2020-21 college basketball preseason awards

We’re kicking this off with college basketball preseason awards. It’s always fun to predict who will be the best teams and best players. And then people tell you your predictions suck and theirs are better. But in all honesty, everyone is wrong, and no one is correct.

It helps to look at last season’s statistics, but the tricky thing about that in college athletics is you’re going to get a lot of players from very low-major teams filling up leaderboards. Good thing I got a head start in late spring to start scouting teams. Good thing absolutely nothing happened this summer so I could continue to work and good thing I found a lot of time on my hands this fall and got the job done.

You have to take into consideration that some players’ potential will increase. Some may decrease if they have some talented freshmen or transfers coming in. When it comes to freshmen and transfers, just try and figure what their role on the team will be then gauge whether that will be enough.

Again, a lot people are going to disagree while some may actually agree. Our buddy from CBS Sports Jon Rothstein named his All-Americans. His first team is my second team and my first team is his second team. We can’t all be really smart about college basketball and not get paid for it.

This will be the All-Americans along with Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year. I can’t do a preseason Final Four because that contradicts my bracketology. But we’ll be putting out previews of All-Conference teams. Those will be from the top-10 conferences in college basketball: AAC, ACC, A-10, Big East, Big Ten, MWC, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and WCC.

Here are the All-Americans, and we’ll be back with some conference breakdowns later.

Player of the Year: Luka Garza, C, Iowa

Freshman of the Year: Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State

Coach of the Year: Mike White, Florida


First Team

G Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton
G Collin Gillespie, Villanova
F Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
F Sam Hauser, Virginia
C Luka Garza, Iowa

Spoiler alert, Luka Garza will be a lot of people’s preseason Player of the Year. I think he was the only one Rothstein and I agreed on. Garza is a walking double-double. Defense doesn’t matter because he’s going to average over 20 points per game and almost 10 rebounds per game.

The two best guards in the country are from the Big East and you’d be lying if you said anyone else. Collin Gillespie will be the lead guard at Villanova this year and will average over 15 points per game and almost five assists while keeping the Wildcats in the top-five all season. Marcus Zegarowski is in the same boat, and it’s ridiculous how you don’t think Creighton will be a top-10 team.

Gonzaga has a top-five recruit who will be doing a lot, but Corey Kispert will still be the lead dog and could flirt with over 100 3-pointers. I’m sorry Wisconsin and Marquette fans, but Sam Hauser is poised to have a fantastic senior year at Virginia. He’s going to be in a great system with a head coach that just won a national championship. I mean, aren’t they still considered the defending national champions?

Second team

G Jared Butler, Baylor
G Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
G Remy Martin, Arizona State
G Marcus Garrett, Kansas
F Garrison Brooks, North Carolina

It’s the year of the guards. Well I feel like we have been saying that a lot lately, but I broke a rule and named four guards to the second team. To me it would be a sin not to name those four guys to the second tier of All-Americans.

I was a huge Jared Butler fan last season. I wanted to see him in the NCAA Tournament and win MVP of the Tournament, but he has a chance at doing that this season. Hopefully. He should still be good for over 16 points per game, and I’m not saying Villanova and Creighton don’t have other good players, but the system Butler plays at Baylor, I don’t seem him being dominant game in and game out because of his supporting cast.

Ayo Dosunmu is a very talented guard, and I was shocked when he didn’t stay in the draft. He tried doing too much at times last season and is no Cassius Winston, so don’t even begin with the comparisons. Remy Martin is another talented guard, and I don’t have doubt Arizona State will make the Tournament, but for some reason it only seems like a 7-10 seed.

With Doke and Devon Dotson gone, it’s going to the be Marcus Garrett show in Kansas, and it will finish better than Kentucky, Duke and Michigan State. With a full offseason of Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot and Leaky Black, the Tar Heels should be back to normal and Brooks could average a double-double this season.

Third Team

G Kihei Clark, Virginia
G Jacob Gilyard, Richmond
F Trendon Watford, LSU
F Landers Nolley, Memphis
C Neemias Queta, Utah State

This is my all-preference team. It could be way off than a lot of third team All-Americans out there. Virginia will be a Final Four contender, and it’s not just because of Sam Hauser. Kihei Clark will still be the leader. He played valuable minutes from the national championship team. Once all of the lottery Picks left Virginia, Clark averaged almost five assists, four boards and almost 11 points per game, which is actually great scoring for the Cavaliers.

Richmond has some very talented players. As long as the Spiders don’t lose any dumb games, they could easily be a protected seed in the NCAA Tournament. I flipped a coin and went with Jacob Gilyard. All he did was average almost 13 points per game, come up with 98 steals, drop 58 3-pointers and dished almost six assists per game.

I really think LSU has a chance at winning the SEC and getting a better seed than Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State and Florida State. Usually you go with a guard when you look at an experienced team in a good conference that has already had back-to-back top-five conference finishes. But Trendon Watford was a top-20 recruit last season, averaged over seven boards with 13 points per game and will be trying to improve his draft stock each and every game.

Remember the hype from Kerry Blackshear last season when he transferred to Florida? Landers Nolley II is the Virginia Tech transfer you really need to get excited for. He was a top-100 recruit in 2018 and was a redshirt freshman last season. The Hokies played competitive games but were never really considered an NCAA Tournament. But this kid was exciting. Nolley is about as good as any three-pointer shooter in the country and believe it or not, I like Memphis this year a lot more than last.

It’s hard to believe Neemias Queta will only be a junior. He was plagued by an injury last season which isn’t surprising with how big he is and how hard he plays. But When Queta does play, he averages over 13 points per game, almost nine boards, two assists and blocked 84 shots two seasons ago.

Photo courtesy of University of Illinois Athletics

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