B/R's 2014-15 Preseason College Basketball All-American Picks
The turnover in college basketball during the one-and-done era makes it tough to pick preseason All-American teams.
Coming into this season, only two players—Wichita State's Fred VanVleet and North Carolina's Marcus Paige—made one of the three Bleacher Report All-American teams last year. Both were second-teamers.
Some will complain when they see freshmen on these preseason teams, and 20 years ago, those complaints would have been justified. But over the last eight seasons, nine freshmen have made The Associated Press first team.
The idea is to predict who will be on the teams at the end of this season. Not who earned it in the past.
Our three All-Americans teams, selected by myself and my colleague Jason King, include more freshmen (three) than seniors (two). It's a product of the times.
G Juwan Staten, West Virginia: Staten went from a hardly noticeable setup man as a sophomore to one of the best scoring point guards in the country last season. He's one of the top penetrators in college basketball.
F Stanley Johnson, Arizona: The freshman already has an NBA body (6'7", 245 lbs) and is a bulldozer with the ball in his hands. He has the ability to lead a very talented Arizona squad in scoring.
F Georges Niang, Iowa State: Fred Hoiberg loves mismatches, and Niang might as well have come out of his lab. He's a power forward who can play point guard, score with his back to the basket and drain threes.
F Perry Ellis, Kansas: The junior is a smooth operator when he has the ball in his hands. He got overlooked last season because of the Andrew Wiggins hoopla, but it's now his time to be KU's go-to scorer.
C Karl Towns, Kentucky: Towns is the most talented prospect on a ridiculously deep Kentucky roster. He is extremely skilled for a big man: Towns can pass, shoot from the perimeter and score from the blocks.
G Ron Baker, Wichita State: Baker is much more than just a knockdown shooter. His versatility allows Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall to play him in multiple positions. Look for Baker to take over as the Shockers' go-to scorer in place of Cleanthony Early.
G Caris LeVert, Michigan: No school has churned out more productive guards than Michigan the last few years. LeVert, like the others, is extremely skilled with the ability to create for himself and others.
F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona: The big lefty can play both small forward and power forward and overpower whoever has the misfortune of guarding him. He'll take on much bigger role in Arizona's offense this season.
F Sam Dekker, Wisconsin: Don't be shocked if Dekker, not Frank Kaminsky, ends up leading the Badgers in scoring. The only real weakness in Dekker's game is that he hasn't been aggressive enough. He has the game to be a star.
F Montrezl Harrell, Louisville: Harrell is a beast on both ends of the floor. He averaged close to a double-double last year (14.0 points and 8.4 rebounds). Look for him to bump those numbers up this season.
First-Team All-American: Fred VanVleet, Wichita State
Gregg Marshall is one lucky son of a gun. Why? The guy gets to coach Fred VanVleet at point guard.
"It helps me sleep at night," Marshall told Bleacher Report last month when he was talking about his backcourt, which is led by VanVleet.
The junior point guard is a coach's dream. He doesn't care about numbers. He rarely makes mistakes. He's a terrific defender who is never out of place. He has the innate awareness of when it's time for him to go make a play. And he wins and wins and wins.
The best number to judge VanVleet by is Wichita State's record. Last year it was 35-1. Expect the ridiculous winning percentage to continue as long as VanVleet is around.
First-Team All-American: Marcus Paige, North Carolina
It wasn't just the scoring last season (17.5 points per game) that was so impressive from Marcus Paige. It was often when and how he got those buckets.
Paige routinely came through in clutch moments for the Tar Heels. Part of the reason is that when the defense locks in and forces tough shots, Paige can deliver. He's a really good shooter off the dribble. And he's also content setting up his teammates early on in games.
His emergence last season was a bit of a surprise because he'd been more of just a setup man as a freshman, and the expectation was that P.J. Hairston would be UNC's go-to scorer. When Hairston was forced out, Paige stepped up.
This season begins with everyone knowing who "the man" is in Chapel Hill.
First-Team All-American: Terran Petteway, Nebraska
Terran Petteway and the Huskers are one of the best stories in college basketball. Petteway averaged just 3.3 points as a freshman at Texas Tech and then led the Big Ten in scoring (18.1 PPG) last year as a sophomore at Nebraska.
He also led the Huskers to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1998.
Now Nebraska is considered one of the best teams in the Big Ten and ranked 17th in the Bleacher Report Preseason Top 25. That's all behind a guy who was once a role player on a Texas Tech squad that won one conference game. It's amazing what a change in scenery and culture can do for a player.
First-Team All-American: Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
How good is Frank Kaminsky?
Consider this: The best interior defense in college basketball last season belonged to Arizona. The Wildcats had length and athletes up front who were athletic enough to also get out on the perimeter to guard.
Kaminsky dropped 28 points on 'Zona in a career-defining game to put his team in the Final Four.
The Wisconsin senior was consistently good all of last season, but how effective he was in March is the reason he's getting so much preseason love. That, and he's really fun to watch with the ability to drain threes and score with some fancy footwork on the blocks.
He'll lead a team that is very capable of winning a national title.
First-Team All-American: Jahlil Okafor, Duke
Sometimes it's premature to give so much attention and have such big expectations for freshmen. It's hard enough adjusting to the college game let alone living up to the hype—Andrew Wiggins can confirm as much.
But if you've ever had the chance to watch Jahlil Okafor, you're probably convinced he's different. I have. And I am convinced.
Okafor has the size and strength (6'11", 270 lbs) to handle the step up to the college ranks, and his game is extremely advanced for a freshman. He's not some otherworldly athlete. He's incredibly skilled and knows how to use his big body to his advantage. There are few big men in basketball like him; enjoy him while you have him, Blue Devils.
C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @CJMooreBR.