2018-19 CBS Sports Preseason All-America teams: College basketball’s best and brightest

The 2018-19 college basketball season is exactly one week from beginning. 

Exciting! We’re approaching arrival for another terrific and unpredictable campaign of crazy college hoops.  

And so here we are ready to drop the sheath, for you, on our selections for preseason All-Americans. These are the players to keep at the top of your names-to-know list to start the season. (If you want a deep dive, here are the 100 (and one) best players across college basketball.)

The teams below were decided from an aggregate tally of voters from CBS Sports outlets, both digital and television. The voting panel for our All-Americans: Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander, Kyle Boone, Chip Patterson, Jerry Palm, CBS Sports’ Clark Kellogg, CBS Sports Network’s Pete Gillen, Steve Lappas, Wally Szczerbiak, Jon Rothstein and 247Sports’ Evan Daniels and Kevin Flaherty

The votes for our major preseason awards — Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year — were also logged by the same group. 

The 15 decorated below are positioned to be the most valuable and impactful players from November through March. There are seven juniors, four seniors, three freshmen and one sophomore on the three teams. Kansas, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Nevada, Duke, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina are almost universally recognized as preseason top-10 squads. All those schools are represented on our All-American teams. 

Last year’s predictions turned out pretty well, injuries aside. So bank on many of these guys playing up to the hype. — Matt Norlander

2018-19 CBS Sports Preseason All-America First Team

Carsen Edwards | Purdue | 6-1 | Junior | Guard  

No player is going to absorb as big a role as compared to last season as Edwards is for Purdue. The Boilermakers are replacing four of their top five scorers from last season, so the brunt of the scoring and playmaking responsibilities are going to fall on Edwards’ chiseled shoulders. After putting up 18.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game last season, he’s perfectly positioned to increase his workload and production across the board.

RJ Barrett | Duke | 6-7 | Freshman | Guard-Forward  

Barrett is a lefty sharpshooter from Canada who brings with him as strong a pedigree as Duke has ever had. He is a switchy guard/wing who can defend multiple positions, create his own shot and get buckets at will. For a Blue Devils team that’s got plenty of hype coming its way, he’s almost assuredly going to be its most productive and consistent player. 

Caleb Martin | Nevada | 6-7 | Senior | Forward  

Martin averaged 18.9 points and 5.4 boards per game for a Nevada team that flew under the radar and fell just shy of an Elite Eight appearance. The NC State transfer is primed for an even bigger year after putting a hold on his NBA dreams for a shot to make the Wolf Pack a national force. He’s going to be the team’s best offensive weapon, and for a squad that may wind up boasting one of the most lethal offenses in Division I.

Dedric Lawson | Kansas | 6-9 | Junior | Forward 

After sitting out last season following his transfer from Memphis, Lawson is positioned to be the best player on the best team in the country. Simply put, he’s going to be a stat monster. His 19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game from his final Memphis season in 2016-17 should reflect the impact you can expect he’ll make for the Jayhawks.  

Luke Maye | UNC | 6-8 | Senior | Forward

Maye is on the verge of doing something extremely impressive: Going from walk-on recruit to First-Team All-American. Adding to the unlikely breakout of Maye is that he’s doing it all for a blueblood UNC program that ranks inside the top-10 ahead of the season. The 6-foot-8 forward put up 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game last season, and should be the focal point for the Tar Heels and their re-made roster that will also feature a stud freshman in Nassir Little. — Kyle Boone

2018-19 CBS Sports Preseason All-America Second Team

Grant Williams | Tennessee | 6-7 | Junior | Forward

Williams in the reigning SEC Player of the Year and a physically overpowering presence in the post primed to potentially defend that honor. For a Tennessee team that has a chance to be top-5 good all season, Williams will pop with his ability to consistently snatch rebounds with force and throw down dunks with the same exertion. 

Shamorie Ponds | St. John’s | 6-1 | Junior | Guard

Ponds is among the most electrifying talents — and scorers — in the sport. He put up 21.6 points per game last season and did so while hitting on only 25.3 percent of his 3-point attempts. If he can tick that efficiency up, which he should be able to do with the addition of Mustapha Heron, Ponds is going to be the initiator for an exciting St. John’s renaissance.  

Tremont Waters | LSU | 5-11 | Soph. | Guard

As a freshman for the Tigers last season, Waters was among the most utilized players not only at his position nationally, but across all positions. He’s scheduled to break out as a more known commodity in his second season, and figures to be appointment TV on a nightly basis. His combination of play-making and shot-making is as rare as it is dazzling.

Zion Williamson | Duke | 6-7 | Freshman | Forward

You already know about Williamson’s athletic feats, but he’s more than a dunking phenom for Duke. The 6-7, 285-pound can play numerous positions on defense, can knock down shots from the perimeter, and is athletic gifted enough to develop into an elite shot-blocker from his position.

Tyus Battle | Syracuse | 6-6 | Junior | Guard

Syracuse used Battle in 96.2 percent of court-time last season, a stat that truly reflects his value and impact on Syracuse’s successes. His usage may go down a tick next season — nobody played more than the team’s available minutes than did Battle in 2017-18 — but his 19.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game should both increase. — Kyle Boone

2018-19 CBS Sports Preseason All-America Third Team

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin, Forward: The Badger with one made 3-pointer (on 11 total attempts) in his career returns to Madison, Wisconsin for one final season to get Bucky back to the NCAAs after missing in 2018 for the first time in nearly two decades.  

Mike Daum, South Dakota State, Forward: It should be a historic season for the Jackrabbits senior, who’s averaged 21.5 points in his career at SDSU and needs 768 points (he scored 800-plus the past two seasons) to eclipse 3,000 in his career. 

Romeo Langford, Indiana, Guard: One of the best players in Indiana high school basketball history now walks about Bloomington, Indiana with fans’ hopes that he can guide the Hoosiers to a memorable — if not legendary — season. 

Kyle Guy, Virginia, Guard: The Cavaliers’ crafty junior figures to be the most important offensive weapon on a team that’s built to destroy thanks to its thicker-than-lead defense.  

Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga, Foward: The hard-working, unassuming Japanese star for Gonzaga has a chance to become a program legend if he makes a big jump on defense and can propel the Bulldogs to their third No. 1 seed in school history. — Matt Norlander

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