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Cody Zeller, Doug McDermott Headline AP Preseason All-American Team

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

If Midnight Madness wasn’t enough to get you into the college basketball spirit maybe this will. The AP Preseason All-American Team was announced today, and there are some surprises.

While it’s no surprise that Indiana center Cody Zeller led the way in votes received, Creighton‘s Doug McDermott receiving the second most votes might catch some off guard. Although McDermott finished last season third in the nation in scoring (22.9 points per game), it’s relatively new to see three players from mid-major programs crack the list. But if there was ever a crop of players deserving, it’s McDermott, and the two guards to join him, Lehigh‘s C.J. McCollum, and Murray State‘s Isaiah Canaan.

Voter’s must think this will be a big season not only for mid-majors, but for the Big 10, as Zeller is joined by Michigan point guard Trey Burke, and Ohio State‘s senior leader Deshaun Thomas.

Indiana’s sophomore center is the main reason the Hoosiers are ranked first heading into the season, well that and he’s one of five returning starters. Zeller averaged 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds his rookie season, and was one vote shy of being a unanimous selection.

We’ve already mentioned McDermott’s scoring prowess, but must note he shot 60.1 percent from the field, converting on an immaculate 48.6 percent from downtown, while averaging 8.2 rebounds per game. Playing for his father, Greg McDermott, Creighton will begin this season ranked 16th (AP) in the nation, the first time they’ve been ranked in the poll in six years.

Canaan’s huge season at Murray State led to him receiving second-team All-America honors in 2012, and has Murray State just on the outside of the Top 25, receiving the most preseason votes of any team not ranked. As the Racers cracked the top-10 last season, Murray averaged 19 points and most likely would have been drafted had he tested the waters following his junior season.

As impressive as Canaan was last season, few mid-major guards accomplished more than Lehigh’s McCollum. The reigning Patriot League Player of the Year capped off his tremendous season of 21.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists by dropping 30 points on Duke in the NCAA Tournament, leading his Mountain Hawks in handing out the biggest upset of the year.

From the mids back to the majors, Wolverines guard Trey Burke was one of the nation’s best point guards as a freshman. Back for his sophomore season, his squad will begin the season with their highest preseason ranking in almost 20 years. Burke shared Big 10 Rookie of the Year honors with Zeller last season (Burke won the AP poll, Zeller the coaches), and is looking to improve upon his 14.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists.

Burke isn’t the only Big 10 player with something big to prove, as Thomas must continue to carry the load for  a Buckeyes team without their best player from a season ago. Were Thomas’s 16 points and 5.5 rebounds partly due to Jared Sullinger receiving more attention from defenders? Maybe. But the 6’7 senior is back to play with another talented Thad Matta squad, beginning the season ranked fourth overall.

Also receiving votes were Kenny Boynton, Lorenzo Brown, Aaron Craft, Jamaal Franklin, Solomon Hill, Pierre Jackson, C.J. Leslie, James Michael McAdoo, Tony Mitchell, Mike Mose, Shabazz Muhummad, Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter, Phil Pressey, Peyton Siva, Michael Snaer, and Jeff Withey.


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