For the third straight year Breitbart Sports releases the first basketball All-American team.
Delon Wright (Utah) and D’Angelo Russell (Ohio St.) are both 6’5″, can play point or shooting guard, and are unstoppable getting to the rim. It is impossible to guard 6’10” Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga) or 7’0″ Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin), who can play center or pop out and hit threes (46%/41%). NBA Scouts agree Jahlil Okafor (Duke) is bound to be picked first in the NBA draft as the most unstoppable inside player to round out the 1st team:
|Pos||1st Team All-American||Team||Ht||Value Add||Experts|
|SG/PG||Wright, Delon 55||Utah||6’5″||11.62||462|
|SG/PG||Russell, D’Angelo 0||Ohio St.||6’5″||9.26||432|
|PF (SF)||Wiltjer, Kyle 33||Gonzaga||6’10”||8.17||386|
|C (PF)||Kaminsky, Frank 44 (POY)||Wisconsin||7’0″||10.21||488|
|C/PF||Okafor, Jahlil 15||Duke||6’11”||7.30||489|
The first line of players in the photo are the first team, in the order listed above (Wright is far left upper corner, Okafor far right, etc.). The 2012-2013 Breitbart All-American Team and the 2013-14 Team were based purely on the best player at each position at www.valueaddbasketball.com. But this season the selections were based one-third on Value Add and two-thirds on the composite rankings of 10 experts.
Value Add calculates Wright as the most valuable college player. Five experts have ranked Okafor as the Most Valuable Player (Rob Dauster/NBC, CJ Moore/Bleacher Report, Kevin Faherty/247, NBA Draft Net, and Draft Express), while the other five ranked Kaminsky the top player (Luke Winn/SI, Ken Pomeroy, Eamonn Brennan/ESPN, Daniel Dickey/TSN, and most recently USA Today).
Kaminsky wins the Breitbart Sports Player of the Year based on the combined ranking. A score of “500” in the experts field would indicate that all 10 experts had picked the player as the best in the country—and Kaminsky finished second to Okafor by just one point among the experts, and second to Wright in Value Add.
While the 1st Team All-Americans would be one of the most unstoppable assortment of college players ever assembled, Value Add calculates that the second team would be the more suffocating defense:
|Pos||2nd Team All-American||Team||Ht||Value Add||Experts|
|PG||Grant, Jerian 22||Notre Dame||6’5″||9.18||339|
|C/SF/SG||Tuttle, Seth 10||Northern Iowa||6’8″||8.61||222|
|SF||Hield, Buddy 24||Oklahoma||6’4″||7.91||272|
|PF||Towns, Karl-Anthony 12||Kentucky||6’11”||9.89||245|
|C||Cauley-Stein, Willie 15||Kentucky||7’0″||9.42||437|
Kentucky’s inside duo of Cauley-Stein and Towns are the second and third best defensive players in the country according to Value Add, leading to what Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated calculates is the best defense since the addition of the three-point line in 1987. Those two take 12 points away from opponents per game—making them both calculate as more valuable than Okafor—but they finish behind him due to Okafor’s 1st place rating among experts.
Only Honorable Mention Gary Payton (Oregon State) ranks better as a defensive player, while Wright stands as the fourth best defensive player of the All-Americans and sixth overall. Grant is the player with the best chance to catch Kaminsky and Okafor for POY according to Winn. Like Wright and Russell he is a 6’5″ player that runs the point flawlessly and can get to the rim at will in addition to having a ton of steals and assists. Of the three, Russell is not quite as good at finishing on drives, but is the best of the three as a three-point shooter.
During the five-game stretch that started with Northern Iowa’s blowout of Wichita State, Seth Tuttle may have been the hottest player in the country as he averaged 21 points and 4 assists a game despite taking only 11 shots a game. He actually plays the center position on defense, but as a 49% three-point shooter could easily slide out to either the shooting guard or small forward spot despite being 6-foot-8 to let Towns and Cauley-Stein defend the rim.
If I were simply choosing these teams subjectively I would have picked Sir’Dominic Pointer (St. John’s) ahead of Buddy Hield (Oklahoma) as the “small forward,” but Hield calculates ahead of Painter and then ended up being second team instead of third due to Justin Anderson’s rating dropping due to his injury. While Hield has been in a shooting slump the past five games, a closer look shows a strong case for the player who leads the best conference in scoring at 16.9 per game and also is part of the best defense in the best conference.
The third team is highlighted by the player who might be the most important in the country right now. Justin Anderson (Virginia), whose 48% shooting from beyond the arc has been sorely missed since his injury. He was in the top 10 on Value Add prior to the injury—and UVa has averaged winning by only seven points a game with him gone despite not having any elite opponents. They will need him back by the tournament to challenge Kentucky.
|Pos||3rd Team All-American||Team||Ht||Value Add||Experts|
|SG/PG||Rozier, Terry 0||Louisville||6’1″||7.71||221|
|SF/SG||Baker, Ron 31||Wichita St.||6’4″||7.70||279|
|SF||Anderson, Justin 1||Virginia||6’6″||6.88||363|
|PF||Harrell, Montrezl 24||Louisville||6’8″||7.05||202|
|C||Portis, Bobby 10||Arkansas||6’11”||7.32||226|
Rick Pitino never seems to ramp his Louisville team up until the right time, and Terry Rozier has scored at least 22 points in six of their last seven wins. He even ran through Pitino’s appeals to slow it down Monday against Georgia Tech to get to the hoop for the game-winner—scoring 16 of the last 22 points. He gives Louisville a scary inside-outside with big man Montrezl Harrell—one of four players to repeat from the 2013-14 All-American team (Wright, Kaminsky, and Cauley-Stein are the others).
Ron Baker (Wichita State) and Bobby Portis (Arkansas) make the third team as two of the last players able to take it to Kentucky, albeit last year. Baker may be the last player to dominate Kentucky’s defense when he put 20 on them on 7 of 12 shooting—including four three-pointers—in the two-point loss in the tournament last year. He hopes to get the conference player of the year title from Tuttle when Northern Iowa travels to Wichita State for the rematch.
Portis (Arkansas) is one of the best rebounders and shot-blockers in the country and he helped Arkansas sweep Kentucky last year, including having a double-double against them. Kentucky does not have to travel to Arkansas, the second place team in the SEC, this year, so Arkansas will take their only shot at them Saturday in Kentucky to see if Portis can remain perfect against them at 3-0.
Honorable Mention – All-Americans by Pure Value Add
Seven other players would merit All-American status if this year’s selections were based purely on their rating value based on www.valueaddbasketball.com. In alphabetical order we recognize Devin Booker (Kentucky), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Gary Payton (Oregon State), Sir’Dominic Pointer (St. John’s), D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Georgetown), Fred VanVleet (Wichita State), and Corey Walden (Eastern Kentucky). While they do not get critical acclaim, these are probably the most underrated superstars and deserve recognition they may not have received from the experts to date. Each is worth more than eight points a game to his team.