March Madness 2017: The All-Tournament Team Through the Elite 8
Your 2017 NCAA tournament bracket is hopelessly busted, and these players are the biggest reason why.
With four of the six rounds in the books, we've scoured the 64 box scores to name a first and second all-tournament team.
Several of these players are on teams that have already been eliminated, so they'll almost certainly be out of the conversation when the time comes for the final all-tournament squad. For the time being, though, it'd be ridiculous to not include Frank Mason as a first-teamer, considering he scored at least 20 points in all four games for the Jayhawks. Likewise, we felt compelled to shout out a few guys who were outstanding before being knocked out in the Sweet 16.
But team success is one of the biggest factors on this list of individual feats. Mason made it onto the first team, but he isn't anywhere near the candidate for Most Outstanding Player that Tyler Dorsey or Sindarius Thornwell is, since those two guys still have (at least) one game left.
- Dillon Brooks, Oregon
- Jordan Mathews, Gonzaga
- Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina
- Edrice "Bam" Adebayo, Kentucky
- KeVaughn Allen, Florida
- Devin Robinson, Florida
- Chris Silva, South Carolina
- Josh Jackson, Kansas
- Jevon Carter, West Virginia
- Johnathan Motley, Baylor
- Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga
After a slow start to the tournament, Williams-Goss got back to playing like the guy who tore the West Coast Conference to shreds all year long. His 23 points, eight rebounds, four assists and zero turnovers against Xavier paved the way for a cakewalk into the Final Four.
Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
The junior wing never got going in the 24-point loss to Gonzaga, but it was his 75 points in the first three games that enabled the Musketeers to upset Maryland, Florida State and Arizona en route to the Elite Eight. There's a good chance he'll be back for one more year with dreams of leading Xavier to its seventh Sweet 16 in 11 seasons.
Luke Maye, North Carolina
No one could have possibly predicted Luke Maye would score a career-high 16 points in the Sweet 16 before surpassing that with 17 points in the Elite Eight. South Carolina reaching the Final Four is the biggest surprise of the tournament, but Maye's emergence as a star off the bench is high on the list of shockers.
De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky
If nothing else, Fox established in the win over UCLA that he might have a brighter NBA future than both Lonzo Ball and Malik Monk. His 39 points against the Bruins was the most any individual has scored in the tournament. He wasn't efficient in any of the other games, posting an O-rating below 95 in each one, but you simply don't carry a team into the Elite Eight with a near 40-burger against a title contender without at least getting second-team honors.
(Tie) Caleb Swanigan, Purdue and Derrick Walton Jr., Michigan
It's hard to make a case for players from teams that lost in the Sweet 16, but this Big Ten duo bears mentioning one more time. Swanigan averaged 18.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists for the Boilermakers while Walton put up 18.7, 5.7 and 8.3, respectively, for the Wolverines. For a few days, these two studs enabled Big Ten fans to brag that their conference was better than the ACC.
Frank Mason III, Kansas
Tournament Average: 22.3 PPG, 6.0 APG, 4.5 RPG, 37.5% 3PT
By the Numbers: Frank Mason scored at least 20 points in each tournament game, building on what had become par for the course during his (likely) National Player of the Year campaign. He was especially lethal in the Sweet 16 against Purdue. Mason scored 26 points on just 11 field-goal attempts with seven assists and seven rebounds.
Shining Moment: There weren't many critical junctures in Kansas' games, as all four were decided by at least a 14-point margin. But Mason single-handedly kept the Jayhawks from getting obliterated in the first half against Oregon. While the Ducks scored on seemingly every possession, Mason kept pace with 15 consecutive points of his own. He put the team on his back while Josh Jackson and Devonte' Graham were held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.
What's Next: Mason's incredible college career came to an end at the hands of Oregon, so there's nothing next in his NCAA tournament future. It will be interesting to see if any NBA team gives him a chance, though. DraftExpress currently has the 5'11" Mason projected as the 59th overall pick in June, but 5'9" Isaiah Thomas has done pretty well with a career that began as the 60th pick.
Jordan Bell, Oregon
Tournament Average: 12.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 2.8 BPG, 1.8 APG
By the Numbers: There was much concern over what Oregon would do without Chris Boucher, but Jordan Bell has risen to the occasion. He has at least 12 rebounds in each tournament game and has been the shot-blocking anchor of a defense that has improved in each round. Holding Michigan and Kansas to a combined 64.0 points per game might be the most impressive number that can be attributed to Bell's presence.
Shining Moment: During an Elite Eight sequence that appeared to be destined for Bell's blooper reel, he had a layup attempt rejected by Landen Lucas and simply fumbled the ball away at the top of the key four seconds later. But he was just setting the stage for an epic chase-down stuff, getting redemption on Lucas for his defensive effort one play later. Bell had eight blocks against Kansas, but that was the best one of the entire tournament.
What's Next: The biggest test lies ahead for Bell. It was one thing to look great against the perimeter attacks of Michigan and Kansas, but how will he fare against North Carolina's four-man frontcourt? He has been outstanding on the glass thus far, but Kennedy Meeks and company could be more than he can handle.
Justin Jackson, North Carolina
Tournament Average: 19.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.5 SPG, 40.7% 3PT
By the Numbers: Justin Jackson has been a reliable source of offense for the Tar Heels all season long, scoring between 14-24 points 24 times, including all four of his games in the tournament. In fact, he has at least 15 points, five rebounds and three assists in each of North Carolina's four wins. His numbers don't often jump off the page, but it's almost a given they'll be solid.
Shining Moment: Midway through the first half of the Sweet 16 win over Butler, Jackson took over. There was a stretch of just over six minutes in which he had nine points, a pair of assists and a couple of rebounds. But the moment that proved what he'll be able to do at the next level was when he took a shot from at least four feet beyond the three-point arc and it barely touched the net on the way through. North Carolina has been struggling from three-point range in the tournament, but not Jackson.
What's Next: Few teams have been able to contain this 6'8" wing. Considering he is taller than Oregon's starting center, that trend ought to continue in the Final Four. Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell will likely be preoccupied with trying to slow down the likes of Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks, leaving Jackson with at least a four-inch height advantage over the player responsible for guarding him. This could be a good old-fashioned three-point shooting contest between Jackson and the next player on our first team.
Tyler Dorsey, Oregon
Tournament Average: 24.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 65.4% 3PT
By the Numbers: Tyler Dorsey—A.K.A. Mr. March—has been putting on some kind of a show. He has made at least 50.0 percent of his three-point attempts in each game while pushing his streak of consecutive games with at least 20 points to seven.
Shining Moment: Dorsey has been so clutch it's hard to choose one moment. In the comeback win over Rhode Island, he scored the final six points, turning a three-point deficit into a three-point win with back-to-back three-pointers. After the second triple, he looked to the crowd and tapped on his wrist to say "It's Mr. March time." But for my money, Dorsey's best moment was the game-winning bucket against Michigan, on which he drove the lane, stopped on a dime, executed a spin move and scored on his off-balance defender.
What's Next: Dorsey's next game is against a North Carolina team that has had some issues this season with hot shooters. Luke Kennard scored at least 20 in each of his three games against the Tar Heels, Davidson's Jack Gibbs lit them up for 30, and it was against North Carolina that Malik Monk had his memorable 47-point performance. If Dorsey catches, there might not be any means of extinguishing him.
Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina
Tournament Average: 25.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 2.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 47.8% 3PT
By the Numbers: Thornwell has scored at least 24 points in each game, despite only accounting for more than 14 field-goal attempts in one of them. He also has at least six rebounds and six made free throws in each win. An opponent might be able to slow him down in one area, but he cannot be completely shut down.
Shining Moment: Late in the second half against Florida, Thornwell scored eight points on four consecutive possessions. But the last bucket of the bunch was the one that cemented him as the most unstoppable player in the tournament. Thornwell caught an entry pass on the left block and spun to the middle, drawing a second defender. Most mortals would have gotten stuffed by Kevarrius Hayes or Justin Leon. At the very least, 99 percent of guys would have missed the shot. But Thornwell double pumped in mid-air and got another two points.
What's Next: Thornwell led the Gamecocks past a No. 2, 3 and 4 seed, and now a No. 1 seed is on tap. Gonzaga is the one team in the country that has been stingier on defense than South Carolina, and the Zags have proved multiple times that they can neutralize an opponent's primary source of offense. If Thornwell puts up at least 24 points in yet another win, he should be the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, regardless of what happens in the title game.
Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.