Wildcats’ Azuolas Tubelis named to AP All-America 2nd team
Arizona Wildcats forward Azuolas Tubelis was selected to the Associated Press All-America second team on Tuesday.
The Wildcat enters Arizona’s NCAA Tournament matchup against Princeton after averaging 19.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, two assists and 1.1 steals in 29.9 minutes per game in the regular season.
Purdue’s Zach Edey and Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis have given the Big Ten Conference a third straight year with multiple first-team Associated Press All-America picks, while Kansas had a second straight first-teamer in Jalen Wilson.
The 7-foot-4, 305-pound Edey appeared on all 58 ballots as a first-team selection from AP Top 25 voters as the lone unanimous pick in results released Tuesday.
The selections of the Boilermakers’ Edey and the Hoosiers’ Jackson-Davis came a year after the Big Ten had three first-team picks. And it gave the league seven through the last three seasons; no other league has more than three.
The Big Ten has had at least one first-teamer for five straight years and eight of the last nine.
Houston’s Marcus Sasser and Alabama’s Brandon Miller joined Edey and Wilson on the first team in representing each of the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 seeds.
Edey has commanded the national spotlight all year. The Big Ten player of the year ranks sixth nationally in scoring (22.3), second in rebounding (12.8) and first in double-doubles (26).
“Everybody goes: ‘You go to him so much,’” Purdue coach Matt Painter said after the Big Ten Tournament title win against Penn State. “If they call it by the rules, they’re fouling him on every possession. So why shouldn’t we get it to him and just try to get in that bonus early and steal points?
“Obviously he can make tough post-ups and he can get at the rim, and he gets offensive rebounds when you take him away.”
Jackson-Davis, a 6-9 fourth-year forward, is Indiana’s first first-team selection since Victor Oladipo in 2013. He’s averaging 20.8 points and 10.9 rebounds while taking a leap with his passing (4.1 assists, up from 1.9 last year).
“I probably have pushed him harder than any player on this team and I know there’s been days that he’s walked out of here thinking that, ‘Hey, is this guy really in my corner, based on how he’s pushing me?’” coach Mike Woodson said. “But at the end of the day, he’s gotten better as a player.
“We have benefited from it, you know, with our ballclub, in terms of how we played as a team. And he’s been the driving force behind it.”
Wilson, a 6-8 fourth-year forward, was a returning complementary starter from last year’s NCAA title run. He thrived in an expanded role, becoming Big 12 player of the year and nearly doubling his scoring average (20.1, up from 11.1) to go with 8.4 rebounds.
It marked the fourth time in seven seasons that the Jayhawks had a first-team pick going back to national player of the year Frank Mason III in 2017.
“He’s an elite competitor,” Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said after a Big 12 Tournament loss to the Jayhawks. “He gets to the glass. He makes cuts. He makes it hard. He does so many things.”
Sasser, a 6-2 senior, was a starter on the Cougars’ Final Four team two years ago and is the star of another title threat this year. He’s averaging 17.1 points as the program’s first first-team selection since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984 during the “Phi Slama Jama” era.
Miller, a 6-9 freshman, was a McDonald’s All-American who became an immediate star on the way to being named the Southeastern Conference player of the year. He’s averaging 19.6 points and 8.3 rebounds for the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.
Miller has been involved in a murder case that has overshadowed the Crimson Tide’s successful run, leading to capital murder charges against former Alabama player Darius Miles and another man for the January shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris. A police investigator testified last month that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun that night, though authorities haven’t charged Miller with any crime.
Pac-12 player of the year Jaime Jaquez Jr. of UCLA was the leading vote-getter on the second team that included Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, last season’s AP national player of the year.
Gonzaga’s Drew Timme was a second-team selection for the third straight year, while Tubelis and Penn State’s Jalen Pickett rounded out the second quintet.
Kansas State’s surge led to the Wildcats earning third-team selections in Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson, their first AP All-Americans since Jacob Pullen in 2011.
Big East player of the year Tyler Kolek of Marquette, Iowa’s Kris Murray and North Carolina’s Armando Bacot rounded out the third team.
National scoring leader Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy, who averaged 28.2 points and fell three points shy of tying “Pistol” Pete Maravich’s all-time career scoring record, was the leading vote-getter among players who didn’t make the three All-America teams.
Players earned honorable-mention status if they appeared on multiple voters’ ballots. This year’s list includes Memphis’ Kendric Davis, Xavier’s Souley Boum and Miami’s Isaiah Wong.