March 30, 2009

Rivals.com 2009 All-America Team

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A coach and player from the Big 12 are the Rivals.com national award winners this season.

Oklahoma sophomore forward Blake Griffin is the national player of the year. Griffin is as physical as any player in the country. He has been compared to "The Terminator" by an opposing coach; emotionless and determined, Griffin is simply a scoring and rebounding machine in the low post.

In the final weeks of the season, he sustained a concussion against Texas, jumped onto the scorer's table diving for a loose ball in his first game back and was flipped over the back of an opponent in his first-round NCAA tournament game.

After finishing his season one game short of the Final Four, he was first in the nation in rebounding with 14.4 boards per game while averaging 22.7 points.

Led by national coach of the year Bill Self, Kansas stayed atop their perch in the Big 12 despite losing every starter from last season's national championship team.

While the Jayhawks won the title a year ago, this season may have been Self's greatest coaching job. Sherron Collins was the sixth man and Cole Aldrich was a bit player on the championship team, but they became go-to players for Kansas this season.

Despite losing its top four scorers from 2007-08, Kansas won the Big 12 regular-season title and reached the Sweet 16.

"I would probably say this year has tested my patience more because last year we had older guys that could definitely police each other and coach each other," Self said, "while this year I have probably been more vocal than what I've had to be."

Here is the complete All-America team:

FIRST TEAM
C Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
7-3/263, Jr.
Houston Cypress Christian
The buzz: Thabeet improved his offense (13.5 points per game), but makes his biggest impact on defense (a Big East-leading 151 blocks and an unknown total of intimidations) and on the boards (10.9 rebounds per game). He is third in the Big East in field-goal percentage at 64.9.
F DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh
6-7/265, Soph.
Pittsburgh Schenley
The buzz: Blair is a load on the blocks for anybody. He averages a double-double (15.7 points, a Big East-leading 12.3 rebounds), shoots 59.3 percent from the floor and averages 1.5 steals per game. He is especially good on the offensive boards, averaging 5.6 offensive rebounds per game.
F Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
6-10/251, Soph.
Oklahoma City Oklahoma Christian
The buzz: Griffin emerged as the nation's best frontcourt player. He was dominant in the low post all season and was a double-double machine (22.7 ppg, 14.4 rpg). He also shot 65.4 percent from the field.
G Toney Douglas, Florida State
6-2/200, Sr.
Jonesboro (Ga.) High
The buzz: Douglas led the ACC in scoring (21.5) and ranked fifth in steals (1.8). As the only Florida State player with a scoring average in double figures, Douglas helped the Seminoles reach the ACC tournament final for the first time ever on the way to earning their first NCAA tournament bid since 1998. Douglas scored at least 19 points in each of his last 19 games.
G Ty Lawson, North Carolina
5-11/195, Jr.
Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy
The buzz: Lawson leads the ACC with 6.5 assists per game and has a 3.61-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He has a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.8-to-1 to rank second in ACC history to former North Carolina State star Sidney Lowe, now the Wolfpack's coach. Lawson also ranks second in the ACC with 2.0 steals per game. Lawson didn't commit a turnover in six games this season, including an NCAA second-round victory over LSU.
SECOND TEAM
6-9/250, Sr.
Poplar Bluff (Mo.) High
The buzz: Hansbrough is the ACC's leading career scorer with 2,836 points, a total that ranks 14th in NCAA history. He has made more free throws (968) than any player in NCAA history. He is second in the ACC in scoring (20.9) and sixth in rebounding (8.1) this season and will finish his career as the only player in ACC history to lead his team in scoring and rebounding all four seasons.
6-4/215, Jr.
Newtown Square (Pa.) The Episcopal Academy
The buzz: Henderson ranked 10th in the ACC in scoring with 16.5 points per game, and he also was second on his team in rebounds (4.9) and assists (2.5). Henderson also played his best in big games.
G Stephen Curry, Davidson
6-3/185, Jr.
Charlotte (N.C.) Charlotte Christian
The buzz: Curry's fantastic performance in the 2008 NCAA tournament carried into his junior season, but it couldn't carry Davidson back into the field. Curry led the nation with 28.4 points per game while shooting 45.4 percent from the field and making 130 3-pointers.
6-4/208, Jr.
Norcross (Ga.) High
The buzz: Meeks was fifth in the country with 23.7 points per game, and his season featured plenty of memorable performances. He scored 54 points against Tennessee to break Dan Issel's 38-year-old school scoring record midway through the season. He also had a 46-point performance against Appalachian State and a 45-point effort against Arkansas, giving him the nation's top three regulation-time scoring totals of the season.
6-4/205, Sr.
Baton Rouge (La.) Tara
The buzz: Thornton ranked second in the SEC with 21.1 points per game and averaged 27.5 points in LSU's two NCAA tournament contests. He scored in double figures in each of his last 19 games. Thornton always was considered a reliable scorer, but he expanded his game this year to emerge as a quality defender.
THIRD TEAM
6-10/235, Jr.
Patterson (N.C.) The Patterson School
The buzz: A projected top-five pick in the NBA draft, Hill was a beast for the Wildcats. He was second in the Pac-10 in scoring (18.3) and rebounding (11.0).
6-8/251, Jr.
Merrillville (Ind.) Andrean
The buzz: Harangody turned in admirable performances in a disappointing season for the Irish. He led the Big East in scoring (23.3) and was second in rebounds (11.9). He also hit 77.4 percent of his free throws.
5-11/200, Jr.
Chicago Crane
The buzz: Collins made the jump from key reserve to vital starter for the Jayhawks this season. He led Kansas in scoring and was third in the Big 12 in assists.
6-5/218, Soph.
Los Angeles Artesia
The buzz: In two seasons, Harden has helped lead the resuscitation of the Arizona State program. He had his finest season in 2008-09, leading the Pac-10 with 20.1 points per game and steals (59). He led the league in shots (452) and hit 48.9 percent of them. He's a future NBA lottery pick.
6-3/200, Sr.
Country Club Hills (Ill.) Hillcrest
The buzz: McNeal was third in the Big East in scoring (19.8 points per game), 12th in assists (3.9 per game), fourth in steals (2.0 per game) and eighth in 3-pointers made (2.5 per game) and 3-point field-goal percentage (39.8).
FOURTH TEAM
6-10/245, Soph.
Bloomington (Minn.) Jefferson
The buzz: Aldrich went from little-used reserve as a freshman to one of the nation's best big men as a sophomore. He averages a double-double and also led the Big 12 in blocks.
6-6/215, Sr.
Seattle Rainier Beach
The buzz: The point forward is the heart and soul of the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. While the Cards fell short of the Final Four, Williams averaged 12.5 points and 8.6 rebounds while leading the Cardinals in assists (185).
6-6/215, Sr.
Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy
The buzz: Young led Pittsburgh to its first No. 1 seed in school history with 19.2 points per game and 6.2 rebounds. He was one of the Big East's most unheralded superstars.
6-0/185, Soph.
Niagara Falls (N.Y.) High
The buzz: Flynn was at the controls of the Big East's highest-scoring team. He is eighth in the league in scoring (17.4 ppg) and second in assists (6.7 per game) and has played a ton of minutes (37.3 per game).
G Eric Maynor, Virginia Commonwealth
6-3/175, Sr.
Raeford (N.C.) Westover
The buzz: Maynor, one of the fastest players in the nation with the ball in his hands, led the Rams to their second NCAA appearance in three seasons. He led the Rams in scoring at 22.4 points per game and averaged 6.2 assists.
FIFTH TEAM
6-10/230, Soph.
Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy
The buzz: Brackins toiled in anonymity for a mediocre team but nevertheless played well. He almost averaged a double-double: 20.2 points and 9.5 rebounds.
6-7/255, Sr.
Snohomish (Wash.) High
The buzz: A relentless rebounder, Brockman led Washington to the NCAA tournament for the first time since his freshman season. He led the league in rebounding at 11.5 per game and averaged 14.9 points.
6-8/235, Soph.
South Medford (Ore.) High
The buzz: Duke's only standout performer in the frontcourt, Singler averaged 16.5 points and 7.7 rebounds. He also was a threat from outside, hitting 69 3-pointers.
6-7/205, Soph.
Chicago St. Joseph's
The buzz: Few players were more valuable to their teams than Turner. After the season-ending injury to veteran David Lighty, Turner led the Buckeyes in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals.
G Patrick Mills, Saint Mary's
6-0/175, Soph.
Canberra (Australia) Australian Institute of Sport
The buzz: Mills' hand injury changed the course of the Gaels' season. He missed nine games and the Gaels' missed the NCAA tournament as a result. When healthy, Mills averaged 18.4 points and Saint Mary's went 22-3.

The teams were determined by Mike Huguenin, Jason King and Steve Megargee.



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