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WRNL's All-American Ballot

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The mother ship at SB Nation asked each of their college blogs to submit an All-American ballot for this upcoming basketball season. I had the honor of putting together WRNL's ballot and in the interest of transparency, felt compelled to share my picks with you, our loyal readership.

SB Nation will publish the entire network's selections early next week. Without further adieu, here is my ballot:

First Team All-Americans

PG - Marcus Paige, Junior, North Carolina

SG - Aaron Harrison, Sophomore, Kentucky

F - Georges Niang, Junior, Iowa State

F - Frank Kaminsky, Senior, Wisconsin

F - Jahlil Okafor, Freshman, Duke

And now for the rationale...

You'll see a heavy representation from what figures to be a good portion of the top five or six teams in the country on this list. Starting with Paige, the junior-to-be was often the only reliable threat for the Tar Heels a season ago and while Roy Williams returns most of the roster and adds a few nice pieces, Paige's role and scoring load still won't be reduced. With multiple point guards on the roster, Paige may even spend some time off the ball and be looked to even more as a scoring threat.

Andrew Harrison was supposed to be the more prolific of the star twin duo, but Aaron was the one that turned in a masterful performance in March, leading Kentucky to the national championship game. Kentucky is ridiculously loaded with future lottery picks, but Harrison might be the only guy on John Calipari's team that can consistently score from the perimeter.

At first blush, you're probably thinking that Niang is a homer pick, right? That's fine, but despite all of the off-season accolades Niang has received, I wonder if he's still being underrated? Who else in college basketball does what Niang does? There simply isn't another player like him. He's arguably one of, if not the best back-to-the-basket players in the country and as a face-up forward, he's just as lethal from the perimeter. And now that he's finally dedicated himself to improving his body and conditioning, Niang could be on the cusp of a monster season. I think 20 PPG, 5 REB and 5 ASST per game isn't out of the question and if he's doing that on a top 10-15 team, the nation will take notice.

Kaminsky is a popular pick and for good reason. At 6'11" he's one of the more difficult match ups in college basketball. A more than capable outside shooter and an underrated presence on the block, Kaminsky should be the run-away leader for pre-season Big Ten player of the year.

Finally, complain all you want about a freshman being on this list, but Okafor might be the second coming of Greg Oden (pre-injuries). With Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood off to the NBA, Okafor will get every chance to be the man at Duke from day one. Coach K will likely build Duke's entire offensive identity around the 7-footer and it should be the perfect showcase opportunity for Okafor, who is likely going to be the #1 overall pick in next June's NBA draft.

Second Team All-Americans

PG - Juwan Staten, Senior, West Virginia

SG - Ron Baker, Junior, Wichita State

F - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Sophomore, Arizona

F - Perry Ellis, Junior, Kansas

F - Montrezl Harrell, Junior, Louisville

As Big 12 fans, we've all seen the gaudy numbers Staten put up a season ago. With the transfers of Eron Harris and Terry Henderson, Staten's usage rate might sky rocket this year. He's the most difficult match up on the perimeter in the country. If he didn't play basketball, Staten has the type of world-class speed and athleticism that could make him a pro on the gridiron. The only thing keeping him from the first team is his surrounding cast, which won't be good enough, unfortunately, to get the Mountaineers into the NCAA Tournament.

Wichita State lost one game all of last year and despite the loss of Cleanthony Early, they might just run the regular season table again. With fellow running mate, Fred Van Vleet, returning in the Shocker's back court, Gregg Marshall has what might be the nation's best guard court. Baker is far more than a gunner from outside as his reputation would suggest, though, and is more than capable of putting it on the deck and attacking the basket.

Hollis-Jefferson is a chic pick to garner national accolades and while I initially didn't see it, the more I looked into his game, the more I saw the opportunity for a guy that could explode. Remember, it was only a few short years ago that Derrick Williams went from promising freshman to #2 overall pick after his sophomore campaign. Hollis-Jefferson could see a similar meteoric rise under the same coach, Sean Miller.

Perry Ellis continues to be overshadowed by one-and-done sensations at Kansas, but as a junior, he will be the unquestioned leader and back bone of this Jayhawk team. Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre will probably be lottery picks, but this Kansas team will only go as far as Ellis takes them...and he's capable of taking them a long way.

If you haven't had a chance to watch Harrell play, he's a delight. The man is an absolute beast-freak. He was a vital piece on Louisville's national championship team two years ago and really came on toward the end of his sophomore year. He would have been a lottery pick had he left last year, but he's back and he's a near lock for double-double status every night.

Player of the Year

PG - Marcus Paige, Junior, North Carolina

This was an incredibly difficult pick to make and I'm still not sure I chose the best candidate. If you ask five different people who will win this award, you'll probably get five different answers. There's no Doug McDermott out there and it's completely wide open.

I chose Paige because North Carolina figures to be in the top ten all year, he'll have the ball in his hands a lot, and he's a known quantity. That's basically hitting for the cycle when it comes to an award like this. Could there be a freshman star that emerges like a Kevin Durant or Anthony Davis? Sure, but I'm not going to pretend that I could possibly foresee something like that coming.

Plus, how cool would it be to see the state of Iowa produce back-to-back players of the year?

Freshman of the Year

F - Jahlil Okafor, Freshman, Duke

Sticking on Tobacco road, how can you not pick Okafor? For all the reasons I listed earlier, he's a near lock for #1 pick status and he'll slide right in and instantly become the best player for a national championship contender. Coach K has seen his share of super freshman come through his program, including Jabari Parker and Kyrie Irving in recent years, and Okafor is the next in line for super star status.

Honorable Mentions

G - Tyler Haws, Senior, BYU
G - Kevin Pangos, Senior, Gonzaga
G - Fred Van Vleet, Junior, Wichita State
G - Delon Wright, Senior, Utah
G - Buddy Hield, Junior, Oklahoma
F - Branden Dawson, Senior, Michigan State
F - Sam Dekker, Junior, Wisconsin
G - Andrew Harrison, Sophomore, Kentucky
G/F - Terran Petteway, Junior, Nebraska
G - Ryan Boatright, Senior, UConn
G - Darrun Hilliard, senior, Villanova
G - Caris LeVert, Junior, Michigan
G - Yogi Ferrell, Junior, Indiana
F - Cliff Alexander, Freshman, Kansas
G - Marcus Foster, Sophomore, Kansas State
G - Joseph Young, Senior, Oregon
G - Chasson Randle, Senior, Stanford
G - R.J. Hunter, Junior, Georgia State

So there you have it. Love the picks? Hate 'em? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.