Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Mid-Major Madness was one of the SBNation sites that contributed a ballot to the SBNation preseason All-American list. We skewed slightly mid-major in our vote, but with good reason: this is the year that the mids could dominate the list. We run down our picks and our rationale for trending the way we did.
When SBNation was assembling their preseason All-American list, they sent out the call to the different sites on the network to pitch in with votes.
I am sure the process was plagued with homer votes, and well, we didn't do too much differently. We didn't pick a full set of mid-major players, but we did lean heavy to the teams that we cover.
It is a good year to do that though. So much major conference talent graduated, or left for last year's draft, there are actually a good number of players who should be rising to the top of the rankings this coming season.
And with that, our ballot and a little blurb.
Cody Zeller, Indiana - Zeller should have appeared on most ballots and for good reason. He is the best big man returning this season, and is at the head of a deep Indiana team. The question will be if the expectations are almost too high for him, given the Hoosiers' style of play. Either way, an explosive post player, and was already No. 9 in KenPom's player of the year ratings last season.
Doug McDermott, Creighton - The best all-around forward, pound for pound, in the country and he is only a junior. McDermott is one of the most dead-eye shooters in the game, made even more important by the percentage of shots he takes for the Bluejays. More on McDermott to come.
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State - Canaan was a huge offensive weapon at the point and shooting the ball for Murray State, and that should continue to be the case in 2012. If his offensive game can hold up (and there were some questions that it couldn't), he has the name recognition to get up on this list. He is the best point guard returning this season after a crowd departed in the draft.
DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State - Thomas' hidden talent is offensive rebounding and there is no discounting how much that means for such a high efficiency team as Ohio State. He will be stepping into Jared Sullinger's shoes on both ends of the floor, but already has the talent to make that transition seamless.
CJ Leslie, North Carolina State - A devastating defender for North Carolina State. I can't see anyone coming close to his talent on that end of the floor this season. Zeller might be all-around better than Leslie, but Leslie could give him a run for defensive player of the year when all is said and done.
Tony Mitchell, North Texas - Mitchell is the player that all the other team's love to hate. He is the darling of North Texas fans, and that has drawn the ire of a lot of other Sun Belt faithful. Mitchell had one of the top HOOPWAR ratings in the country last season and he was only a frosh. That bodes well for big things this year as the Mean Green make a push for the conference title, and Mitchell auditions for early entry into the draft.
CJ McCollum, Lehigh - We all know what Lehigh did last season and McCollum should help the Mountain Hawks to continue that success. His 12.3 HW30 is good enough to have potentially earned him a spot on the first team had Canaan not been there.
Jeff Withey, Kansas - Withey almost took a spot on the first team, if only because of the magic that Bill Self is creating at Kansas. Players are growing there and becoming the Thomas Robinsons of the world. Withey should be this year's version of Robinson, especially after turning in an underappreciated season for the Jayhawks. Given his change in role from 6th man to starter, he shouldn't toil in obscurity any longer.
Otto Porter, Georgetown - Another of the best all-around freshman of last season, Porter should grow into a bigger role for the Hoyas. There are significant possessions up for grabs in that offense, and if Porter's shooting efficiency holds from last season, he could turn into one of the best power forwards the Big East has ever seen.
Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State - You are saying WHAT?! This was our mid-major wild card. Each year there is someone who steps up that is unexpected, and each year we wonder where they came from. We were debating between Carmichael and South Alabama's Augustine Rubit, but went this direction based on the tougher conference, and increased chances to showcase his talent.
Player of the Year: McDermott - What can we say that we didn't already talk about? I have my doubts this will happen even though McDermott's value is already high. I just can't seem him giving too much more than he already has. That said, another All-American level performance, as he gave last season, should be enough to convince at least some of the population out there that they have something special lurking in the mid-major ranks. McDermott is our choice over Zeller because he is the mid-major candidate and because we have to believe Creighton will make the kind of push this year reminiscent of the old Gonzaga runs.
Freshman of the Year: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State - You will notice that there are no freshman in our All-American list. Despite calls from our fleet of writers, and attempts to will myself into it, I couldn't put either Shabazz Muhammad or Nerlens Noel into this set of 10. I couldn't even put them here at Freshman of the Year. There are too many questions about if and when they will be eligible this year. I know both coaches are confident they will be cleared before the year is too far gone. I just couldn't see making that leap now. So I went with Marcus Smart, who has the difficult task of leading the Oklahoma State offense, in a league dominated by strong teams. It might take a couple of false starts before Smart gets the hang of things, but this is a special talent, and one that is ready to make an impact immediately.
Did we get it right? I don't know, but that is why we have over 5,000 games kicking off in just under a month. I am sure someone will point out all the places we went wrong when those begin.