Preseason recognition keeps coming for Gonzaga senior Drew Timme, and the latest news brought more hype for next month’s Gonzaga-Kentucky showdown.
Timme and Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe were the only unanimous selections on the Associated Press preseason All-America team released Monday. The two standout forwards were on the ballots of all 59 media members that also vote on the weekly AP Top 25.
Gonzaga, No. 2 in the preseason rankings, and No. 4 Kentucky clash on Nov. 20 at the Spokane Arena with one subplot featuring Timme, a two-time AP second-team All-American, and Tshiebwe, the reigning national player of the year. Both opted to return instead of turning pro, at least partially influenced by name, image and likeness (NIL) income expected to exceed their salaries as projected second-round picks.
The return of numerous talented forwards and centers has prompted some to call the upcoming season the year of the big. That was reflected by the composition of the preseason All-America team with Timme and Tshiebwe joined by North Carolina forward Armando Bacot, Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and Houston guard Marcus Sasser.
Timme is the favorite for player of the year, followed by Bacot, according to Vegasinsider.com odds. Tshiebwe and Sasser tied for fourth. Jackson-Davis, son of former Washington State cornerback Ray Jackson, is tied for 12th. Gonzaga junior wing Julian Strawther is tied for seventh.
Timme, named CBS Sports preseason player of the year last week, averaged 18.4 points and 6.8 rebounds last season. He was named West Coast Conference player of the year and was a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award. The 6-foot-10 Texas native averaged 27.3 points and 11.3 boards in three NCAA Tournament games in March.
Timme won the 2021 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award while averaging career highs in points (19.0) and rebounding (7.0). He ranks 15th in program history in scoring and rebounding.
Tshiewbe is the first AP player of the year to return the following season since Tyler Hansbrough led North Carolina to the 2009 national title. The 6-9, 260-pounder from the Congo averaged 17.4 points and a nation-leading 15.1 rebounds.
The 6-11 Bacot equaled an NCAA record with 31 double-doubles and helped North Carolina reach the national championship game before falling to Kansas. The Tar Heels are No. 1 in the preseason poll.
Sasser averaged 17.7 points last season and 13.7 two years ago when Houston, led by former WSU coach Kelvin Sampson, made the Final Four. Jackson-Davis, a 6-9 forward, averaged 18.3 points and 8.1 rebounds for Indiana.
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