2005's Best Players And Coaches

Sorting through all of the top players and through all the coaches who have done exceptional jobs so far this season was tedious work. Ultimately, though, we've come up with our list of the 15 "All-Americas" and top five coaches for the 2005 portion of the season. Let's see if you agree with most of the choices.

With the 2005 portion of the season all but on the books, it's time to unveil the Scout.com "Early season" All-Americas and picks for the top coaching performances of November and December.

 

The lists were pared to 15 for the All-Americas and five for the coaches (each listed alphabetically), which took some doing.

 

The names missing from each of the lists are sure to infuriate more than the names on the lists please folks.

 

But, hey! It goes with the territory.

 

A look at Scout.com's early-season (2005 portion) All-Americas:

(statistics as of Dec. 30)

 

*Hassan Adams (6-4, Sr., Arizona)

Stats: 19.9 points/6.8 rebounds/2.5 assists/2.8 steals per game

Why he was selected: With the loss of Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye, the Wildcats needed a dominant senior season out of Adams to challenge for another Pac 10 title. So far, he's delivering. He's averaged 23.0 points during the six-game winning streak the team will take into Seattle Saturday for a showdown with unbeaten Washington.

 

Arron Afflalo (6-5, So., UCLA)

Stats: 18.6 ppg/4.4 rpg/2.2 apg

Why he was selected: Teammate Jordan Farmar came into the season with more national hype after earning Pac 10 Freshman of the Year honors in 2004-5. But Afflalo has clearly been the Bruins' most important cog on both ends of the floor while leading them to an 11-1 start and eight-game winning streak. Talk about efficiency: He has scored more than 20 points six times and hasn't taken more than 14 shots in a game.

 

Maurice Ager (6-5, Sr., Michigan State)

Stats: 21.8 ppg/4.6 rpg/3.3 apg

Why he was selected: On the short list for Big Ten Player of the Year candidates, Ager averaged 26 points in the three games against the best teams (Gonzaga, Arizona and Boston College) that the Spartans faced this season. He has scored fewer than 20 points only three times this season. He's a much underrated passer (with 35 assists over the past eight games).

 

LaMarcus Aldridge (6-10, So., Texas)

Stats: 17.9 ppg/10.2 rpg/2.3 bpg

Why he was selected: The Longhorns took some national lumps as the result of consecutive 31- and 17-point losses to Duke and Tennessee. But Aldridge has performed on a consistently outstanding basis, scoring from 13 to 21 points in each game, while always hitting at least 50 percent of his field-goal attempts. His averages against West Virginia, Iowa, Duke and Tennessee: 17.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.8 steals per game.

 

Dee Brown (5-11, Sr., Illinois)

Stats: 14.9 ppg/3.3 rpg/5.3 apg/1.5 spg

Why he was selected: The only thing last season's Big Ten Player of the Year hasn't done exceptionally so far as a senior is jump shoot from distance (.337 from behind the arc). His leadership and defense are big reasons why the Illini are expected to be 14-0 when the Michigan State Spartans show up for a Big Ten Conference attention-grabber on Jan. 5. He's had 26 assists and only four turnovers in the past four games.

 

Rodney Carney (6-7, Sr., Memphis)

Stats: 17.5 ppg/4.7 rpg/1.3 apg/1.7 spg

Why he was selected: He gets the edge over freshman teammate Shawne Williams based on his defense, especially when matched against Duke's J.J. Redick and Gonzaga's Adam Morrison. He is also one of the many Tigers capable of stretching defenses, with 15 3's while averaging 22.5 points over the past four games.

 

Paul Davis (6-10, Sr., Michigan State)

Stats: 20.2 ppg/9.8 rpg/1.6 apg

Why he was selected: He was very good as a junior (12.3 ppg/8.0 rpg) but now can be conservatively called "exceptional". And, after performances the likes of 26 points and 13 rebounds against Gonzaga, no one is nit-picking him anymore. Another model of efficient scoring: He's shooting .632 from the field and .880 from the free-throw line.

 

Randy Foye (6-3, Sr., Villanova)

Stats: 21.8 ppg/5.3 rpg/3.6 apg/1.3 spg

Why he was selected: He has emerged as a favorite to be the Big East Player of the Year going into conference play. He's also a prime reason why the John R. Wooden Award winner isn't necessarily going to be either J.J. Redick or Adam Morrison. He totaled 60 points in back to back wins over Oklahoma and Bucknell, and has increased his shooting percentages dramatically (83 percentage points overall, and 96 on 3's) over his junior season.

 

Rudy Gay (6-8, So., Connecticut)
Stats:
16.4 ppg/5.8 rpg/2.6 apg/2.6 spg

Why he was selected: Other players are more readily deserving of a spot on the Top 15. But it wouldn't seem right not having the most talented team – and maybe the best team, period – represented. Gay has shown what he is fully capable of only in glimpses (vs. Arkansas in the Maui Invitational being the most notable example) this season.

 

Marco Killingsworth (6-8, Sr., Indiana)

Stats: 20.6 ppg/8.0 rpg/2.7 apg

Why he was selected: No newcomer is doing more for his team this season. And no player is doing more to help guarantee the likelihood that his coach will have the same job a year from now. The Auburn transfer sewed up a spot on the Top 15 with his performances against Duke (34 rebounds and 10 rebounds) and Kentucky (23 and 11).

 

Adam Morrison (6-8, Jr., Gonzaga)

Stats: 28.0 ppg/6.3 rpg/1.8 apg/1.4 spg

Why he was selected: Proved himself a viable contender for both consensus first-team All-America and Player of the Year honors with his performances in nationally televised games with national powers Maryland, Michigan State and Connecticut during the Maui Invitational. In games vs. near-NCAA Tournament locks (the Terps, the Spartans, the Huskies, Washington, Oklahoma State and Memphis) he averaged 31.3 points per game.

 

J.J. Redick (6-4, Sr., Duke)

Stats: 24.7 ppg/1.8 rpg/2.1 apg

Why he was selected: If not for Adam Morrison's well-documented exploits, Redick would be far and away the leading contender for every major post-season honor, including the John R. Wooden Award (he was the runner-up to Andrew Bogut last spring). To illustrate how much more versatile a scorer he is as a senior, only 46 percent of his field goals have been 3-pointers, compared to at least 59 percent in each of his first three seasons.

 

Rajon Rondo (6-1, So., Kentucky)

Stats: 16.2 ppg/8.7 rpg/5.3 apg/1.9 spg

Why he was selected: Along with Dee Brown, he's clearly been the class of the point guards in the first six weeks or so of the season. When has a traditionally sized guard last rebounded so well? Fourteen of his 31 turnovers have come in the team's losses to Iowa, North Carolina and Indiana. And his shooting, from both the foul line and 3-point range, is vastly improved over his freshman season.

 

Brandon Roy (6-5, Sr., Washington)

Stats: 17.7 ppg/4.7 rpg/4.0 apg/1.5 spg

Why he was selected: His status as top contender for Pac 10 Player of the Year honors got a nice boost with his 35-point performance in the Huskies conference-opener with Arizona State Thursday night. Here's a performance that seems even more significant now: 27 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, four steals and three blocked shots while handing Air Force its only loss.

 

Shelden Williams (6-8, Sr., Duke)

Stats: 18.3 ppg/9.3 rpg/3.8 bpg

Why he was selected: His rebounding numbers are off a tad from last season (11.2 per game) but his shooting percentages, both from the field and the free-throw line, have improved considerably. And he's also become a much better passer out of the post (he's had three or more assists in three of the past five games).

 

Just missed (honorable mention): Corey Brewer (6-7, So., Florida), Ronnie Brewer (6-7, Jr., Arkansas), Nick Fazekas (6-10, Jr., Nevada), Je'Kel Foster (6-3, Sr., Ohio State), Taj Gray (6-8, Sr., Oklahoma), Craig Smith (6-7, Sr., Boston College), Allan Ray (6-1, Sr., Villanova), Steven Smith (6-8, Sr., La Salle), Alando Tucker (6-5, Jr., Wisconsin) and Shawne Williams (6-8, Fr., Memphis).

 

Top Five Coaching Performances:

 

Jeff Bzdelik (Air Force): Despite losing their best player, two-time All-MWC post Nick Welch, for the season after ankle surgery in October, the Falcons have won 11of their first 12 games. The only loss was by 11 points at Washington and two of the wins (Miami and Georgia Tech) came at the expense of ACC teams. The former Denver Nuggets coach should be in contention with Andy Kennedy of Cincinnati for "Rookie" Coach of the Year honors come March.

 

John Calipari (Memphis): The Tigers have five freshmen and two sophomores (albeit, very talented ones at that) among their top nine scorers. But, in losing to Duke (by three points) and numbering Alabama, UCLA, Cincinnati and Gonzaga among its 10 victims, Calipari's team is positioning itself for a No. 1 or 2 seed when the NCAA Tournament pairings are announced on March 12.

 

Billy Donovan (Florida): Following the losses of senior David Lee and juniors Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson to the NBA Draft last spring, the Gators seemed likely to miss the NCAA Tournament this March for the first time since 1998. But, led by a strong sophomore class, they are playing with more cohesiveness than any time since Donovan took his 2000 team to the national championship game.

 

Bruce Weber (Illinois): Subtract Deron Williams, Roger Powell and Luther Head from a team that was 37-2 and the national championship runner-up and what remains? A squad that was 13-0 going into its Friday night game with Tennessee-Martin and seems a threat to win another Big Ten title and return to the Final Four. Weber has a clue.

 

Jay Wright (Villanova): Anyone who wondered how the Wildcats would function without Curtis Sumpter had that question answered by the team's 8-0 start. The last time a team had the kind of collective guard play that Wright is getting, it (Illinois) played in the 2005 national championship game.



 

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 frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.FrankHoops.com


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