Yahoo! Sports All-American Team
Before he ever played a game for Kentucky, John Wall had been labeled as the top talent in college basketball, the future No. 1 pick in the NBA draft and the player who would lead the Wildcats back to national prominence.
Pretty lofty expectations for an 18-year-old freshman.
“It got to me after awhile,” Wall said by phone Sunday. “I started worrying about living up to what everyone predicted from me instead of just playing basketball and having a good time.
“Once I put all that stuff behind me and started having fun, I started showing what I’m capable of.”
Indeed, Wall didn’t just live up to the expectations set forth for him in 2009-10.
He surpassed them.
Despite facing defenses geared to stop him, Wall led Kentucky to a 29-2 regular-season record and an SEC title by averaging team-highs in both points (16.8) and assists (6.2). For his efforts, Wall has been named Yahoo! Sports National Player of the Year.
Wall edged out Ohio State’s Evan Turner, who joins him on the first-team All-American squad along with Oklahoma State’s James Anderson, Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins and Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds.
Wall and Turner are considered the frontrunners for the Wooden Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top player.
“As long as my teammates love me and we’re winning games, I’m happy,” said Wall, who is expected to enter the draft after this season. “I’m sure Evan Turner feels the same way. He’s done some great things this year. He’s a great player and I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”
Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim is the Yahoo! Sports National Coach of the Year. Boeheim guided the Orange to their first outright Big East title since 1991 despite being picked to finish sixth in the league in the preseason coaches poll. Like Kentucky, Syracuse is expected to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Here are the Yahoo! Sports All-American teams and our other 2009-10 awards.
G John Wall, Kentucky, freshman – Wall was at his best during crunch time. In the last two minutes of games this season (plus two five-minutes overtime periods), Wall scored 66 points in 70 minutes with only six turnovers. He shot 62 percent from the field during those stretches. If Wall weren’t surrounded by future lottery picks his scoring stats would be even higher.
G Scottie Reynolds, Villanova, senior – Other than Wall, no player in the country was as clutch as Reynolds, who averaged 18.8 points during the regular season while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. It’s no coincidence that Villanova has become a consistent player on the national scene during Reynolds’ career. He’s the face of a Wildcats’ program that reached the Final Four in 2009 before tying for second place in the Big East this season.
G/F Evan Turner, Ohio State, junior – You won’t find many 6-foot-7 point guards in the college game – especially not any as good as Turner, who could go as high as No. 2 in this summer’s NBA draft. Turner does it all for the Buckeyes. He leads the team in points (19.5), rebounds (9.8) and assists (5.8). Turner, who shoots 53.8 percent from the field, missed six games after breaking bones in his back, but when he returned it was if he hadn’t missed a beat.
G/F James Anderson, Oklahoma State, junior – The best pure scorer in the country closed the regular season with a 22.9-point scoring average on 47 percent shooting. The Big 12 Player of the Year scored 25 or more points 17 times, and he reached the 30-point plateau on five occasions. The good thing about the 6-foot-7 Anderson is that he doesn’t take many ill-advised shots. His team-first attitude helped the Cowboys to a 21-9 record.
C DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky, freshman – The 6-foot-11, 270-pound Cousins was so hard to stop that teams had to resort to intentionally fouling him to keep him from scoring. Still, the country’s best big man managed to average 15.6 points and 10.1 rebounds. Cousins almost had as many offensive boards (135) as he did on the defensive end (177). The most impressive thing about Cousins’ gaudy statistics is that he amassed them despite playing just 22.9 minutes per game.
G Sherron Collins, Kansas, senior
G Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia, senior
G Greivis Vasquez, Maryland, senior
G/F Wesley Johnson, Syracuse, junior
C Greg Monroe, Georgetown, sophomore
G Jon Scheyer, Duke, senior
G E’Twaun Moore, Purdue, junior
F Ekpe Udoh, Baylor, junior
F Damion James, Texas, senior
C Cole Aldrich, Kansas, junior
Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech, junior; Devan Downey, South Carolina, senior; LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor, junior; Jimmer Fredette, BYU, junior; Luke Harangody, Notre Dame, senior; Lazar Hayward, Marquette, senior; Darington Hobson, New Mexico, junior; Trevon Hughes, Wisconsin, senior; Dominique Jones, South Florida, junior; Kalin Lucas, Michigan State, junior; Patrick Patterson, Kentucky, junior; Quincy Pondexter, Washington, senior; Jacob Pullen, Kansas State, junior; Jerome Randle, Cal, senior; Andy Rautins, Syracuse, senior; Omar Samhan, St. Mary’s, senior
Player of the Year: John Wall, Kentucky
Coach of the Year: Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
Freshman of the Year: John Wall, Kentucky
Newcomer of the Year: Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
Sixth Man of the Year: Draymond Green, Michigan State
Defensive Player of the Year: Chris Kramer, Purdue
Most Improved Player: Marcus Morris, Kansas