Can we really be halfway through the 21-22 college basketball season?
While there’s still a lot of work to be done before the bracket for the 2022 NCAA Tournament is announced on March 13th, we’ve still gotten a pretty good sample size of which teams will be poised to make deep runs in the field of 68 and which players will lead them there.
Below please find College Hoops Today’s list of midseason All-Americans for the 21-22 season:
Kofi Cockburn, Illinois (21.1 points, 11.8 rebounds)
Cockburn isn’t Shaquille O’Neal, but he plays like the Shaquille O’Neal of college basketball. The 7-foot, 285 pound big man has already had three games this season with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds. He’s also shooting an incredible 58.9 percent from the field. The spacing that Cockburn provides on offense is also a major reason why Illinois has become such an elite shooting team from the perimeter; the Illini are shooting 37.2 percent from long distance. Don’t take what Cockburn is doing for granted, especially in an era that has been devoid of traditional big men.
Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky (16.3 points, 15.2 rebounds)
Tshiebwe is the best rebounder that John Calipari has ever coached and it’s not even close. From a statistical perspective, the next best rebounders that played under Calipari were Anthony Davis and Julius Randle, who each averaged 10.4 rebounds in their one season at Kentucky. Tshiebwe averages nearly five more each times he takes the floor. The West Virginia transfer has already had five games this season with 20 or more rebounds to go along with 14 double-doubles. Simply put, Tshiebwe is playing this season like he’s more machine than man.
Drew Timme, Gonzaga (18.2 points, 5.7 rebounds)
The Preseason National Player of the Year may not be having the statistical season like the big men mentioned above, but he’s still pound for pound as gifted of a low post scorer as there is in the sport. Blessed with the type of footwork that would make Fred Astaire envious, Timme uses angles as well as anyone and always seems to find high percentage shots around the basket. The 6-10 junior is also averaging 20.4 points and 6.8 rebounds in five games against power conference competition.
Johnny Davis, Wisconsin (21.7 points, 7.5 rebounds)
After averaging just seven points a year ago as a freshman, Davis has absolutely exploded as a sophomore. Bigger, stronger, and more physical than he was a year ago, this 6-5 guard has been the catalyst in Wisconsin’s season. Davis has scored 25 or more points six times this year, highlighted by a 37-point, 14-rebound performance in the Badgers’ win at Purdue on Jan. 3rd.
Ochai Agbaji, Kansas (21.3 points, five rebounds)
The epitome of efficiency, Agbaji doesn’t just score — he scores at a high percentage. After shooting 42 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from three-point range as a junior, Agbaji is now shooting 52.7 percent from the field and 47 percent from long distance as a senior. He’s also shot 55 percent from the field or better in nine of Kansas’ 19 games this season. This 6-5 wing is the primary reason why the Jayhawks are again in position to win a Big 12 regular season title and earn a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Jabari Smith, Auburn (15.2 points, 6.5 rebounds)
The likely No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft is an effortless talent and one of the main reasons why Auburn is in position to earn one of the top seeds in the NCAA Tournament. A 6-10 forward, Smith is an effortless talent who never forces things as he’s only taken 15 or more shots in a game three times this season. No player in college basketball has a higher ceiling.
Paolo Banchero, Duke (17.9 points, 7.9 rebounds)
Banchero isn’t getting the type of attention as Smith, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not a truly elite talent. Skilled, cerebral, and mature beyond his years, this freshman forward is the major reason why Mike Krzyzewski has a legitimate chance to have his final season at Duke conclude at the Final Four in New Orleans. An underrated facilitator, Banchero has had three games this season with six or more assists.
E.J. Liddell, Ohio State (19.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.7 blocks)
Chris Holtmann made it a priority to play Liddell at power forward this season after he spent time last year as a small ball five-man. It’s paying major dividends. A walking mismatch, Liddell can punish opponents either inside or out. He’s also a much better defender than he’s been in the past. Liddell has already blocked 46 shots this season after only blocking 31 a year ago.
Keegan Murray, Iowa (22.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.1 blocks)
How has Fran McCaffery kept Iowa nationally relevant after losing both Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp? This guy. Smooth, skilled, and super talented, Murray’s versatility adds a different dynamic to the Hawkeyes’ attack and also makes them more versatile defensively. A 6-8 forward, Murray has had nine games this season with 25 or more points, five games with 10 or more rebounds, and seven games with three or more blocked shots.
Bennedict Mathrurin, Arizona (17.4 points, 6.3 rebounds)
Mathurin broke out last summer when he shined for Canada at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Latvia. His ascension has only continued this season for Arizona. A freak athlete with elite shooting prowess, the 6-6 Mathurin looks like the type of NBA shooting guard that Norman Rockwell would have painted. He went for 30 when the Wildcats beat Illinois in Champaign in early December.
Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana (18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks)
Jackson-Davis has done everything except sell popcorn for the Hoosiers. The focal point of Mike Woodson’s first season as head coach of his alma mater, Jackson-Davis has been Indiana’s anchor on both sides of the floor and is shooting an astronomical 60.2 percent from the field. The 6-9 big man has tallied eight double-doubles in 20 games this season and seems primed to will the Hoosiers to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2016.
Johnny Juzang, UCLA (18.1 points, 4.9 rebounds)
Juzang spent the majority of the offseason recalibrating his body after shining last March during UCLA’s magical run to the Final Four. Stronger, quicker, and leaner than he was a year ago, Juzang has taken his game to another level. At 6-7, he can face up and shoot over the top of defenders or post up down low. He had 25 points and eight rebounds in the Bruins’ win over Villanova in November and has scored 23 or more points in four of his last five games.
Jaden Ivey, Purdue (16.6 points, 5 rebounds)
There is no player in college basketball that can do what Ivey does in the open floor. Like a cheetah sprinting alone in an abandoned field, Ivey goes from circle to circle as quickly as any guard that the sport has seen in years. His potential explosion in February and March is a major reason why Purdue is in position to reach the Final Four for the first time since 1980.
Collin Gillespie, Villanova (17.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists)
Many people take Gillespie for granted because he’s been so good for so long. They shouldn’t. Villanova’s fifth-year senior point guard is averaging career-best numbers in points, rebounds, steals, field goal percentage, and three-point field goal percentage. It’s going to be a very emotional Senior Day for Jay Wright when he officially has to say goodbye to Gillespie for good.
James Akinjo, Baylor (13.2 points, 5.6 assists)
Scott Drew lost Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, and MaCio Teague on the perimeter following last year’s national title, but he’s still got a chance to go back to the Final Four because he landed Akinjo via the transfer portal. Confident, tough, and always under control, this veteran point guard has been the gas in Baylor’s engine. He’s also an underrated defender; Akinjo has six games this season with three or more steals.
- Adama Sanogo, UConn
- Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
- Tari Eason, LSU
- Wendell Moore, Duke
- Max Abmas, Oral Roberts