— Picking the 10 best players in college basketball isn't easy. Sometimes, it's downright impossible. So we cheated a bit.
We choose 11.
The 11 stars on our All-America teams include five on the first team and five on the second team and one guy above everyone else — Duke's Nolan Smith. That technically leaves Smith off the first team, but that's just for listing purposes here. We essentially selected six first teamers.
Hey, it's our list. We'll make the rules.
Player of the Year: Nolan Smith, Duke
This won't be a popular pick in Utah or Columbus, but for my money Nolan Smith has been the country's best basketball player. His numbers alone are impressive, as he leads the ACC with 21.3 ppg and 5.4 apg while also grabbing 4.9 rpg. He seamlessly changed roles to point guard when Kyrie Irving got hurt. Most importantly, with Kyle Singler struggling and Duke's big men a question mark, Smith is the sole reason Duke is still in the national title discussion.
Jimmer Fredette, BYU
Do I need to explain it? Fredette is leading the nation at 27.3 ppg. He's averaging 4.3 apg and shooting 41.7 percent from three. He's the single most dangerous player in the country with the ball in his hands. He's carried BYU to the brink of a No. 1 seed. He's become a national icon. How many players have had their name turned into a verb?
Kemba Walker, UConn
For the first half of the season, there was no debate. Kemba was the national player of the year. And while he has slowed down a bit in Big East play, he is still the biggest reason that UConn is a nationally relevant team this season and his youthful supporting cast has the confidence to be effective.
Derrick Williams, Arizona
Williams has slowly but surely been climbing his way up NBA draft boards. While he may be a fine pro one day, right now he's a terrific collegiate player, averaging 19.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, and shooting 60.9 percent from the floor and 62.2 percent from three. He's terrific at drawing fouls and has added a nice face-up game with the ability to put the ball on the floor. After his 26-points, 11-rebound performance against Washington, there were rumblings he could be the first pick in the draft.
JaJuan Johnson, Purdue
It's amazing how far Johnson has come since he was a sophomore playing JV ball in high school. He averages 20.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, and 2.4 bpg while becoming a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches. Johnson's a center, but his ability to play and score on the perimeter is what makes him so dangerous.
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Sullinger is the game's single most dominant force. When he is in a game, everything revolves around him. Defenses have to focus on how to stop him from getting position and easy touches. Ohio State's offense centers on taking advantage of those defensive adjustments. How many freshmen average 17.4 ppg and 9.8 rpg?
Tu Holloway, Xavier
Once again, the Musketeers overcame a slow start to the season to take control of the Atlantic 10. Holloway has been the biggest reason, as he is one of just two players in the country to average 20 ppg, 5 rpg, and 5 apg. He has two triple-doubles and missed a third by one rebound.
Ben Hansbrough, Notre Dame
Hansbrough does not get enough credit for the season he is having. He's averaging 18.4 ppg and 4.2 apg as the heart and soul of a Notre Dame team with an outside shot at a No. 1 seed. He is the guy that makes a savvy and experienced Irish team tick. He also happens to be their best perimeter defender and the guy assigned to guard the opposing team's best player.
Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin
There may not be a player more perfectly suited to the offensive system in which he plays than Taylor. Wisconsin is built on running controlled, efficient offense that prizes possessions and good shots. Taylor averages 17.7 ppg, 5.0 apg, and 4.3 rpg for the team with the second fewest possessions per game. He also has 34 turnovers in 28 games while averaging nearly 36 mpg.
Jordan Hamilton, Texas
Hamilton is a big reason for the recent struggles of the Longhorns, but when Texas was winning, he was the centerpiece. A 6-7 wing, Hamilton had learned what was and what wasn't a good shot. He's regressed a bit the last two weeks, but he's also a major reason why Texas ended up being ranked high enough that a collapse was possible. He averages 18.7 ppg and 7.0 rpg.
Marcus Morris, Kansas
Morris has developed into a relentlessly efficient offensive threats. He can shoot from the perimeter, he can score in the post, he can run the break, he rebounds well, and he seems to have a knack for knowing how to get open. Morris is the most dangerous weapon on the nation's most potent offensive attack.