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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?

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

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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

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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.