2008-2009 CBB: Preseason All-American First and Second Teams
These teams are predictions based on some assumptions: namely, all the players in the draft as of today will not come back the college ranks.
First Team All-America
G: Tyrese Rice, Boston College
What sold me on the now senior Rice, was when he dropped a cool thirty-plus on my beloved Tar Heels in the first half. Not only does his range extend out well past the NBA arc, but he can handle the rock as well, dishing out 5.1 dimes a game. After trailing just National POY Tyler Hansbrough in ACC scoring, look for Rice to have another stellar season in Chestnut Hill.
G: Stephen Curry, Davidson
If I needed to explain his NCAA Tournament performance, right? Leave this sharpshooter open for a split-second, and he will drain a three right in your grill. He might look like a 12-year-old, but he plays the game well beyond his years. We can all remember him leading the Wildcats in an improbable run through the NCAA Tournament as a 10-seed. Expect this kid to score at will like he did last season, probably even eclipsing his 25.3 points per game average of last year.
F: Damion James, Texas
James is the least talked about player on this preseason First Team squad, by far. He was the third option on a talented Texas Longhorn team that featured speedy point guard D.J. Augustin and deep-threat A.J. Abrams. Looking more closely at James' numbers, it can be determined that he played with the best of them in the Big 12 all year. He averaged a double-double, with 12 ppg and 10 rpg, and his defensive skills are legit. He averaged a 1.5 blocks per game last season, and stays out of foul trouble, averaging just 2.4 fouls per contest. The most impressive part of James' game, is that he has greatly improved his outside shooting. He shot 42% from the 3-point line last year, which poses huge problems for defenses.
F: Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
After a somewhat successful freshman season in 2006-2007, Harangody burst on the scene last year to the tune of 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. At just 6'8", "Gody" as Digger Phelps calls him, found other ways to score: namely via the mid-range game. Unlike many big men, Harangody is an asset to his team at the charity stripe as well, shooting a career 78%. Gody was named Player of the Year in the best conference in the nation last year, the Big East. Don't expect the same offensive numbers, as transfers Scott Martin and Ben Hansbrough will take off some of the scoring load, but he will be the best forward in the country.
C: Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
This choice is pretty self-explanatory. Hansbrough is starting to rewrite a lot of record books at UNC, and is getting his jersey retired by the Heels, just like some of the best to ever play the game. As the National POY just a year ago, scoring 22 points and 10 rebounds per game, Hansbrough showed his dominance throughout the season. He is quite possible the hardest working individual on the floor at all times, and he makes all the hustle plays. Oh yeah, he also shoots 80% from the free-throw line, a good thing considering how often he went last year: 377 times in 39 games. Hansbrough will go down as one of the best players in Tar Heel history, which speaks volumes in itself.
Second Team All-America
G: Brandon Jennings, Arizona
This freshman is lightning quick. He also has some of the nicest handles in the country, and can throw some beautiful passes. Fans will miss Jerryd Bayless for only so long, until Jennings starts filling up the score sheet. Jennings scored 35 ppg at the best prep basketball school in the country, Oak Hill. If you watched the McDonald's All-American Game, you know just how talented Jennings is. Pay close attention, Tuscon, because Jennings will be a for sure one-and-done player.
G: James Harden, Arizona State
It was a shame that he got overlooked for Pac-10 honors due to the plethora of young talent in the conference last season. That situation will be no more, however, as Bayless, Mayo, and Love are gone. Harden can take you off the dribble, or catch and shoot the sweet jumper. He led the Sun Devils in scoring last year with 17.8 ppg, and now has a crew around him. Watch out for these Sun Devils in the Pac-10, because with Harden running the show, there could be a lot of wins.
F: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
He was just a freshman last year?! Griffin can bang inside with anyone in the country. He is an incredible talent with moves that some NBA players would love to have. It was a big surprise when he announced that he would be returning, especially because he was considered by many to be a lottery pick. At nearly 15 ppg and 10 rpg, Griffin made things look unfair at times last year, just manhandling his opponents. He plays well in big games too, dropping 27 and 14 against Kansas State, and 29 and 16 in a win over Baylor.
F: Sam Young, Pittsburgh
Young may just be one of the most athletic players in the country. At 6'6", he has a nice 3-ball, 38% last season, or can take you to the rack. After two seasons of 7 ppg, Young emerged at Pitt's go-to guy last season with 18 ppg. The inside-outside tandem of Young and sophomore DeJuan Blair will be one of the nation's best in 2008-2009. With Young making high-flying moves left and right, look for Pittsburgh to do some damage in the Big East.
C: Hasheem Thabeet, UConn
It is virtually impossible to shoot over him. At 7'4", Thabeet is a human block party, no one invited. When opponents do get a rare shot off over him, his length and wingspan almost always alter the path. He scored 10 ppg with 8 rpg, but look for those numbers to go up this season. He averaged 4.5 blocks per game, so he should definitely receive consideration for National Defensive POY this upcoming season.
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