Three finalists for the Wooden Award, which goes to the nation’s top player, were among the five players chosen for the 2014 American Athletic Conference All-Conference First Team, as voted by the league’s 10 head coaches. The announcement was made Tuesday by Commissioner Mike Aresco.
Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick, UConn guard Shabazz Napier and Louisville guard Russ Smith were unanimous choices of the head coaches for the first team. They were joined on the team by Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell and SMU guard Nic Moore.
One of the five first-team selections will be announced as the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year Wednesday at an awards luncheon at the Gibson Guitar Factory in Memphis.
Kilpatrick enters the postseason as the leading scorer in the American Athletic Conference at 20.9 points per game, while he averaged a league-leading 22.2 points against American Athletic Conference opponents, helping Cincinnati to a share of the first regular-season title. In addition to his recognition as a Wooden Award finalist, Kilpatrick is a candidate for the Naismith Trophy and the Oscar Robertson Trophy as the outstanding player nationally.
Napier is second in the conference in scoring (17.8 points per game), assists (5.2 per game) and free throw shooting (.877) and is third in The American in steals at 1.8 per game. Napier averaged 19.3 points in conference games as he led UConn to a 12-5 finish in The American and a 24-6 overall record. Napier also is a Wooden Award finalist and a candidate for the Naismith Trophy and Oscar Robertson Trophy
Smith finished the regular season as the fourth-leading scorer in The American at 17.5 points per game and was third in the conference in assists at 4.8 apg. Smith was second in the league in steals (2.0 spg) as he helped Louisville finish 26-5 overall and 15-3 in The American, good for a share of the regular-season title. He averaged 18.0 points and shot 47.4 percent from 3-point range against American Athletic Conference opponents. Smith joins Kilpatrick and Napier as a Wooden Award finalist and a candidate for the Naismith Trophy and Oscar Robertson Trophy.
Harrell enjoyed a breakout sophomore season for Louisville as the forward averaged 14.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and led The American in field goal percentage (.612). He averaged 15.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in conference play.
Moore was the catalyst behind an SMU squad that went 23-8 overall and 12-6 in The American in the regular season, as the Mustangs stand poised to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1993. Moore averaged 13.9 points per game and shot 45.7 percent from 3-point range, good for second in the conference.
The American Athletic Conference Second Team included UCF guard Isaiah Sykes (16.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Cincinnati forward Justin Jackson (11.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.9 bpg), Houston forward TaShawn Thomas (15.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg), Memphis forward Shaq Goodwin (11.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg), Memphis guard Joe Jackson (14.4 ppg, 4.6 apg) and SMU forward Markus Kennedy (12.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg).
The conference also announced the five players named to the All-Rookie Team. Memphis forward Austin Nichols was a unanimous selection after he averaged 9.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in the regular season. He is joined on the All-Rookie Team by UConn center Amida Brimah, Louisville guard Terry Rozier, and a pair of USF players – center John Egbunu and forward Chris Perry.
The conference’s major individual awards – Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Coach of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man Award and Sportsmanship Award – will be presented at Wednesday’s awards luncheon at the Gibson Guitar Factory in advance of the first American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship.
2014 American Athletic Conference All-Conference First Team
Sean Kilpatrick, G, Cincinnati *
Shabazz Napier, G, UConn *
Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville
Russ Smith, G, Louisville *
Nic Moore, G, SMU
2014 American Athletic Conference All-Conference Second Team
Isaiah Sykes, G, UCF
Justin Jackson, F, Cincinnati
TaShawn Thomas, F, Houston
Shaq Goodwin, F, Memphis
Joe Jackson, G, Memphis
Markus Kennedy, F, SMU
2014 American Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team
Amida Brimah, C, UConn
Terry Rozier, G, Louisville
Austin Nichols, F, Memphis *
John Egbunu, C, USF
Chris Perry, F, USF