Potential Cinderellas you need to know this March Madness
SportsPulse: It’s time to fill out your bracket and our college basketball guru Scott Gleeson is here to provide you four potential Cinderellas that will either bust your bracket or help you rise above the rest.
USA TODAY Sports unveils its 2020-21 All-American team, national player of the year and national coach of the year. Selections are based on a panel of USA TODAY NETWORK beat writers – David Woods (Indianapolis Star), Mark Emmert (Des Moines Register), Brian Davis (Austin American-Statesman), Jerry Carino (Asbury Park Press), and Michelle Gardner (Arizona Republic) – and USA TODAY Sports national reporters Scott Gleeson Eddie Timanus and Paul Myerberg.
National player of the year
Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois, Jr., G
The do-everything guard was an electrifying force for the Fighting Illini this year in propelling them to an NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed. He averaged 21 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists, and posted two triple-doubles in February. His game is ready for the NBA, but he made his last college stint count. The result: A national player-of-the-year season. Dosunmu edged Luka Garza and Cade Cunningham to take home this year’s honor.
The rest of the first team:
– Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State, Fr., G. The 6-5 guard didn’t just prove why he’s the projected No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, he made the Cowboys a contender in the Big 12 and helped lead OSU to a strong NCAA Tournament seeding. Cunningham averaged 19.7 points and 6.3 rebounds. He had 40 points in an overtime victory over Oklahoma on Feb. 27 and had multiple game-winning baskets throughout 2020-21.
– Luka Garza, Iowa, Sr., F. After a dazzling 2019-20 campaign, the 6-11 big man followed it with just as impressive a season, averaging 23.9 points and 8.4 rebounds while working as the centerpiece to the Hawkeyes’ successful in-and-out game that helped them thrive in the Big Ten.
– Corey Kispert, Gonzaga, Sr., F. The 6-7 senior wing averaged 19.3 points while shooting 55% from the floor on one of coach Mark Few’s most gifted Bulldogs teams. His veteran leadership and intangibles helped the ‘Zags go undefeated in the regular season.
– Jared Butler, Baylor, Jr., G. The 6-3 guard led a dominant Bears team with 17.1 points and 5.0 assists per game, and gave coach Scott Drew a go-to scorer in crunch time for the second consecutive season. His 30 points and eight assists in a Jan. 18 win over Kansas was evidence of his breakout ability.
– Collin Gillespie, Villanova, Sr., G
– Cameron Thomas, LSU, Fr., G
– Evan Mobley, Southern Cal, Fr., F
– Hunter Dickinson, Michigan, Fr., C
– Kofi Cockburn, Illinois, So., C
– Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga, Fr., G
– E.J. Liddell, Ohio State, So., F
– Drew Timme, Gonzaga, So., F
– Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky, Jr., C
– Cameron Krutwig, Loyola-Chicago, Sr., C
Also receiving votes (in no particular order): Isaiah Livers, Michigan; Matthew Hurt, Duke; Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton; Sam Hauser, Virginia; Trevion Williams, Purdue; Terry Taylor, Austin Peay; McKinley Wright, Colorado; Chris Duarte, Oregon; MJ Walker, Florida State; Derek Culver, West Virginia; Quentin Grimes, Houston; Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova; Marcus Carr, Minnesota; Moses Wright, Georgia Tech; Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana; Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall; Herbert Jones, Alabama; Davion Mitchell, Baylor.
BRACKET TIPS? AT YOUR SERVICE:
National coach of the year
Nate Oats, Alabama
In just his second season with the Crimson Tide, Oats turned the program into an SEC champion and national title contender. The 46-year-old, who got his start with three NCAA Tournament appearances at Buffalo, vaulted Alabama into the national equation, altering its perception as just a football school. His mix of motivation and relatable style boded well for a Tide group that’s been built on synergy and tough-mindedness.
– Mark Few, Gonzaga
– Scott Drew, Baylor
– Juwan Howard, Michigan
– Brad Underwood, Illinois