The Breitbart Sports All-American 2013, 2014 and 2015 teams proved prophetic in March Madness brackets, and the 2016 edition announced below starts with the heated debate over whether Buddy Hield or Denzel Valentine rates as the National Player of the Year.
Quick Recap from Past Teams: The shocker in 2013 was our pick of the unheralded Shabazz Napier, who the next year took UConn to the national title. In 2014, we picked Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky out of nowhere a year before he led the shocker of undefeated Kentucky. In 2015, the Washington Post noted we pegged Justin Anderson as the key to UVa’s national title hopes when others thought he was the third best player on the team. But when he was injured the national contenders finished losing three of their last five.
All 32 All-Conference Teams are listed here. Which leads us to our 1st Team All-American Selections this year (pictured left to right on the top row of the photo):
|Player||1st T All-American||Ht||Class||VA||NBA%||Subj|
|Payton II, Gary||Oregon St.||6′ 3″||Sr||8.54||64%||4.01|
|Hield, Buddy||Oklahoma||6′ 4″||Sr||9.33||83%||5.75|
|Valentine, Denzel||Michigan St.||6′ 5″||Sr||8.67||81%||2.98|
|Simmons, Ben||LSU||6′ 10″||Fr||8.43||96%||2.94|
|Poeltl, Jakob||Utah||7′ 0||So||8.07||90%||4.03|
As Michigan State surges toward a potential national title commentators nudge toward Denzel Valentine over Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield for National Player of the Year.
We start with the Value Add Basketball calculations of how many points each player is worth to his team each game, and Valentine led the country at 9.95 points per game when he played. Thomas Walkup of Stephen F. Austin is second and Buddy Hield is third at 9.33. However, Valentine was worth 0.0 points during the four games he missed due to injury, pushing him slightly down to 8.67 per game played by the Spartans.
The other factors we consider are our calculations of the players chances in the NBA, where Hield has a very slight lead, and then the subjective ratings given in Conference and National Player of the Week votes and in the most comprehensive subjective ranking over the course of the year (explained here). If you review the USA Today tracking of those awards, Hield was picked the top player in the country two of 10 weeks and was the top player in the best conference (the Big 12) a third time, while Valentine was not tapped any of the 10 weeks. In a photo finish, I have to give Hield the slight edge as Player of the Year even though I admit I’d rather have Valentine for the rest of the year to try to win a title.
Gary Payton II is every bit a good ball hawk as his father as one of the only players to ever finish in the Top 15 in Value Add back-to-back years, and I give him the slight edge over the more popular pick of Tyler Ulis as the top point guard. Ben Simmons will be the best NBA player drafted this year, but center Jakob Poeltl may be the second best, and those players round out the 1st team.
Which leads to our 2nd Team All-Americans, pictured left to right in the middle of the photo above.
|Player||2nd T All-American||Ht||Class||VA||NBA%||Subj|
|Ulis, Tyler||Kentucky||5′ 9″||So||8.26||51%||4.12|
|Morris, Monte||Iowa St.||6′ 3″||Jr||7.63||69%||3.33|
|Allen, Grayson||Duke||6′ 5″||So||8.57||65%||2.82|
|Siakam, Pascal||New Mexico St.||6′ 9″||So||9.18||49%||2.70|
|Johnson, Brice||North Carolina||6′ 10″||Sr||7.78||59%||4.77|
Ulis certainly runs the point on the second team, and you could trade his offense for Payton’s defense if the top team played as a unit.
Iowa State fans would probably rather give senior Georges Niang the 2nd team honors, but I believe the other half of the dynamic duo, Monte Morris, is actually slightly more valuable. The Duke-haters will not want Grayson Allen on the 2nd team, but he is that dominant as is UNC rival Brice Johnson. We adjust Value Add for competition faced, and even though New Mexico State is not in one of the big conferences, Pascal Siakam can dominate at any level as he showed in his two games against powers (26 points, 10 rebounds vs. Baylor and 17, 10 vs. Wichita State).
There are a few stars from smaller conferences on the third team, pictured left to right on the bottom row of the photo above:
|Player||3rd T All-American||Ht||Class||VA||NBA%||Subj|
|Felder, Kay||Oakland||5′ 9″||Jr||8.56||0%||3.88|
|Brogdon, Malcolm||Virginia||6′ 5″||Sr||8.25||32%||4.29|
|Walkup, Thomas||Stephen F. Austin||6′ 4″||Sr||9.69||0%||0.91|
|Uthoff, Jarrod||Iowa||6′ 9″||Sr||6.97||60%||4.25|
|Warney, Jameel||Stony Brook||6′ 8″||Sr||8.90||32%||2.88|
Even adjusted for competition, Thomas Walkup is the most valuable player to his team, leading Stephen F. Austin to 18 straight victories to move up to 40th at www.kenpom.com. Two years ago he was part of a 28-game winning streak that included shocking VCU in the tournament. So, watch out if your team draws them on Sunday.
Kay Felder hung 30 points on both top four teams he faced this year: Michigan State and Virginia. Jameel Warney is one of only a few players in history to be ranked in the top 4% of all players all four of his years in college. Malcolm Brogdon runs a UVa team thinking national title, and one reason Valentine had trouble winning Big Ten player of the week is that it was going to Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff.
|Player||4th T All-American||Ht||Class||VA||NBA%||Subj|
|Ferrell, Yogi||Indiana||6′ 0||Sr||6.58||34%||3.61|
|Barber, Anthony (Cat)||North Carolina St.||6′ 2″||Jr||7.92||36%||2.50|
|Murray, Jamal||Kentucky||6′ 4″||Fr||6.98||89%||3.43|
|Scott, Josh||Colorado||6′ 10″||Sr||6.98||27%||3.41|
|Mockevicius, Egidijus||Evansville||6′ 10″||Sr||7.95||31%||2.35|
The parity is so strong this year that the fourth and fifth teams are stacked as well. Egidijus Mockevicius and his Evansville teammates had hearts broken on a high bounce at the buzzer Sunday, and he would join four other incredible players on the 4th team. Colorado’s Josh Scott would be the most dominant big man in most conferences, but in the Pac-12 he had to battle Jakob Poeltl. A three-guard offense of Yogi Ferrell, Cat Barber, and Jamal Murray dominate playing in the greatest venues in basketball.
|Player||5th T All-American||Ht||Class||VA||NBA%||Subj|
|Mason, Frank||Kansas||5′ 11″||Jr||6.11||17%||1.60|
|Trimble, Melo||Maryland||6′ 3″||So||5.42||84%||2.66|
|Dunn, Kris||Providence||6′ 4″||Jr||5.93||94%||2.96|
|Niang, Georges||Iowa St.||6′ 8″||Sr||6.74||27%||2.80|
|Ellis, Perry||Kansas||6′ 8″||Sr||6.04||27%||2.70|
Some believe Kansas is the best team, and Frank Mason and Perry Ellis are a great duo on a very balanced team, while Georges Niang completes another great duo in the top conference this year, the Big 12. Both Melo Trimble and Kris Dunn looked like 1st team All-Americans, and both should be dominant in the NBA, but they just weren’t as dominant game in and game out as they went through the season. Still, I wouldn’t want to face either of them in the tournament.
Next Sunday most of these players will find out who their March Madness opponents will be. Give them consideration when filling out your brackets.