You can't fashion a preseason All-America team in 2005 without tapping liberally into the talent bases in Durham, N.C., and Storrs, Ct.
So that's what we've done, as illustrated by the presence of two players apiece from Duke and Connecticut on the Scout.com Preseason All-America teams.
Gay's junior teammate, center Josh Boone, is a third-team selection.
The Atlantic Coast, Pacific 10 and Big East conferences have three representatives each, with the Big 12 and Big Ten bagging two apiece and the West Coast and Southeastern conference placing a player each among the 15 chosen to the three teams.
The players were chosen based on what they have accomplished during their college careers and how we project them to play this season. Projected NBA Draft status was not factored into the selections.
Here's a closer look at the 15 All-America choices, as well as a list of 15 other players who came the closest to landing somewhere on those three teams:
Shelden Williams (Center, 6-9, Sr., Duke)
What he did last season: 15.5 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.7 blocked shots per game; .582 FG%
Why he's here: He's the most forceful and consistent low-post presence on the college level and one of a half a dozen or so reasons why the Blue Devils are the consensus choice to win the 2006 national championship.
Craig Smith (Power forward, 6-7, Sr., Boston College)
What he did last season: 18.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game; .504 FG%
Why he's here: He would have been the preseason Player of the Year in the Big East if the Eagles hadn't relocated. He could win it in the ACC if Shelden Williams and J.J. Redick cancel each other out as front-runners.
Rudy Gay (Wing forward, 6-7, So., Connecticut)
What he did last season: 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.9 blocked shots per game; .456 FG% (.452 on 3's)
Why he's here: Definitely in the mold of most of the talented wings that Jim Calhoun has coached. He wasn't nearly the dominating presence in July (as a Nike Camp counselor and at USA Basketball trials) that most NBA talent evaluators expected he would be.
J.J. Redick (Wing guard, 6-4, Sr., Duke)
What he did last season: 21.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game; .408 FG% (.403 on 3's)
Why he's here: The Top Five finisher in the last John R. Wooden Award race is clearly the best player at his position in the country and is a much more well-rounded player than some give him credit for being. But it's about time he cranks up that shooting percentage just a tad.
Dee Brown (Point guard, 5-11, Sr., Illinois)
What he did last season: 13.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game; .499 FG% (.434 on 3's)
Why he's here: He was the Big Ten Player of the Year while helping the Illini win 37 games last season. File those under "impeccable All-America credentials". The ball will be in his hands pretty much full time now with Deron Williams playing for Jerry Sloan instead of Bruce Weber these days.
Paul Davis (Center, 6-10, Sr., Michigan State)
What he did last season: 12.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game; .541 FG%
Why he's here: He seems to get nit-picked more than any other player in the country but it was hard to fault his performance in the NCAA tournament, especially in collecting 49 points and 38 rebounds against Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Taj Gray (Power forward, 6-8, Sr., Oklahoma)
What he did last season: 14.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.8 blocked shots per game; .557 FG%
Why he's here: His numbers may not lead you to believe so but he's just about as dependable a rebounder as there is on the college level. There isn't quite enough variety to his offensive game to get NBA scouts particularly pumped. But, on this level, he's got more than enough to dominant most guys who try to check him.
Adam Morrison (Wing forward, 6-8, Jr., Gonzaga)
What he did last season: 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game; .498 FG% (.311 on 3's)
Why he's here: He's the latest model of "Gonzaga's best player since John Stockton". And he actually might be that, too. And there isn't a forward in college with his scoring ability.
Taquan Dean (Wing guard, 6-3, Sr., Louisville)
What he did last season: 14.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game; 445 FG% (.447 on 3's)
Why he's here: He more than did his share in helping Coach Rick Pitino take his third program to a Final Four last spring. You've got to like guys whose jumpers have textbook deliveries, no matter the duress provided by a defender or the circumstance of the game.
Daniel Gibson (Point guard, 6-2, So., Texas)
What he did last season: 14.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game; .415 FG% (.398)
Why he's here: He's the best player in the Big 12 (although a compelling argument could be launched for Taj Gray). He was easily the Nike Camp counselor who drew the most praise from the NBA personnel directors and scouts who watched them work out in July in Indianapolis – and Rudy Gay, Adam Morrison, Shelden Williams and Rajon Rondo were among the other counselors.
Josh Boone (Center, 6-9, Jr., Connecticut)
What he did last season: 12.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 3.0 blocked shots per game; .609 FG%
Why he's here: He might only be his team's third or fourth offensive option at times but he usually scores without a lot of fuss or muss when they do pass him the ball into the post. And he'd block as many shots as Shelden Williams does if he didn't have Rudy Gay alongside him swatting a bunch, too.
Leon Powe (Power forward, 6-8, So., California)
What he did last season: Did not play while recovering from knee surgery; as a freshman in 2003-04, he averaged 15.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game
Why he's here: I probably wouldn't be making this pitch if he had been healthy a year ago. If that had been the case, he would more likely than not be in the NBA right now. He's the most formidable post player in the Pac 10 and the same claim could be made if he played in almost any other conference as well.
Hassan Adams (Wing forward, 6-4, Sr., Arizona)
What he did last season: 12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game; .491 FG% (.302 on 3's)
Why he's here: The ultimate slasher/take-you-off-the-dribble guy in college this season. And, truth be told, we could also refer to him as the best 6-4 "center" in the game, too, since he's something approaching relentless in the low post.
Ronnie Brewer (Wing guard, 6-7, Jr., Arkansas)
What he did last season: 16.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.5 steals per game; .475 FG% (.396 on 3's)
Why he's here: He could also, in essence, be listed at either of the other perimeter spots. That's why he's the most versatile player in the SEC and many points north, east and west. He's got a funky release on his jump shot but it goes in enough that people have to guard it.
Chris Hernandez (Point guard, 6-2, Sr., Stanford)
What he did last season: 15.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game; .430 FG% (.404 on 3's)
Why he's here: It seems as if Lute Olson has been calling him "the best point guard in college basketball" for as long as Hernandez has been in a Stanford uniform. That's got to be worth some kind of prize. Here it is.
Among those also strongly considered were:
Point guards: Marcus Williams (6-3, Jr., Connecticut); Rajon Rondo (6-1, So., Kentucky) and Ronald Steele (6-2, So., Alabama)
An April inductee into the USBWA Hall of Fame, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's National Basketball Expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at email@example.com. Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.FrankHoops.com