College Basketball's 2011 All-America Team ... With No Early Entry
We've never stood against a man being able to make a living -- unless your somehow involved in the endless Bachelor series of shows -- at least until we started thinking about what the current All-American teams would look like without early entry.
Then we wept like Dick Vermeil watching an episode of Oprah.
Oh, what could have been for college basketball.
In our latest installment of the FanHouse teams, we take a look at what the All-American team might have looked like if there were no early entry in college basketball.
We generally disregarded matriculation choices that might have been made differently by players due to scholarship limits or backlog -- for example, John Calipari has personally recruited enough players to fill out the Chicago Bears roster and have enough left over for a Cubs game -- but we did give some weight to how much playing time would be available for freshmen in a game that still included star seniors. It did not, however, keep us from naming back-to-back Calipari recruits Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans to our teams.
We also played the role of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions for two players -- one that made our first team and one that would have likely been a second-teamer. We granted Rose eligibility for his senior year despite the still murky entrance chicanery at Memphis while we ruled O.J. Mayo permanently ineligible.
Rose's issue was one of eligibility, which the NCAA typically deals with by forcing a player to sit out certain games, even if it's a matter of a year (And, presumably, qualify legally, depending on the still hazy details of his SAT score). Mayo, meanwhile, was an amatuerism issue, which remains sacrosanct to the NCAA. (Ask Enes Kanter.) Had Mayo remained in school or Tim Floyd remained coach, the NCAA likely would've looked deeper into the Mayo side of the case and come down with a "permanently ineligible" ruling.
We think. If we're wrong, you have 90 days to submit your appeal, and four to six weeks later we'll let you know we don't care.
Besides, it's our team. If the Field of Dreams guys could leave out Ty Cobb, we can leave out Mayo.
We also opted not to include Brandon Jennings, who on talent alone would be somewhere in the top two teams, but never actually played college basketball.
One final note, as with our usual setup of FanHouse teams, we tried to balance out the positions to form a working lineup, unlike the typical All-America teams. Our sincerest apologies to third-teamer John Wall and Sir not-appearing-on-this-list Jeff Teague, among others.
Comments are by FanHouse college hoops editor Ray Holloman and associate editor Matt Snyder, who had to be wrestled by three men and an ill-tempered bonobo to give up his campaign for Indiana's Jordan Hulls.
Derrick Rose, Sr., PG Memphis -- Rose played his lone year in college like a bowling ball on a billiards table, banging around, over and through anybody he darn well pleased. As a senior, Rose would likely be one of the best point guards college basketball has ever seen. The 2009 NBA rookie of the year is averaging 25 points and eight assists a game in the NBA this year and has developed a capable perimeter jumpshot, fixing one of his few weaknesses on the amateur level. Letting him play another three years of college basketball would be like letting Charlie Sheen run a fraternity's pledge week and equally unpleasant for everyone else involved. -- RH
Eric Gordon, Sr. SG, Indiana -- He averaged 20.9 points a game as a freshman for the Hoosiers, and this with an injured wrist for more than half the season. His numbers suffered, but still looked really impressive. The combination of deep range plus explosiveness to the hoop would make him a lethal offensive force. Considering he's averaging 24.1 points a game in the NBA, the guess here is he would have his way with the rest of the Big Ten this season, assuming he could stay healthy. -- Matt Snyder
Michael Beasley, Sr. SF, Kansas State -- One in a nice little line of freakish players from the Class of 2011, Beasley could do pretty much anything at the collegiate level. In his lone NCAA season, he averaged 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds while helping to put Kansas State on the national map. Playing alongside our team's center in Minnesota, Beasley is putting up 20 points a game in the NBA. Who could stop him in the Big 12 right now? He'd go for 30 a night. -- MS
Blake Griffin, Sr. PF, Oklahoma -- The NBA's dunkomatic averaged 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds a game as a sophomore. He ended up missing his entire would-be-rookie season in the NBA due to injury. Upon return this season, he was so rusty he's averaging, uh, 22.8 points and 12.6 boards. The stats don't even tell the whole story. He's been a highlight reel. Imagine the poor kid from Northwest Pay-for-Play State that would wind up on the wrong end of a poster in an early-season patsy game. Heck, he would've played against Division III Chaminade this year, who are even worse than the Clippers. -- MS
Kevin Love, Sr. C, UCLA -- How stacked is this first team? Love has tied Moses Malone's ancient record with 44 consecutive double-doubles in the NBA. He goes for 21 and 15 a game. In this scenario, he would be playing in the Pac-10. He could be looking at Elgin Baylor (while at the University of Seattle) numbers. -- MS
Tyreke Evans, Jr. PG Memphis -- Evans' game is more suited to the widely spaced, 1-on-1 game in the NBA, but that wouldn't keep the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year from marching through college basketball like Patton through a game of RISK. Like Rose, Evans wasn't a great outside shooter in college, but was the perfect catalyst for Calipari's dribble-drive motion. Evans likely would've played the off-guard -- or gone elsewhere -- in light of Rose's commitment, but at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds and dynamic off the dribble, he would've been a star anywhere.
Evan Turner, Sr. SF, Ohio State -- Turner was the national player of the year as a junior and it's a good bet he'd thrive even more with big Jared Sullinger drawing attention on the block and savvy point guard Aaron Craft dishing the rock. The stat-sheet stuffer went for 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists last year. His numbers might look slightly different with the dynamic of the team being different, but that doesn't mean he'd be any worse a player. -- MS
Donte Greene, Sr. PF Syracuse -- "Power" forward might be stretching it for a player who's built more Olive Oyl than Popeye, but Greene's size, athleticism and touch on the perimeter made him a serious matchup problem for Orange opponents at either forward position. The 25th pick in the 2008 draft, Greene averaged 17.7 points per game in the Big East as a freshman, fourth in the toughest league in the country. Plus, Greene sticking around for four years would level some of the karmic imbalance for wearing the student-made "Don'te Leave" t-shirts before declaring for the NBA draft. -- RH
DeJuan Blair, Sr. PF Pitt -- The Panthers are already the nation's best offensive rebounding team among major conferences without adding in Blair, a man who treated rebounding as a holy calling. As a sophomore, Blair posted a 126.7 offensive efficiency rating and led the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. A Scottie Reynold's dash denied him a trip to the Final Four in his last season at Pitt, but that likely would've changed in the following two years. In 2010, Pittsburgh opponents would have to try and rebound against Blair and Gary McGhee in the frontcourt. Or, if they preferred something slightly easier, they could try a relay race against Usain Bolt and Zenyatta. -- RH
DeMarcus Cousins, So. C, Kentucky -- The big man went for 15.1 points, 9.8 boards and nearly two blocks a game in his only collegiate season. He's only putting up only slightly worse numbers in the NBA. If John Calipari could have convinced Cousins to stay in school one more year -- and keep those elbows to himself -- the Wildcats would have a national championship contender with his dominance in the paint. -- MS
John Wall, So. PG, Kentucky -- As we wrote early in his Kentucky career, the Wildcat point guard made UK history more frequently than he had to shave, which was even more tribute to his splendid athleticism than his perma-peach fuzz. No one-and-done was as hard to say goodbye to as Wall, who, unlike most one-and-doners, took his sublime talents to a national championship contending team on one of college basketball's blue bloods and one sports' biggest stages. Wall averaged 16.5 points and 6.5 assists per game as a freshman and would, without a doubt, be the premiere playmaker in college basketball. He still likely wouldn't be shaving much. -- RH
Jrue Holiday, SG Jr. UCLA -- Holiday's freshman year in Westwood wasn't the sort of year you'd tell your kids about, but had he returned to play point guard after the graduation of Darren Collison, Holiday would've blossomed as a star on the college stage. Holiday has thrived with the 76ers since taking over as the starting point guard last year and shown much more offensive flair than his so-so freshman campaign at UCLA. Whether he would've thrived in Ben Howland's system is up for debate, but it certainly didn't keep Jordan Farmar, Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook from star turns. --RH
James Harden, SR. SG Arizona State -- Harden beat out USC's DeMar DeRozan for the last slot on the team purely on scoring prowess. Harden averaged 20.1 points per game on Herb Sendek's glacially paced 60 possessions-per-game Arizona State team. Making a college basketball fan want to watch a Sendek offense is in itself feat enough to win an Emmy, let alone make this team. --RH
Wesley Johnson, Sr. SF Syracuse -- Unfortunately, the last thing we college basketball fans remember about Johnson are his NBA draft night pants, a sartorial tribute to your parents' couch. The oldest player on this list, Johnson likely would've managed something in the neighborhood of 18 and 10 as a fifth-year senior, which likely would've gotten him a spot on the All-American team ahead of other contenders like Duke's Kyle Singler. If you prefer a more traditional power forward here, Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors and Ohio State's Derrick Favors are up next. -- RH
J.J. Hickson, Sr. PF N.C. State - So, the ACC's only representative played for N.C. State? Color us surprised as well. In real life, Hickson would almost certainly lose out Singler, as he did for the 2008 ACC Rookie of the Year Award, but we need soemone to play with his back to the basket. Hickson's professional career has been impressive -- he's a 16 and 10 guy even with a certain former teammate's talents now in Miami, and as a senior in the ACC, would be a consistent double-double player. Of course, even with Tracy Smith playing alongside him, N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe would likely still find a way to coach this team to irrelevancy, putting this last slot in the hands of Kansas' Cole Aldrich or Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu.--RH
Closest Current Players
Jimmer Fredette, BYU: Fredette may be the most likely to emerge from current players, not because he's the best of the lot, but because his level of competition wouldn't be as wildly changed as a major conference. He'd still average 25 a game and still have an utterly cool first name that would distract voters from things like defense and non-ball-hoggery. But with all the stars still in college, it's difficult to project where BYU and Fredette would impact the national consciousness. Could he pull a Stephen Curry or would Fredette be more Norris Cole, a great scorer on a team with little mainstream attention?
Nolan Smith, G Duke: Duke's roster would remain unchanged, save for players the Blue Devils may not have recruited due to their short-timer billing, if any. Only a handful of players would return to the ACC, meaning Smith would probably still be the best player on the best team in the ACC and a 20-plus point player. (Of course, Wake Forest might argue -- returning Jeff Teague, James Johnson and Al-Farouq Aminu with an outside shooter like Gary Clark sounds like the perfect combination to beat the current Duke team). Kyle Singler would have a heck of an argument based on the same criterion.
Jared Sullinger, F Ohio State: Sullinger was the last of the current players we cut, which is likely fitting as college basketball's best talent is almost always its freshmen class. There are a few questions with Sullinger, primarily how he'd stack up against a college landscape that still had quality big men like Cole Aldrich and Patrick Patterson (among those not selected to our three teams) roaming the paint. There's also the question of playing time. While Ohio State's recruiting wouldn't have been quite what it was, Sullinger would have to find playing time among some combination of B.J. Mullens, Kosta Koufos and Greg Oden, who undoubtedly would still be around on a medical redshirt. Or in his case, a Medicare redshirt. That's without considering the number of shots Evan Turner would still be around to demand.