The Sporting News 2023-24 College Basketball All-America Team | Sporting News

The Sporting News 2023-24 College Basketball All-America Team | Sporting News

Had we told you at the start of the season that Zach Edey would be a unanimous selection from our blue-ribbon panel of voters for The Sporting News All-America team, you would have unanimously responded: Of course.

Had we told you back then the only other unanimous selection would be Dalton Knecht, you almost certainly would have answered: Um, Dalton who?

College basketball gives you just enough of the expected to feel familiar, but then it’ll really go off the script and deliver an All-America season from someone whose presence in Division I basketball barely was a rumor 12 months earlier.

This was a regular season dominated by three teams – Connecticut, Houston and Purdue – and the stars who drove them. Each placed one player on our All-America first team, and several other established brands also saw their stars selected by our voters.

Edey and Tyler Kolek were back for a second season of being honored.

But no one’s story was as compelling as Knecht’s.

MORE: Latest bracket projections for 2024 March Madness

Sporting News First Team All-Americans

Dalton Knecht, Tennessee

6-6, 204, Sr. F

Key stats: 20.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 47.3 FG pct, 40.6 3-PT

Defining game: 39 points, 5-of-8 3-PT shooting, 3 steals in 92-84 victory over Auburn.

Overview: The Dalton Knecht story may be the most improbable we’ve encountered in an era of college basketball that often finds the impossible happening. (You know, like two programs from outside the power conferences reaching the Final Four). Knecht was playing at Northern Colorado a year ago and made second-team All-Big Sky. Now he’s a first-team All-American, enjoying probably the second-best season of any player considered for this honor. He has produced six 30-point games, two of them against top-10 opponents. His arrival and emergence completely revised the postseason possibilities for Tennessee.

RJ Davis, North Carolina

6-0, 180, Sr. G

Key stats: 21.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 41.7 pct. 3-PG

Defining game: 42 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals in 75-71 victory over Miami.

Overview: After taking a bit to adjust to the new chemistry in place with the Tar Heels, Davis declared his prominence in the current season with a string of five consecutive games with more than 25 points, all against major opponents. It’s been clear from that stretch in December he would rank with this season’s best players, and scoring outbursts like his 36 points against Wake Forest, 25 against Miami and 24 that helped the Heels recover from a flimsy first half at Florida State affirmed that ascent. Davis is less of a primary playmaker now, but he still can handle that job when necessary. What the Heels need him to do is tear apart defenses with buckets, and he abides.

Zach Edey, Purdue

7-4, 300, Sr. C

Key stats: 24.1 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 62.3 pct. FG

Defining game: 30 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 11-of-14 FG in 105-96 overtime victory over Northwestern.

Overview: Edey went for 25 points and 14 rebounds in a season-ending victory over Wisconsin at home, and you know what that was? It was a slightly above-average day. He is so dominant it’s become nearly impossible for him to do anything that surprises those who watch. He scored in double figures in every game, and he reached at least 20 points in 22 of the team’s 31 games. It is the curse of the oversized big men that many spectators consider such a player’s greatness to be more easily achieved. Allow me to point out there were two taller players in major-conference basketball this season, and they averaged 7.3 points. Combined. What Edey is doing is not easy for anyone, at any size.

Tristen Newton, Connecticut

6-5, 195, Sr. G

Key stats: 15.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 5.8 apg

Defining game: 10 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists in 78-54 victory over Villanova.

Overview: UConn has a lot of talent. Two players made the All-Big East team (Newton and shooting guard Cam Spencer). They weren’t even the two that are obvious first-round picks in whatever NBA Draft they enter (wing Steph Castle and center Donovan Clingan), nor the guy who was a scoring force from the perimeter at last year’s Final Four (forward Alex Karaban). The guy who brings it all together, beyond coach Dan Hurley, is Newton. His rise isn’t quite as remarkable as Knecht’s, but there were many (yeah, I was one, but in my defense so were some inside the program) wondering if last year’s Huskies had a championship-quality point guard for their championship-quality roster. And then Newton flipped that switch and it’s never been the same. He took charge of the offense. The Huskies took the NCAAs by storm. Now they’re positioned to do it again.

Jamal Shead, Houston

6-0, 180, Sr. G

Key stats: 13.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 6.2 apg, 2.3 spg

Defining game: 29 points, 10 assists, 12-of-16 shooting in 77-54 victory over Texas Tech.

Overview: Fran Fraschilla, for decades ESPN’s primary analyst for Big 12 Conference games, calls Shead one of the best leaders he has encountered during his career as a coach and broadcaster. Shead is the best defensive player on the best defensive team in college hoops. And his 10 games of more than 15 points demonstrate he can light it up when he needs to get that done. Houston has much going for it, including one of the best coaches around, but it would not be in the position it is without Shead running the show. Houston’s record since Shead became starting point guard in 2021-22 is 94-13, 5-2 in the NCAAs.

CONFERENCE TOURNEY BRACKETS: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

Sporting News Second-Team All-Americans

Hunter Dickinson, Kansas

7-2, 260, Sr. C

Key stats: 18.0 ppg, 10.8 rpg

Defining game: 30 points, 11 assists, 13-of-20 shooting in 83-81 victory over TCU

Overview: Dickinson’s transfer to KU provided the Jayhawks with a desperately needed primary scoring option. With as limited as the Jayhawks were in terms of scorers – Dickinson, Kevin McCullar and KJ Adams provided 60 percent of the point production – imagine how they might have fared without him. He delivered 14 games of 20 points or more and 16 double-doubles.

DaRon Holmes, Dayton

6-10, 235, Jr. F

Key stats: 20.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.1 bpg

Defining game: 34 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks in 76-71 victory over Saint Bonaventure

Overview: Holmes has rescued the Flyers so many times, he ought to be cast in Tom Cruise’s next Mission: Impossible movie. He scored seven of UD’s 21 overtime points in a win against VCU. In a January road game at Duquesne, the Dukes closed a 10-point halftime deficit to four with nine minutes left. And then? DaRon Holmes, 8:35 remaining, 3-pointer; DaRon Holmes, 7:42, dunk; DaRon Holmes, 6:00, dunk-and-one; DaRon Holmes, 5:20, 3-pointer; DaRon Holmes, 4:08, 3-pointer. That’s 14 points in 4 minutes, 27 seconds, and that’s not me trying to win Best Original Screenplay. That actually happened.

Tyler Kolek, Marquette

6-3, 195, Sr. G

Key stats: 15 ppg, 7.6 apg, 1.6 spg, 40 pct. 3-PT

Defining game: 32 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals in 85-80 victory over Villanova

Overview: Up until he injured an oblique muscle and ultimately was rested for the final few regular-season games, Kolek was so indispensable to Marquette he was playing nearly every minute of nearly every game. Between Dec. 14 and Feb. 17, he went at least 30 minutes in 14 of 15 games, and at least 35 in a dozen of those games. He recorded double-figure assists eight times. To be complete, a point guard with Kolek’s command of the game isn’t just about numbers. But the numbers say a lot.

Jaedon Ledee, San Diego State

6-9, 240, Sr. F

Key stats: 20.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 55.7 pct. FG

Defining game: 34 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists in 100-97 overtime win over Washington

Overview: With the Aztecs’ 2023 Final Four team, Ledee was a valuable role player contributing 18 minutes, 8 points and 5 rebounds a game, and it’s likely they’d never have made that run without him. But he hardly was a star. As others completed their careers or headed elsewhere, though, the Aztecs had a vacancy for a major role, and he seized it with a 27-point, 10-rebound double-double in the opening game. He never once failed to reach double figures and recorded 11 double-doubles.

Mark Sears, Alabama

6-1, 185, Sr. G

Key stats: 21.1 ppg, 4 rpg, 4.1 apg

Defining game: 30 points, 11 assists, 13-of-20 shooting in 83-81 victory over TCU

Overview: As a panelist for both the Jerry West and Bob Cousy Awards, I had to decide which position to nominate Sears. Is he a point guard? He plays a lot with the ball in his hands, but he does not lead his team in assists, and his first look always is at the rim. So I placed him on my West list. And, of course, the consensus placed him on the Cousy ballot. It’s clear what he really is, though: a baller. Maybe there should be a David Thompson Award, where it doesn’t matter what position a guy plays, just so long as he shreds opponents from every direction. That would be Sears in 2024.

MORE: Tracking the auto-bids for the 2024 NCAA Tournament

Sporting News Third-Team All-Americans

Antonio Reeves and Zakai Zeigler

Antonio Reeves, Kentucky

6-6, 195, Sr. G

Key stats: 20.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 50.7 FG, 44.0 3-PT

Overview: It’s one thing to be the best offensive player on a team, quite another to be the best on a team that’s crossed the 100-point mark six times in a Division I season. As Kentucky finished with seven victories in its final eight games, Reeves rang up at least 20 points in all but the first of those games and shot 53 percent from the field. He is more than just an elite 3-point shooter. He has one of the best floater games in recent college basketball.

Baylor Scheierman, Creighton

6-7, 205, Sr. F

Key stats: 18.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 4.1 apg

Overview: He arrived in Omaha with a reputation for slinging 3-pointers from absurd distances, and yeah, he can do that. But this season showed he can be a complete player: scoring inside, setting up teammates, crashing the boards. With two starters from last year’s Elite Eight team transferring elsewhere, Creighton needed more from Scheierman – and got all of that.

Kyle Filipowski, Duke

7-0, 248, So. F

Key stats: 16.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg

Overview: Filipowski’s decision to play as a sophomore at Duke was not widely expected after he excelled as a freshman, but the Blue Devils might have been lost without his return. He contributed eight double-doubles and dominated the team’s essential road victory at Pitt, with 26 points on 11-of-12 shooting and 10 rebounds. On a team lacking a great rim-protecting defensive presence, Filipowski is able to keep the Devils competitive on the interior. On statistician Ken Pomeroy’s rating system for national player of the year, Filipowski ranks seventh among all Division I players, with four of the six ahead of him on the TSN first team.

Johni Broome, Auburn

6-10, 240, Sr. F

Key stats: 16.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 54.5 pct FG

Overview: Broome is in double figures in double-doubles, with 11 on the year. His stats are slightly muted by Auburn’s preference for deploying its depth, with 10 players averaging double-figure minutes and no one getting more than Broome’s 25 per game. If he played 30 minutes, his primary stats might increase to 19.8 points and 10.3 rebounds, which is why he fits right into this esteemed company.

Caleb Love, Arizona

6-4, 205, Sr. G

Key stats: 18.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.4 apg

Overview: Love did not arrive in Tucson too late to revive a career that diverted from what seemed like a straight upward trajectory after he was the key player in keeping alive North Carolina’s run to the 2022 Final Four. Playing for the Wildcats has led to increases in point production, in field goal accuracy, in long-range accuracy and even free throw shooting. Opponents that allow him to get comfortable – such as Oregon, which gave up 36 points on 12-of-18 shooting in late January – often pay dearly.

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