ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – Five standout players from five different conferences have been named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s 2016-17 All-America First Team. Those five stars – four of them guards – are the finalists for the prestigious Oscar Robertson Trophy as the USBWA’s Men’s National Player of the Year.
Four the Oscar Robertson Trophy finalists were named District Players of the Year last week by the USBWA and all five were named either player of the year or freshman player of the year in their respective leagues.
The USBWA and the legendary Oscar Robertson will announce the Oscar Robertson Trophy winner as the national player of the year at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Glendale, Ariz., at a press conference on Fri., March 31. The trophy is named after “The Big O,” a three-time national player of the year and All-American at the University of Cincinnati.
Headlining the first-team All-Americans are a pair of senior guards: Villanova’s Josh Hart and Kansas’ Frank Mason III, both of whom have led their respective teams to No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Hart was named the Big East Player of the Year and the USBWA’s District II Player of the Year after leading Villanova to the Big East regular-season and tournament titles as the league’s leading scorer (18.9 ppg); and Mason, the Big 12 Player of the Year and the District VI Player of the Year, led the Jawhawks to their 13th straight conference title. Mason is the first Kansas player to lead the Big 12 in scoring (20.8 ppg) since the 2004-05 season.
Gonzaga junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss, the West Coast Conference Player and Newcomer of the Year and an All-District IX selection, led the Zags to a 29-0 mark and a No. 1 ranking before settling for conference regular-season and tournament championships with a 32-1 record. Williams-Goss averages 16.9 points and 4.8 assists per game for the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s West Region.
Purdue sophomore forward Caleb Swanigan, the Big Ten Player of the Year and the USBWA’s District IV Player of the Year, helped the Boilermakers capture the Big Ten regular-season title by leading the league in rebounding (12.6) while finishing second in scoring (18.5).
UCLA freshman guard Lonzo Ball, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and District IX Player of the Year, led the Bruins to a 29-4 record, an 13-win improvement over last season entering the NCAA Tournament. Ball leads the nation in assists with a Pac-12 freshman record 7.7 per game to go with 14.6 points per game.
While UCLA has had six players win the USBWA National Player of the Year award a total of nine times, Purdue (Glenn Robinson in 1994) and Gonzaga (Adam Morrison in 2006; shared with Duke’s J.J. Redick) have each had a winner. Kansas and Villanova have never had a USBWA National Player of the Year. UCLA’s Bill Walton is one of only two three-time winners (1971-72, ’72-73 and ’73-74) and Lew Alcindor won the award twice (1966-67 and ’67-68). The last UCLA player to earn the honor was Ed O’Bannon in the 1994-95 season. Virginia’s Ralph Sampson is the other three-time USBWA National Player of the Year.
Named to the USBWA’s second team are Dillon Brooks of Oregon, Justin Jackson of North Carolina, Luke Kennard of Duke, Malik Monk of Kentucky and Johnathan Motley of Baylor. Brooks was the Pac-12 Player of the Year, Jackson was the ACC and District III Player of the Year, Kennard was a unanimous All-ACC First-Teamer, Monk was the SEC Freshman of the Year and Motley is an All-Big 12 First-Teamer who earned his school’s first-ever USBWA All-America recognition.
2016-17 USBWA MEN’S ALL-AMERICA TEAM
G Lonzo Ball, UCLA (6-6, 190, Fr., Chino Hills, Calif.)
Second UCLA freshman to earn first-team honors (Kevin Love, 2008); District IX Player of the Year
G Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga (6-3, 195, Jr., Happy Valley, Ore.)
Fourth Zag to earn first-team honors (Dickau and Morrison, Olynyk); All-District IX selection
G Josh Hart, Villanova (6-5.5, 215, Sr., Silver Spring, Md.)
Third first-team selection from Villanova and first since Randy Foye (2006); District II Player of the Year
G Frank Mason III, Kansas (5-11, 190, Sr., Petersburg, Va.)
First first-team guard from Kansas since 2010 (Sherron Collins); Dstrict VI Player of the Year
F Caleb Swanigan, Purdue (6-9, 250, So., Fort Wayne, Ind.)
First first-team honors from Purdue since 2011 (JuJuan Johnson); District V Player of the Year
F Dillon Brooks, Oregon (6-7, 225, Jr., Mississauga, Ont.)
Second USBWA All-America from Oregon (Greg Ballard, 1976-77); All-District IX selection
F/G Justin Jackson, North Carolina (6-8, 210, Jr., Tomball, Texas)
Seventh UNC All-American since 2000; District III Player of the Year
G Luke Kennard, Duke (6-6, 202, So., Franklin, Ohio)
First Duke guard to earn All-America honors since 2011 (Nolan Smith); All-District III selection
G Malik Monk, Kentucky (6-3, 200, Fr., Lepanto, Ark.)
Fifth Kentucky freshman to earn All-America honors; District IV Player of the Year
F Johnathan Motley, Baylor (6-10, 230, Jr., Houston, Texas)
First Baylor player to earn USBWA All-America honors; District VII Player of the Year
The USBWA All-America teams are voted on by members of the USBWA, which is comprised of over 900 sportswriters and sports journalists who cover college basketball for newspapers, magazines and websites.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected an All-America team since the 1956-57 season.