College basketball starts on Friday, and there’s a lot to look forward to this season. From the freshmen who have been much-discussed to those who surprised by deciding to return, there’s a good deal of talent in the college game, and anticipation is high.
Although this year’s preseason All-Americans reflect the continuing trend that the top college players are generally younger than before, it is noteworthy that three of the five first team selections are seniors. While two freshmen made the cut, it wouldn’t be a surprise if there are a few more among them at the end of the season. And as one might expect, there are plenty of candidates who don’t appear on this list.
With that, here’s one prediction for All-Americans this season.
C.J. Fair, Sr. F, Syracuse A good pick for ACC preseason Player of the Year, he’s been a dependable guy for three years and will now lead the Orange into their first year in the ACC.
Doug McDermott, Sr. F, Creighton He bypassed the NBA Draft and now gets to play in the Big East, where more people will get to see just how good he is. He’s consistent and has several ways to score.
Marcus Smart, So. G, Oklahoma State The Cowboys have the personnel to win the Big 12 this year. If that happens, Smart will be the leader of a champion and have a good shot at taking home national Player of the Year honors.
Russ Smith, Sr. G, Louisville After playing a leading role on the national champions last year, Smith will try to do it again, this time as the unquestioned leader of the team. He was in the discussion for national Player of the Year last year and should be right there again this season.
Andrew Wiggins, Fr. F, Kansas The guy everyone has pegged as the top pick in next June’s NBA Draft is a tremendous talent. If Kansas keeps their string of consecutive Big 12 titles alive, it will start with him.
Aaron Craft, Sr. G, Ohio State There are few in the country who compete like he does, especially at the defensive end. He’ll probably score more because his team will need it, but he’ll still make his mark by running the show, defending and leading.
Gary Harris, So. G, Michigan State If he’s healthy, he’s right there among the top Big Ten players and the primary reason Michigan State has a chance at a national title.
Shabazz Napier, Sr. G, Connecticut The unquestioned leader of the Huskies, he’s ready for the challenge of getting this team back in the NCAA Tournament now that they’re eligible once again.
Julius Randle, Fr. F, Kentucky He possesses a great combination of athleticism, size and skill and is the most likely of the Wildcat freshmen to lead from an intangibles standpoint.
Glenn Robinson III, So. F, Michigan Although he has some support, with a couple of key departures he is the Wolverines’ go-to guy this season and should be better.
Isaiah Austin, So. F, Baylor He has so much potential, and he wasn’t entirely healthy last season. If he shows growth from last year, the Bears will be that much better with Cory Jefferson helping him anchor the frontcourt.
Jahii Carson, So. G, Arizona State One of the best point guards in the country, he’ll try to lead Arizona State back to the NCAA Tournament this season. If that happens, you could even see him leap on to the first team.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Jr. G, Colorado It’s easy to forget that Colorado has had a good run of guards lately. Dinwiddie is the best of them and will be the big attraction with Andre Roberson gone.
Adreian Payne, Sr. F-C, Michigan State A vintage Tom Izzo post player, he should become a double-double machine as the next step in his development.
Jarnell Stokes, Jr. F, Tennessee A load to handle inside, he’s a throwback to the days when guys his size parked themselves inside and dominated the game by scoring and rebounding. He’ll try to lead Tennessee back to the NCAA Tournament.