2016-17 RTC Preseason O26 All-America Teams

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on November 11th, 2016

At long last, college basketball has arrived. Here are our Preseason O26 All-American and Player of the Year selections.

Player of the Year

Valparaiso's Alec Peters is our pick for O26 Player of the Year. (Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images)

Valparaiso’s Alec Peters is our pick for O26 Player of the Year. (Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images)

  • Alec Peters – G – Valparaiso. Peters, an outstanding shooter with tremendous size, could have transferred nearly anywhere he wanted this offseason and probably started immediately—something people thought might happen following the departure of head coach Bryce Drew in April. Instead, the senior chose to withdraw from the NBA Draft and return to Valparaiso, making the Crusaders instant favorites to win the Horizon League and establishing himself as a legitimate AP All-American candidate. As a tall, mobile, high-percentage outside shooter (44% 3FG), Peters’ ability to stretch the floor is virtually unparalleled in the mid-major ranks, enabling him to create and exploit mismatches all over the court. His usage numbers are substantial (82% Min, 25.2% Shots), but you wouldn’t know if from his sparkling true shooting percentage (64.7% TS) or Offensive Rating (127.1 ORtg)—the 20th-best in college basketball. What’s more, Peters became a better offensive rebounder last season, which, along with his improved post game, helped him become nearly as dangerous in the paint as he is on the perimeter. The Illinois native could average more than 20 points per game this season, and even non-conference opponents like Oregon, Rhode Island and Kentucky may have a difficult time stopping him.

First Team

  • Jack Gibbs – G – Davidson. Gibbs led the Atlantic 10 in scoring last season (23.7 PPG) and is projected by Sports Illustrated to lead the entire country in that metric this season. He may not be Stephen Curry, but the 6’0″ point guard does far more than merely put the ball in the basket. Gibbs posted the conference’s second-highest assist rate, third-highest steal rate and drew more fouls per 40 minutes than anyone in the league a year ago. After shooting 43.4 percent from three-point range in 2014-15, he’s also (likely) a better long-range shooter than his 33.6 percent clip last season indicates; as one of the most heavily used players in college hoops, Gibbs may have fallen victim to late-season fatigue.
  • Nigel Williams-Goss – G – Gonzaga. A former McDonald’s All-American, Williams-Goss was nothing short of excellent during his two seasons at Washington. As a freshman, he led the Huskies in assists and was named to the All-Pac-12 Freshman Team; as a sophomore, Williams-Goss ranked second in the league in assists (5.9 APG) and seventh in scoring (15.6 PPG) on his way to second team all-conference honors. Now at Gonzaga, the junior arguably has more talent surrounding him than he did in Seattle, including California transfer Jordan Mathews (13.5 PPG) and 7’1″ center Przemek Karnowski, an All-WCC Preseason pick. Expect massive production in Spokane from Williams-Goss.

  • Alec Peters – F – Valparaiso. See our Player of the Year write-up above. Peters is one of the best players in college basketball, O26 or otherwise.
  • Mike Daum – F – South Dakota State. Daum came out of nowhere last season to lead South Dakota State in scoring (15.2 PPG), rebounding (6.1 RPG), two-point percentage (57% 2FG), and three-point percentage (44% 3FG), all despite averaging just 20.8 minutes per game. In fact, on a per-possession basis, Daum was among the most effective offensive players in the entire sport last year, trailing only Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine and High Point’s John Brown in offensive rating (123.3 ORtg) among highly-used players. The sophomore should see much more playing time this year, which means those already-superb numbers could skyrocket.
  • Evan Bradds – F – Belmont. You want efficiency? Bradds delivers efficiency. The 6’7″ forward knocked down a ridiculous 208 of 290 shots on his way to posting the highest shooting percentage (71.7% FG) in college basketball since 2010-11, including a 12-for-12 performance against Evansville (28 points) and a 15-for-16 outing against Austin Peay (32 points). Bradds is also a stellar defensive rebounder, leading the Ohio Valley in defensive rebounding rate and ripping down over nine boards per game. There’s a good chance the senior tops the conference in both scoring and rebounding this season. There’s also a good chance he leads Belmont back to the NCAA Tournament.

Second Team

New Mexico's Elijah Brown knows how to get to the bucket. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

New Mexico’s Elijah Brown knows how to get to the bucket. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

  • Emmett Naar – G – Saint Mary’s. Naar (14.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG) is the engine that makes Saint Mary’s hyper-efficient offense go. In addition to being an outstanding shooter (41.8% 3FG), the Aussie logged six performances last season in which he dished out at least eight assists while turning the ball over two times or fewer. Nearly all of his teammates are back, so expect even better chemistry and more production in 2016-17.
  • Justin Robinson – G – Monmouth. Quick, elusive, and clutch, the 5’8″ Robinson maintained his gaudy full-season scoring average (19.3 PPG) during high-profile wins against UCLA, USC, Notre Dame and Georgetown. He also led the Metro Atlantic with 2.2 steals per game, helping him seal conference Player of the Year honors and lead Monmouth to its first league title since joining the MAAC in 2014. With all of his teammates back, expect a similar campaign from the tough-as-nails senior.
  • Elijah Brown – G – New Mexico. The Preseason Mountain West Player of the Year averaged 21.7 points per game last season, good for 14th nationally. He gets to the free throw line like few others, and finishes the job when he gets there — Brown’s free throw percentage (85.1% FT) was second to only North Carolina State’s Cat Barber among players who took over 250 attempts. His outside shooting (39.4% 3FG) and passing ability aren’t bad either (5.0 APG). Brown is one of college basketball’s premier shooting guards.
  • Kevin Hervey – F – UT Arlington. Hervey could easily be on our O26 First Team, and maybe he should be. Before tearing his ACL on January 21, Hervey (18.1 PPG, 9.8 RPG) was putting up impressive numbers against impressive—or, at the very least, talented— opponents. The long, mobile 6’7″ forward dropped 18 points and seven rebounds in a win at Ohio State. He logged 22 points and 11 boards in a victory at Memphis. If his knee has fully recovered, Hervey should win Sun Belt Player of the Year. He may also lead UT Arlington to its first NCAA Tournament since 2008.
  • Antonio Campbell – F – Ohio. Campbell racked up 19 double-doubles in 2015-16, including a four-game stretch during mid-February (a winning streak) in which he averaged 25.7 points and 14.0 rebounds per contest. His defensive rebounding rate, block rate, true shooting percentage and even three-point percentage (44.6% 3FG) ranked among the best during Mid-American play. After earning an honorable mention All-America nod and testing the NBA Draft waters, Campbell could break some records this season.

O26 Third Team

It's time to start paying attention to Rice's Marcus Evans. (USATSI)

It’s time to start paying serious attention to Rice’s Marcus Evans. (USATSI)

  • Marcus Evans – G – Rice. Evans’ freshman season was an overwhelming success, as he led Conference USA in steals (2.16 SPG), finished second in scoring (21.4 PPG), and poured in 25-plus points on 12 different occasions. The 6’2″ shooting guard and his young team could be even better in 2016-17.
  • Jaylen Adams – G – Saint Bonaventure. Flanked by Marcus Posley (19.6 PPG) and Dion Wright (16.7 PPG), Adams’ accomplishments may have been somewhat overlooked last season. The point guard averaged 17.9 points and 5.0 assists a game, making his mark both at the free throw line (51.9 FTRate) and from behind the arc (43.8% 3FG). With Posley and Wright now gone, Adams will shoulder an even larger load this season.
  • Tyler Cavanaugh – F – George Washington. Cavanaugh, a 6’9″ Wake Forest transfer, made an immediate impact in his first season as a Colonial, proving effective both as an inside scorer (167 points from the free throw line) and from behind the arc (41.7% 3FG). George Washington lost a lot this offseason—including its head coach—so expect even more usage from Cavanaugh.
  • Zena Edosomwan – F – Harvard. After a breakout 2015-16 campaign (13.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG), one gets the sense that the Edosomwan—an outstanding rebounder and defender—is poised to become an even better offensive weapon this season, especially with point guard Siyani Chambers back at the helm. If so, the Ivy League better look out.
  • Tim Kempton – F – Lehigh. A skilled big man with NBA lineage, Kempton has been the model of consistency since arriving at Lehigh, averaging at least 13.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in each of his three seasons. Last year, he posted career highs in nearly every category (17.7 PPG, 9.5 RPG) and logged 13 double-doubles, including an efficient 16-point, 12-rebound outing at Syracuse. This guy is really good. Bucknell’s Mike Muscala found NBA success after a stellar Patriot League career. Who knows what’s next for Kempton?
Tommy Lemoine (250 Posts)

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