Making the Madness Yearly Awards
Player of the year: Zion Williamson – Duke
The player of the year award was extremely obvious, as Zion Williamson was clearly the best player in the sport. He averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, which is incredibly impressive but what makes his scoring even better was the fact he scored 22.6 points per game while shooting 68 percent from the floor. Williamson was also a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end, he averaged 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game, while his athleticism made teams scared to go at him. This type of play on both ends of the ball made him the obvious choice to win players of the year.
Coach of the year: Chris Beard – Texas Tech
My Coach of the year in Chris Beard, who led Texas Tech to their first-ever Final Four and came seconds away from winning a National Championship. Beard lost 6 of his 8 leading scorers from last years team, so many thought it would be a rebuilding year, as a result, Texas Tech was picked 7th in the preseason Big 12 rankings. Texas Tech though didn’t play like a 7th best team all season long, as they finished 31-7 while winning the Big 12. Winning the Big 12 in itself was difficult, as Kansas had won the league the previous 14 seasons but then to make a run to the National Championship makes this season all the more impressive. Beard has built a culture that embraces defense and this shouldn’t be the last time he is in the Final Four, look for good things out of this program going forward.
Defensive player of the year: Brandon Clarke – Gonzaga
The defensive player of the year award goes to Brandon Clarke, who helped make up for some mistakes on the defensive end, which helped Gonzaga become one of the most dominant teams in the country. Clarke averaged 3.1 blocks per game, while his ability to guard other teams best interior scorers was important for the Bulldogs.
6th Man of the year: Mfiondu Kabengele
The sixth man of the year award was extremely obvious to pick from, as it clearly goes to Mfiondu Kabengele, who led a good Seminoles team in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Kabengele’s size and athleticism, along with his ability to shoot from deep made him a threat from anywhere on the court. Kabengele a lot of time would get in foul trouble, which is why he didn’t start a single game this season, however, when he is on the court he is extremely dangerous.
Freshman of the year: Zion Williamson – Duke
I don’t need too long of an explanation of this award, Zion Williamson was National Player of the year, while he is a freshman. Those two things mixing together mean he is pretty obviously going to win the Freshmen of the year award.
First Team All-Americans
Zion Williamson: As mentioned above, Zion’s scoring, rebounding, great defense, and efficiency make him the runaway choice for National Player of the year, while being a First Team All-American in the process.
Cassius Winston: If Zion Williamson never plays College Basketball, I think Cassius Winston wins National Player of the year. Winston is great with the ball, first and foremost with getting others involved, which is shown by his average of 7.5 assists per game. Meanwhile, he averages 18.8 points per game, while leading Michigan State to both the Big Ten regular and postseason titles, in addition to their Final Four appearance.
Jarrett Culver: Coming into this season, Jarrett Culver was asked to take a big step in his game and he did all of that and more this season. Culver went from averaging 11.2 to 18.5 points per game, while he averaged 6.4 rebounds per game as well. He also was the leading scorer on a team that made it to the National title game. For all of those reasons listed above, he deserves to be an All-American.
Grant Williams: Grant Williams once again won SEC player of the year, while he only got better this season in route to being a consensus First Team All-American. Williams averaged 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, both of those numbers were up from last year when he won SEC player of the year. Williams also shot nearly 10 percent better from the floor than last year, while he averaged 3.2 assists per game. Simply put, Grant Williams came back after an incredible year last season and topped it, while those numbers he put up warrant him being a First Team All-American.
Ja Morant: The NCAA has been tracking assists since the 1983-84 season and in that time there has been only one player to average 20 points and 10 assists per game, his name is Ja Morant and he did so this season. All season long Ja Morant has been spectacular, making highlight plays and leading Murray State to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. His triple-double in their win over Marquette in the first round of the NCAA Tournament was one of the most impressive games all season. He may not have taken over the sport like Zion Williamson did, however, to make Murray State games as relevant as they were, along with his average of 24.4 points and 10.2 assists per game, make him a clear First Team All-American.
Second Team All-Americans
RJ Barrett: Many lists have RJ Barrett as a First Team All-American but for me, I thought he was better to fit in the second team due to the fact the five on the first team all accomplished a lot this season, while Barrett is not the best player on his own team. Barrett averaged 22.6 points per game, however, in doing so he needed to average 18.5 field goal attempt per game. That isn’t very efficient. The other thing that put him on the second team is that in three of Duke’s losses this season, he went 0-9 in the final minute, while Zion had one field goal attempt, this stat is from Rodger Sherman (@Rodger on twitter). Simply put, RJ Barrett took too many shots, while playing hero ball in Duke’s losses, something I am not going to reward with a First Team All-American award, especially when the five above him all had great seasons as well.
Markus Howard: This past year, Markus Howard had one of the most remarkable shooting seasons, in route to making Marquette a consistent Top-25 team this year. Howard averaged 25 points per game while racking up 3.9 assists as well. I will point out that Howard shot a lot, in fact, 17.6 times per game but still to do what he did in the Big East warrants him being placed where he is on my All-American team.
Carsen Edwards: After Purdue lost four starters to graduation, Carsen Edwards needed to become a star player and he did that. Edwards averaged 24.3 points per game while helping lift Purdue to a Big Ten title and their first Elite Eight since 2000. Edwards had two games in the NCAA Tournament where he scored 42 points, which is ridiculous. His scoring along with team success finds him on this list.
Brandon Clarke: My defensive player of the year Brandon Clarke makes his way onto my second team for my All-American voting. Clarke was best known for his defense inside but he had good numbers as well, as he scored 16.9 points per game, while grabbing 8.6 rebounds per game. This overall play helped Gonzaga have one of their most successful teams in program history.
Ethan Happ: Ethan Happ has always been one of the biggest stat sheet stuffers in the country and that was no different this year. Happ averaged 17.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game, which is impressive in many facets. Wisconsin was consistently a Top-25 team all year long, which is what is needed for a player like Happ to be an All-American.
Third Team All-Americans
PJ Washington: Kentucky made a midseason turnaround to become one of the best teams in College Basketball and a big reason for that is because of PJ Washington’s play. Washington started the season slowly but he picked it up in conference play when he became one of the best bigs in the country. His numbers of 15.2 points and 7.6 rebounds don’t really jump off the page but for being a Third Team All-American, they really don’t need to that much.
Rui Hachimura: Gonzaga was dominant this season and a big reason why is because of Rui Hachimura’s ability to score the ball at a high rate. Hachimura averaged 19.7 points per game, which came on 59 percent shooting from the floor. Rui’s ability to score helped lead him to a WCC Player of the year award. I think Brandon Clarke was maybe the better overall player on Gonzaga but Rui Hachimura was definitely good himself.
Dedric Lawson: If you are looking for a forward to stuff the stat sheet, Dedric Lawson is your guy. Lawson averaged 19.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, which led the Big 12 in both categories. Two things are holding him back of being a first or second-team All-American and that is the fact that Kansas had their worst season in 15 years, as they lost the Big 12 regular season.
De’Andre Hunter: Virginia won their first ever National Championship and a big reason for it was because De’Andre Hunter stepped up big time in the NCAA Championship game, as he scored 27 points in their win. On the season, Hunter averaged 15.2 points per game, which is really impressive given the fact that Virginia plays the slowest games in the sport. Hunter was also a lockdown defender, as he had the length and speed to contain both guards and bigs.
Kyle Guy: There may not have been a bigger shotmaker for Virginia this season that Kyle Guy and it showed in their last three games, where he had 25, 15, and 24 point performances. He was also the guy that hit the free throws to beat Auburn and send Virginia to the National Championship. There were other people I considered for this last spot on my All-American team but after what he did in this tournament, I gave him the last spot.
All-Sixth Man Team