All five of last season’s consensus first team men’s basketball All-Americans have moved on to the professional ranks, but three second teamers will return to the sport, providing some familiarity and continuity heading into the 2021-22 season. As players such as Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham and Iowa’s Luka Garza have moved on to the next level, new players will take their place among the elite in men’s basketball.
Below are 21 All-America candidates for the 2021-22 men’s basketball season, listed in no particular order. This analysis is mine and mine alone.
Drew Timme, Gonzaga
2020-21 stats: 19.0 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game, 2.3 assists per game
All Timme did as a sophomore was finish the 2021 season as kenpom.com‘s national player of the year while playing for the national runner-up, which started the season with a 31-0 record. Not bad, huh?
Timme led the ‘Zags in scoring average and field-goal percentage (among rotation players) at 65.5 percent. His offensive rating of 129.3 ranked 15th nationally, per kenpom.com, as an incredibly efficient interior scorer who also got to the free throw line with regularity. He attempted 184 free throws compared to 362 field goal attempts, as he drew 6.2 fouls per 40 minutes, per kenpom.com.
Gonzaga’s 2021-22 roster will look different — namely, the Bulldogs lost Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi — but Timme will enter the fall as the team’s centerpiece, with freshman Chet Holmgren, a 7-footer who some observers view as the best freshman in the country, joining Timme in Gonzaga’s frontcourt.
Johnny Juzang, UCLA
2020-21 stats: 16.0 points per game, 4.1 rebounds per game, 1.6 assists per game
Juzang needs no introduction to even the casual men’s basketball fan, as he was a central figure in UCLA’s late-season turnaround from losing four games in a row prior to Selection Sunday before the Bruins rattled off five victories in a row in the NCAA tournament as they became just the second team to go from the First Four to the Final Four.
UCLA’s Cinderella run came to an end in overtime against Timme’s Gonzaga squad, as Suggs hit an unforgettable game-winning 3-pointer. Juzang, playing in his first season with UCLA after transferring from Kentucky, scored 23, 27, 17, 13, 28 and 29 points in UCLA’s six NCAA tournament games — a total of 137 points and an average of 22.8 per game. Fifty-seven of those points came in consecutive games against No. 1 seeds Michigan and Gonzaga on a combined 23-of-37 shooting (.622).
Juzang elected to return to Westwood, which will make UCLA one of the frontrunners to make the Final Four in 2022.
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Kofi Cockburn, Illinois
2020-21 stats: 17.7 points per game, 9.5 rebounds per game, 1.3 blocks per game
Cockburn elected to return to Illinois after testing the NBA draft waters and considering the transfer portal. He’ll now be the primary reason why Illinois could remain a contender in the Big Ten. The Fighting Illini ranked eighth in offensive efficiency last season and seventh defensively, per kenpom.com, and Cockburn was integral in that success. He finished the 2021 season ranked seventh on kenpom.com’s national player of the year standings after shooting 65.4 percent from the field, drawing 7.5 fouls per 40 minutes (fifth nationally, per kenpom.com) and posting the 10th-best offensive rebounding rate nationally.
He led the country with 78 dunks, per Illinois Athletics.
As a sophomore, Cockburn was a First Team All-Big Ten selection and a Second Team All-American, according to numerous outlets.
Hunter Dickinson, Michigan
2020-21 stats: 14.1 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, 1.4 blocks per game
As a freshman at Michigan, Dickinson, a 7-1 center, finished the season ranked No. 8 on kenpom.com’s national player of the year standings. He shot better than 60 percent from 2-point range and he drew five fouls per 40 minutes, which allowed him to get to the free throw line with regularity.
Dickinson was a prolific rebounder — he had an offensive rebounding percentage of 10.9 percent (135th nationally, per kenpom.com) and a defensive rebounding percentage of 21.3 (170th nationally). He had six double-doubles as a freshman, when the Wolverines earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and finished atop the Big Ten regular season standings. Dickinson was named a Second Team All-American in 2021, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a First Team All-Big Ten selection, according to the conference’s media members.
Trevion Williams, Purdue
2020-21 stats: 15.5 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game, 2.3 assists per game
Williams was one of the highest-usage players in the country as a junior, as he attempted a national-high 36.7 percent of Purdue’s shots when he was on the floor, per kenpom.com. He led the Boilermakers in scoring and rebounding, making 52.9 percent of his twos and grabbing 17.5 percent of available offensive rebounds (fourth nationally, per kenpom.com).
He finished the season ranked No. 10 on kenpom.com’s national player of the year standings. For a player who’s listed at 6-10 and 265 pounds, he’s also an impressive facilitator, as he assisted on a quarter of Purdue’s made baskets when he was on the floor last season. Williams was a First Team All-Big Ten selection and an AP honorable mention All-American, as well as a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award.
Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana
2020-21 stats: 19.1 points per game, 9.0 rebounds per game, 1.4 blocks per game
Jackson-Davis was a Third Team All-American last season, according to Sporting News, the NABC and USBWA, as well as a First Team All-Big Ten honoree, according to the AP and the conference’s media members. According to Indiana Athletics, he was the only high-major player to average at least 19 points and nine rebounds last season.
As a sophomore, Jackson-Davis ranked 10th nationally in fouls drawn per 40 minutes (7.2), according to kenpom.com, as opposing defenses struggled to contain the Indiana forward. He made 51 percent of his 2-point attempts, while taking care of the ball (12.8 percent turnover rate, which ranked 282nd nationally, per kenpom.com).
E.J. Liddell, Ohio State
2020-21 stats: 16.2 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game
Liddell was Ohio State’s second-leading scorer last season, as he helped the Buckeyes earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and post the fourth-best offensive efficiency in the country, per kenpom.com. He was a First Team All-Big Ten selection by Big Ten coaches and a selection for the Naismith Trophy Midseason Team.
Liddell’s 114.2 offensive rating was the third-best on the team as he drew an average of 6.1 fouls per 40 minutes, per kenpom.com, while shooting 51.8 percent from 2-point range, 33.8 percent from 3 and 74.6 percent from the free throw line.
Max Abmas, Oral Roberts
2020-21 stats: 24.6 points per game, 3.8 assists per game, 3.2 rebounds per game
Abmas is the leading returning scorer in DI men’s college basketball after averaging a national-best 24.6 points per game last season. Abmas helped Oral Roberts become just the second No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16, as he helped the Golden Eagles down No. 2 seed Ohio State in overtime, then No. 7 seed Florida in the second round.
He was named a Third Team All-American by CBS Sports and an AP honorable mention All-American. Abmas cracked the 1,000-point mark in early March of his sophomore season, thanks to a 42.9 3-point percentage and 89.4 free-throw percentage last season.
Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
Holmgren is the top freshman in the country entering the 2021-22 season, according to many evaluators. The 7-footer will now play alongside Drew Timme in what could be the most talented frontcourt in the country.
Is there any chance that Gonzaga could have the national player of the year and the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft and they’re not the same player?
While Timme was Gonzaga’s highest-usage player last season, Corey Kispert, Jalen Suggs and Joel Ayayi combined to attempt 30.7 shots per game and the three starters have since moved on from the ‘Zags, so there will be shots available within the Bulldogs’ remade roster. Gonzaga had multiple All-American last season so why couldn’t that happen again?
Collin Gillespie, Villanova
2020-21 stats: 14.0 points per game, 4.6 assists per game, 3.3 rebounds per game
As a senior, Gillespie was named co-Big East Player of the Year and a Third Team All-American, according to the NABC and USBWA. He was also a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award.
Villanova finished atop the Big East regular season standings with an 11-4 conference record and the Wildcats started 11-1 on the season. Ultimately, a late-season injury limited Gillespie, who missed the team’s last five games, including Villanova’s Big East tournament loss to Georgetown and its three NCAA tournament games.
Gillespie shot 37.6 percent from 3 last season, while posting a team-high assist rate of 26.6 percent, which means he assisted on more than a quarter of the team’s made baskets when he was on the floor.
Paolo Banchero, Duke
The 2020-21 season marked the first season since the 2006-07 campaign that Duke didn’t have at least one player being named a first, second or third team All-American by a major media outlet or organization: 2008 (DeMarcus Nelson), 2009 (Gerald Henderson Jr.), 2010 (Jon Scheyer), 2011 (Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler), 2012 (Austin Rivers), 2013 (Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry), 2014 (Jabari Parker), 2015 (Jahlil Okafor and Quinn Cook), 2016 (Grayson Allen), 2017 (Luke Kennard), 2018 (Marvin Bagley III), 2019 (Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett), and 2020 (Vernon Carey Jr. and Tre Jones).
All that goes to say that recent history says it’s likely that (at least) one Duke player will be named an All-American next season — Mike Krzyzewski’s final season leading the Blue Devils. Banchero, a 6-9, 235-pound forward, is considered one of the most talented freshmen in the country and he could be an immediate-impact player who turns around Duke after the Blue Devils had a down season in 2021 in which they went just 13-11 and missed the NCAA tournament.
Marcus Sasser, Houston
2020-21 stats: 13.7 points per game, 2.6 rebounds per game, 2.2 assists per game
As a redshirt sophomore, Sasser was named to the All-AAC Second Team after being a member of the all-freshman team the season before. His career-high of 28 points, including a career-high eight 3-pointers, came against Tulane in January.
Sasser was the second-leading scorer on a Houston team that won 28 games and made the Final Four last season. He posted an offensive rating of 116.6 (182nd nationally, per kenpom.com) while posting a shot rate of 25.2, which means he attempted one out of every four Houston shots when he was on the floor.
Julian Champagnie, St. John’s
2020-21 stats: 19.8 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, 1.4 steals per game
Champagnie was a First Team All-Big East selection last season and a co-recipient of the Big East Most Improved Player Award after leading the conference in scoring at 19.8 points per game and free throw percentage (88.7 percent). His seven double-doubles ranked second in the Big East, while scoring in double figures in every game he appeared in last season.
Despite having to shoulder a significant offensive load (he took nearly 30 percent of the team’s shots when he was on the floor, per kenpom.com), Champagnie remained efficient, with an offensive rating of 111.0. He was a 38-percent 3-point shooter, while being aggressive on the defensive glass (a 19.9-percent defensive rebounding rate, per kenpom.com) and on the defensive end (a 3.2-percent block rate and 2.4-percent steal rate).
Jahvon Quinerly, Alabama
2020-21 stats: 12.9 points per game, 3.2 assists per game, 2.2 rebounds per game
Last season, Alabama finished second nationally in offensive tempo and third in defensive efficiency, per kenpom.com, and that’s a lethal combination, which is why the Crimson Tide won 26 games in a shortened season, went 16-2 in SEC play, won the conference tournament and earned a No. 2 seed.
Even though he started just seven times in 30 games, Quinerly was second on the team in both points and assists per game, while shooting 43.3 percent from 3 on four attempts per game. He was also an efficient scorer in the interior, shooting 50 percent from two, and he led the team with a 25.1-percent assist rate, per kenpom.com, which means he assisted on one out of every four baskets Alabama made while he was on the floor.
If Alabama can sustain last season’s success as a run-and-gun, defensive juggernaut, Quinerly will likely be a central reason why, especially as the Crimson Tide is forced to replace key players in Herbert Jones, John Petty and Joshua Primo. Quinerly came on strong late last season, being named the SEC tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and a member of the SEC All-Tournament Team. He had a double-double in an NCAA tournament win over Maryland and scored 20 points in a loss to UCLA.
Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky
2020-21 stats: 8.5 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game (at West Virginia)
Tshiebwe transferred midseason during the 2020-21 campaign from West Virginia to Kentucky after appearing in 10 games for the Mountaineers during his sophomore season. His sophomore-year numbers declined some from his freshman season, when he averaged 11.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, while being named to the All-Big 12 Second Team and a unanimous pick for the Big 12 All-Freshman Team.
During Tshiebwe’s freshman season, he led the country in offensive rebounding rate at 19 percent, per kenpom.com, which means he grabbed roughly one out of every five shots that West Virginia missed while he was on the floor. His defensive rebounding rate of 27.4 percent in Big 12 play ranked second in the conference that season.
While Kentucky hasn’t had a player who was named a first, second or third team All-American by a major media outlet or organization in the last two seasons, the Wildcats have had a strong track record of producing All-Americans over the last decade-plus: 2010 (John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins), 2012 (Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist), 2014 (Julius Randle), 2015 (Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns), 2016 (Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray), 2017 (Malik Monk), 2019 (P.J. Washington). Kentucky will have a new-look roster next season, but Tshiebwe has proven to be dominant at his best and if he can return to his freshman-year form and if Kentucky can return to being a top-10 caliber team, Tshiebwe could find his way on an All-America team in 2022.
Kellan Grady, Kentucky
2020-21 stats: 17.1 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, 2.4 assists per game (at Davidson)
Kentucky had four seasons in a seven-season span in which it had multiple players who were named a first, second or third team All-American, so the Wildcats could have multiple players who earn such an honor next spring, and Davidson transfer Kellan Grady is another candidate. He has already scored more than 2,000 points in his career after averaging at least 17 points per game in each of his four seasons at Davidson. He’s a career 36.6-percent 3-point shooter and 54.9-percent 2-point shooter, which means he could provide an immediate fix to Kentucky’s shooting woes from last season (45.5 percent from two, 33.6 percent from 3).
David McCormack, Kansas
2020-21 stats: 13.4 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game, 1.0 block per game
McCormack, a 6-10, 250-pound forward, received the Big 12 Most Improved Player Award last season after averaging 13.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.0 block per game, which also led to him being named to the All-Big 12 Second Team.
He’s just one of Kansas’ potential All-America candidates next season on a list that also includes Ochai Agbaji (14.1 points per game), Jalen Wilson (11.8 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game) and Arizona State transfer Remy Martin (19.1 points per game). Will Kansas have a balanced scoring attack with three or four players who average double figures (but perhaps none who average more than 15 or 16 points per game), or will one player from that group establish himself as the Jayhawks’ go-to scorer?
That could determine which Jayhawk(s), if any, earn All-America honors next season.
Patrick Baldwin Jr., Milwaukee
Baldwin is among the 10 most talented freshman entering the sport this season and he’s going to play for his father, Pat Baldwin Sr., at Milwaukee, which competes in the Horizon League. Last season, Wright State finished the season as the highest-ranked team on kenpom.com in the Horizon League at No. 73. The next-highest ranked team was Detroit at No. 161.
It’s rare that an incoming freshman of Baldwin’s caliber enrolls at a school in the Horizon League, which means he has the chance to put up monstrous numbers.
Isaiah Mobley, USC
2020-21 stats: 9.9 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game, 1.6 assists per game
Mobley, the older brother and former teammate of recent NBA lottery pick Evan Mobley, is USC’s leading returning scorer from last season’s team that made the Elite Eight, before falling to No. 1 seed Gonzaga. He was particularly impressive in the Trojans’ four NCAA tournament games, when he averaged 16 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game on a combined 25-of-41 shooting (.609) and 6-of-11 shooting from 3.
USC finished last season ranked No. 6 on kenpom.com, with the No. 6 defense and No. 14 offense, and while Evan Mobley was the primary reason why the Trojans reached the heights they did, Isaiah Mobley now has the opportunity to step into a leading role in the 2022 season.
Jabari Smith, Auburn
Smith, a 6-10, 210-pound forward, is one of the most talented freshmen in the country and he’ll look to inject some more life into an Auburn program that went 13-14 last season (7-11 SEC). Auburn ranked 14th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (35 percent) and sixth in blocked-shot percentage (14.8 percent), per kenpom.com, so Smith could fit well in coach Bruce Pearl’s system, if those principles remain.
Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee
Chandler is arguably the most talented point guard entering men’s basketball in the 2021-22 season and he’ll play alongside returns such as Josiah-Jordan James, John Fulkerson and Victor Bailey, with the opportunity to run the point for the Volunteers, who finished fourth in the SEC last season and earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament.