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Picking College Basketball All-Americans

The season is over, sadly.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly, there isn’t much to do or say in this brave new world. Sports were the crown distraction of the world up until they were canceled, all for the best. The NCAA Tournament is canceled and the championship will be vacant, but individual awards still need to be awarded. To the 80 people reading this article, here’s who should be named All-Americans.

First Team All-America

G — Devon Dotson, Kansas

Devon Dotson was the engine behind a Kansas team that was far and away the best in the sport. Even with a shakey jumper, he was a threat to go off every time he stepped on the floor. He’s simply too quick to contain and he’s a gifted playmaker off the drive. Not only did he put up 18 points and 4 assists per game, but he was arguably the best defensive guard in the country.

G — Payton Pritchard, Oregon

The unquestioned best player in the Pac-12, Payton Pritchard just about won the conference all by himself. He was the glue of an Oregon team that a scattered collection of loose pieces. They still had ups and downs during the season, but that was mostly because his teammates were so streaky that they couldn’t be effectively be relied upon. For Oregon to win, Pritchard had go hero-ball with his endless bag of tricks.

F — Obi Toppin, Dayton

My choice for Player of the Year, Toppin was a two-way monster for a 29-2 Dayton squad. His 20.5 points and 7 rebounds per game don’t look particularly gaudy compared to Luka Garza’s 24 and 10, but his impact is more than just the numbers. The entire reason Dayton is able to spread the floor with four guards on the court is because Toppin is so deadly as a shooter and as a dive man; he opened up everything for those guards. He could also protect the rim and rebound, so their defense could survive with small ball.

F — Luka Garza, Iowa

The argument for Garza to win POY is that he did single-handedly carried Iowa to a Top 25 finish in the toughest conference in the nation. Putting up a nightly 24 and 10, Garza was an automatic bucket for a team that needed everything they could get. As an old school big man — the exact opposite of the modern forward that Toppin is — it was refreshing to see him go to the block and get two points every time.

F — Jalen Smith, Maryland

Maryland slumped at the end of the season, but there was a long stretch of play that Jalen “Stick” Smith was the best forward in the country. A two-way savant, Smith averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, all while being the centerpiece of a terrific Terrapins squad. Like Toppin, Smith’s impact was that of a modern big man who could shoot just as well as he could block shots, which helped his teammates better attack scrambled defenses. It’s a shame to see his college career (likely) end just when he was putting everything together.

Second Team All-America

G — Markus Howard, Marquette

Not that Marquette was any good, but this is credit to a player who went absolutely bonkers for the entirety of the season. It’s rare to see anyone shoot as often as he does at such an efficient clip; the list of players who attempted 10 or more threes per game and shot over 41% includes Howard alongside Terrence Woods (Florida A&M, 2003), Stephen Curry (Davidson, 2008) and Fletcher Magee (Wofford, 2019). Howard was the only one who played in a major conference and none of them scored more than his 27.8 points per game.

G — Malachi Flynn, San Diego State

Malachi Flynn edged Myles Powell because offered more by way of winning basketball. The transfer from Washington State was the driving force behind San Diego State’s best-ever season. His raw numbers and efficiency were terrific, he helped lead a balanced offense that had four players average 10+ ppg, and he was smothering presence on the defensive end.

F — Saddiq Bey, Villanova

After spending his freshman season as a role player, Saddiq Bey became a star on a much-improved Villanova squad. At 6’8 with a clean jumper, he was there to get a bucket whenever his team needed one, a clutch skill particularly important in a frenzied Big East. His player shined brightest late in the season, as he helped Villanova to five road wins in their final seven games.

F — Udoka Azubuike, Kansas

Devon Dotson made first team, but it’s hard to say which player is more valuable to Kansas’s dominant play. Udoka Azubuike may be the most devastating finisher in college basketball, an absolute behemoth of a man who shot 75% from the field, mostly on dunks and post-ups. Defensively, he’s a titan who will block your shot, scream in your face and dare you to try again. He used to have issues against pick-and-rolls, but he’s even shored that up. His play on the inside is a huge reason why Kansas had the best defense in the nation.

F — Vernon Carey, Duke

Another classic post-up player, Vernon Carey tried his very best to carry Duke via post hooks. He had more help than Luka Garza, but at the same time, his teammates were mostly non-shooters who made it harder for him to eat on the inside. He struggled some with turnovers as well, as opponents could crash on him knowing he couldn’t make them pay. He was still great and Duke was still a top-tier team, but they didn’t quite live up to lofty expectations.

Third Team All-America

G — Myles Powell, Seton Hall

Where Payton Prichard and Markus Howard thrived in hero ball, Myles Powell had more profound ups and downs. A born chucker, he can shoot his team back into a game just as easily as he can get them out of it. He had his share of heroics early in the season — scoring 37 in a loss to Michigan State, 32 in a loss to Oregon, and a slew of Big East wins — but his shooting fell off later in the season. He finished shooting under 40% from the field, barely 30% from three and his point total dropped from last year.

G — Cassius Winston, Michigan State

The favorite for Player of the Year before the season, Cassius Winston was stellar, but wasn’t quite as good as he was last year. More so, Michigan State was the preseason #1, but struggled for large swaths of the season. Things did turn around right in time for March Madness, but their momentum was cut short before their inevitable Final Four run.

G — Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky

Kentucky had a weird season as Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley all took turns being the top dog on the team. Quickley ultimately came out on top as a sweet shooter capable of being that go-to scorer. His season average of 16 points per game doesn’t look flashy, he upped that to nearly 20 per game (with 48% three-point shooting) as the Wildcats went 9-1 down the stretch to run away with the SEC.

F — Filip Petrusev, Gonzaga

The best player on the second best team in the country, Filip Petrusev has somehow been overlooked all season. Gonzaga might be the deepest team in the country, but there’s a reason they rely on Petrusev. The Serbian is a mean finisher whose post play is virtually unstoppable against certain opponents, such as Oregon, Arizona and Saint Mary’s, all of whom he gave the work.

F — Xavier Tillman, Michigan State

He had to fill Nick Ward’s massive shoes, but Xavier Tillman eventually became that great big man Michigan State needed. Not really a pure scorer, Tillman is an excellent team player whose passing off the block (3 assists per game) was essential for their team scoring. He’s also an elite rebounder and one of the very best team defenders in the nation.