Duke freshmen Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett top AP All-America team

The season did not end as Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett intended. The fabulous freshmen came to Duke to win a national championship and their bid came up short with a loss to Michigan State in the Elite Eight. Williamson and Barrett still managed to make a bit of history.

The two Duke players were named to the Associated Press All-America team Tuesday, becoming the second freshman teammates to make the first team in the same season. They were joined by Tennessee’s Grant Williams, Michigan State’s Cassius Winston and Ja Morant of Murray State.

Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall were the only other freshman teammates to take first-team AP honors in 2010.

At 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, Williamson electrified fans with thunderous dunks and soaring blocks, occasionally having to tilt his head to avoid hitting it on the backboard. He was selected unanimously by 64 voters as a first-team All-American. He averaged 22.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.2 blocked shots and 1.8 steals per game.

“He’s got the most incredible first step,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. “That’s why he’s getting all those steals. He can take one dribble and cover more space than most human beings that I know can do. And so then he has the strength to finish at the end. So he’s not Superman, but he’s damn close.”

Barrett arrived at Duke as the higher-rated recruit. The 6-7 guard quietly had a superb season in Durham. Barrett led the Blue Devils with 22.9 points per game. He also grabbed 7.5 rebounds and dished 4.1 assists per game on a team that finished a game short of the Final Four.

Williams was the SEC Player of the Year a season ago and might have been better while winning the award this year. The 6-7 junior averaged 19 points per game while shooting 57%. He averaged 7.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.

Morant was the most exciting player in college not named Zion, lighting up highlight reels with emphatic dunks and no-look passes. The 6-3 point guard led the nation with 10 assists per game and averaging 24.6 points to become Murray State’s first first-team All-American.

Winston is heady, tough and a big reason the Spartans are in the Final Four. He averaged 18.9 points, 7.6 assists and was Michigan State’s go-to guy when a big shot was needed.

Second team: Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga; Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech; Markus Howard, Marquette; Ethan Happ, Wisconsin; Carsen Edwards, Purdue.

Third team: De’Andre Hunter, Virginia; Dedric Lawson, Kansas; Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga; PJ Washington, Kentucky; Kyle Guy, Virginia.

Lichti in College Hall: Todd Lichti, a three-time All-American for Stanford in the 1980s, was selected to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

The rest of the 2019 class consists of Indiana’s Calbert Cheaney, Duke’s Shane Battier, Purdue’s Terry Dischinger, Providence’s Ernie DiGregorio, UNLV’s Larry Johnson, and former coaches Homer Drew, Lute Olson and Rick Majerus.

As a senior in 1989, Lichti led the Cardinal to their first NCAA Tournament berth in 47 years. A first-round draft pick by Denver in 1989, the Concord native played five years in the NBA.

— Tom FitzGerald

NIT: At Madison Square Garden, Garrison Mathews swished his ninth 3-pointer of the game in front of an exuberant Lipscomb bench for the lead with 1:10 left in the game as the Bisons (29-7) earned a 71-64 win over Wichita State (22-15) and a spot in the final. Mathews had 34 points. Lipscomb will face Texas (20-16), whose Kerwin Roach II turned a season marred by suspension into a can’t-miss performance in the first half to help the Longhorns to a 58-44 victory over TCU (23-14). Roach finished with 22 points.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Duke-freshmen-Zion-Williamson-RJ-Barrett-top-AP-13737130.php.

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