Frank Kaminsky and Jahlil Okafor are as different as stories can be in college basketball. But the two do have a lot in common: Both are in the Final Four, and both are on The Associated Press’ 2014-15 All-America team.
Kaminsky, the 7-foot senior from Wisconsin, was a unanimous choice. Okafor, the 6-11 freshman from Duke, received all but one first-team vote.
Notre Dame senior Jerian Grant, Kentucky junior Willie Cauley-Stein and Ohio State freshman D’Angelo Russell round out the first team.
LSU forward Jarell Martin was an honorable mention selection. Martin, a 6-foot-10 sophomore from Madison Prep who last week announced his intentions to declare for the NBA draft, led the Tigers in scoring at 16.9 points per game and ranked second at 9.2 rebounds.
Kaminsky worked his to the top by improving through four seasons in college. Okafor arrived with all the laurels out of high school and immediate talk about leaving for the NBA.
“Not to be overly patriotic, but we’re an American story, that you can do that in this kind of a system,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “Sometimes where it looks like the privileged, the ones that are identified as being great players and can’t-miss-type guys, where there can always come that guy from behind in the race and then cross the tape first.
“Frank is that guy who got a little bit later start as far as people noticing his abilities, but that’s just a great accomplishment on his part. ... He took advantage of a chance and has made the most of it.”
Kaminsky led the Badgers to their second straight Final Four, averaging 18.2 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 55.3 percent, including 39.5 percent from 3-point range.
He is one of those big men as comfortable on the perimeter as in the lane, and his outgoing personality has made him a media favorite.
“It’s something you dream of as a kid,’” Kaminsky said. “To be up there with Alando Tucker is a pretty cool thing.”
Kaminsky is Wisconsin’s second All-American, joining Tucker in 2007. He is the second unanimous pick in as many years following Doug McDermott of Creighton.
Okafor is Duke’s 16th first-team All-America and is the Blue Devils’ second freshman in as many years, with Jabari Parker being chosen last season.
Okafor, who received 64 first-team votes, averaged 17.7 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 66.9 percent, second in the nation.
At Notre Dame, Grant’s career was in jeopardy last season when he was suspended for the second semester for what he called an academic mistake. The son of former NBA player Harvey Grant star returned for his senior season and averaged 16.8 points and 6.6 assists while playing 36.6 minutes per game.
Cauley-Stein and his teammates are chasing history with an undefeated season just two wins away. The 7-footer is the first first-team All-American to average less than 10 points. He averaged 9.3 while grabbing 6.4 rebounds and shooting 58.8 percent. He anchors Kentucky’s stifling defense.
He is the 18th All-American from Kentucky and first since the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis in 2012.
Russell is another freshman who isn’t expected to be back for a second season. He averaged 19.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists and received 51 first-team votes. Russell is 15th All-American from Ohio State and the first since Jared Sullinger repeated in 2012.
Utah senior Delon Wright led the second team and was joined by Kentucky freshman Karl-Anthony Towns, Northern Iowa senior Seth Tuttle, Arkansas sophomore Bobby Portis and Virginia junior Malcolm Brogdon.
The third team was Gonzaga teammates Kyle Wiltjer and Kevin Pangos, Oklahoma junior Buddy Hield, Syracuse senior Rakeem Christmas and Iowa State junior Georges Niang.