The NBC Sports 2018 College Basketball All-American Teams

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This was a weird year for college basketball.

For much of the first three months of the season, Trae Young looked like a shoe-in to be college basketball’s National Player of the Year.

Then, in the final six weeks of the season, Young found himself second in the running for Big 12 Player of the Year.

For a while thereafter, Jalen Brunson looked like he would be the favorite to win the award, but he also had a rough end of the season. The end result is that there really isn’t a favorite to win the award at this point.

But there does, however, appear to be a pretty clear-cut group for First-Team All-America, all of whom have a real case to be the National Player of the Year.

Here is that team, and the 15 players that we will mark down as college basketball’s best in 2017-18.

Who did we miss?


Jalen Brunson (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICA

JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova: 19.0 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.0 rpg, 40.5% 3PT

Brunson is the NBC Sports National Player of the Year, so it only makes sense that the leads our crop of first-team all-americans. Brunson is the most important player on a national title contender, the most valuable piece on any team with a real shot of cutting down the nets on that final Monday of the season. His efficiency numbers are simply incredible as opposed to historically-unprecedented thanks to a late-season swoon, but he is still the one guy in the country that I want with the ball in his hands and the game on the line.

TRAE YOUNG, Oklahoma: 27.5 ppg, 8.9 apg, 3.9 rpg

Young led the nation in scoring and assists, becoming the first player in college basketball history to do so. At one point this season, Oklahoma was a top ten team. But that success was somewhat short-lived. By the middle of conference play, the secret was out on how to slow Young and the Sooners down, and Lon Kruger just didn’t have any answers. As far as I’m concerned, you cannot be considered for National Player of the Year if you are not on a title contender. You can, however, be a first-team all-american.

DEVONTE’ GRAHAM, Kansas: 17.6 ppg, 7.2 apg, 4.0 rpg, 42.3% 3PT

Graham, not Young, won the Big 12 Player of the Year award in 2018, and it was well-deserved. He was the anchor for a Kansas team that won their 14th straight Big 12 title despite having so many question marks. He made big shots, he was their best perimeter defender and he carried the Jayhawks for long stretches as a senior. Maybe we under-appreciated just how good a backcourt of Graham and Frank Mason III was a year ago.

MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: 20.7 ppg, 11.2 rpg

Bagley is a freak of nature. He’s one of college basketball’s best rebounders. He’s nearly unstoppable when he gets the ball in the paint. He has the kind of explosive athleticism most mere mortals only dream about, and he’s doing all of that for the team that I think is the best in college basketball. He might be the favorite to be National Player of the Year if Duke didn’t have long stretches where they seemed to function better without him.

DEANDRE AYTON, Arizona: 19.9 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 1.6 apg

Ayton or Bagley? That’s something that is going to be discussed by far too many people in basketball circles over the course of the next three months, whether we’re talking about college basketball postseason awards or where he is going to get picked in the NBA Draft. Ayton is the more physically-imposing of the two and probably the better defender, but his Arizona team has not had the same level of success as Duke.


Deandre Ayton (Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICA

KEENAN EVANS, Texas Tech: 17.4 ppg, 3.3 apg, 3.1 rpg

Evans saw his numbers take a hit in the final five games of the regular season as he tried to battle through turf toe to win the Red Raiders a Big 12 title. It did not go as planned. If he gets back to 100 percent for the NCAA tournament, he would be my pick to go on a run the way that Shabazz Napier or Kemba Walker did before him.

TREVON BLUIETT, Xavier: 19.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 43.4% 3PT

Bluiett is the big-shot maker, the leading scorer and the face of the program that became the first team not named Villanova to win a Big East title since the new league was created. There aren’t three players in the country — if any — that I would want taking the final shot of a game.

GARY CLARK, Cincinnati: 12.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.5 spg, 1.3 bpg

His numbers are middling, but the impact he has on Cincinnati defensively is not. And for a team who wins because they are having an all-time great season stopping the ball, that is hard to overlook.

KEITA BATES-DIOP, Ohio State: 19.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg

Bates-Diop has been a revelation for the Buckeyes this season, as he’s finally developed into what the recruiting pundits thought he would be when he was rated as a five-star recruit coming out of high school. You have to think that if he was healthy all of last season, Chris Holtmann would still be at Butler because Thad Matta would still be employed.

JOCK LANDALE, Saint Mary’s: 21.3 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.1 apg

Landale is the best low-post scorer in the country. He’s a throw-back, with the kind of low-post moves that would make Kevin McHale jealous. Here’s to hoping that the Selection Committee makes the decision to put the Gaels in the NCAA tournament on Sunday.


Keenan Evans (John Weast/Getty Images)

THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICA

JEVON CARTER, West Virginia: 17.0 ppg, 6.5 apg, 4.8 rpg, 2.9 spg

He is college basketball’s best on-ball defender and the engine that allow Press Virginia to run the way that Bob Huggins wants it to run. He’s had a sensational, underrated career in Morgantown.

AARON HOLIDAY, UCLA: 20.1 ppg, 5.8 apg, 43.9% 3PT

Holiday really hasn’t gotten all that much attention this season because the Bruins have not been relevant since LaVar Ball stopped feuding with Donald Trump, but you’ll have a hard time convincing me that there has been a better point guard in college basketball outside of the Big 12 this season.

CARSEN EDWARDS, Purdue: 18.5 ppg, 3.0 apg, 41.2% 3PT

Edwards has been absolutely fantastic this season, Generously listed at 6-foot-1, he’s turned into one of the most dangerous scorers in the Big Ten and a huge piece of what Matt Painter wants to do offensively.

MILES BRIDGES, Michigan State: 16.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 36.9% 3PT

Bridges has not lived up to the hype that he had coming into the season. That does not, however, mean that he has had a bad season. We all just typecast him as a player that he wasn’t. Bridges is at his best when tasked with playing a role, not when he needs to be a go-to guy. It’s what will make him last in the NBA for 12 years.

LUKE MAYE, North Carolina: 17.7 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.4 apg, 46.3% 3PT

College basketball’s most improved player. Who had Luke Maye, not Joel Berry II, being the obvious pick as UNC’s all-american this season?

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.