Thursday, May 26, 2022

2021-22 CBS Sports All-America teams: Big Ten well-represented as we honor college basketball’s best players

Four of the five players who were voted CBS Sports Preseason First Team All-Americans last season actually went on to be CBS Sports First Team All-Americans. It was remarkable how closely things went as they were projected to go.

But this season is not like last season.

This season wasn’t nearly as predictable — evidence being that Gonzaga‘s Drew Timme is the only CBS Sports Preseason First Team All-American who has also been named a CBS Sports First Team All-American by our panel of voters who submitted ballots after last weekend’s Elite Eight games. How surprising is our First Team relative to preseason expectations? Consider: Timme is joined on the First Team by a transfer who wasn’t even expected to be the best player on his team (Kentucky‘s Oscar Tshiebwe), by a three-year player who wasn’t even expected to be the best player on his team, (Kansas‘ Ochai Agbaji), by a player who didn’t start for his team last season (Iowa‘s Keegan Murray), and by a former 3-star recruit who had the biggest out-of-nowhere season of anybody (Wisconsin‘s Johnny Davis).

Literally nobody could’ve predicted our First Team All-Americans in October. They are five players from four different leagues — and none of them are freshmen, though Duke‘s Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren were voted Second Team All-Americans, and Auburn‘s Jabari Smith was voted a Third Team All-American. So some likely one-and-done products are represented, just not on the First Team.

Four of our 15 All-Americans will participate in Saturday’s Final Four — namely Agbaji, Banchero, Villanova‘s Collin Gillespie and North Carolina‘s Armando Bacot. Because those four players come from four different teams, two of them are guaranteed to play for the title Monday night in New Orleans.

Check out the 2021-22 CBS Sports Player, Coach and Freshman of the Year 

CBS Sports 2021-22 First Team All-America

Oscar Tshiebwe | Kentucky | Junior | Forward

Kentucky’s best player became the first Division I men’s player in more than 40 years to average more than 15.0 points and 15.0 rebounds in a season. Tshiebwe’s final stat line: 17.4 ppg, 15.2 rpg (No. 1 in the country), 1.8 spg, 1.6 bpg. He was the centerpiece — and a throwback kind of big guy — on a 26-8 UK team that earned a No. 2 seed but was upset in the first round of the NCAAs by Saint Peter’s. Tshiebwe made an immediate impact after sitting out last season due to his transfer from West Virginia. He set a couple of single-season records for rebounds at Kentucky, going for 20-or-more boards five times, including 28 against Western Kentucky on Dec. 22. In a year of great big men across college hoops, Tshiebwe was the best of them and is a unanimous selection on the CBS Sports All-America First Team.

Keegan Murray | Iowa | Soph. | Forward 

Iowa has a good hoops history, but the past two years have been unprecedented for that program in this regard: the Hawkeyes had the Naismith Player of the Year in 2021 with Luka Garza, then followed that up with a surprising First Team All-American season from Murray, who came off the bench a year ago. Murray averaged 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and had a delectable 131.2 offensive rating at KenPom.com. He keyed Iowa to a better-than-anticipated 26-10 season that abruptly ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament vs. No. 12 seed Richmond. Murray’s play took him from Big Ten breakout candidate in the preseason to likely top-10 pick in this year’s NBA Draft and a unanimous selection for CBS Sports All-American.

Johnny Davis | Wisconsin | Soph. | Guard/Forward

If Murray at Iowa wasn’t the breakout player nationally this season, Davis surely was. Wisconsin wasn’t even viewed as a probable NCAA Tournament team back in November. But Davis, who was a bench player a year ago, rose up and changed the paradigm of the Big Ten while altering the outlook for Greg Gard’s program. He averaged 19.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists – while frequently saving his strongest performances against the best opponents Wisconsin faced. Davis was adroit at drawing fouls (ranking top-25 nationally) and turned himself into a surefire lottery pick thanks to a huge second season at Wisconsin.

Ochai Agbaji | Kansas | Senior | Guard

Only one of our All-Americans has made it to the Final Four. Kansas’ senior guard built his career the old-fashioned way: he steadily got better with each passing season. This year, Agbaji grew into a well-rounded, confident offensive force. He averaged 18.9 points and 5.2 rebounds, while shooting 39.8% from 3-point range and logging a 113.4 ORtg. Kansas earned a No. 1 seed in large part because Agbaji was as dependable a shooting guard as Bill Self’s had in the past 5-7 seasons. The Jayhawks have plenty of help around Agbaji, of course, but his steady leadership and improved belief in his game put KU in a spot to win the Big 12 and earn a 10th No. 1 seed under Self.

Drew Timme | Gonzaga | Junior | Forward

The near-consensus preseason player of the year pick fell short of achieving that here and now, but Timme still gets our nod as one of the five best and most valuable players in men’s college basketball for 2021-22. Timme (18.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 58.6 FG%) was the leader for the No. 1 overall seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Playing alongside likely future top-four NBA pick Chet Holmgren meant sacrificing some statistical production, but still, Gonzaga was Timme’s team. The Bulldogs went 28-4 as Timme shot 61% from 2-point range. He had takeover performances vs. Texas, BYU, Saint Mary’s and, in the NCAAs, vs. Memphis. A season after emerging as one of the best players in the country, Timme largely lived up to his preseason hype.

CBS Sports 2021-22 Second Team All-America

Collin Gillespie | Villanova | Graduate | Guard

The two-time Big East Player of the Year has made the most of his opportunity to lead Villanova on a deep NCAA Tournament run after his season was ended by injury a year ago. Gillespie led the team in scoring and assists and has been the Wildcats’ best 3-point shooter, maintaining a program standard that he first witnessed as a freshman when Villanova won its last national championship in 2018. 

Paolo Banchero | Duke | Freshman | Forward

Banchero has only continued to get better to close out his year, building hype for what he could become even as he stood out as one of the best players in the country this season. The Duke forward ranked in the top-six in the ACC in scoring (17.1 ppg) and rebounds (7.7 ) but also was second on the team in assists (3.2 per game) and has emerged as a threat from the perimeter in the NCAA Tournament, hitting 8 of his 15 3-point attempts in the big dance. 

Jaden Ivey | Purdue | Soph. | Guard

Few players in college basketball could get to their spot and deliver like Ivey, who was the best individual playmakers on one of the best offenses in the country. Ivey averaged 17.1 points per game and was named All-Big Ten First Team after helping the Boilermakers win 29 games this season and reach No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time in program history. 

Kofi Cockburn | Illinois | Junior | Center

Cockburn was consistently productive throughout Illinois’ run to a Big Ten regular-season title, averaging a double-double with 20.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. Those numbers were good for top-three in the Big Ten and top-11 nationally as the junior big man built on what has been a prolific college career. 

Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga | Freshman | Forward

There has always been star power around Holmgren because of his potential, but the 7-foot freshman delivered valuable production at both ends of the floor for one of the best teams in college basketball. Holmgren led the country in two-point field goal percentage (.737) and ranked fourth nationally in blocks per game (3.7), regularly dominating the paint on offense and defense on his way to WCC Freshman of the Year and WCC Defensive Player of the Year honors. 

CBS Sports 2021-22 Third Team All-America

Bennedict Mathurin | Arizona | Sophomore |  Guard

One of college basketball’s best two-way wings, the Pac-12 Player of the Year churned out 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game while making nearly 37% of his 3-point shots.

E.J. Liddell | Ohio State | Junior | Forward

Liddell served as one of college hoops’ biggest matchup problems, shooting 37.4% from 3-point range, scoring 19.4 points per game, both career-highs, while also hitting career-high numbers in rebounds (7.9), assists (2.5) and blocks (2.6) per game.

Jabari Smith | Auburn | Freshman | Forward

The former five-star made a strong case to go No. 1 in the upcoming NBA Draft, producing 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks per game while shooting 42% from 3-point range.

James Akinjo | Baylor | Senior | Guard

One of the nation’s most effective transfers helped Baylor to a second consecutive Big 12 title, averaging 13.5 points, 5.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game after arriving in Waco from Tucson.

Armando Bacot | North Carolina | Junior | Forward/Center

Bacot became a double-double machine this season, tying Tim Duncan’s ACC-best mark in the category with a chance to pass him this weekend after putting up 16.5 points, 12.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.

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