All-Americans, POY and Coach of Year Picks

Selection Sunday is barely a week away, so it's time for Scout.com's Frank Burlison to get the "honors" distributed. In reality, picking the first-team All-American team, as well as the Player and Coach of the Year honors, wasn't all that difficult...

There are still a few key regular season games of note to be played this weekend as well, of course, as conference tournament and NCAA Tournament action.

 

But we've seen enough already so that we are able to dole out All-American, Player of the Year and Coach of the Year selections.

 

And the winners are . . . well, you'll have to keep reading:

 

Frankhoops.com All-American Team

 

FIRST TEAM

Arron Afflalo (6-4, Jr., UCLA)

Frank Says: He's zipped past Aaron Brooks in the Pac-10 Player of the Year race over the past three weeks.

 

Kevin Durant (6-9, Fr., Texas)

Frank Says: He's had the singularly greatest season ever by a college basketball freshman and has his freshmen-laden team in contention for a Big 12 Conference championship to boot.

 

Nick Fazekas (6-11, Sr., Nevada)

Frank Says: He's probably been college basketball's most under-appreciated big man over the past three seasons. Put him in a Duke, UCLA or Kentucky uniform and he might have edged Durant for Player of the Year.

 

Acie Law (6-3, Sr., Texas A&M)

Frank Says: He's easily the most complete and "best" point guard in the country.

 

Greg Oden (7-0, Fr., Ohio State)

Frank Says: Durant stole a lot of his anticipated thunder but any reasonable observer would have to believe that Oden has more than lived up to his pre-enrollment hype.

 

SECOND TEAM

Aaron Brooks (6-0, Sr., Oregon)

Frank Says: Not many guys mean as much to a team as Brooks does to the Ducks.

 

Derrick Byars (6-7, Sr., Vanderbilt)

Frank Says: He's the best player in the Southeastern Conference. And who would have thought that possible in November?

 

Jared Dudley (6-7, Sr., Boston College)

Frank Says: He kept the Eagles in the ACC title hunt a lot longer than anyone thought possible after center Sean Williams' dismissal from the program.

 

Tyler Hansbrough (6-8, So., North Carolina)

Frank Says: Pencil him among the top three or four national Player of the Year candidates next season.

 

Alando Tucker (6-6, Sr., Wisconsin)

Frank Says: He's had a heck of a career with the Badgers but his Player of the Year momentum definitely cooled in the past couple of weeks.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

Corey Brewer (6-7, Jr., Florida), Darren Collison (6-0, So., UCLA), Aaron Gray (7-0, Sr., Pittsburgh), Jeff Green (6-8, Jr., Georgetown) and Josh McRoberts (6-10, So., Duke).

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

C'mon. This became way too easy over the past month or so.

 

Junior guard Arron Afflalo is the best all-around player in, arguably, the best conference (Pac-10) in America, and for, based on an entire regular season of work, the best team (UCLA) in the country.

 

And Acie Law, along with Coach Bill Gillispie, share the bulk of the credit for turning Texas A&M into a national title contender so rapidly.

 

But the best player – period – for this season has been Kevin Durant. And the gap between Durant and whomever you might consider No. 2 has been widening on a weekly basis.

 

COACH OF THE YEAR

1.Tony Bennett (Washington State). His team was an overwhelmingly consensus choice to finish last in the Pac-10. And, until the loss to UCLA Thursday night in Pullman, the Cougars were still in mathematical contention to share the title. Oh, and by the way: This was Bennett's first season as a head coach.

 

2. David Leitao (Virginia). The Cavaliers are just a Saturday victory at last-place Wake Forest away from being the outright regular-season champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Freakin' amazing.

 

3. Ben Howland (UCLA). The Bruins lost three starters, including point guard Jordan Farmar, a first-round draft choice of the Los Angeles Lakers, from a team that lost in the national championship game last April. How much did the program tumble? Check the Pac-10 standings and the national rankings.

 

COOL GAMES TO WATCH

SATURDAY

No. 2 Ohio State at Michigan

Frank Says: The Buckeyes, with the Big Ten title safely tucked away, are due for a letdown – aren't they? And the Wolverines, after the "must-win" against Michigan State Tuesday night in Ann Arbor, might finally have a legitimate at-large argument if they can muster what would be, easily, the most significant win under Tommy Amaker.

 

No. 20 Michigan State at No. 3 Wisconsin

Frank Says: The Badgers play their first game, minus Brian Butch. The Spartans' play away from East Lansing (1-6 in Big Ten road games) continues to lead one to think MSU is "one and done"-bound in the NCAA Tournament.

 

No. 14 Texas at No. 5 Kansas

Frank Says: The Longhorns, with a win in Lawrence coupled with a Texas A&M win at home against Missouri, could help create a three-way deadlock for the Big 12's regular-season championship. Somehow, it's tough seeing one of those things happening, no matter how good Kevin Durant is.

 

New Mexico State at No. 8 Nevada

Frank Says: The Wolf Pack stumbled in Logan, Utah, Thursday night, but this game could be a sneak preview of the WAC title game in Las Cruces on March 10. Of course, Utah State and scintillating shooter Jaycee Carroll could disrupt that scenario.

 

No. 23 USC at No. 9 Washington State

Frank Says: The Trojans turned in one of their two worst performances in conference play in losing by 15 points in Seattle Thursday night. But, courtesy the UCLA Bruins, they still have an opportunity to share second place in the Pac 10 standings if they hand the Cougars their second loss to a Southern California-based club in three days.

 

SUNDAY

Kentucky at No. 6 Florida

Frank Says: Some of the folks in Lexington who are growling about Tubby Smith might be prompted to cut one of the sport's best coaches some slack if the Wildcats get out of Gainesville with a win. And the Gators are going to get things turned around in a hurry and be rarin' to go for the SEC and NCAA Tournaments, right?

 

No. 15 Duke at No. 7 North Carolina

Frank Says: Sure, both the Blue Devils and Tar Heels, relatively speaking, are "young". But who could have guessed that they'd have a combined 12 ACC losses coming into this game?

 

Boston College at Georgia Tech

Frank Says: Coupled with their win over North Carolina Thursday night, a Yellow Jackets' victory in this one will remove any mystery about Coach Paul Hewitt's team's NCAA Tournament at-large status.



 

Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame in April, 2005, 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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