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College basketball: All-American team predictions, games to watch and much more

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The Post’s Howie Kusoy and Zach Braziller name their All-American team, provide freshmen and transfers to watch and identifies the key games to watch during this college basketball season:

All-Americans

First team

Jared Butler, Jr. G, Baylor

Butler, a 6-foot-3 guard, is the biggest reason Baylor became a Final Four contender. The Bears’ leading-scorer last season is a difference-maker on both ends of the floor — averaging 16.0 points, 3.1 assists and 1.6 steals while hitting 38 percent of his 3-point attempts.

Cade Cunningham, Fr., F, Oklahoma State

The nation’s top-ranked freshman passed on the new G-League route despite Oklahoma State being ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. That’s good news for college basketball fans — who’ll get to watch the supremely talented, multi-dimensional 6-foot-7 wing and potential No. 1-overall NBA draft pick in 2021.

Ayo Dosunmu, Jr., G, Illinois

The NBA could wait. Dosunmu’s stock can still improve so much. With his return giving Illinois its best team in a generation, Dosunmu’s leadership and physicality will be a staple every game. If his outside shooting improves, the Big Ten is in big trouble.

Cade Cunningham
Cade CunninghamAP

Luka Garza, Sr., F, Iowa

The heavy front-runner for National Player of the Year, last year’s Big Ten Player of the Year and consensus first-team All-American opted to return to school after averaging 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds a year ago, while shooting a robust 54.2 percent from the field.

Marcus Zegarowski, Jr., G, Creighton

The Big East Preseason Player of the Year is a lights-out shooter, elite playmaker and improving defender. He makes Creighton’s up-tempo style hum and was a key factor in the Bluejays sharing the league crown a year ago.

Second team

Marcus Garrett, Sr., G, Kansas

Collin Gillespie, Sr., G, Villanova

Sam Hauser, Sr., F, Virginia

Corey Kispert, Sr., F, Gonzaga

Remy Martin, Sr., G, Arizona State

Freshmen to watch

Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State

The 6-foot-8 point forward is 19th-year coach Leonard Hamilton’s highest-rated recruit ever. Though his shot needs to develop, Barnes’ game is elite in virtually every other facet.

Scottie Barnes
Scottie BarnesAP

B.J. Boston Jr., G, Kentucky

The 6-foot-7 guard, named to the Preseason All-SEC First Team, was also California’s top male high school athlete last year. Boston could quickly become the key to Kentucky’s season after John Calipari lost several starters.

Evan Mobley, C, USC

The 7-foot, Southern California native will team up with his older brother, Isaiah, before almost certainly departing to become a top-five NBA draft pick. With athleticism and instincts as impressive as his size, Mobley is a dominant force on both ends of the floor.

Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga

The first Minnesota high school athlete to be named Mr. Basketball and Mr. Football, Suggs could lead Gonzaga to its first national title. The 6-foot-4 point guard presents a physicality that will make him look like an upperclassman from his first game.

Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford

The highest-ranked recruit in Cardinal history could be a top-five NBA selection next year. The 6-foot-8 forward has incredible athleticism and defensive versatility, with the ability to score inside and out.

Games to watch

No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 9 Kentucky (Indianapolis), Dec. 1

The battle on the perimeter, and Kansas’s experience against Kentucky’s youth, will be intriguing. What happens on the interior, though, could be revealing. Olivier Sarr, Kentucky’s 7-foot transfer from Wake Forest, has a chance to make an early statement.

No. 2 Gonzaga vs. No. 3 Baylor (Indianapolis), Dec. 5

Arguably the two best teams in the sport meet in this non-conference showdown that would give the winner a huge notch in its résumé. Baylor and its four returning starters — led by All-American Jared Butler — should have the edge, as Gonzaga will be working in some new pieces.

No. 13 Illinois at No. 8 Duke, Dec. 8

Following a meeting with No. 2 Baylor, the Illini travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a brutal two-game stretch. Winning one of these games would speak volumes of what Kofi Cockburn, Ayo Dosunmu and Co. are capable of accomplishing this season.

No. 15 North Carolina at No. 7 Iowa, Dec. 8

One of the games to watch in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the young Tar Heels will get an early indication of where they stand against National Player of the Year favorite Luka Garza and the Hawkeyes.

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 5 Virginia (TBA), Dec. 19

Originally slated for Madison Square Garden, the game’s location is now up in the air. That’s a shame, because this game deserves a venue like that, with Villanova’s balance, depth and offensive efficiency taking on Virginia’s suffocating pack-line defense.

Transfers to watch

Sam Hauser, F, Virginia

The former Marquette star finished second in the Preseason ACC Player of the Year voting. As a junior, Hauser was a potent scorer — averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds, along with 40.2 percent shooting from 3-point land.

Carlik Jones
Carlik JonesGetty Images

Joey Hauser, F, Michigan State

Like his older brother, Hauser left Marquette and found a program expected to contend for the Final Four. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds as a freshman, hitting 42.5 percent of 3-pointers in his lone season with the Golden Eagles.

Carlik Jones, G, Louisville

The top graduate transfer on the market makes a leap to the ACC, following three years at Radford. Last season, the 6-foot-1 guard averaged 20.0 points, 5.5 assists and 5.1 rebounds.

Landers Nolley II, G, Memphis

Penny Hardaway got great news when the 6-foot-7 guard — who led Virginia Tech in scoring — was ruled immediately eligible. As a freshman, Nolley averaged 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds.

James Akinjo, G, Arizona

The 6-foot-1 guard was part of Georgetown’s mass exodus last season, leaving Patrick Ewing seven games into his sophomore season. As the Big East Freshman of the Year, Akinjo averaged 13.4 points and 5.2 assists.

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