NCAA Basketball All-America Team: One Glaring Omission

The Associated Press announced it’s All-America team for the 2010-11 College Basketball season on Monday.  Overall, I have to give the voters a solid golf clap as they did a pretty good job.  The first and second teams are listed below:

First Team

  • Nolan Smith, G, Duke
  • Jimmer Fredette, G, BYU
  • Kemba Walker, G, Connecticut
  • JaJuan Johnson, C, Purdue
  • Jared Sullinger, C, Ohio State

Second Team

  • Ben Hansbrough, G, Notre Dame
  • Jordan Taylor, G, Wisconsin
  • Kawhi Leonard, F, San Diego State
  • Derrick Williams, F, Arizona
  • Marcus Morris, F, Kansas

There’s really not much room for argument with the first team.  The three guards were exceptional all season, and though Hansbrough had a phenomenal year, Smith, Walker and Fredette were on another level.  JaJuan Johnson was probably the best big man in the nation this year, so his spot is certainly justified.  That leaves us with one question mark, Ohio State C Jared Sullinger.  Make no mistake, Sullinger had a very good year, especially for a freshman.  But in my opinion this is a clear case of the often cited, but rarely proven, “East Coast Bias”.

In my opinion, and this is exactly that, my opinion, Derrick Williams was clearly a better player than Sullinger this year.  To start, let’s take a look at the stat lines:

Sullinger: 17.2 PPG, 54.1 FG%, 70.4 FT%, 10.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, .5 BPG, 1.6 TOPG

Williams: 19.5 PPG, 59.5 FG%, 74.6 FT%, 56.8 3PT%, 8.3 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, .7 BPG, 2.6 TOPG

I didn’t even bother listing Sullinger’s three-point shooting percentage as it’s pretty much irrelevant.  And no, that’s not a typo, Williams shot nearly 57% from three-point range for the season.  He scored more points, in a more efficient manner, while doing just as much to fill the rest of the stat sheet.  He also had far less talent on his team in terms of a supporting cast than Sullinger did.  Yes, some of his teammates, namely G Lamont “MoMo” Jones and F Solomon Hill, stepped up in the tournament, but Williams was largely a one-man show for the majority of the season.  Williams also attempted the most free throws of any player in college basketball this year.  That should tell you something.

But even completely ignoring the stat sheet and going by the “eye test”, there is no way anyone could have watched these two players this season and said that Sullinger was the better player.  No way.  Williams was the most talented player on the court in every game he played this season including clashes with Fredette’s BYU Cougars, Walker’s UConn Huskies and Smith’s Duke Blue Devils.  That’s high praise, maybe even foolhardy praise in the eyes of some, but it’s true.  The guy is a chiseled 6’8”, 240 lbs with rediculous athleticism and the handle and shooting ability of a guard.  The only possible explanation is that people, and more specifically these voters, didn’t watch Williams play.

I normally don’t buy into the “East Coast Bias” theory, but in this case I think it certainly applies.  Williams was robbed of an award that he certainly earned because these people couldn’t be bothered to watch basketball games that were played west of the Mississippi River.  Don’t worry though Derrick, there’s a good chance you are going to be the first overall pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.  And that my friends is something Sullinger is never going to be.

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2 Responses to NCAA Basketball All-America Team: One Glaring Omission

  1. Let me start by saying I am a Michigan Student, but I am not saying this because I despise Ohio St. One the stats speaking for themselves. Also Williams accomplished these stats with a lesser team. Ohio St was ranked #1 for a good portion of the season. I believe Williams also played a more critical role on his team then Sullinger. It’s clear Ohio St did not function the same without Sullinger, they did function. Without Williams, Arizona would have made it as far as they did. One thing Sullinger does have going for him is he played in the Big Ten which is seen as the best conference for college basketball. Either way it is close, but I would of put Williams in my First Team and Sullinger in my Second Team.

    • Ross says:

      You raise a solid point in that Ohio State was considered the best team in the country for much of the season. These “committees” often like to have players from those teams on their all-america, all-conference, all-everything teams. I mean, how else do you explain Kyle Singler making first-team ACC? It’s the same in other sports where players on lesser teams often aren’t considered for the MVP awards. This surely factored into the decision. It’s not as bad as when they voted Harrison Barnes first-team preseason All-America, but it’s still not good.

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