"Key senior" has become an oxymoron in college basketball, mainly because there just aren't that many.
As everyone who follows the sport knows, players bolt to the NBA as soon as they think they're a first-round pick. Not many hang around college campuses for four years; indeed, just one senior, North Carolina center Tyler Zeller, is projected as a lottery pick this year, and no more than five seniors are expected to go in the first round.
Still, there are some players who will be key seniors next season, just as Zeller and Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor were this past season.
Today, we unveil our All-Senior preseason team for 2012-13. This isn't necessarily the 12 best seniors; instead, we look for a nice mix of frontcourt and backcourt players and pick a starting five that actually could be on the floor together.
There is a deep crop of senior guards for next season, making it difficult to decide who made the cut. That wasn't the case with the big men. There really aren't that many big-time big men who hang around for four years.
Later this week, we'll unveil our All-Junior, All-Sophomore and All-Freshman teams.
| C Jeff Withey, Kansas |
Key 2011-12 stats: 24.6 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 54.0 FG%, 5.9 rpg, 3.5 bpg
Buzz: The 7-footer will be one of the few true centers playing in a major conference next season. He's not that big an offensive threat, but you still can expect his point total to increase with the loss of F Thomas Robinson to the NBA. His rebounding total should increase, too. His defensive presence is the key, though. He will be one of the nation's best shot-blockers next season.
| F Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota |
Key 2011-12 stats: Injured (30.9 mpg, 13.9 ppg, 58.2 FG%, 10.9 rpg and 1.5 bpg in 2010-11)
Buzz: Had Mbakwe been healthy this past season, the Golden Gophers might have been able to sneak into the NCAA tourney. As it was, he played just seven games before suffering an ACL tear. Mbakwe's return makes Minnesota a Big Ten darkhorse next season. He is tough to handle in the low post and is relentless on the boards. If he ever develops a consistent 15-foot jumper, he would average 20 points per game.
| G Isaiah Canaan, Murray State |
Key 2011-12 stats: 33.7 mpg, 19.0 ppg, 45.6 3-pt FG%, 83.7 FT%, 3.6 apg, 3.5 rpg, 1.4 spg
Buzz: Canaan was the guy who made Murray State go. He stuffed the stat sheet for the Racers, and his quickness makes him a handful for every opposing guard. He has great range and shot extremely well from beyond the arc. Murray State lost some key players and won't be as good next season as it was this past season, but Canaan's presence means the Racers again will be the team to beat in the Ohio Valley Conference.
| PG Pierre Jackson, Baylor |
Key 2011-12 stats: 30.8 mpg, 13.8 ppg, 40.8 3-pt FG%, 82.2 FT%, 5.9 apg, 1.8 spg
Buzz: Jackson was arguably Baylor's most important player this past season, his first with the Bears after transferring in from the College of Southern Idaho. He handled point guard duties with aplomb and became the Bears' leading scorer in the process. He is extremely quick with the ball, and also puts his speed to good use on defense. Baylor was a frontcourt-oriented team this past season; next season, Jackson's presence means they will be a backcourt-centric squad.
| G Rodney McGruder, Kansas State |
Key 2011-12 stats: 32.9 mpg, 15.8 ppg, 38.5 3-pt FG%, 80.2 FT% 5.2 rpg, 1.2 spg
Buzz: McGruder was the Wildcats' second offensive option in 2010-11, but moved easily into the go-to role last season. He's a physical guard – witness his rebound total – who can get into the lane and score, but he also has a nice outside stroke. He was the only Wildcat to average in double figures this past season and should be a leading contender for the Big 12 player of the year award next season.
| F Jack Cooley, Notre Dame |
Key 2011-12 stats: 28.5 mpg, 12.4 ppg, 62.4 FG%, 8.9 rpg, 1.6 bpg
Buzz: The physical Cooley was one of the most productive big men in the Big East this past season. He made a quantum leap from a minor reserve to key starter. Cooley had six 20-point games last season. He also showed nice timing on defense with his shot-blocking ability; he had seven games with at least three blocks.
| F Alex Oriakhi, Missouri |
Key 2011-12 stats: (at Connecticut) 21.5 mpg, 6.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Buzz: After playing a key role on UConn's national title team in 2010-11, Oriakhi had a disappointing junior season with the Huskies. He and touted freshman Andre Drummond never seemed to mesh. Oriakhi is finishing up his career at Missouri, and because UConn is banned from postseason play next season, Oriakhi will be eligible immediately. He and Laurence Bowers, who missed this past season with a knee injury, should form a nice frontcourt duo for a Mizzou team that lacked big men this past season.
| SG Kenny Boynton, Florida |
Key 2011-12 stats: 31.6 mpg, 15.9 ppg, 40.7 3-pt FG%, 2.7 apg
Buzz: Boynton led the Gators in scoring and showed off his stroke from 3-point range. Defense has been a constant for Boynton during his Gators career, and his offense finally caught up last season. He should become an even more important scorer as a senior because of the loss of starting Gs Bradley Beal and Erving Walker.
| PG Vincent Council, Providence |
Key 2011-12 stats: 38.7 mpg, 15.9 ppg, 7.5 apg, 4.1 rpg, 1.3 spg
Buzz: It's too bad Council doesn't play for a more celebrated program; he has put up big numbers in relative anonymity for the Friars. He has taken on too big an offensive load (and played too many minutes), but that should change next season because of Providence's celebrated freshman class. While his point total will drop next season, his assist total almost certainly will rise because he will be playing with a better supporting cast. And for a guy who is 6 feet 2 and 180 pounds, he is tough on the boards.
| PG Matt Dellavedova, Saint Mary's |
Key 2011-12 stats: 37.5 mpg, 15.5 ppg, 85.7 FT%, 6.4 apg
Buzz: Dellavedova, an Australian, will be a four-year starter for the Gaels. He holds school records for 3-pointers and assists, and is a career 37.7 percent shooter from beyond the arc. He puts his size (6-4/190) to good use on both ends of the court. He is able to post up smaller defenders and is an effective defender because of quick hands and long arms.
| SG Kevin Foster, Santa Clara |
Key 2011-12 stats: 31.6 mpg, 17.8 ppg, 38.6 3-pt FG%, 3.2 apg, 3.1 rpg, 1.4 spg
BUZZ: Foster played in just 18 games this past season before being suspended after a DUI arrest. He led the West Coast Conference in scoring in 2010-11 (20.2 ppg), when he helped the Broncos to the CIT title. Foster missed most of the 2009-10 season with a foot injury, then returned to hit 140 3-pointers, which is ninth on the NCAA's all-time single-season list. As a freshman in 2008-09, he broke Kurt Rambis' school record for points in a season by a freshman and broke Steve Nash's school record for 3-pointers in a season. He has 307 3-pointers in his career.
| SG C.J. McCollum, Lehigh |
Key 2011-12 stats: 33.7 mpg, 21.9 ppg, 81.1 FT%, 3.5 apg, 6.5 rpg, 2.6 spg
Buzz: McCollum does it all for the Mountain Hawks and was a major reason they beat Duke in the NCAA tourney; indeed, he was the best player on the court in that upset. He has a career average of 20.9 points per game and has 14 career 30-point games. McCollum has scored in double figures in 53 of his past 54 games; in the one game he didn't, he played only 15 minutes against a Division III team.
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