College Basketball Stars Who Will Be Sleepers for 2014-15 All-American Team

Brian PedersenFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2014

College Basketball Stars Who Will Be Sleepers for 2014-15 All-American Team

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    Arizona's Kaleb Tarczewski and Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski are two sleepers to watch for 2014-15 All-American honors.
    Arizona's Kaleb Tarczewski and Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski are two sleepers to watch for 2014-15 All-American honors.USA TODAY Sports

    College basketball is full of star players, but only a select few get to be called All-Americans.

    Whether it is The Associated Press version or one from another outlet, making an All-American team in a sport with more than 350 teams is among the top honors possible for a collegiate athlete. Such teams are picked based on a combination of performance and popularity, with most of the spots often getting filled by well-known stars from major programs.

    Entering the 2013-14 season, Creighton's Doug McDermott had a good chance to grab another slew of All-American nods thanks to his placement on past national lists. The same went for big names like Shabazz Napier and Russ Smith, who entered the year as known commodities with strong resumes, as well as hyped freshman stars such as Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins.

    But not all All-Americans are set in stone ahead of time. Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick, Iowa State's Melvin Ejim and North Carolina State's T.J. Warren were all considered solid players heading into the season, but to predict than any (let alone all) of them would be among the nation's best at year's end would have required a master psychic.

    Using our own crystal ball, we've scoured through the projected rosters for 2014-15 to pick out 10 players who have a chance to make it onto next year's All-American team based on what they could do this upcoming season. You've probably heard of most of them, but now you'll know a lot more about these potential sleeper All-Americans.

Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Year: Junior

    Position: Guard

    Height, weight: 6'5", 217 pounds

    A broken foot marred Malcolm Brogdon's first two years at Virginia, keeping him completely out of the 2012-13 season after suffering the injury late during his freshman year. But he was fully recovered last season, and it showed in how he led the Cavaliers' methodical offense in scoring at 12.7 points per game.

    Brogdon, who was also second on the team in rebounding and shot a healthy 37 percent from three-point range, managed to get Virginia into the Sweet 16 for the first time in nearly 20 years after also spearheading the school's first outright ACC regular-season title since the early 1980s.

    Most of Virginia's notoriety last year came from its defensive pressure and ability to keep games low-scoring, a testament to coach Tony Bennett's style. But Brogdon deserves just as much credit for his ability to contain ACC perimeter players, as well as score at a healthy pace despite a slow-down approach.

    He is part of a slew of Cavaliers who are back for 2014-15, and with another ACC and deep NCAA tourney run being very possible, he's deserving of more national attention. He'd be the school's first All-American since Ralph Sampson in 1983.

Treveon Graham, VCU

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Year: Senior

    Position: Guard

    Height, weight: 6'6", 220 pounds

    There are tall guards and big ones, and then there's Treveon Graham. At 6'6" and 220 pounds he's a matchup nightmare because of his ability to use his size to his advantage in close-up situations while still having the speed you'd expect from a perimeter player.

    He scored a team-best 15.8 points per game last season, despite only playing 28 minutes per night thanks to VCU's deep rotation. He also pulled down a stellar seven rebounds per game, forcing his way into the paint on both the offensive and defensive end to get missed shots. That drive will come in handy in 2014-15 as VCU looks to make up for the loss of inside presence Juvonte Reddic.

    Graham is also heavily involved in the Rams' "Havoc" style of defense, and though he only got 32 steals last season, he contributed to the overall intensity of how his team defended the full court.

    Needing a little more than 600 points to become VCU's career scoring leader, Graham also should have a good chance to become the Rams' first-ever All-American if another deep run in the NCAA tournament comes about.

Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    Year: Junior

    Position: Center

    Height, weight: 7'1", 296 pounds

    With 10.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season, Przemek Karnowski wasn't anywhere close to the leaders in those categories. But considering how much of an improvement those numbers were from his freshman year, it's easy to wonder how much better the big man from Poland can become.

    He uses every bit of his nearly 300-pound frame to bang around inside, and while that size proved dominant within the West Coast Conference, he also held his own against Gonzaga's many top-tier opponents last year. He had 19 points and 13 rebounds in a win at West Virginia, 15 points and 10 rebounds in the NCAA tournament win over Oklahoma State and 14 points and 10 rebounds in the third-round loss to Arizona.

    A complete opposite from Gonzaga's last center, 2013 All-American Kelly Olynyk, Karnowski is in there to eat up space and get in the way on defense while using sheer brute force to score on the other end. The Bulldogs are again loaded with great guards this coming season, and Kevin Pangos should be feeding Karnowski inside on a regular basis.

Antoine Mason, Auburn

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Year: Senior

    Position: Guard

    Height, weight: 6'3", 210 pounds

    Antoine Mason was known for two very distinct attributes last season: being the son of former NBA star Anthony Mason and for putting up tons of points on a pretty horrible team.

    But now he is poised to jump into the national spotlight, as he made it public on Wednesday that he was transferring from Niagara to Auburn for the 2014-15 season.

    He averaged 25.6 points per game last year, second only to Creighton's Doug McDermott (26.9). But Mason was on a Niagara team that went 7-26 and finished last in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Association.

    He'll now join an Auburn team that, despite going 14-16 overall and 6-12 in the SEC, is looking more and more like a major player this fall thanks to new coach Bruce Pearl's on-the-ground-and-running approach to enhancing his team's roster. Mason is one of three Division I transfers that Auburn has picked up this offseason, and the graduate student will be able to play right away.

    The Tigers probably still won't be able to overtake Florida and Kentucky for the SEC title, but if Mason can replicate his scoring prowess at the power-conference level, he could become Auburn's first All-American since Charles Barkley in the early 1980s.

Jameel McKay, Iowa State

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    Year: Junior

    Position: Forward

    Height, weight: 6'8", 210 pounds

    Jameel McKay won't be eligible to play for Iowa State until December, the result of him deciding to transfer from Marquette midway through the 2013-14 season before ever playing a game. His last collegiate competition came in March 2013 while at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa.

    As a junior college player, he was a superstar. He was named a National Junior College Athletic Association first-team All-American in both of his seasons and listed as the top-rated JUCO power forward in the country when he signed with Marquette.

    But now he has a chance to reunite with a former Indian Hills teammate, Dustin Hogue, on an Iowa State team that has once again reloaded with transfers including former UNLV guard Bryce Dejean-Jones. McKay will likely jump right into the rotation when he becomes eligible in December, and if his impact is as expected, he could be this year's DeAndre Kane for the Cyclones.

D.J. Newbill, Penn State

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    Rich Barnes/Getty Images

    Year: Senior

    Position: Guard

    Height, weight: 6'4", 205 pounds

    It's been a long strange college trip for D.J. Newbill, but the winding journey looks headed for a happy ending for the Philadelphia-bred guard who is one of the nation's most underrated scorers.

    Newbill, who led the Nittany Lions in scoring at 17.8 points per game last season, is finishing up his career at what is technically his third Division I program. He originally signed with Marquette in 2010 out of high school, only to see that scholarship go away in the summer before his freshman year, the result of Marquette signing transfer Jamil Wilson from Oregon, according to Ben Jones of StateCollege.com.

    He ended up at Southern Mississippi for the 2010-11 season, where he averaged 9.2 points and 6.2 rebounds before deciding to leave that program. He joined Penn State, and after sitting out the 2011-12 season, he scored 16.3 points per game as a redshirt sophomore in 2012-13.

    Last year he was one of the few bright spots on a team that was 16-18 overall and 6-12 in the Big Ten and hasn't finished above .500 since 2011. Newbill thrived in big wins, averaging 24 points in a pair of upsets over Ohio State and scoring 25 in an overtime victory over St. John's.

JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Year: Senior

    Position: Forward

    Height, weight: 6'7", 240 pounds

    Villanova won the first regular-season title in the new version of the Big East in 2013-14 and appears to be the heavy favorite to repeat this year with many other teams rebuilding. But for the Wildcats to go beyond the league crown, JayVaughn Pinkston will have to play like the imposing force he's capable of being.

    Despite being only 6'7", his stocky frame makes him Villanova's best inside option, though the expected development of 6'11" forward Daniel Ochefu should limit Pinkston's need to be the sole post producer. He shot a team-best 52 percent last season while averaging more than 14 points per game, but it seemed like there was something lacking from his overall game.

    He needs to be Villanova's top offensive weapon, regardless of where he is on the court, as he was during the 2012-13 season. He'll get plenty of chances to show off an improved offensive game during the Wildcats' brutal nonconference schedule that includes Illinois and Syracuse and a possible matchup with either Michigan, Oregon or VCU in the Legends Classic.

Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Year: Junior

    Position: Center

    Height, weight: 7'0", 235 pounds

    Kaleb Tarczewski was the No. 8 overall player in the 2012 recruiting class, a 247Sports' 5-star center whom Arizona plucked away from Florida, Georgetown and Kansas. But on a team loaded with talent these past two years, he has almost been a forgotten entity despite his size.

    A lot of that has been his own doing, as a still-developing offensive game limited his involvement when the Wildcats had the ball, though his scoring touch was vastly improved as a sophomore when he added a mid-range jumper to inside post moves. The defensive involvement has always been there, though, as he was a huge part in why Arizona was among the national leaders in scoring and field-goal defense.

    Tarczewski may not go much higher than his 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game that he posted in 2013-14, especially with Arizona's lineup featuring more capable scorers in forward Brandon Ashley and big guards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson. But even the slightest uptick in production, combined with his continued tenacity on defense, could elevate Tarczewski to being the nation's top center.

Alan Williams, UCSB

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Year: Senior

    Position: Forward

    Height, weight: 6'7", 275 pounds

    Every year a few players from outside the power conferences make such an impression on NBA scouts that they shoot up draft boards and end up having big professional careers. Alan Williams could have been that guy after a monster junior year with UCSB, but with another year of collegiate development, he might just become one of the best in Division I.

    He averaged 21.3 points and 11.5 rebounds last year for the Gauchos. He led the nation in rebounding while tying for 11th in scoring, and he was the only player to average 20 and 10. While much of that came against lesser competition in the weak Big West Conference, he did average 22.7 points and 9.7 rebounds in games against UNLV, California and UCLA, with the Gauchos going 2-1 in those contests.

    Williams shot 53 percent from the field last year while blocking 67 shots and showing great hands for a post man, resulting in only 59 turnovers.

    UCSB will open the 2014-15 season at Kansas and also play in the Great Alaska Shootout, so Williams will get more chances to show off his talents against guys who may potentially be his teammates or foes in the NBA someday.

Delon Wright, Utah

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Year: Senior

    Position: Guard

    Height, weight: 6'5", 180 pounds

    After working its way up from the bottom since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah seems poised to contend for a top spot in the league this fall. If that occurs, Delon Wright will make that happen.

    He wasn't heavily recruited out of City College of San Francisco, but everyone else's loss was the Utes' gain, as the lanky guard led the team in scoring at 15.7 points per game and was second in rebounding with 6.8 boards. He was named to the Pac-12's first team, the only Ute to earn that honor in the team's three seasons in the conference.

    While he still needs to develop an outside shooting game—he was just 12-of-54 on three-pointers last year—he more than makes up for it with his speed and ability to drive to the basket. Those qualities enabled him to shoot 56 percent from the field and 79 percent from the free-throw line, and when he wasn't driving, he was dishing out a team-high 5.3 assists per game.

    Wright also has a great defensive game that will be a key to Utah's success in the conference this season, as he led the Pac-12 with 2.5 steals per game in 2013-14.

     

    Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.