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SI’s College Basketball 2021–22 Men’s All-Americans

The 2021–22 college basketball regular season is officially in the books, with this week marking the full transition into the postseason as the sport gears up for Selection Sunday. It’s been a chaotic season on the hardwood, with several teams rising to No. 1 in the men’s AP poll before Gonzaga settled in at the top for the final stretch. When it came to individual talent, though, the elite were a bit more concentrated, with the Big Ten having a particularly strong showing on Sports Illustrated’s All-American lists.

This year’s All-American honorees, which were separated into first, second and third teams, were chosen by panel vote among the SI college basketball staff, with one earning unanimous first-team selection and designated with an asterisk (*). Be sure to check back on Wednesday for SI’s women’s All-American teams.

Iowa's Keegan Murray; Duke's Paolo Banchero, Illinois's Kofi Cockburn

First Team

Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky*

Tshiebwe sat out the majority of the 2020–21 season after transferring to Lexington from West Virginia but then became an absolute force for the Wildcats. He enters the postseason having posted a double double in 12 straight games, and his torrid numbers on the boards are eye-popping: Tshiebwe leads the country in offensive rebounding percentage, defensive rebounding percentage, offensive rebounds per game and total rebounds. He’s also averaging 16.9 ppg, leading Kentucky in scoring, and tops the country in defensive win shares. Good luck scoring in the paint when he’s patrolling it.

Johnny Davis, Wisconsin

Davis, arguably the breakout star of this men’s college basketball season, came from relative obscurity to become a National Player of the Year candidate as a sophomore. His tough shot-making ability and even-keeled demeanor have carried the Badgers well beyond preseason expectations for 2021–22, including leading them to a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. The 6'5" wing is averaging 20.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals, his scoring output having nearly tripled his freshman mark.

Kofi Cockburn, Illinois

Cockburn made big waves over the summer when he spurned the NBA draft and the transfer portal for a third year in Champaign. With Ayo Dosunmu in the pros, the 7-footer took charge of the Illini, averaging 21.0 points and 10.6 rebounds while drawing more fouls per 40 minutes than all but five players nationally. In the process, Illinois captured the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament, earning its first share of the regular-season title since 2005. Cockburn is the heart and soul of the Illini and someone coach Brad Underwood told SI is “potentially the most beloved person in the state of Illinois.”

Keegan Murray, Iowa

Another Big Ten breakout star on a team that has overachieved, Murray started strong out of the gate and never looked back. He’s been the focal point of the Hawkeyes’ deadly offense, pouring in 23.3 ppg (fourth nationally and first among power conference players) while adding 8.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.3 steals. Murray takes impeccable care of the ball, sporting the nation’s sixth-lowest turnover rate, and is an efficient high-volume scorer, sinking 62.6% of his twos and 38% of his thres. Altogether, he has the most win shares in Division I.

Jabari Smith, Auburn

The only freshman to crack SI’s first team, Smith arrived at Auburn with adroit shooting mechanics and the ideal mindset to help lead the program to its first-ever AP No. 1 ranking. In the process, he may have even played himself into the top pick of the NBA draft over two SI All-American second-teamers. If there’s one knock on Smith, it’s that he’s occasionally not used enough in the Tigers’ offense; In the meantime, he’s averaged 17.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting a scorching 43.8% from three at a high volume.

Second Team

Ochai Agbaji, Kansas

Agbaji’s decision to return to Lawrence for a senior season has paid big dividends for the Jayhawks. He’s having a career year, with highs of 19.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and 41.1% shooting from three, and he recently was awarded Big 12 Player of the Year. The high point of Agbaji’s season to date was a 37-point outburst in a gritty double-overtime win over Texas Tech in January, when he sank seven triples. It came just two days after he dropped 29 points on in-state rival Kansas State.

Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

The 7-footer came with massive expectations when he committed to the Zags last spring, becoming the highest-rated recruit in school history. He has largely lived up to them, helping bring a new dimension to the Bulldogs’ defense with his mere presence and threat as a shot-blocker on the interior. Holmgren is nearly averaging a double double with 14.4 points and 9.7 rebounds a game, and he recently had a streak of 13 straight games in double figures snapped. When opponents do dare test him inside, he’s swatting shots at a 12.2% rate (14th nationally) and at a clip of 3.6 per game.

Paolo Banchero, Duke

Another prized freshman, Banchero is the biggest reason the Blue Devils can dream of sending Coach K off with a national title. He leads the team in points (17.1) and rebounds (7.7), while adding 3.1 assists and shooting 46.3% from the floor. Banchero’s versatility and playmaking ability at 6'10" makes him a handful for opposing defenses, and his ability to draw fouls and generally stay out of foul trouble himself is a great weapon for Duke, which just captured its first ACC regular season title since 2010.

Jaden Ivey, Purdue

The Boilermakers aren’t short on offensive talent—together, they boast KenPom’s No. 1 adjusted offense—but Ivey is the straw that stirs the drink. The guard’s assumed sophomore breakout fully came to pass this season, and his penchant for hitting tough shots and acrobatic finishes has Purdue dreaming of a possible Final Four. Ivey’s averaging 17.2 points. 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists, and perhaps his biggest strides have come from the perimeter, where he now connects on 37% of his attempts compared to 26% as a freshman.

E.J. Liddell, Ohio State

Liddell tested the NBA draft waters before returning to Columbus, and he’s improved across the board in his junior season. The 6'7" forward is the engine that drives the Buckeyes on both ends, averaging team-highs in points (19.4), rebounds (7.9) and blocks (2.6). Liddell has also shown an increased ability to stretch things out to the perimeter this year, canning 37.5% of his 112 attempts. Ohio State is a team that makes its bones on the offensive end, and Liddell is firmly at the center of that.

​​Third Team

Drew Timme, Gonzaga: Timme was the near-consensus preseason NPOY favorite, but the presence of Holmgren and a dip in shooting have kept him out of that conversation. Make no mistake though, he’s still had an excellent year (17.6 points, 6.4 rebounds).

Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona: The 6'6" sophomore has been a huge part of the Wildcats’ resurgence in Year 1 under Tommy Lloyd. His 17.3 ppg and 37.9% mark from three lead the team, and he was a main driver in Arizona’s Pac-12 title.

Tari Eason, LSU: The Tigers’ season has been up and down since a 15–1 start, but it should take nothing away from Eason’s breakout campaign. The former Cincinnati transfer is second nationally in win shares per 40 minutes and averages 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds.

David Roddy, Colorado State: “The Man in the Arena” has had quite a road to starring in his junior season for the Rams. With the addition of a three-point shot, he put it all together in 2021–22 to the tune of 19.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.5 apg and 1.4 bpg.

Walker Kessler, Auburn: If Smith wasn’t fearsome enough in the Tigers’ frontcourt, opposing players who dare try to score in the paint are met by Kessler—who leads the country in block rate at a whopping 19.1%, good for 4.5 per game. He averages 11.5 points and 8.2 rebounds to boot.

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