Frank Kaminsky, Jahlil Okafor lead Sports Illustrated's 2015 All-Americas
Outside of a certain team in Lexington pursuing perfection, college basketball's best storyline has been the battle between Frank Kaminsky and Jahlil Okafor for player of the year. But there is no debating that the two of them are the sport's premier players. And they lead our All-America team as the only consensus selections. Our panel of 11 writers and editors included senior writers Seth Davis and Luke Winn; staff writers Brian Hamilton and Lindsay Schnell; writer-reporter Dan Greene; associate editor Ted Keith; producers David Gardner and Peter Bukowski; and contributing writers Michael Beller, Zac Ellis and Chris Johnson.
On Wednesday, SI's Wooden Watch threw its weight behind the Badgers star. Kaminsky, a 7-footer, is leading his team in points, rebounds, blocks and assists. He wasn't a regular contributor until his junior season, but he's emerged as the best player in the country as a senior.
Perhaps no player is more important to his team than Grant. A year after missing ACC play because of an academic issue, Grant has emerged as the player coach Mike Brey always thought he could be. Not only is he the main scorer and facilitator on one of the nation's top offenses, he's also one of the most clutch players in college basketball.
Russell started the season as a fringe top-20 recruit, and he's now being discussed as a top-three pick in the NBA draft. He can play the point or off the ball, and he's dazzled fans—and dizzied opposing defense—with his incredible passing. Russell has proved himself the second best freshman in the country and a worthy first-team All-America
He averages only 8.9 points per game and plays a relatively paltry 25.4 minutes per game. So why is Cauley-Stein an All-America? Because he might be the most impactful defensive player in the country. Because of Kentucky's depth, his raw numbers, even on that end of the court, aren't eye-popping (6.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, the latter of which is way down from his 2.9 a year ago), but his ability to force opponents to alter their shots or re-set their offense entirely is unmatched. And his offense can be spectacular, as Florida found out all too well.
Among players using 28% or more of their team's possessions—kenpom.com's upper-threshold—Frank Kaminsky leads the way with an offensive rating of 126.7. Second place? Tuttle. The senior star committed to the Panthers after their upset win over Kansas in the 2010 NCAA tournament. And this season, he's guided UNI back to the Big Dance for the first time since.
The best of the Wildcats' latest crop of one-and-done imports, Towns actually has better rebounding (6.6) and blocked shot (2.4) averages than Cauley-Stein. In little more than 20 minutes per game he is averaging 9.7 points but has flashed the type of offensive game that could be truly explosive if he played more minutes, such as when he scored 19 points, most of them at will, to spur Kentucky's comeback win at Georgia earlier this month.
He left Lexington with a national championship ring on his hand and a chip on his shoulder, eager to prove that he could be an All-America player if he didn't have to fight for playing time against Lottery picks. Wiltjer is the best player on Gonzaga's formidable frontcourt, and he's the reason why the Bulldogs could make their first-ever Final Four.
His athletic and intelligent play to tip-home the game-winning basket and beat Kansas on March 7 was a perfect capper for Hield's outstanding season. The Big 12 player of the year averaged career-highs in points (17.4) and rebounds (5.5) while helping Oklahoma finish tied for second in the ultra-competitive Big 12.