USA TODAY Sports unveils its 2018-19 All-American team, national player of the year and national coach of the year as the NCAA tournament tips off.
National player of the year: R.J. Barrett, Duke. While Zion Williamson might beat Barrett for the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft, Barrett proved to be the more impressive college player. The freshman carried the load when Williamson was hurt for six games, spearheading the Blue Devils to three wins in March that helped them become the NCAA tournament’s top overall seed. When Duke was at full strength, he gave the team a scorer who wanted the ball at the end of the game; he averaged 22.9 points. Barrett’s selflessness (4.1 assists per game) was contagious to the rest of the young roster. He also showed maturity as an 18-year-old thanks to his experience on Canada’s national team.
G Markus Howard, Marquette: The 5-11 junior guard averaged 25 points and four assists a game while leading the Golden Eagles back to national relevancy with a second-place Big East finish and No. 5 NCAA tourney seed.
G Barrett, Duke: The 6-7 freshman led Duke in scoring (22.9 ppg) while adding 7.5 rebounds. He was the freshman-laden Blue Devils’ leader with Williamson out, and he gave Mike Krzyzewski one of the best go-to scorers and all-around players he’s ever coached.
F Zion Williamson, Duke: The human highlight reel was a must-watch every time on the court, and it was a major loss for college basketball when he missed the final stretch of the regular season with a knee injury. He was playing his best in a Feb. 16 game before the injury, scoring 32 points on 12-for-16 shooting in a win vs. N.C. State. Upon his return last week, Duke rekindled its national title swagger en route to an ACC tournament title. On the season, Williamson averaged 22.9 points and 8.9 rebounds a game.
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F Dedric Lawson, Kansas: Kansas’ streak of 14 consecutive Big 12 regular season titles ended this season, but Lawson wasn’t to blame. He averaged 19.1 points and 10.3 rebounds a game and carried a Jayhawks team that could’ve easily collapsed. This season, Legerald Vick left the team, big man Udoka Azubuike suffered a season-ending injury and five-star freshman Quentin Grimes underachieved.
F Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga: The junior forward took a huge step this season after showing flashes of brilliance in last year’s NCAA tournament. He averaged 20.1 points (61% shooting) and 6.6 rebounds a game this season. He is one of the main reasons the ‘Zags garnered a No. 1 seed and are a Final Four contender.
- G Ja Morant, Murray State
- G Cassius Winston, Michigan State
- G Kyle Guy, Virginia
- F Grant Williams, Tennessee
- F PJ Washington, Kentucky
- G Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
- G Carsen Edwards, Purdue
- F De’Andre Hunter, Virginia
- F Caleb Martin, Nevada
- C Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
National coach of the year:Roy Williams, North Carolina. The Tar Heels came on strong late in the season, winning 15 of their last 17 to finish as co-champions of the ACC and earn an NCAA tournament No. 1 seed. While this UNC team had veteran pieces (Cameron Johnson, Luke Maye and Kenny Williams) to drive its success, it was Williams’ ability to mesh that experience with young talent (Coby White, Garrison Brooks and Nassir Little) that helped North Carolina peak now. As much hype as Duke got and as good as Virginia was, North Carolina was among the elite and it’s as a result of Williams’ coaching and winning culture.