SI's preseason All-Americas include returning stars like Duke's Grayson Allen and Villanova's Josh Hart plus uber-talented freshman like Washington's Markelle Fultz.
Sports Illustrated's 2016–17 preview is guided by data from our College Basketball Projection System, a collaboration between economist Dan Hanner and SI's Luke Winn and Jeremy Fuchs. We project teams on a player-by-player, lineup-based level and then simulate the season 10,000 times to generate our 1–351 national rankings and conference forecasts.
These are our picks for first- and second-team All-America, based on the model's projections.
Allen is the preseason frontrunner for national player of the year, and the centerpiece of what SI projects to be the nation's best offense—and its No. 1 team. He can become the latest in a line of super-efficient upperclassmen to win the Wooden or Naismith awards, following Oklahoma's Buddy Hield, Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky and Creighton's Doug McDermott.
Fultz's Huskies don't project to make the NCAA tournament, but the numbers he's likely to average in an up-tempo offense, plus his status as a potential No. 1 overall NBA draft pick in 2017, can lift him to All-America status even on an NIT team. Don't be surprised if he has multiple points-rebounds-assists triple-doubles this season.
It's unlikely that Hart will be able to match the scoring average of Duke's Grayson Allen, but the Villanova wing can make a national player of the year case with his all-around value. Hart figures to be a high-efficiency scorer and high-impact defender on a team that will contend for a repeat national title.
Brooks is still recovering from a left foot injury (and subsequent surgery) that kept him sidelined for the summer and early fall, and it would not be surprising if he sat out part of the Ducks' November schedule. When he is on the floor, though, he's a do-everything wing and the best player on the best team on the West Coast.
No player looks more ready to make the leap from freshman role player to sophomore star than Rabb, who passed on the chance to be a first-round pick in the 2016 NBA draft. He's the major-conference big man whom SI projects to average closest to 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, on a Cal team that's top-20 quality.
Morris will be transitioning from a pass-first point guard role—one that he's played exceptionally well for three years in Ames—to a situation where he's the Cyclones' No. 1 option on offense. He's adept enough in the pick-and-roll to handle it, and to carry an undersized Iowa State team back to the NCAA tournament.
Kentucky is (as always) loaded with talented underclassmen, but Monk is its one pure scorer, and his recruiting pedigree, NBA draft stock and AAU advanced stats all suggest he can put up big numbers in what will likely be his one-and-done year of college. The majority of Monk's points are likely to come on basket-attacks or in transition, but his three-point shot is also developing into a weapon.
As a one-and-done freshman small forward at Kansas in 2013–14, Andrew Wiggins averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 32.8 minutes per game. We think Jackson—who's a strong enough defender to earn coach Bill Self's trust early in the season—can play Wiggins-level minutes and have Wiggins-level stat lines.
This is a bounce-back projection for Hayes, who struggled with his three-point shot as a junior but still found plenty of ways to be valuable for a Wisconsin team that made a run to the Sweet 16. As Hayes (most likely) improves from long range and his supporting cast gets more experienced, he should be the offensive leader for a team with two other stars in Bronson Koenig and Ethan Happ.
If Blossomgame leads Clemson into the top 25 —which is certainly within reach, as the Tigers start at No. 34 in SI's projections—he could finish the season as a first-teamer. As a 40%-plus three-point shooter who can also score on the interior, rebound and defend, he's one of the nation's best all-around forwards.
G: Frank Mason, 5' 11", senior, Kansas
G: Dennis Smith Jr., 6' 3", freshman, NC State
F: Alec Peters, 6' 9" senior, Valparaiso
F: Jayson Tatum, 6' 7" freshman, Duke
G: Allonzo Trier, 6' 5", sophomore, Arizona (* if eligible)
G: Maurice Watson Jr., 5' 10", senior, Creighton
G: Jaylen Adams, 6' 2", senior, St. Bonaventure
G: Jack Gibbs, 6-foot, senior, Davidson
G: Melo Trimble, 6' 3", junior, Maryland
F: Trevon Bluiett, 6' 6", junior, Xavier