Neither Doug McDermott nor Jabari Parker could make it out of the first weekend of the 2014 NCAA tournament, but that didn't stop the Associated Press from recognizing their regular-season accomplishments.
McDermott and Parker headline the AP's All-America team for the 2013-14 campaign and are joined by Louisville's Russ Smith, Connecticut's Shabazz Napier and Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick.
The likely winner of the National Player of the Year Award, McDermott has been an All-America selection each of the last three seasons. The Creighton star averaged a nation-high 26.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game during his senior year, a campaign in which he vaulted up the list of all-time scorers in college basketball history and became a consensus selection:
By virtue of today's AP All-America selection, Creighton's Doug McDermott is also a consensus First Team All-American.— Rob Anderson (@_robanderson) March 31, 2014
Finishing with 3,150 points, McDermott is the fifth-leading scorer in Division I history. He led Creighton to a 27-8 record in its inaugural Big East season, earning a No. 3 seed in the Big Dance before being eliminated in the round of 32 by Baylor. The Bears were able to defeat Creighton by getting McDermott into foul trouble early and constricting the flow of an offense that needed its star to subsist.
It was a disappointing end to what had been an otherwise sterling college career.
"Walking off that floor was a tough moment, but at the same time, it was one of the best moments because everything that’s happened the last four years," McDermott told reporters. "Everything has to come to an end eventually, and it’s just hard to describe what was going through my head walking off that floor the final time."
The potential NBA lottery pick is the 11th three-time All-American in college basketball history, but is the first in nearly three decades. Patrick Ewing of Georgetown and the late Wayman Tisdale of Oklahoma both received their third honor in 1985. While there have been players since who would have been All-Americans without impunity, the proliferation of prep-to-pro then one-and-done talent has limited the pool of players.
Such is the case for Parker, a borderline lock for a top-three pick and possible one-and-done candidate. Touted by Sports Illustrated as the "best high school basketball player since LeBron James," Parker averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game as a freshman. His time in Durham began with an all-out scoring assault, but ended in disappointment with Duke's round of 64 elimination by No. 14 seed Mercer.
Parker's pro future has been the subject of intense speculation since the upset loss. Coach Mike Krzyzewski pulled his leading scorer—who finished with 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting—at multiple points in the second half for defensive purposes. While there is no doubt he's still a top-five prospect, many around the league have become worried Parker could return for his sophomore season.
The pro futures of Napier, Smith and Kilpatrick receive far less attention, but the players combine to create a special moment for the American Athletic Conference. It is the first time in more than a decade (ACC, 2000-01) three players from the same conference made first-team All-America. For a conference that got so little respect from the NCAA selection committee and is still working to garner a national reputation in its inaugural season, this should go a long way.
It also doesn't hurt that Napier is the only All-America selection remaining in the tournament. The diminutive guard, who leads his team in points, assists and rebounds, scored 25 points in Connecticut's upset victory over Michigan State on Sunday to push the Huskies to the Final Four. Led by second-year coach Kevin Ollie, Connecticut is the first No. 7 seed under the 64-team format to make the national semifinal.
Smith, a senior, averaged 18.2 points and 4.6 assists per game for Louisville in what amounted to a coming of age for the oft-frustrating guard. His increased efficiency from all over the floor helped the Cardinals overcome numerous losses from their national championship team to make the Sweet 16.
Kilpatrick, also a senior, led the AAC in scoring at 20.6 points per game. He helped lead Cincinnati to a No. 5 seed but was upset in the round of 64 by Harvard.
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