With NIL coming into play, a bunch of veteran big men opted to return to college rather than trying to fight their way onto an NBA roster. Thus, my preseason All-American teams are littered with guys that have size and also proven themselves at the college level.
Across the three squads, I’ve chosen four senior big men as well as two more junior bigs. Add in six more upperclassmen on the perimeter, and you’ve got 12 of the 15 players entering at least their third year in school.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR | Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky Big Oscar swept every National Player of the Year award last season, and he’s back and has expanded his game. That’s scary for opposing big men.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR | Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas Smith is a versatile guard with size who can score in a variety of ways and will likely lead the Razorbacks in scoring.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR | Caleb McConnell, Rutgers The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year is elite on that end of the floor as a lock-down defender who can guard multiple positions.
F – Drew Timme, 6-10, 235, Sr., Gonzaga Timme has helped lead Gonzaga to a 90-7 record in his three seasons in Spokane, including a national title game appearance and a Sweet 16. He’s scored more than 1,500 points and grabbed more than 600 boards in his career.
Stats: 18.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg
F – Armando Bacot, 6-11, 235, Sr., North Carolina He’s just one of two UNC players in the past 50 years to average a double-double in his career, and he had 31 double-doubles last season. He led the Tar Heels in scoring (16.3), rebounding (13.1) and blocks (1.7) per game last season and was also key in UNC turning around its season and advancing to the national title game.
Stats: 16.3 ppg, 13.1 rpg
C – Oscar Tshiebwe, 6-9, 260, Sr., Kentucky He was a dominant force in his first season with the ‘Cats, leading the country in rebounding and also registering 28 double-doubles. Tshiebwe will try and repeat as the unanimous National Player of the Year.
Stats: 17.4 ppg, 15.1 rpg
G – Marcus Sasser, 6-2, 195, Sr., Houston Sasser averaged 17.7 points through the first dozen games of the season before shutting it down after foot surgery in late December. Sasser was a three-star recruit coming out of Red Oak and chose Houston over SMU and Colorado State. Now he’s one of the best guards in the country.
Stats: 17.7 ppg (12 games)
G – Nick Smith Jr., 6-5, 185, Fr., Arkansas Smith is a scoring guard with size who can fill it up from just about anywhere on the court. He was a McDonald’s All-American and should be Eric Musselman’s top scorer this season — and will likely become a high draft pick come June.
F – Brandon Miller, 6-9, 200, Fr., Alabama He’s a skilled and athletic multi-dimensional forward who can do just about everything on the court. Miller can facilitate, shoot it from the perimeter and defend at a high level.
F – Trayce Jackson-Davis, 6-9, 245, Sr., Indiana TJD is just the second player in IU history with 1,500 points, 750 rebounds and 150 blocks. He does most of his work around the basket, and is a guy who is capable of a double-double every night.
Stats: 18.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg
C – Hunter Dickinson, 7-1, 260, Jr., Michigan The southpaw has quickly become a leader for the Wolverines, and he expanded his game from a big man who wasn’t much of a threat from the perimeter to someone who can now step out and make shots from long range. Dickinson is a hard-playing big man who controls the paint and the glass.
Stats: 18.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg
G – Jaime Jaquez Jr., 6-7, 225, Sr., UCLA Jaquez battled through multiple ankle injuries last season, and still managed to earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors. Jaquez is a versatile wing who doesn’t get enough credit for what he does to impact winning.
Stats: 13.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg
G – Mike Miles Jr., 6-2, 195, Jr., TCU He’s one of the Big 12’s best scorers and also made the Big 12 All-Tournament team. Miles is a well-rounded, tough guard who should be the best player on a team expected to contend for the Big 12 title.
Stats: 15.4 ppg, 3.8 apg, 3.5 rpg
F – DaRon Holmes, 6-10, 230, Soph., Dayton Holmes was a top-50 recruit coming out of Arizona, and exceeded expectations last year. He led the Flyers in scoring, set the school single-season block record and averaged 20 points per game in the final five contests of the season. Holmes will join the ranks of the elite big men in the country by the end of the year.
Stats: 12.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.3 bpg
C – Ryan Kalkbrenner, 7-1, 260, Jr., Creighton The Missouri native is one of the top all-around big men in the country. He’s a terrific defender and shot-blocker who is a force on the offensive glass, and has seen his offense develop over his time at Creighton. He won’t put up crazy numbers because the Bluejays have so much talent, but he’s one of the best two-way bigs in the nation.
Stats: 13.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.6 bpg
G – RJ Davis, 6-0, 175, Jr., North Carolina He was as important to North Carolina’s turnaround last season as anyone on the team. Davis had 30 points in the NCAA tourney win over Baylor, recorded 12 assists in the victory over Marquette and grabbed 12 boards in the loss to Kansas in the title game. In a college hoops season without many high-end point guards, Davis will stick out due to his versatility.
Stats: 13.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.6 apg
G – Kendric Davis, 6-0, 177, 5th year, Memphis Davis transferred from SMU for his final season and now will have the ball in his hands at Memphis. Davis is a scoring point, but he’ll have to balance scoring with keeping his new teammates happy — something he should be able to do without any issue.
Stats: 19.4 ppg, 4.4 apg, 3.8 rpg
G – Adam Flagler, 6-3, 185, 5th year, Baylor He averaged nearly 14 points and shot 43 percent from three in Big 12 play, and yet he wasn’t healthy for a good chunk of the season. With James Akinjo gone, the veteran Flagler will have the ball in his hands more this season. He just does everything well on the court.
Stats: 13.8 ppg, 3.0 apg, 39% 3-pointers
• Player stats from 2021-22 season.