College Basketball

Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Smart Lead AP Preseason All-America Team

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 14:  Marcus Smart #33 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys performs a reverse dunk during the quarterfinal game of the 2013 Men's Big 12 Championships against the Baylor Bears at Sprint Center on March 14, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 4, 2013

Underclassmen lead the college basketball Associated Press Preseason All-America Team as a freshman and two sophomores made the list.

Jim O'Connell of the AP announced the squad, which includes Marcus Smart, Andrew Wiggins, Russ Smith, Mitch McGary and Doug McDermott. 

Smart was the only unanimous selection after an impressive first season at Oklahoma State. The sophomore point guard showcased a great deal of versatility last year while averaging 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and three steals per game.

With ideal size and athleticism for his position, he is widely expected to be one of the top picks in the 2014 NBA draft.

Smart spoke of his decision to return to Oklahoma State, despite the monster season he had in 2012-13 (via O'Connell):

"I felt like we had a lot more to accomplish," Smart said of the loss to Oregon in Oklahoma State's opening game of the NCAA tournament. "We were a lot better team than that. That's just not the way we wanted to go out. It helped me a little bit to get motivated to come back this year."

Of course, he is not rated as highly by NBA teams as Wiggins, who has been compared to LeBron James at his age (subscription required). The freshman wing was the No. 1 recruit in the country for 2013, according to 247Sports' composite rankings, and he is expected to contribute heavily for Kansas right away.

McGary represents another young player on the list as he enters his sophomore year with Michigan. Although the forward averaged just 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season, he came up huge during the team's NCAA tournament run.

He averaged 14.3 points with 10.7 boards in six games to help lead the Wolverines to the National Championship Game. Clearly, the voters are expecting his late-season success to carry over into next season.

Meanwhile, the list rounds out with a pair of seniors who can score as well as anyone in the country. Louisville's Smith averaged 18.7 points per game last season while leading his team to a national title. 

The shooting guard will be a significant part of the Cardinals' attempt at defending their championship this time around.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16:  Russ Smith #2 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates after they won 78-61 against the Syracuse Orange during the final of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 16, 2013 in New York City.  (Pho
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

Finally, McDermott of Creighton makes this list due to his all-around scoring ability. He finished second in the nation with an average of 23.1 points per game last year while hitting 49.7 percent of his three-point shots.

The versatile forward has improved every year of his career and will hope to lead Creighton deep into March this season. 

With young talent headlining such an impressive group of players, the upcoming college basketball season promises to be an exciting one.

 

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