2017-18 Rush the Court All-America Teams

Posted by Walker Carey on March 29th, 2018

Compiling preseason All-America teams is a difficult task because nobody knows what will come during the regular season. There will always be several players who fall short of expectations and there will always be several relative unknowns who unexpectedly emerge to stardom. When our outfit of RTC pollsters selected their preseason All-America teams in November; nobody could have guessed that only six of the 15 players chosen would live up to their hype: Villanova’s Jalen Brunson; Duke’s Marvin Bagley III; Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham; Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett; West Virginia’s Jevon Carter, and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges.

Here are the 2017-18 RTC All-America Teams.

First Team All-America

  • Trae Young, Freshman, Oklahoma (consensus) (27.4 PPG, 8.7 APG, 3.9 RPG). No player dominated the national conversation this season more than Young. The freshman point guard exploded on the scene in remarkable fashion, scoring 43 points in just his fifth collegiate game (a 90-80 win over Oregon) and was both the country’s leading scorer and assist man far into the year. While Oklahoma faltered as a team, Young’s lone season in Norman was so impressive that, after the Sooners lost to Rhode Island in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, head coach Dan Hurley noted, “I made the mistake of watching some of their early games first. I didn’t sleep for a day.” Considering how quickly and easily the point guard jolted onto the college basketball scene, it is not exactly clear if Hurley was being facetious or not.
  • Jalen Brunson, Junior, Villanova (consensus) (19.2 PPG, 4.6 APG, 52.7% FG, 41.4% 3FG). Entering the season, Brunson had already developed a well-deserved reputation for being one of the steadiest players in college basketball. He took that perception to another level this season, acting as the face of an extremely even-keeled Villanova team that is headed to another Final Four. There has been a great deal of national discussion regarding how methodical and systematic Brunson appears during the course of a game that even Xavier coach Chris Mack offered his thoughts on the matter. Following his Musketeers losing by 24 at Villanova in early January, Mack implied that Brunson is a robot, stating, “You peel his face off, he’d probably have wires coming out of it.” It is currently unknown whether robots are good at basketball, but it is well-established that the junior point guard is one of the best players in the country.
  • Marvin Bagley III, Freshman, Duke (consensus) (21.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 61.4% FG). Every so often there is a much-ballyhooed recruit that meets and even exceeds the exorbitant hype that accompanies his arrival to the sport. That was the case for Bagley, as he ensured his only season in Durham was a memorable one. The phenomenally athletic freshman put his stamp on Duke basketball lore, as he became the first Blue Devil since the great Christian Laettner to record a 30+ point and 15+ rebound performance — and he did it four times. Despite missing five games with a knee injury, Bagley still became the school’s all-time freshman scoring leader following a 22-point effort in Duke’s Sweet Sixteen victory over Syracuse. While Duke’s season ended in a disappointing Elite Eight loss to Kansas where the precocious freshman somehow only managed nine field goal attempts, it is impossible to view his sole college season as anything other than a resounding success.
  • DeAndre Ayton, Freshman, Arizona (20.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 61.2% FG). Ayton was another much-ballyhooed recruit that delivered on years of promise. The Arizona big man’s dominance was expected, but that did not make it any less awe-inspiring to watch the athletic forward overpower his opposition throughout the season. Ayton is considered among the top prospects for the 2018 NBA Draft because of his incredible size — he has an ideal NBA frame and athleticism — but he is far from just an antiquated back-to-the-basket big man. It truly is a shame Ayton’s sensational freshman season will likely be best remembered for both Arizona’s First Round NCAA Tournament flameout against Buffalo and the unsubstantiated ESPN report that he was the prospect being discussed on an FBI wiretap involving an alleged pay-for-play conversation between Arizona coach Sean Miller and former ASM Sports runner Christian Dawkins.
  • Devonte’ Graham, Senior, Kansas (17.2 PPG, 7.3 APG, 40.3% 3FG). You know the senior floor general has had a substantial impact on the Final Four-bound Jayhawks when Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski noted after Kansas bested his Blue Devils in the Elite Eight: “In Graham, you have really one of the great leaders, not just players, in the country. Look, he’s one of the top five players in America, and it’s not just because he scores, but it’s how he leads. When he’s on the court, everybody is better. […] That’s why they’re as good as they are.” The Big 12 Player of the Year has been the straw that stirs the drink for the Jayhawks all season long. He has made big play after big play, and if Kansas hopes to cut down the nets this weekend in San Antonio, it is going to need Graham to play at an elite level.

Second Team All-America

  • Jevon Carter, Senior, West Virginia (17.3 PPG, 6.6 APG, 3.0 SPG). There may not have been a more fun player to watch this season than Carter — the senior guard was a key cog in the “Press Virginia” attack throughout his time in Morgantown. Carter was not a McDonald’s All-American nor was he ever really considered an early entrant to the NBA Draft, but he was a player who improved each season, culminating in becoming one of the sport’s most essential assets this year. To say Carter’s career being so successful was unlikely would be an understatement. Mountaineers’ head coach Bob Huggins noted prior to West Virginia’s first NCAA Tournament game that a major reason why Carter ended up at West Virginia was that when the coach was recruiting at an AAU tournament: “Carter is pressing at 8 AM. No one else on the team is pressing. Just him.” That relentlessness turned the guard from an unheralded recruit into a West Virginia legend.
  • Keenan Evans, Senior, Texas Tech (17.6 PPG, 3.2 APG, 47.1% FG). Texas Tech was one of the best stories of the year in college basketball. The Red Raiders finished just 18-14 last season and did not qualify for the postseason, but they turned it around with a 27-10 record and a trip to the Elite Eight. One of the key aspects of this turnaround was the improvement of Evans. He went from as a solid contributor as a junior to a bona fide star this year. Evans’ stardom was never more evident than it was during Texas Tech’s first weekend NCAA Tournament wins over Stephen F. Austin and Florida. In the first 33 minutes of the second halves of those two games, the senior guard scored 29 points on 10-of-11 shooting.
  • Carsen Edwards, Sophomore, Purdue (18.5 PPG, 45.8% FG, 40.6% 3FG). The Purdue sophomore point guard took a massive leap during his second season in West Lafayette. Edwards’ transition from a role player as a freshman to the team’s go-to guy as a sophomore was highlighted in a February win at Illinois where he finished with 40 points. Edwards was the first Boilermaker to notch that figure since Glenn Robinson reached it in 1994. The dynamic playmaker now has a decision to make, as he has decided to test the NBA Draft waters but will not hire an agent to keep the door open for a potential return.
  • Trevon Bluiett, Senior, Xavier (19.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 43.7% FG, 41.7% 3FG). Xavier’s season may have ended in disappointing fashion with an early Round of 32 exit, but that should not discount what Bluiett and his Musketeers accomplished en route to the regular season Big East title. Bluiett’s premier scoring ability and the necessity for opponents to account for him on every offensive possession created issues all season long. The sharpshooter reached 2,000 career points this season and ended his Xavier career as the program’s second all-time leading scorer (2,261 points).
  • Keita Bates-Diop, Junior, Ohio State (19.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 48% FG). Under the tutelage of new head coach Chris Holtmann, Ohio State unexpectedly had a very successful season. What appeared to be no better than middle of the road Big Ten team turned into a very good squad that earned a share of second place in the Big Ten and a trip to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. Bates-Diop specifically returned from an injury-plagued 2016-17 season to explode onto the scene, take home the Big Ten Player of the Year award and change the culture of the program. The fourth-year junior parlayed his tremendous season into an early declaration for the NBA Draft where he will be a very intriguing prospect with high upside potential.

Third Team All-America

  • Kyle Guy, Sophomore, Virginia (14.1 PPG, 41.5% FG, 39.2% 3FG). The way Virginia’s season will likely be remembered is with the Cavaliers being the first #1 seed in NCAA Tournament history to ever be upset by a #16 seed. While that game is historic and will be remembered, it must be noted that Virginia was only in that position because of an incredible regular season in which the Cavaliers took home both the ACC regular season and tournament titles. Guy’s emergence from a very good freshman contributor to the team’s offensive backbone played an important role in helping Tony Bennett’s squad reach those heights.
  • Aaron Holiday, Junior, UCLA (20.3 PPG, 5.3 APG, 46.1% FG, 42.9% 3FG). The third Holiday brother to hit the Pac-12 — older brothers Jrue played at UCLA and Justin played at Washington — really came into his own during his junior season in Westwood. With last season’s freshmen standouts Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf departing early for the NBA, the Bruins became Holiday’s team and he responded with a quality season that led the Bruins back to the NCAA Tournament. As a projected First Round pick, Holiday has made the choice to forgo his senior season, hire an agent and enter the NBA Draft.
  • Luke Maye, Junior, North Carolina (16.9 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 48.6% FG, 43.1% 3FG). Maye catapulted onto the national scene as something of a folk hero. He started in Chapel Hill as a walk-on and he ended his sophomore season as scholarship player who hit the game-winning shot against Kentucky to catapult the Tar Heels into the 2017 Final Four. Maye parlayed that success into a sensational junior campaign where he finished second on the team in scoring and first in rebounding. With Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson both graduating, North Carolina will become Maye’s team in the 2018-19 season.
  • Miles Bridges, Sophomore, Michigan State (17.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 45.7 FG%). Bridges shocked many last spring when he made the decision to put the NBA on hold and return to East Lansing for a sophomore season. While Michigan State’s year ended in a disappointing loss to Syracuse in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, Bridges helped lead the Spartans to an outright regular season Big Ten title and continued his brilliance as one of the country’s most versatile players. In a move that surprised no one, Bridges decided to end his college career after two seasons and head to the NBA.
  • Mikal Bridges, Junior, Villanova (17.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 51.2% FG, 43.6 3FG%). There may not be another player in the country that has improved more from the time he stepped foot on campus until now. Bridges has become a legitimate star for the Wildcats, as Jay Wright’s group has advanced to another Final Four. Bridges has developed into an excellent perimeter shooter and can use his elite athleticism to get the basket seemingly at will. His incredible ability to change a game was never more evident than when he was the key to an early second half onslaught in Villanova’s Second Round NCAA Tournament win over Alabama that turned a close game into a blowout.

Honorable Mention: Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s; Gary Clark, Cincinnati; Kelan Martin, Butler; Rob Gray, Houston; Grant Williams, Tennessee.

WCarey (318 Posts)

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