Early look at the top players to watch this season
The 2017-18 Athlon Sports college basketball All-America team offers a nice blend of savvy veterans and highly touted newcomers. The team is headlined by forward Miles Bridges, who surprised the college basketball world — and probably even his head coach, Tom Izzo — when he announced he would return to Michigan State for his sophomore season.
The lone senior on the first team is Notre Dame’s Bonzie Wells, who is one of the craftiest inside scorers in the nation. Jalen Brunson will take on more of a leading role in his third season at Villanova after playing second (or third) fiddle to all of the Wildcats’ recent stars.
And in today’s college basketball, no All-America team is complete without at least one true freshman. Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. and Duke’s Marvin Bagley, both forwards, were relatively easy picks to round out our first five.
A peek at our second and third teams reveals two more freshmen, Arizona big man DeAndre Ayton and Alabama guard Collins Sexton. Other than Texas A&M sophomore Robert Williams, the remaining spots on our second and third teams are held down by juniors and seniors.
Marvin Bagley, F, Duke
At 6-10 with freaky athleticism and a modern skill set, Bagley is a late game changer for college basketball. He can create shots on the block, get out and run in transition and even hit the occasional 3. He’s the clear-cut favorite to go No. 1 in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
In the last quarter century, no high-major freshman has averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and two assists per game and decided to return to school — until Bridges. The Michigan State forward should enter the season as the clear National Player of the Year favorite on a team that could push for another Final Four under Tom Izzo.
Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova
Saved his best for Big East play last year as he averaged 16 points and nearly five assists per game on an outrageous 67.1 true-shooting percentage. He’s the perfect point guard for Jay Wright’s scheme on offense, and he’ll take an even bigger step forward without Josh Hart around this season.
Bonzie Colson, C, Notre Dame
A bona fide monster inside who continues to develop as an outside threat. The long-armed 6'6" center averaged 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds in Mike Brey’s spacing-oriented scheme last year. He’s also a sneaky good defender due to his quickness, strength and active hands.
Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri
A polished shooter and scorer at 6'10" who was the best senior in high school basketball last season. He can create and knock down shots at all three levels and is also a great offensive rebounder who will get dirty buckets. He’s good enough to lead Missouri to an NCAA Tournament berth this season mostly on his own.
Grayson Allen, Sr., G, Duke
Joel Berry II, Sr., G, North Carolina
Trevon Bluiet, Sr., G, Xavier
Ethan Happ, Jr., C, Wisconsin
Allonzo Trier, Jr., Arizona
DeAndre Ayton, Fr., F, Arizona
Jevon Carter, Sr., G, West Virginia
Devonte' Graham, Sr., G, Kansas
Collin Sexton, Fr., G, Alabama
Robert Williams, So., F, Texas A&M