All-Star breaks, regardless of the sport, always seem to be very hyped up. As much attention as they create, there is never anything too interesting about them. The same format is followed year after, with the majority of the power lying in the hands of on-line fan voting. It is no surprise to find worthy players being snubbed over the "popular" names, such as Yao Ming being voted in last year’s NBA All-Star game after appearing in only five games for the Houston Rockets.
NCAA All-American teams have much more credibility.
They are voted in by a panel that breaks down statistics and contribution for the given season, rather than obsessive fans. Here, we look at NCAA Men’s Basketball All-America first-teams and see how each would fare in a jamboree of sorts. Of course, some players appear on back-to-back year’s squads, we can only assume the appearance on the latter year is the better of the player’s career (if they happen to square off, that is).
Please keep in mind, teams are not voted by position, as it is based on numbers alone. This evaluation scale allows for some teams to be guard heavy or forward heavy, allowing them to seem unbalanced. The teams we compare here are that of All-American members from 2000-2011. This eleven year range saw some of the largest breakthroughs in recent memory of college basketball.
As you see some names below, memories of their college play will race through your head, while memories of NBA play can be very cloudy, perhaps even non-existent. We will refer to the teams as Team (Year). Enjoy.
Team 2001 (Shane Battier F, Joseph Forte G, Casey Jacobsen SF, Troy Murphy F, Jason Williams PG)
Team 2011 (Jimmer Fredette G, Kemba Walker PG, Nolan Smith G, Jared Sullinger F, Jajuan Johnson C)
All arrows point to Team 2011 advancing here. With Troy Murphy being the only big man in the mix for Team 2001, JaJuan Johnson and Jared Sullinger will dominate the low post. Casey Jacobsen will keep it close with his shooting from outside, but Fredette will find ways to keep Team 2011 on top. Joseph Forte will give Jimmer a challenge, but I believe Fredette’s defense will beat Forte’s offense. Though Team 2001 dons some great outside shooting and defense, they will not contain the paint or stop Walker and Smith from penetrating. Battier would be a complete non-factor in the contest, getting defended like crazy by Nolan Smith, what’s up Dukies?
Team 2003 (David West F, TJ Ford PG, Josh Howard SF, Nick Collison C, Dwayne Wade SG)
Team 2008 (Michael Beasley SF, D.J Augustine PG, Chris Douglas-Roberts PF, Kevin Love PF, Tyler Hansbrough C)
Team 2008 moves on in this match-up. This would be a very close contest. David West was a beast at Xavier, but the combination of Hansbrough and Love on the block is just too much. Team 2008 possesses incredible size and strength. Rebounding will no doubt go to Team 2008 with Beasley, Hansbrough and Love doing what they did best. While Team 2003 has better guard play, we all know victories are made in the paint. Memphis’ Chris Douglas Roberts up against Wake Forests’ Josh Howard would be a great match-up to watch.
Team 2002 (Dan Dickau G, Juan Dixon G, Drew Gooden C, Steve Logan SF, Jason Williams PG)
Team 2010 (Sheron Collins PG, Wesley Johnson SF, Scottie Reynolds G, Evan Turner F, John Wall G)
Team 2002 collects the W here. While this is arguably one of the closest match-ups, by size and strength at least, Drew Gooden would walk all over Wesley Johnson in the paint, as Johnson would more than likely match up against him. The aggressiveness of Juan Dixon at Maryland was unmatched through college basketball. Jason Williams wasn’t a bad PG either in 2002. Williams would back Kentucky's John Wall down on the block if need be. Scottie Reynolds would contain Steve Logan and Dan Dickau isn’t flashy, but is smart and has unfaltering court vision, he’ll prevail over Kentucky’s John Wall.
Team 2009 ( DeJuan Blair F, Stephen Curry PG, Blake Griffin PF, Tyler Hansbrough C, James Harden G)
Team 2000 ( Chris Carrawell G/F, Kenyon Martin F, AJ Guyton G, Chris Mihm C, Troy Murphy G/F)
How great would this be to watch live? People forget how explosive Chris Carrawell was in the Blue Devils uniform, but Blake Griffin and Tyler Hansbrough together? That’s scary. Victory Team 2009. Having Hansbrough’s toughness and Griffin’s athletic ability on the same squad is a coach’s dream. If these two had played together during undergrad, scoreboards around the country would have lights bulbs burning out. Kenyon Martin was a beast for Bob Huggins' Bearcats in Cincy. Martin, along with Chris Mihm would keep the Griffinbrough Show intact, but not to any level of successful stops. Stephen Curry is an excellent floor general and James Harden was deadly behind the arc at Arizona State. Troy Murphy had some range, but with Griffin defending him, he’s not doing too much. Expect AJ Guyton and DaJuan Blair to be pretty quiet in this game.
Team 2005 (Andrew Bogut C, Wayne Semien F, Hakeem Warrick SF, JJ Reddick G, Chris Paul PG)
Team 2007 (Kevin Durant G/F, Alando Tucker G, Acie Law IV F, Aaron Afflalo G, Tyler Hansbrough C)
Team 2005 should walk away as the victor in this game. Andrew Bogut didn’t get too much media coverage due to him playing for Utah, but he was tough and incredibly hard to stop. Semien was a big body with impeccable hands and the outside shooting of Duke’s All-Time leading scorer JJ Reddick speaks for itself for Team 2005. Hansbrough could stop one of the big men of Team 2005, but not both. Durant would be too small for their big bodies. You throw in Chris Paul as the Team 2005 navigator and they’re limitless. Durant would find ways to score and Texas Tech's Acie Law IV can rebound for Team 2007, but Chris Paul would run circles around UCLA's Aaron Afflalo.
Team 2004 (Emeka Okafor C, Jameer Nelson PG, Lawrence Roberts F, Andre Emmett G, Ryan Gomes SF)
Team 2006 (JJ Reddick SG, Adam Morrison SF, Randy Foye PG, Shelden Williams C, Brandon Roy F)
Debatable it may be, Team 2004 prevails in this nail biter. Emeka Okafor was a brick wall in the paint. Lawrence Roberts would put up about 18 for Team 2004. Andre Emmett was atop Bobby Knight’s Best Recruit's list while at Texas Tech, save Acie Law IV. Okafor would dominate Shelden Williams down low. Providence's Ryan Gomes would school Adam Morrison of the 2006 Zag's squad like he stole a kindergartener’s lunch money. Dukes’ JJ Reddick would keep the contest close with outside shooting and Brandon Roy would penetrate well for Team 2006, but with Roberts and Okafor spying from the block, Team 2004 would send a clear message of No Guards Allowed.
Super Six Match-Ups
Team 2011 vs. Team 2008
Tyler Hansbrough and Kevin Love in their 2008 form against JaJuan Johnson and Jared Sullinger? What I wouldn’t pay to attend that match up. Hansbrough and Love would come out on top. This would give Team 2008 the W. Team 2011 guard play in Kemba Walker, Fredette and Nolan Smith will overshadow its opponent’s here but Team 2008’s Michael Beasley, Hansbrough and Love would patrol the post with dominance. Kemba Walker against D.J. Augustine would be fun to watch, but Team 2008 has a very obvious size difference. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out.
Team 2002 vs. Team 2009
Hands down, Team 2009 would walk away smiling after this game. The Griffinbrough Show would man-handle Drew Gooden’s lonesome self in the paint. Guard play would go to Team 2002, Dan Dickau was an assist machine and Jason Williams would keep the defense in check. Entering the paint on this Team 2009 squad would take someone in need of a strait jacket. Team 2009's James Harden would be too much for Juan Dixon to handle. Steve Logan would have to drop down and guard DaJuan Blair, who would come close to catching a murder charge for what he would do to Logan in the paint.
Team 2005 vs. Team 2004
As they should, Team 2005 would prove that post play combined with great shooting is a lethal weapon in college basketball. Semien and Bogut would control the paint and keep attention away from Reddick and Paul, forcing the defense to play man-to-man. Now things start to get ugly, even with Emeka Okafor and Lawrence Roberts manning the paint for Team 2004. Jameer Nelson's 2004-self would get used and abused by Team 2005's Chris Paul. Hakeem Warrick's highlight on-demand playing style against Ryan Gomes would be like a crocodile and a gazelle. Warrick was a show stopper in 2005, including when he posterized that poor Texas player in the Final Four. Youtube it.
Moving to the Finals we give Team 2005 the Veteran bye, shooting them into the Final against the winner of this dome rocker:
Team 2008 vs. Team 2009
This game could rival the Duke-Butler game in 2010. It would by far be the closest match-up of all games above. We match the Junior Hansbrough against the Senior Hansbrough (don’t get frustrated, I warned that this could happen in the first paragraph). For all intents and purposes, we will assume they cancel each other out. Victor is….Team 2008. Kevin Love against 2009's Blake Griffin would give us a great show, but Love would prevail with his intelligence in the game as Kevin Love very rarely made bad plays. DJ Augustine would fight harder than Stephen Curry, and Michael Beasley would mop the floor with a slow DaJuan Blair matching up against him. Chris Douglas-Roberts and James Harden would be solid, neither flashy though. I think it is safe to say that Team 2008 wins by a large margin here.
All-Americans of the Decade Final
Team 2005 vs. Team 2008
Aside from tickets to an event like this being well into the hundreds, the players in the game were some of the toughest of the decade and all of college basketball while they were rocking college uniforms. Andrew Bogut against Tyler Hansbrough would be a spectacle in itself (they never faced off in college). Kevin Love would eventually get the best of Kansas' Wayne Semien. Michael Beasley would out-muscle Hakeem Warrick and his matador "Ole" lazy defense. But if Chris Paul found 2005 teammate Hakeem Warrick with the right floor position, Beasley couldn’t keep up. Warrick could slash in the paint with the best of them. Chris Douglas-Roberts would most likely get shown up by Team 2008 Reddick’s outside game. Team 2008's DJ Augustine would give a valiant effort to contain Paul, but the little Demon Deacon would outperform him in the PG match-up. In the end though, post-play and paint dominance of Team 2008 gains them the right to claim the top All-America Team of the decade, ladies and gentlemen.