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Keytron Jordan / CBS Sports graphic

We entered last college basketball season with just one CBS Sports All-American from the previous season still in college — Luka Garza. That fact made the Iowa standout the obvious pick to be a First Team Preseason All-American and the Preseason National Player of the Year. As you likely know, he lived up to expectations and collected lots of trophies.

The batch of returnees is better this year.

Four players who were named CBS Sports All-Americans last season are back in college this season — namely Gonzaga‘s Drew Timme, IllinoisKofi Cockburn, Oral RobertsMax Abmas and Michigan‘s Hunter Dickinson. So it should be no surprise that all four have been voted CBS Sports Preseason All-Americans. They’re not all on the First Team and Timme is the only unanimous first-teamer, but all are represented after appearing on every voters’ ballot.

For what it’s worth, four of the five players who were voted CBS Sports Preseason First Team All-Americans last season were ultimately also voted CBS Sports First Team All-Americans at the end of the season, while the fifth was voted a Second Team All-American. In other words, that list held up remarkably well. So if you’re interested in knowing which players will likely be the major figures in the sport this season, the names of 15 men are below. They come from seven different leagues — six from the Big Ten, two each from the ACC, Pac-12 and WCC, as well as one each from the Big East, Big 12 and Summit League. Gonzaga, UCLA and Purdue are the only schools with multiple players represented. — Gary Parrish

Note: The CBS Sports Preseason All-America Teams were voted on by college basketball writers at CBSSports.com and 247Sports as well as broadcasters and analysts from CBS and CBS Sports Network.  

CBS Sports Preseason All-America First Team

Drew Timme | Gonzaga | F | 6-10 | Jr.

The most recognizable returning player in college basketball. (Will that ‘stache be back, too?) Timme enters his junior season as the cog to a Gonzaga team that went 31-1 last season, finished No. 1 in KenPom and had one of the most efficient per-possession offenses of the past 20 years. Timme averaged 19.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and shot 65.5% from the field. How he plays off freshman teammate Chet Holmgren — also represented as a CBS Sports All-American — will determine how great Gonzaga can be. There is no more automatic of a bucket inside 10 feet than this guy, who has gotten much better through two seasons. If he continues his ascent at a similar pace, no one will outplay him as the best college basketball hooper in 2021-22. 

Johnny Juzang | UCLA | G | 6-7 | Jr.

The best player of last season’s NCAA Tournament was either Baylor‘s Davion Mitchell or Juzang. It was the UCLA guard’s performance — 22.8 ppg on 59% shooting from 2-point range — across six tournament games that lifted No. 11 seed UCLA to its first Final Four since 2008 and brought this program back to the forefront of national relevance. Juzang was one of the final holdouts of the offseason in regard to either staying with the Bruins or remaining in the NBA Draft pool. In deciding to come back, he locked up UCLA’s standing as a near-universal preseason top-five team. Juzang’s path to get here was unusual — he started at Kentucky — but now he could be at the helm of a renaissance in Westwood. 

Kofi Cockburn | Illinois | C | 7-0 | Jr.

If it’s the year of the big man in men’s college basketball, Kofi Cockburn will exemplify that ideal as well as anyone. Cockburn (7-feet, 285 pounds) would have been long gone to the NBA if this was 15 years ago, as his size and dominance through two seasons of college have made him one of the more miserable mismatches the sport can offer. Cockburn (17.7 ppg, 9.5 rpg) tested the pro waters and even flirted with transferring elsewhere, but his return to Illinois puts the Illini in the company of those who can realistically tab New Orleans in 2022 as the goal for the season ahead. Cockburn, an elite defender in the paint, looks to be the best player in the best conference (Big Ten), and like Timme, was a unanimous selection to our First Team. 

Paolo Banchero | Duke | F | 6-10 | Fr.

It’s not every year that a freshman can crack through to preseason First Team status, but there was no collective hesitation this time around. Banchero (pronounced “Ban-care-oh”) will be one of the best all-around players, and NBA prospects, in the sport this season due to his manifold approach to the game. Banchero, the ACC Preseason Player and Freshman of the Year, can shoot from the perimeter, work the post, put the ball on the floor, pass well, rebound at a high rate and defend all three levels. Duke is coming off its worst season in 25 years; Banchero can be a cure for many of last season’s ailments. Watch Duke on opening night and you’ll see in short order what makes this latest Duke one-and-doner a special player. 

Collin Gillespie | Villanova | G | 6-3 | Graduate

Jay Wright’s program has long been defined by the steadiness, reliability and elite level play from his veteran guards and wings. Gillespie, the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, is the lodestar for VU in this regard. He is our only super-senior to make First Team. After missing the final five games of Villanova’s season due to a torn MCL, Gillespie (14.0 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.3 rpg) decided to take advantage of the NCAA exemption that affords every scholarship athlete an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic. With Gillespie back as the catalyst to Wright’s offense, Villanova is again expected to be the class of the Big East and have a roster with enough depth, experience and familiarity to make them title contenders once more.

CBS Sports Preseason All-America Second Team

Max Abmas | Oral Roberts | G | 6-0 | Jr.

Max Abmas led all Division I players last season in scoring, averaging 24.2 ppg for an ORU team that advanced to the Sweet 16. He’s back as a junior after testing the NBA Draft process, having established himself as one of the most electric scorers in the nation for a Golden Eagles team aiming to make consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 2008.

EJ Liddell | Ohio State | F | 6-7 | Jr.

The Big Ten has gobs of talent in the frontcourt, as evidenced by our entire Second Team. EJ Liddell is one of the more versatile talents of them all. The Buckeyes’ big man hit nearly 34% of his 3-pointers last season for Ohio State, and on eight different occasions scored 20 or more points as the focal point of the Buckeyes’ attack. 

Hunter Dickinson | Michigan | C | 7-1 | So.

Michigan won its first regular-season conference championship since 2014 last season behind the breakout of Hunter Dickinson, who was one of only two freshmen — along with No. 3 overall pick Evan Mobley — to average at least 14.0 points and 7.0 boards per game. The Wolverines stacked their incoming recruiting class with talent in the frontcourt to surround him, but he should still be among the more reliable and productive bigs in the sport as he looks to take a step forward as a sophomore.

Trayce Jackson-Davis | Indiana | F | 6-9 | So.

Even in a star-studded returning cast of characters in the Big Ten, Trayce Jackson-Davis is the leading returning scorer from last season. The junior figures to be a building block for new coach Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers as one of the best interior players in the country.

Buddy Boeheim | Syracuse | G | 6-6 | Sr.

After averaging 24.5 ppg for Syracuse in a run to the Sweet 16, Buddy Boeheim has established himself as the No. 1 option for his father’s Orange and a lethal scorer from anywhere on the court. His size and shooting ability separate him as one of the most skilled seniors in the sport. — Kyle Boone

CBS Sports Preseason All-America Third Team

Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga | C | 7-0 | Fr.

The No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2021, Chet Holmgren is a 7-footer with an outside shot who figures to be a top-five pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Trevion Williams | Purdue | F | 6-10 | Sr.

Trevion Williams averaged 15.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game last season, and the bruising post player is back for more as a senior.

Jaden Ivey | Purdue | G | 6-4 | So.

After exploding in the second half of his freshman season, Jaden Ivey proved to be an elite two-way guard by averaging 17.1 points, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 steals over Purdue’s final seven games.

Remy Martin | Kansas | G | 6-0 | Sr.

An Arizona State transfer, Remy Martin  is a big-time scorer and veteran playmaker who earned first-team All Pac-12 honors the past two seasons.

Jaime Jaquez | UCLA | G/F | 6-7 | Jr.

The Bruins’ Jaime Jaquez shot 39.4% from 3-point range last season and played some of his best basketball during UCLA’s six NCAA Tournament games. — David Cobb