It’s already that time of the year. Not just the time of the year when college basketball (finally) begins, but also when predictions and lists about the upcoming season start flowing in non-stop. Obviously nobody knows yet how good teams and players will be, but it’s still entertaining nonetheless.
On Monday, the AP announced its preseason All-American team. Here’s the list.
2015-16 AP All-Americans:
- Ben Simmons F, LSU (FR)
- Kyle Wiltjer, F, Gonzaga (SR)
- Georges Niang, F, Iowa State (SR)
- Buddy Hield, G, Oklahoma (SR)
- Kris Dunn, G, Providence (JR)
Not a bad list by any means. The inclusion of the Australian standout Simmons has unsurprisingly garnered the most attention, but the other four guys are all coming off of big statistical seasons for teams that made the NCAA Tournament. It wouldn’t be all that shocking if all five of them are named All-Americans at the end of the season.
At the same time, it also wouldn’t be surprising if a few Big Ten players manage to play their way onto the list at the end of the season. While fans of the conference are likely to be disappointed no Big Ten guys made the preseason list, there’s still plenty of time for them to make the list that actually matters. Let’s take a look at five of the top contenders.
- Melo Trimble, G, Maryland (Soph)
Trimble came the closest of any Big Ten guy to actually making the list, finishing with one less vote than Simmons. Following a season in which he burst on to the scene by averaging 16.3 points and 3.1 assists to help Maryland reach the NCAA Tournament, Trimble definitely had a good case for inclusion.
What likely hurt his chances was that Hield (17.5 points) edged him in scoring while Dunn (7.6 assists) had him in assists. Still, Trimble has a great chance of becoming an All-American if both he and Maryland live up to expectations. While the Terrapins plethora of scoring threats might prevent Trimble's scoring from rising too high, he''ll get plenty of votes if he's the de facto best player on a no. 1 seed, which could easily happen.
- Yogi Ferrell, G, Indiana (SR)
Ferrell's numbers last season (16.1 points, 4.9 assists, 44 percent shooting) were slightly lower than Dunn's and Yield's, but the Hoosier senior has just as good a chance as them of being an All-American. The point guard will be the leader and go-to guy on what is expected to be a much improved Hoosiers team, and if the numbers he's averaged over the past two seasons (16.8 points, 4.4 assists, 3.3 rebounds) stay in the same ballpark or go up slightly, he'll be in the conversation.
- Nigel Hayes, F, Wisconsin (JR)
This one's a little more interesting. Hayes had a breakout year last season and was absolutely invaluable for a Wisconsin team that came a few plays away from a national title. But as good as he was (12.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 50 percent shooting), he was still the third best player on his team (behind Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker) and it remains to be seen how he strives in a lead role.
We'll find out soon enough though, as the Badgers will need a huge year from him if they expect to make any serious noise this season. But if Hayes delivers and the Badgers manage to remain a top-20 team, he'll have a shot.
- Denzel Valentine, G, Michigan State (SR)
Valentine's case is similar to Hayes. A capable scorer, rebounder, passer and above-average 3-point shooter, Valentine is easily one the best all-around players in the conference and the country. But like Hayes, the 6-foot-5 Valentine will have to adjust to being the main guy after sharing scoring duties with Travis Trice and Brenden Dawson last season. Still, his multi-faceted game should get him some votes if he plays at the same level he did last season and keeps the Spartans in the national title conversation.
- A.J. Hammons, C, Purdue (SR)
The 7'0" Hammons is one of the top big men in the country, a guy capable of scoring in the post, rebounding and protecting the rim. The only thing preventing him from being talked about as one of the best players in college basketball is the fact that he's yet to play close to 30 minutes a game in a season.
Last year, Hammons played 24 minutes a game and averaged 11.9 rebounds, 6.6 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and shot 54 percent. The Boilermakers have a more than capable backup in Isaac Haas, but if Hammons plays more minutes and add a few more points and rebounds to his stat line, he'll get some consideration, especially if Purdue lives up to the preseason hype.