Marcus Paige, Jahlil Okafor lead SI's preseason All-America team
Of SI's 2013-14 end-of-season All-Americas, only one player returned to school: second-teamer Fred VanVleet of Wichita State. So it's no surprise that the Shockers guard finds himself on the first team to start this season. It should also be no surprise that there were no consensus first-team selections. The two players that received the most votes were future Tobacco Road rivals: Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor and North Carolina junior Marcus Paige. Our panel of eight writers and editors included: senior writers Seth Davis, Pete Thamel and Luke Winn; staff writer Brian Hamilton; producer David Gardner; and bloggers Michael Beller, Zac Ellis, Chris Johnson and Martin Rickman. Players were awarded two points for every first-team vote and one point for every second-team vote.
Marcus Paige, G, North Carolina: UNC's offense revolved around Paige last season, when he scored 17.5 points per game, and our projections only see him taking a slight step back this season, to 17.2 ppg. The Tar Heels should have more help around Paige this season, with forwards Brice Johnson, a junior, and Kennedy Meeks, a sophomore, set to break out and freshmen forwards Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson ready to step in.
Fred VanVleet, G, Wichita State: After backing up Malcolm Armstead as a freshman, VanVleet seamlessly transitioned into the starting point guard role as a sophomore. Behind his leadership, the Shockers had the country's eighth-most efficient offense. This season, our projections put him and perimeter partner Ron Baker as the team's top two scorers with 13.7 ppg and 14.3 ppg, respectively.
Jahlil Okafor, F, Duke: For many freshmen, the idea of replacing Jabari Parker might be intimidating. But Jahlil Okafor welcomes the chance to take over where his fellow Chicago star left off. Okafor is one of the most skilled big men in the country already, and he hasn't even played a regular-season game yet. Expect Duke's offense to flow through Okafor, and expect the Blue Devils to go deeper in the NCAA tournament than they did with Parker, losing their first game to Mercer.
Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville: When Harrell decided to return to Louisville last April instead of declaring for the NBA draft, Cardinals coaches and fans rejoiced. And for good reason, Harrell scored 14 points and hauled in 8.4 rebounds a game last year; our projections put him at 15.0 ppg and 7.8 rpg this season. It says something about the quality of the ACC that Harrell is a preseason All-America and he may finish third in the conference's player of the year race.
Frank Kaminsky, F, Wisconsin: Kaminsky's efficiency and versatility make him an early favorite for national player of the year. He has perhaps the widest range of post moves in college basketball, and he can step out to hit three-pointers as well. SI projects him to use a quarter of the Badgers' possessions at a 1.259-points-per clip -- the best of anyone in the country. The only thing that may work against Kaminsky is that the Badgers' pace of play and wealth of talent could prevent him from having incredible raw numbers.