McDonald’s All Americans: Some shine, some fade

Posted Friday, Jan. 31, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Key dates

March 12-15 Big 12 tournament (Kansas City, Mo.)

March 12-16 SEC tournament (Atlanta)

March 16 Selection Sunday

March 18-19 First-round (Dayton)

March 20, 22 Second-third rounds (Buffalo, Orlando, Milwaukee, Spokane)

March 21, 23 Second-third rounds (Raleigh, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis)

March 27, 29 South Regional (Memphis) and West Regional (Anaheim)

March 28, 30 Midwest Regional (Indianapolis) and East Regional (New York)

April 5 National semifinals (Arlington)

April 7 Championship (Arlington)

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The teams with the best potential for Final Four runs typically have at least someone who earned McDonald’s All American honors. Euless Trinity’s Myles Turner was one of 24 players to join the exclusive club this week.

Turner will be looking to follow in the footsteps of former McDonald’s All Americans such as Aaron Gordon, a key player for top-ranked Arizona this season, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who helped Kentucky win the national championship in 2012.

But not every McDonald’s All American pans out. The Big 12 has seen its fair share fade out in recent years. From Xavier Henry and Josh Selby at Kansas to Tommy Mason-Griffin and Tiny Gallon at Oklahoma, McDonald’s All Americans don’t automatically translate to wins and postseason success.

Here are former McDonald’s All Americans who are either shining in or fading out of the spotlight.

Shining

Jabari Parker, Duke: He hasn’t disappointed as a freshman sensation, having been held to fewer than 10 points only twice. Parker is averaging 18.8 points and 8.1 rebounds.

Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: He entered college with more hype than anyone in the country. He has had some growing pains but has emerged of late. Wiggins has scored 27 and 29 points his last two games, and pulled down 19 rebounds against Iowa State on Jan. 13.

Keith Appling, Michigan State: One of the few McDonald’s All Americans who stayed in school all four years, Appling is averaging 15.4 points and 4.9 assists for a team many believe can win it all.

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: He could have left for the NBA last year and been a lottery pick. He is one of the reasons Oklahoma State will be a dangerous team in March. Smart is averaging 17.3 points, 4.4 assists and 5.7 rebounds a game.

Noah Vonleh, Indiana: Vonleh has endured his share of freshman struggles but has shown flashes of brilliance. He’s had eight double-doubles and is averaging 12 points a game. Vonleh remains a lottery pick-type talent for this year’s NBA Draft.

Johnny O’Bryant III, LSU: He’s developed and improved every season with the Tigers. He averaged 8.5 points as a freshman, increased that to 13.6 points as a sophomore and is averaging 15.4 points a game as a junior. Bryant had one of his best games on Tuesday, scoring a season-high 29 points to carry LSU to an upset victory over Kentucky.

Fading

Kris Dunn, Providence: Entered college as a top point guard recruit and averaged 5.7 points, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals as a freshman last year. His average dropped to 3.8 points per game this year before shoulder surgery ended his season in December.

Isaiah Austin, Baylor: One of the top recruits in the country out of Arlington Grace Prep, Austin had a solid freshman campaign by averaging 13 points and 8.3 rebounds. Those numbers have dipped in his sophomore season and he simply hasn’t developed into the big-time threat most expected. But, at 20, Austin still has time to turn it around.

Chane Behanan, Colorado State: He won a national championship with Louisville last year, but was dismissed from the team in December. Now, he’s headed to Colorado State to try to resurrect his career.

Devonta Pollard, East Mississippi Community College: A five-star recruit coming out of high school, he had a disappointing freshman season at Alabama. After an off-season arrest, he landed at juco power East Mississippi.

Rising

Oklahoma (17-4, 6-2 Big 12): It’s easy to forget that the Sooners were an NCAA Tournament team last year, but Lon Kruger has them set for a repeat. OU had an impressive January with wins over then-ranked teams such as Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma State.

Falling

Ohio State (16-5, 3-5 Big Ten): The Buckeyes were favorites to land a No. 1 seed not too long ago. They started 15-0 before falling on hard times in Big Ten play. They lost twice in overtime in January, and have a tough start to February with Wisconsin and Iowa on tap.

Three games to watch

Duke at Syracuse (5:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN): The Blue Devils (17-4) have won their past four games by an average of 23 points. They can end the Orange’s (20-0) perfect run to date, although it won’t be easy in the Carrier Dome.

Iowa State at Oklahoma State (8 p.m. Monday, ESPN): A Big Monday showdown against two ranked teams. The Cyclones (15-4) have lost four of their last five, while the Cowboys (16-4) have dropped two of their last three.

Ohio State at Iowa (6 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN): Two teams that are reeling. The Buckeyes (16-5) are in a bigger rut, though, losing five of their last six, including games to Penn State and Nebraska. The Hawkeyes (16-5) have dropped two of their last three.

Projecting the top seeds

West: Arizona (21-0, 8-0 Pac-12) Survived road scare at Stanford on Wednesday to remain perfect.

East: Syracuse (20-0, 7-0 ACC) Have not taken long to establish themselves in ACC’s elite.

Midwest: Michigan State (19-2, 8-1 Big Ten) Nice bounce-back win at Iowa after falling to Michigan at home.

South: Wichita State (22-0, 9-0 Missouri Valley) The Shockers deserve a No. 1 seed if they stay unbeaten.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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