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Lofton Earns All-America Honor

If Kevin Durant and Greg Oden play only one season of college
basketball, it will have been as All-Americans.
The freshmen were voted to The Associated Press' All-America
team Monday, the first members of their class so honored since
1989.
The 6-foot-9 Durant, who led Texas to the Big 12 title game, was
the only unanimous choice of the 72-member national media panel
that selects the weekly Top 25.
Oden, the 7-footer who helped Ohio State to its first No. 1
ranking in 45 years, was joined on the team by seniors Alando
Tucker of Wisconsin and Acie Law IV of Texas A&M and junior Arron
Afflalo of UCLA. The voting was conducted before the NCAA
tournament.
Since freshmen became eligible to play in 1972, the only ones
selected to the first team had been Wayman Tisdale of Oklahoma in
1983 and Chris Jackson of LSU in 1989.
Durant, the first Texas All-American since T.J. Ford in 2003,
averaged 25.6 points and 11.3 rebounds, but it was his all-around
game and penchant for big shots in the clutch that had people
ranking him as one of the best freshmen ever.
"There's no question Kevin deserves every individual accolade
that he will receive," Texas coach Rick Barnes said, "but the one
thing I respect most about Kevin is that he is the ultimate team
player. He really doesn't care about the individual numbers and
awards. All he cares about is the success of his team. When you're
around a guy like that, it makes coaching him a joy."
Durant, the Big 12 player of the year, backed up his coach's
sentiments.
"I am not very big on individual honors, but I am very humbled
to be included on the Associated Press All-America team," he said.
"When you look at the other four guys who are on the team, I am
honored to be mentioned with them. I have so much respect for how
each one of them has led their respective teams and handled
themselves, both on and off the court. I look up to each one of
them."
Oden, the first Ohio State All-American since Jim Jackson in
1992, missed the first seven games as he recovered from offseason
surgery on his right wrist. As he rehabilitated from the injury he
learned to shoot free throws left-handed and didn't miss a beat
when he returned to the Buckeyes, averaging 15.5 points, 9.7
rebounds and 3.5 blocks while shooting 61.4 percent from the field.
"I'm very surprised," Oden said of being selected. "Just with
how things went, I didn't really play a whole season, and I know
there are a lot of other guys with better numbers than me. I'm just
surprised, but I'm honored and the best I can do is keep on
playing."
His Buckeyes face Georgetown on Saturday in the Final Four.
Oden had a quick answer when asked about the success of himself
and Durant in their first seasons in college.
"It's just younger guys coming in and just playing basketball,
not worried about age or anything," he said.
Both played in college in large part because of the new rule
that prohibits the NBA from drafting players until they turn 19 and
are out of high school for one year.
"I'm not sold that the rule is right or wrong, but I think it
shows you the impact and the influx of how many great players are
out there," said Ohio State coach Thad Matta. "I think that's why
there's so much parity nowadays in college basketball."
Tucker and Law were Wisconsin's and Texas A&M's first
All-America selections, while Afflalo was UCLA's first since Ed
O'Bannon in 1995.
The 6-6 Tucker, the Big Ten player of the year who helped the
Badgers to their first No. 1 ranking, averaged 19.9 points and 5.4
rebounds.
Law led the Aggies' resurgence from an 0-16 Big 12 record in
2003-04 to this season, when they ranked as high as sixth in the
country. The 6-3 guard averaged 17.9 points and 5.3 assists while
shooting 51 percent from the field.
"It doesn't get any bigger than that as far as individual
accolades," he said. "Your team can do more, but first-team AP
All-American? That's unbelievable. I'm very excited and happy."
Afflalo submitted his name to the NBA draft last season after
leading the Bruins to the national championship game, but returned
and averaged 16.7 points and was selected Pac-10 player of the
year.
"First and foremost team goals are always most important, but
when it comes to the All-America team it's a positive thing,"
Afflalo said. "It shows that other people who know the game of
basketball understand my contributions and importance to my team."
Durant's 72 first-team votes gave him 360 points. Tucker
received 64 first-team votes and 344 points, followed by Law (59,
320 points), Afflalo (52, 304), and Oden (34, 263).
The second team consists of seniors Nick Fazekas of Nevada and
Jared Dudley of Boston College, juniors Chris Lofton of Tennessee
and Joakim Noah of Florida and sophomore Tyler Hansbrough of North
Carolina.
The third team has seniors Aaron Brooks of Oregon, Al Thornton
of Florida State and Aaron Gray of Pittsburgh and juniors Jeff
Green of Georgetown and Al Horford of Florida.
The preseason All-America team was Hansbrough, Noah, Ronald
Steele of Alabama, Glen Davis of LSU and Brandon Rush of Kansas.
Last year's first team was J.J. Redick of Duke and Adam Morrison
of Gonzaga, both unanimous selections, Shelden Williams of Duke,
Randy Foye of Villanova and Brandon Roy of Washington.
---
AP Sports Writers Stephen Hawkins and Jaime Aron in Dallas and
Josh Dubow in San Francisco contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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