We had a comment on our Facebook page over the weekend that suggested Jalen Reynolds should be an All-American if he continues to develop and gets solid minutes at PF. That got me to wondering what exactly it takes for a guy like Jalen to be named an All-American.
The first order of business was to define what it means to be "a guy like Jalen." Obviously that means a big man who plays like one, so guards and people under 6'8" were immediately weeded out of the study. I wanted someone playing in a major conference, so anyone from a mid-major was eliminated. Gonzaga does have a player in the study, justified by the fact that they play above the red line as laid out by The Mid Majority before it went offline. Finally, I wanted someone who - like Jalen - derives his value in and around the paint; anyone who attempted more than one three per game was out.
Then comes the relatively straightforward question of what constitutes an All-American. Everybody with a blog and a quota releases an All-American list, but the term "consensus All-American" generally refers to an amalgamation of the players chosen by the AP, the United States Basketball Writers Association, the Sporting News, and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Good enough for Wikipedia, good enough for me. I included first and second teams to broaden the net and account for the fact that I would consider Jalen an All-American if he made the second team.
Here, then, in table form are the "All-Americans like Jalen" from the past four years:
What does that tell us, beyond the obvious fact that All-Americans tend to put up good slash lines? One thing that jumped out at me quickly is that these guys all blocked a lot of shots. Even if you remove the freakish outlier that was Anthony Davis, they still averaged 1.6 blocks per game. Only Thomas Robinson in 2012 didn't block a shot per game (Jalen's number from last year), but he made up for it by being the best rebounder in college basketball that season.
Jalen put up 9.9/6.1/0.4 last year. That's a far cry from the 15.7/8.9/1.3 that an All-American of his profile has averaged, but it's also a huge leap forward from his 3.8/3.8/0.1 as a freshman. His rate stats - ORtg of 114.9, usage rate of 22.5%, shots% of 24.5% - from last season are all basically in line with what the above group did as well, and he was an elite rebounder at both ends of the floor last season.
I think the only thing standing between Jalen and recognition as an All-American next year may be his ability to stay on the floor. He played in less than a third of the team's minutes as a freshman and less than half of the team's minutes last year. More than his occasional temper-control issues or positional lapses on defense, it's his propensity for collecting fouls like they're Beanie Babies that holds Jalen back. He got called for 6.1 fouls per 40 minutes of play last year, which was actually down from the 7.6 per 40 he posted as a freshman.
If Reynolds can jump from 3.8/3.8/0.1 as a freshman to 9.9/6.1/0.4 last year, I think he has the ability to go from there to 15.7/8.9/1.3 this season. With Matt Stainbrook gone, he will be Xavier's primary option in the paint; if he can spend more time on the floor and less time on the pine, he'll end up on some meaningful postseason lists.