrific season, and it’s not done yet; the Wildcats have a real shot of repeating as national champs.

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Lonzo Ball, Fr., UCLA (14.9 ppg, 7.8 apg, 6.2 rpg, 42.4% 3PT)

Lonzo’s stats are out of this world, and the fact that he plays on a top five team that is going to have a shot to make a run at a Final Four certainly helps his cause. But, like Mason, Ball’s numbers don’t tell the whole story. Ball totally changed this UCLA team this year. He brought a culture of unselfishness. He turned them into one of the best passing teams in basketball a year after they went 15-17 and looked incapable of sharing the ball. And he’s just a freshman?

Caleb Swanigan, So., Purdue (18.7 points, 12.8 boards, 2.8 assists)

Swanigan has carried Purdue this season, leading the Boilermakers to a first-place finish in the Big Ten standings and putting them in a position to do some damage in March. He’s posted 25 double-doubles this season. He’s the centerpiece of Purdue’s offense, the guy that the ball runs through on every possession, and he’s able to do it despite the myriad of double-teams that he faces. He’s put up numbers this season that rival that of Tim Duncan, which tells you all you need to know.

Luke Kennard, So., Duke (20.1 points, 5.3 boards, 45.0% 3PT)

Who had Luke Kennard as the best player on Duke this season? Well, he has been, and it’s really not all that close. The sophomore carried the Blue Devils for the first month of the year, as their three key freshmen and Grayson Allen all battled injuries, and he hasn’t slowed down since. Duke’s season turned around once everyone in the program accepted the fact that Kennard, whose efficiency has been off-the-charts this year, was the guy that had to touch the ball on every single possession.

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 09: Luke Kennard #5 of the Duke Blue Devils battles for a loose ball against Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 9, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Luke Kennard and Justin Jackson (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

Nigel Williams-Goss, Jr., Gonzaga (16.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.7 apg)

Williams-Goss is the best player, the leader and the go-to guy for the only team in the country with just one loss this season. His ability to quickly adapt to Mark Few’s offense is why the Zags were able to land wins over the likes of Florida, Arizona and Iowa State earlier this season. Gonzaga is one of the deepest, most-balanced teams in the country, and Williams-Goss leads them in scoring (by a wide margin), assists and minutes.

Malik Monk, Fr., Kentucky (21.2 ppg, 41.4% 3PT)

Monk is the single-most dangerous weapon that there is in college basketball this season. No one has put together a better performance that the 47 points he had in a win over North Carolina … except for Monk, as that might not be the most ridiculous thing he’s done this season. He scored 31 points in the second half and overtime to lead Kentucky back against Georgia. He scored 30 points in the second half against Florida in a game where the Wildcats didn’t have De’Aaron Fox and earned themselves the SEC regular season title. He’s scored at least 20 points in a half six times this season.

Justin Jackson, Jr., North Carolina (18.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg)

Jackson, this season, developed into one of the elite players in the country. He was the best player in the ACC during conference play and the go-to guy for the Tar Heels, who won the loaded ACC by two games. His ability to consistently bang home open jumpers while attacking off the dribble is not something we’ve seen out of him before. He is why the Tar Heels have a chance to win a national title.

Josh Jackson, Fr., Kansas (16.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.1 apg)

It’s weird: Frank Mason III is so clearly the Player of the Year candidate coming from the Kansas Jayhawks, but I’m not sure there’s many people out there that would argue against the idea that Jackson is the best player on Kansas. His ability to slide to the four has allowed Kansas to play small-ball, and that, in turn, is what has made this team so dangerous.

Johnathan Motley, Jr., Baylor (17.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.4 apg)

With Rico Gathers off to the NFL, things opened up for Motley in the paint this season, and he dominated there. The Bears are a Final Four contender this season because of the fact that they are elite defensively and play a ground-and-pound style offensively, and it’s Motley that allowed them to do both. He’s a hoss on the block offensively and part of their Twin Towers defensively.

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10: Johnathan Motley #5 of the Baylor Bears cheers on his team during a game Texas Longhorns in the first half during the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 10, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Johnathan Motley (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

Jawun Evans, So., Oklahoma State (18.7 ppg, 6.3 apg)

Evans is in the conversation with Frank Mason and Monte’ Morris as the best point guard in the Big 12 this season. Think about that for a second. He’s been phenomenal, and he’s led the Pokes back to the NCAA tournament. If you get a chance, watch the highlights of the 22 points and 15 assists he put on Kansas over the weekend.

Monte’ Morris, Sr., Iowa State (16.2 ppg, 6.2 apg, 4.6 rpg)

Morris has been around forever it seems, but he had the best year of his outstanding career this season, leading an Iowa State that doesn’t exactly have a great roster into a tie for second in the Big 12. Over his last 11 games, Morris had 73 assists and just seven turnovers. That just about sums him up.

Dillon Brooks, Oregon (16.0 points, 2.9 assists, 2.7 boards)

Brooks missed some of the early part of the season coming back from a foot injury this summer, but his return marked the return of Oregon to being a national title contender. He’s hit three game-winning threes this season and has rightfully earned the reputation of one of the best big-shot makers in the country. In league play, he averaged 17.9 points.

John Collins, Wake Forest (19.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg)

Who saw this coming from Collins, who averaged 7.3 points on a bad Wake Forest team last season? A foul-plagued performance in a win at Virginia Tech on Saturday snapped a string of 12 straight games where Collins scored at least 20 points. He’s the biggest reason the Demon Deacons appear to be tournament-bound.

Lauri Markkanen, Arizona (15.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 42.8% 3PT)

Markkanen is a true seven-footer that’s shooting better than 42 percent from three. And he’s European. How often do you think he’s heard his name followed by the words “next Dirk Nowitzki”? Whatever the case may be, Markkanen helped to carry Arizona, the Pac-12 co-champs, during the 19 games that Allonzo Trier missed.

DES MOINES, IA- DECEMBER 17: Guard Monte Morris #11 of the Iowa State Cyclones drives to the basket during the first half against the Drake Bulldogs on December 17, 2016 in the Hy-Vee Classic at Well Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
Monte Morris (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.