by Jimmy Chitwood
(1/8/10) At the college basketball season’s mid-point, here are my selections for Caste Football’s All-American teams. Not all of these guys are household names, nor do they all play for BCS conferences. This team isn’t based on hype or NBA potential; it’s based on performance. Every player on my roster is a dominant force and is the engine that makes his team run.
Jon Scheyer – point guard; Duke (senior; 6-5, 180). Scheyer is head and shoulders above any other point guard in the nation this season and is arguably the Player of the Year in all of college basketball. He leads Duke in scoring (18.8 ppg) and steals (1.2 spg), shoots nearly 91% from the free throw line and 43% from 3-point range, chips in nearly 4 rebounds (3.7 rpg) … and most impressively he is slicing up opposing defenses unlike anyone else in college basketball in over a decade. While his 6.4 assists-per-game is among the nation’s leaders and is impressive enough in its own right, his assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.9-to-1 is truly incredible. No other ball handler in the nation is even close!
Matt Bouldin – combo guard; Gonzaga (senior; 6-5, 224). Bouldin, to put it simply, is the alpha and omega of Gonzaga basketball this year. For the Zags, everything good starts with him, and at the end of close games the ball is in his hands to make the play. Built like an NFL running back, Bouldin is Gonzaga’s best back-to-the basket player, while his shooting stroke and ability off the dribble makes him dangerous everywhere else on the court. He is a true match-up nightmare for opposing defenses, and his numbers bear this out. He leads Gonzaga in scoring (15.1 ppg), steals (2.0 spg), assists (4.1 apg), free throw shooting (85.2%), and chips in an impressive 4.9 rebounds-per-game.
Luke Babbitt – forward; Nevada (sophomore; 6-9, 225). Babbitt plays for the under-exposed Nevada Wolfpack, but any opposing defenses who face them are soon exposed by Babbitt’s offensive prowess. The smooth operator leads Nevada in scoring (20.5 ppg) and rebounding (9.9 rpg) while shooting a smoking 52.1% from the floor. He’s also clutch from the charity stripe, shooting a team-high 89.3%.
Luke Harangody – power forward; Notre Dame (senior; 6-8, 246). Harangody puts the “power” in power forward. A dominant force since his freshman year, Harangody has never received the media acclaim he deserves. This year is no different. But while others are getting hyped on ESPN, Harangody is getting to work on the hardwood. He leads Notre Dame in scoring (24.3 ppg) and rebounding (10.1 rpg) while shooting 51.1% from the floor.
Artsiom Parakhouski – center; Radford (senior; 6-11, 260). In just his sixth season playing organized basketball, Parakhouski (who is from Belarus) has become the most dominant center in college basketball. Though he plays for tiny Radford University, his game is even bigger than his body. He proved this to any non-believers in a blowout loss to Kansas where he completely dominated Cole Aldrich (likely the top American big man to be drafted by the NBA next year). Parakhouski is the only player in the nation in the Top-10 in both scoring (7th) and rebounding (2nd). He leads the Big South Conference in scoring (23.8 ppg), rebounding (12.8 rpg), field goal percentage (64.2), and is third in blocked shots (2.15 bpg).
Jimmer Fredette – point guard; BYU (junior; 6-2, 195). The leading scorer in the Mountain West Conference (21.6 ppg), Fredette is fearless. Built like a defensive back, he is able to penetrate off the dribble and either finish in the paint (50.3% field goal pct), finish at the free throw line (92.6%), or create an easy bucket for a teammate (5.6 assists-per-game). A top-notch defender, Fredette averages 1.9 steals-per-game and isn’t afraid to mix it up with the trees, averaging 3.1 rebounds-per.
Rotnei Clarke – shooting guard; Arkansas (sophomore; 6-0, 184). Simply the most feared shooter in college basketball today. The SEC’s leading scorer (19.0 ppg), Clarke is the only perimeter threat for the Razorbacks, who don’t have another player who is even adequate from the outside. Yet, so far, no one has been able to stop him despite routinely double-teaming him beyond the three-point line. One team even opened a game in a box-and-one to try and slow him down, an event I don’t ever recall having seen before in Division One. In 13 games, he’s hit 51 three-pointers (on an incredible 51% shooting from beyond the arc!). He’s also shown an impressive ability to put the ball on the deck and get into the lane for pull-up jumpers (hitting 53.1% from the field) or to the free throw line, where he’s also automatic (84.0%). His numbers will likely fall in conference play, as aside from him Arkansas stinks. They will likely finish in the cellar of the SEC West.
Gordon Hayward – guard/forward; Butler (sophomore; 6-9, 207). The do-everything Hayward was all-everything last year as a freshman, when he was named to virtually every honor a freshman can earn. This year looks to be no different, as he once again stuffs the stat sheet for the Buldogs. He leads Butler in scoring (16.6 ppg), rebounding (9.1 rpg), field goal shooting (45.8%), is second in blocked shots (11) and free throw shooting (87.0%), and has 13 steals and 25 assists in 14 games.
Cole Aldrich – power forward/center; Kansas (junior; 6-11, 245). Possibly the most athletic big man in the nation, Aldrich is an intimidating presence in the paint. He leads the Jayhawks in rebounds (10.1 rpg), nearly twice as many as anyone else on the roster, and blocked shots (3.8 bpg), as well as averaging 11.1 ppg and shooting 55.9% from the field. He will likely be the first American big man drafted by the NBA this year.
Omar Samhan – center; Saint Mary’s (senior; 6-11, 265). Samhan is possibly the most unheralded yet most productive player in the country. The personification of hard work and perseverance, Samhan transformed his big, talented body that was severely overweight into a durable, powerful, big man who can get up and down the floor and dominate. He leads the West Coast Conference in scoring (20.8 ppg), rebounding (11.0 rpg), blocked shots (2.5 bpg), and is third in field goal percentage (57.4%).
Guys who barely missed the cut …
Jon Leuer – forward; Wisconsin (junior). Leuer leads the Badgers in rebounding (5.9 rpg), blocks (1.1 bpg), shooting (57.6% from the floor), is second in scoring (15.8 ppg), is one of the better passing big men in the country with a near 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and is shooting over 36% from 3-point range.
Kyle Singler – forward; Duke (junior, 6-8, 230). Singler, possibly the most versatile player in the country, has seen a dip in his offensive numbers this season as he adjusts to playing almost exclusively on the perimeter for the Blue Devils. Still, the talented swingman stuffs the stat sheet, averaging 15.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.0 steals-per-game, and .9 bpg. He is also an elite defender and can guard multiple positions.
Robbie Hummel – guard/forward; Purdue (junior, 6-8, 208). Hummel, another incredibly versatile player, stuffs the stat sheet in every category, as well. He is Purdue’s second-leading scorer (15.1 ppg), second-leading rebounder (6.5 rpg), second-leading shot blocker (11 in 13 games), averages better than a steal-per-game (16 in 13 contests), is the top free throw shooter on the roster (89.1%) and shoots 46% from the floor.