Bleacher Report's 2019-20 College Basketball All-American Teams

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystMarch 9, 2020

Bleacher Report's 2019-20 College Basketball All-American Teams

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    Dayton's Obi Toppin
    Dayton's Obi ToppinAaron Doster/Associated Press

    There is perhaps no better summation for how strange the 2019-20 men's college basketball season has been than the fact that players from Dayton, Iowa, Marquette and Oregon rank among Bleacher Report's All-American first team.

    Plenty of blue bloods are represented on the second and third teams, and it was tempting to include two players from Kansas on the first team. Still, the distribution of talent across the national landscape was a bit weirder than usual and sets the table for what should be a wild NCAA tournament.

    These teams were selected by David Kenyon and myself. Each first-team vote was worth three points, each second-team vote was worth two and each third-team vote was worth one.

    Among the 15 players who earned first-team, second-team or third-team honors, there are four from the Big Ten, three from the Big 12, two each from the ACC and Big East and one representative from each of the Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Pac-12 and SEC. 

    Read on for the full list of this year's college basketball All-Americans, presented in alphabetical order within each team.

    Others considered: Filip Petrusev, Gonzaga; Anthony Edwards, Georgia; Daniel Oturu, Minnesota; Saddiq Bey, Villanova; Kamar Baldwin, Butler

3rd-Team All-Americans

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    Baylor's Jared Butler
    Baylor's Jared ButlerChuck Burton/Associated Press

    Jared Butler, Baylor
    16.0 PPG, 3.1 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 38.1 3P%

    Though Baylor has had a fantastic season, it has been difficult to put an individual Bear in the national conversation because great team defense and a diverse cast of reliable offensive contributors have been the keys to its success (same goes for Florida State, by the way).

    But Butler deserves some All-American praise for his emergence as the guy Baylor turns to when it most needs a bucket. Just in Big 12 play, he put up at least 15 points on 12 occasions, including 22 in the marquee win over Kansas in January. Factor in his defense and his role as the secondary distributor in this dual-combo guard backcourt, and he's the relatively clear choice to represent the Bears.

                

    Jordan Nwora, Louisville
    18.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 40.2 3P%

    Under the assumption that he would improve at least marginally upon last year's already impressive numbers, Nwora was one of the top preseason candidates for NPOY. Instead, his stats are eerily similar across the board, and he has had a few too many no-shows throughout the course of the season.

    Still, he's the best player on arguably the second-best team in the ACC, and he has had quite a few MVP performances. When "Good Nwora" shows up, Louisville's ceiling is a whole lot higher.

            

    Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky
    16.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, 42.8 3P%

    Before the season, we expected Ashton Hagans to be Kentucky's star. One game into the season, it looked like Tyrese Maxey would fill that role. And at various points, Nick Richards has felt like the singular presence the Wildcats could least afford to lose.

    But Quickley's post-Christmas ascension to Alpha Dog has been a sight to behold. The sophomore shooting guard has averaged 18.6 points while shooting 47.2 percent from three-point range and 92.0 percent from the free-throw line over his last 20 games. If he had done that for his first 10 games, too, he'd be right in the thick of the NPOY race.

             

    Lamar Stevens, Penn State
    17.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.1 SPG

    Stevens has been more or less the same player for all four of his seasons at Penn State. He's not an efficient scorer by any means, but he gets buckets, he plays decent defense and he pulls down a good number of rebounds.

    What has changed from previous years is the supporting cast is deeper and is showing up more regularly for a Nittany Lions team that is finally going to make an NCAA tournament under Pat Chambers. As a result, Stevens will almost certainly be first-team All-B1G and narrowly made the cut for third-team All-American.

               

    Cassius Winston, Michigan State
    18.8 PPG, 5.9 APG, 2.5 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 43.2 3P%

    Winston's numbers (especially the assists) are down a bit from last year, but consider this your pre-NCAA tournament warning that the preseason favorite for National Player of the Year has been scorching lately. The senior point guard is 36-of-67 (53.7 percent) from three-point range over his last 12 games, and his assist rate is improving now that guys like Rocket Watts and Aaron Henry are making shots on a much more regular basis.

    Just like former teammate Miles Bridges, Winston has shown that it's hard to live up to the hype of being deemed the best player in the country in the preseason, even when you put up stats similar to the previous season. Regardless, with Winston hitting his stride, the Spartans look like the most dangerous team in the field.

2nd-Team All-Americans

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    Duke's Vernon Carey Jr.
    Duke's Vernon Carey Jr.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Udoka Azubuike, Kansas
    13.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 74.8 FG%

    Throughout his time with Kansas, Azubuike has been a difference-maker when healthy. And this year (knock on wood) he hasn't missed a single game.

    "Dok" has always been an efficient finisher in the paint, shooting nearly 75 percent from the field in his career. But this year, he has blossomed into a more insatiable rebounder and shot-blocker while also growing more disciplined in the fouls department.

    Let's just hope for the sake of heart health in Kansas that there's no point in the NCAA tournament where he needs to attempt clutch free throws.

               

    Vernon Carey Jr., Duke
    17.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.6 BPG

    Five years ago, Jahlil Okafor averaged 23.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per 40 minutes and spent the entire season as one of the top candidates for the various NPOY awards.

    This year, Carey is averaging 28.6 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per 40 minutes, yet people keep ignoring him while lamenting the lack of star power in the game today.

    Weird, right?

    This dude has been a force of nature as Duke's only legitimate post presence on offense, but it has been surprisingly overlooked due to some combination of limited minutes (24.9 per game) and Tre Jones and Cassius Stanley frequently stealing the spotlight. But if he can stay out of foul trouble, the Blue Devils could absolutely ride Carey to the Final Four.

            

    Malachi Flynn, San Diego State
    17.6 PPG, 5.1 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 37.3 3P%

    Denying Flynn a spot on the first team was the most painful decision throughout this entire process, because this man essentially found water in a desert, transferring to San Diego State and infusing that team with legitimate offense for the first time in decades.

    Flynn is leading the two-loss Aztecs in points, assists and steals, and the 6'1" point guard ranks among the team's top rebounders just for good measure. And he has saved his best efforts for the biggest games. In SDSU's seven "Tier A" games on KenPom, Flynn averaged 23.1 points.

    San Diego State is going to be a popular pick for an early exit just because people aren't used to seeing this team near the top of the polls and probably didn't carve out much time to watch the Aztecs play this season. But with Flynn running the show, they have championship potential.

            

    Myles Powell, Seton Hall
    21.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.2 SPG

    Efficiency has not been Powell's strong suit this season. He's shooting below 40 percent from the field and barely 30 percent from three-point range, and his scoring average has dropped from last year's despite an increase in shots taken per game. 

    But it still anecdotally feels like he's one of the most clutch players in the country.

    Missed would-be-game-winning threes at the end of two-point losses to Oregon and Villanova would suggest otherwise, but between the 37-point game against Michigan Stateless than a week after suffering what was believed to be a serious ankle injuryand his incredible play while leading Seton Hall to an 8-0 start in Big East play, Powell became larger than his stats.

    Doesn't hurt matters that he has carried Seton Hall to what will certainly be its first top-five seed in the NCAA tournament since 1993.

               

    Jalen Smith, Maryland
    15.5 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 36.8 3P%

    There are total packages, and then there's Jalen "Stick" Smith.

    Not only is Maryland's big man one of 14 players averaging at least 15 points and 10 rebounds this season, but he is also accounting for better than two blocks and one made three-pointer per game.

    If he can remain above those thresholds, he will join Yale's Greg Mangano (2010-11) as the only players in the past 15 seasons with averages of 15, 10, two and one, respectively. And Smith has done it against arguably the deepest conference ever, while Yale faced one KenPom Top 60 opponent in that entire season.

    Smith has recorded a double-double in 12 of his last 13 games and blocked at least one shot in each of those contests. If it weren't for Luka Garza running away with Big Ten POY, you would've heard a lot more about this star on a daily basis.

1st-Team All-American: Devon Dotson, Kansas

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    Devon Dotson
    Devon DotsonOrlin Wagner/Associated Press

    2019-20 Stats: 18.1 PPG, 4.0 APG, 4.1 RPG, 2.1 SPG, 30.9% 3PT

    Make all the FBI-related jokes you want, but it is remarkable how often Bill Self's lead guard ends up in the running for National Player of the Year. Frank Mason III won the Wooden Award in 2017, Devonte' Graham was among the five finalists in 2018, and Devon Dotson will likely fall into the latter category this year.

    Perhaps you're of the belief that Udoka Azubuike is actually Kansas' bigger star. It's impossible to imagine the Jayhawks being anywhere near this good if either of those studs wasn't on the roster. But forced to pick one MVP from this national championship favorite, give us the one who steers the ship, shows up on a nightly basis and rarely leaves the court.

    There have been games that Kansas won primarily because of Azubuike, but there have been just as many games that they won in spite of a lackluster performance by the big man.

    Dotson's duds have been deadlier, but also much rarer.

    Dotson has scored at least 11 points in 29 of 30 games played. The Jayhawks are a perfect 26-0 when he posts a KenPom O-Rating of 91 or betterand that doesn't even account for his impact on defense, where he is leading Kansas in steals.

    If he were just a little more reliable from three-point range, he would probably be more legitimately in the mix for NPOY.

1st-Team All-American: Luka Garza, Iowa

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    Luka Garza
    Luka GarzaCharlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    2019-20 Stats: 23.9 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 35.8% 3PT

    Luka Garza doesn't get the credit that he deserves because Iowa is likely headed for something in the vicinity of a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament. You have to go back to 2005 and Utah's Andrew Bogut to find the last time someone was named National Player of the Year for a team that received worse than a No. 4 seed.

    But here's a pertinent question: What would Iowa's record be without Garza?

    Would the Hawkeyes still be a tournament team? Would they have a .500 record? Or would they be jostling with Nebraska and Northwestern 15 games below .500 in the Big Ten basement?

    It's probably the latter of those options, considering we're talking about a workhorse who has scored at least 20 points in 16 consecutive games dating back to early January. Garza has been named the KenPom.com Game MVP 20 times, including six games that Iowa lost. No other player has received that honor more than 15 times—though Washington's Isaiah Stewart has done so in as many losses as Garza, for what it's worth.

    At this point, opponents know the ball is going to Garza as often as possible, but they are still helpless to stop him. He ranks 13th in the nation in percentage of shots taken while on the floor, and that doesn't even include his nearly 200 free-throw attempts.

    Garza's numbers are roughly in line with what eventual 3,000-point scorer Mike Daum did two years ago as a junior at South Dakota State (23.9 PPG, 10.3 RPG), except Garza makes up for a little less three-point shooting with superior defensive effort and the fact that he has done it against an exponentially more difficult schedule.

1st-Team All-American: Markus Howard, Marquette

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    Markus Howard
    Markus HowardAaron Gash/Associated Press

    2019-20 Stats: 27.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 41.2% 3PT

    Like Luka Garza, Markus Howard's NPOY case is limited by his team's shortcomings. At least Iowa is likely going to be favored in its first-round game, though. Marquette might be a double-digit seed in the NCAA tournament if it's not careful in the Big East tournament.

    But that merely puts the nation's leading scorer in a position similar to Trae Young's from two seasons ago, and Young was a unanimous first-team All-American that year, averaging 27.4 points per game for No. 10 seed Oklahoma.

    That's because Young was the first major-conference player to average at least 27 points per game since Purdue's Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson in 1993-94—a club that Howard is also on the verge of joining unless he has a dud or two in the next few weeks.

    Given the way he's pouring the ball through the net lately, though, that scenario hardly seems worth worrying about.

    Howard scored at least 30 points in each of his final five regular-season games, bringing his season total to 15 30-point efforts. That includes a 42-point game at Georgetown in mid-January and a 24-hour stretch in November during which he put up 40 against Davidson and 51 against USC.

    Howard averages more than 10 three-point attempts per game, but he makes better than 40 percent of them, so why not let it fly? He's also an excellent free-throw shooter with a James Harden-like propensity for drawing fouls. Dating back to the start of last season, he is averaging eight free-throw attempts per game. Only Arkansas' Mason Jones has made more freebies this season than Howard.

    Similar to Purdue's Carsen Edwards, Howard doesn't much contribute elsewhere in the box score and he's widely regarded as a non-factor on defense, but there's not going to be a more dangerous scorer in the NCAA tournament.

1st-Team All-American: Payton Pritchard, Oregon

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    Payton Pritchard
    Payton PritchardRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    2019-20 Stats: 20.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 41.5% 3PT

    When a team loses as many key players as Oregon lost from last season, it usually gets worse. Louis King, Bol Bol and Kenny Wooten each left for the NBA. Paul White and Ehab Amin graduated. Victor Bailey Jr. transferred to Tennessee. So the Ducks were left with Payton Pritchard, Will Richardson and a bunch of incoming transfers and freshmen.

    And yet, one year after barely getting in as a No. 12 seed by winning the Pac-12 tournament, the Ducks are comfortably in the projected field and arguably the best team in the conference.

    They can thank their veteran point guard for that.

    Pritchardwho will likely finish his career with more minutes played than anyone else in the past decade—has been Oregon's rock from day one. He opened the season with 24 points, seven assists and seven rebounds against Fresno State, and he hasn't tapered off much from there.

    Pritchard has scored at least 14 points in all but one game with a 98-59 blowout of Alabama State serving as the lone outlier. And he has had ice in his veins late in close games, hitting the shot that either forced overtime or won the game in each of Oregon's five overtime victories.

    In addition to all those clutch moments, Pritchard is on pace to become just the third major-conference player in the past 25 years to average 20 points, five assists and four rebounds while shooting 40 percent from three-point range. The others were Wooden Award winner Frank Mason and No. 1 draft pick Markelle Fultz. Impressive company to say the least.

1st-Team All-American: Obi Toppin, Dayton

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    Obi Toppin
    Obi ToppinStew Milne/Associated Press

    2019-20 Stats: 20.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.0 SPG, 39.0% 3PT

    I generally try to avoid cross-sport comparisons, but Obi Toppin's rise to National Player of the Year favorite felt like a hardwood version of what Lamar Jackson did en route to the 2016 Heisman Trophy.

    Both guys were impressive as freshmen, albeit for teams that weren't that relevant in the grand scheme of things. Thus, there were a handful of people who tried to warn us that a huge breakout year was coming. Then that explosion happened for the first month of their sophomore seasons, as they put together remarkable highlight reels and elevated their teams to an unusual status as a fringe title contender.

    Had the NPOY vote taken place at the end of that first month, they would have won the award almost unanimously. Nevertheless, they both played well enough down the stretch to ward off any challengers.

    We'll need to wait and see if Toppin can keep that parallel going by becoming a phenom in his second season in the NBA, but the dunk machine is a no-brainer choice for first-team All-American.

    Toppin has scored at least 17 points in 14 of his last 15 games, and he still put up a dozen in the exception to that rule.

    In addition to hitting threes at an impressive clip for a big man, Toppin has made nearly 70 percent of his two-point attempts on the year. In fact, in this entire season, Toppin has only been held below 50 percent inside the arc one time—and the Flyers needed overtime to beat Saint Louis on that night when he shot 4-of-10.

    It's largely because of Toppin that Dayton is A) leading the nation in two-point percentage by a laughable margin and B) a serious threat to reach the Final Four for what would be the first time since 1967.

                             

    Kerry Miller covers men's college basketball and college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames.