For the 2nd time in Wisconsin Badgers history, the Badgers have had a player named to the AP All-American Team as a unanimous selection. Badgers center Frank Kaminsky was named to the AP All-American team as the only unanimous selection, joining Alando Tucker in 2007. Kaminsky joins Doug McDermott of Creighton as the only two players to be a unanimous selection in recent years. Other Wisconsin players to be named to the team include, Devin Harris and Jordan Taylor.
“It’s cool to be named first team All-American. It’s something you dream of as a kid,” Frank Kaminsky said. “To finally be able to do so, it’s a good thing and it shows how hard I’ve worked in my career. To be up there with Alando Tucker is a pretty cool thing.”
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan also spoke on Kaminsky’s unanimous selection.
“Not to be overly patriotic, but we’re an American story, that you can do that in this kind of a system,” Bo Ryan said. “Sometimes where it looks like the privileged, the ones that are identified as being great players and can’t-miss-type guys, where there can always come that guy from behind in the race and then cross the tape first.
“Frank is that guy who got a little bit later start as far as people noticing his abilities, but that’s just a great accomplishment on his part. He took advantage of a chance and has made the most of it.”
Duke Blue Devils center Jahlil Okafor was also named to the team, one vote short of a unanimous decision. Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski also spoke on Okafor’s selection to the team.
“His game has grown continuously and he’s got a lot more growth ahead of him,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “The main thing for Jah is that he’s gotten better as the season’s gone along.”
Notre Dame Fighting Irish point guard Jerian Grant’s college career was in trouble last season. Grant was suspended for making an “academic mistake” during the second semester of the college season last year. Grant was able to get his career back on track this season, making the AP All-American team, and Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey couldn’t be more happy for him.
“I can’t think of a better comeback story in college basketball the last couple years than Jerian,” Brey said. “When I told him you need to come back because we have unfinished business, I didn’t know it would be this good and I am thrilled that it is this good because I was nervous it wouldn’t be this good. He came back for all the right reasons.”
Grant also spoke on his selection to the AP All-American team.
“It’s great, especially with where I was last year,” Grant said. “The work I’ve put in, the guys having so much confidence in me to welcome me back like that.”
Ohio State freshman guard D’Angelo Russell was the other guard to be named to the AP All-American team. Russell busted onto the scene the college season, averaging 19 points, 5 assists, and 5.7 rebounds.
“The level that he sustained was the most impressive thing,”Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “The other thing that I loved was that the mistakes early, he learned from. He got better as the season went on. He became a more complete player. We knew he was going to be really good but just seeing his dedication to becoming a great player was very, very impressive.”
You knew a Kentucky player had to be on this team, and that player is Willie Cauley-Stein, who is arguably the best player on the team out of nine McDonald’s All-Americans.
“Coming in I felt like I was really overlooked and didn’t know if I really belonged but just worked and worked and worked and eventually became a player that everybody looks at like `Dude, you’re a freak athlete, you’re a beast,” said Willie Cauley-Stein, who received 45 first-team votes. “You can do so many things that I never imagined even happening and now it’s coming together.”
Let’s recap the AP All-American team:
G: D’Angelo Russell
G: Jerian Grant
C: Jahlil Okafor
C/F: Willie Cauley-Stein
C: Frank Kaminsky
The AP All-American second team featured Delon Wright and Karl Anthony Towns while the 3rd AP All-American team featured Kyle Wiltjer, Buddy Hield, and Rakeem Christmas.
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