3 freshmen named to AP’s All-America team
Oklahoma’s Trae Young took college basketball by storm, leading the nation in scoring and assists. Deandre Ayton played his one season at Arizona with power and athleticism few could match. Versatile big man Marvin Bagley III made his lone year at Duke a memorable one.
The talented trio made history Tuesday by being named to the AP All-America team, the first time three freshmen were named to the first team in its 70-year history.
They were joined by Villanova’s Jalen Brunson and Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham on the team selected by the same 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25.
Davidson’s Peyton Aldridge, a LaBrae High School graduate, received honorable mention.
Aldridge will play in the Reese’s All-Star game on Friday in San Antonio. The game is scheduled to tip at 4:30 p.m. and will air on CBS Sports.
The All-America first team has had a pair of freshmen three times: John Wall and Demarcus Cousins in 2010; Michael Beasley and Kevin Love in 2008; and Kevin Durant and Greg Oden in 2007.
Young, Ayton and Bagley set a new standard with stellar one-and-done seasons.
Young was a top recruit coming out of Norman, Okla., and chose to play for his hometown Sooners. Oklahoma fans were sure glad he did.
A 6-foot-2 point guard, Young popped up on the national radar by scoring 43 points against Oregon early in the season and broke the NCAA record with 22 assists against Northwestern State less than a month later.
Even when teams started to figure out ways to slow Young, he kept scoring and dishing, leading the nation at 27.4 points and 8.7 assists.
“He’s had an interesting year, probably as interesting as anyone can have,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “He battled well all year long.”
So did Ayton.
An imposing presence at 7-foot-1, 260 pounds, the big man from the Bahamas dominated at both ends, throwing down massive dunks, dropping in mid-range jumpers and swatting shots into the stands.
Ayton averaged 20.1 points on 61 percent shooting, 11.6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots per game on his way to becoming the Pac-12 player of the year.
“He’s a once-in-a-generation player,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “I doubt if I will ever coach anyone like him again. I don’t mean that we won’t try, but there just aren’t many Deandres walking around.”
Same could be said of Bagley. The big man from Phoenix is 6-11, but plays more like a much smaller player, athletically getting to the rim, stroking in 3-pointers, soaring in for alley-oop dunks.