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March 25, 2008

Youngsters dominate Rivals.com AA Teams

The youth movement continues to grow stronger in college basketball.

Nine of the 15 selections on Rivals.com's All-America teams are either freshmen or sophomores. Six underclassmen earned the honor last season, which was the first year top high school seniors weren't allowed to make a direct jump to the NBA.

For the second consecutive season, a freshman this time, Kansas State's Michael Beasley was selected Rivals.com's National Player of the Year. Kevin Durant ran away with the honor last season. Beasley edged out North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough this time.

Beasley is third in the nation in scoring and became just the third freshmen ever to lead the nation in rebounding while leading Kansas State to its first win in the NCAA Tournament in two decades.

Hansbrough and Mississippi State second-teamer Jamont Gordon are the only two returnees from Rivals.com's 2006-07 All-America teams.

The Pac-10 leads the way with four selections this season, followed by the Big 12 and SEC with three apiece. The ACC, Big East and Big Ten each had one selection.

Eight of the selections are playing for teams that have advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. All 15 were on teams that made the NCAA field.

Rivals.com All-America First Team
G D.J. Augustin, Texas, 6-0/180, Soph.
High School: New Orleans Brother Martin
The Numbers: 19.2 ppg, 5.7 apg, 1.2 spg, 38.0 3-pt FG%
The Buzz: Texas was supposed to take a step back after losing national player of the year Kevin Durant. But thanks to Augustin, the Longhorns improved. UT captured a share of the Big 12 regular-season title and has advanced to the Sweet 16. Augustin showed he could carry the offense he raised his scoring average nearly five points and ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring while still creating shots for others. Augustin ranks first in assists in the Big 12. He also ranks fifth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1-to-1).
Video: Augustin in action
G Stephen Curry, Davidson, 6-3/185, Soph.
High School: Charlotte (N.C.) Christian
The Numbers: 25.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.0 spg, 44.4 3-pt FG%, 88.8 FT%
The Buzz: If there were any doubt about whether Curry belongs among the best players in college basketball, it should be gone after the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Curry scored 40 points in the Wildcats' first-round win over Gonzaga, then added 30 in a shocking upset of Georgetown in the second round. Curry knocked down 13 3-pointers in those two games and leads the nation with 152 3-pointers on the season. He also has been extremely consistent, scoring in double figures in each of the Wildcats' 34 games.
Video: Curry in action
F Shan Foster, Vanderbilt, 6-6/205, Sr.
High School: Kenner (La.) Bonnabel
The Numbers: 20.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.1 spg, 52.3 FG%, 46.9 3-pt FG%
The Buzz: Foster, the SEC Player of the Year, saved his biggest performances for the biggest games. Foster scored 32 points in Vanderbilt's upset of then-No. 1 Tennessee on Feb. 26. Eight days later, Foster poured in a career-high 42 points in Vanderbilt's overtime win over SEC West champ Mississippi State. A very accurate shooter, Foster made a remarkable nine 3-pointers in a row against the Bulldogs - including the game-winner with 2.7 seconds to play. He led the SEC in scoring, 3-point field-goal percentage and 3-pointers made.
Video: Foster in action
F Michael Beasley, Kansas State, 6-10/235, Fr.
High School: Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep
The Numbers: 26.2 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 1.3 spg, 53.2 FG%
The Buzz: Beasley ranks third in the nation in scoring and first in rebounding, but his gaudy stats only tell half the story of his massive impact. Kansas State's remarkable success explains the rest. Beasley led K-State to its first win at home over rival Kansas in 24 years, breaking one of the longest streaks in college basketball. Beasley also led the Wildcats to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996 and their first tourney win since 1988.
Video: Beasley in action
F Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina, 6-9/250, Jr.
High School: Poplar Bluff (Mo.) High
The Numbers: 22.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.5 spg, 54.1 FG%, 81.2 FT%
The Buzz: Already one of the nation's premier players, Hansbrough managed to take his game to even higher level this season. Hansbrough has racked up 18 double-doubles, two more than his freshman and sophomore years combined. During a stretch in which UNC point guard Ty Lawson missed almost seven full games, Hansbrough was brilliant. He averaged 28 points and 12.4 rebounds, and the Tar Heels went 6-1 during that stretch. He led the ACC in scoring and rebounding and has attempted a remarkable 356 free throws.
Video: Hansbrough in action
Rivals.com All-America Second Team
G Jamont Gordon, Mississippi State, 6-4/230, Jr.
High School: Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy
The Numbers: 17.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.1 spg
The Buzz: If Gordon played for a high-profile program, he might be a household name. Few, if any, players can match his wide array of skills or his versatile production. Gordon is the only player in the SEC who ranks in the top 15 in scoring (seventh), rebounding (tied for 11th) and assists (third). He led the Bulldogs to the SEC West title and averaged 14.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists in two NCAA Tournament games.
Video: Gordon in action
G Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis, 6-7/200, Jr.
High School: Detroit Northwestern
The Numbers: 17.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.2 spg, 55.4 FG%, 44.1 3-pt FG%
The Buzz: There are more prolific scorers, but none may be as efficient. Douglas-Roberts is shooting a higher percentage from the field than most of the nation's top big men, including Beasley and Hansbrough. His 3-point percentage is up from 32.8 percent last season. He put together a clutch 3-point play in the final seconds to lift Memphis to a 79-78 win at UAB on Feb. 16, helping the Tigers preserve an undefeated record in Conference USA action.
Video: Douglas-Roberts in action
F Brook Lopez, Stanford, 7-0/260, Soph.
High School: Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial
The Numbers: 19.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg
The Buzz: Stanford went from a fringe NCAA Tournament team to the fringe of the nation's elite thanks to Lopez, who emerged as a dominating big man. The 7-footer reached the 30-point barrier four times, including a 30-point performance in the Cardinal's overtime win over Marquette in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He was at his best in Pac-10 games, ranking fourth in scoring, fifth in rebounding and second in blocks in league games while leading the Cardinal to a second-place finish.
Video: Lopez in action
F Luke Harangody, Notre Dame, 6-8/250, Soph.
High School: Merrillville (Ind.) Andrean
The Numbers: 20.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 50.7 FG%
The Buzz: The runaway winner for Big East Player of the Year, Harangody racked up a league-high 19 double-doubles while carrying the surprising Irish to 25 wins and a tie for second place in the Big East. The bullish big man led the league in scoring and ranks second in rebounding.
Video: Harangody in action
F Kevin Love, UCLA, 6-10/270, Fr.
High School: Lake Oswego (Ore.) High
The Numbers: 17.3 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 55.7 FG%
The Buzz: Love more than lived up to the massive hype surrounding his arrival in Los Angeles. Selected the Pac-10 Player of the Year, the five-star recruit has racked up 21 double-doubles on his way to his way to leading the Bruins to Pac-10 regular-season and tournament titles and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He scored in double figures in every one of the Bruins' 36 games, including a 19-point, 11-rebound, seven-block performance in a win over Texas A&M in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Video: Love in action
Rivals.com All-America Third Team
G Mario Chalmers, Kansas, 6-1/190, Jr.
High School: Anchorage (Alaska) Bartlett
The Numbers: 12.6 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.4 spg, 52.5 FG%, 47.1 3-pt FG%
The Buzz: Chalmers is the most valuable piece of a remarkably balanced Kansas team that has already won 33 games. He is also one of the nation's most efficient players. He ranks second in the Big 12 in assists and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4-1) while setting career-highs in field-goal percentage and 3-point field-goal percentage. Also an excellent defender, he is leading the league in steals for the second consecutive season.
Video: Chalmers in action
G O.J. Mayo, USC, 6-5/200, Fr.
High School: Huntington (W.Va.) High
The Numbers: 20.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 40.9 3-pt FG%, 80.3 FT%
The Buzz: After losing three double-digit scorers, the Trojans were desperate for offense. They found plenty of it in Mayo, who scored at least 20 points in 19 games. During a key stretch in which the Trojans won six of seven, he averaged 25.7 points and shot a sizzling 53 percent (28 of 53) from 3-point range. He also proved to be more than just a scorer, leading the team in assists and ranking fifth in the Pac-10 in steals.
Video: Mayo in action
G Jerryd Bayless, Arizona, 6-3/200, Fr.
High School: Phoenix St. Mary's
The Numbers: 19.7 ppg, 4.0 apg, 40.7 3-pt FG%, 83.9 FT%
The Buzz: Few guards were able to score and create for others at the rate Bayless did. He ranks third in the Pac-10 in scoring and sixth in assists. He also leads the league in made free throws (187) despite missing four games with a knee injury. During a three-game stretch in February, nobody was better. He scored 39 points against California, 33 on Arizona State and 31 more on Stanford, and was 35 of 37 (94.5 percent) from the line in those games.
Video: Bayless in action
F Tyler Smith, Tennessee, 6-7/215, Soph.
High School: Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy
The Numbers: 13.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.4 spg, 54.1 FG%
The Buzz: Smith may be the nation's most versatile player, and he is unquestionably the MVP for a Tennessee team that has racked up a school-record 31 wins. Smith, a transfer from Iowa, leads the Vols in rebounds, assists and field-goal percentage, ranks second in steals and third in scoring. He also has thrived in the clutch, hitting a series of game-winning shots, including a short jumper that lifted the Vols past then-No. 1 Memphis on Feb. 23.
Video: Smith in action
F D.J. White, Indiana, 6-9/251, Sr.
High School: Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Hillcrest
The Numbers: 17.4 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 60.5 FG%
The Buzz: Star freshman Eric Gordon received more publicity, but the Hoosiers would not have spent most of the season in the top 25 or returned to the NCAA Tournament without White. He gave the Hoosiers a massive inside presence on his way to recording a Big Ten-high 20 double-doubles. He ranks first in the league in rebounding and field-goal percentage, second in scoring and free throws attempted (206) and fourth in blocks.
Video: White in action

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