The 2019/20 Division I college basketball season promises so much for Australian basketball. There is some exceptional talent returning, and one of the strongest incoming freshman classes in recent memory.
While preseason lists are always fraught with danger given there is so much still to learn about the season ahead, we take our annual crack at picking the preseason top 10 All-Australian men’s team.
10 | Adam LULKA | Sophomore | F | Albany
After an impressive freshman season, the litmus test for Adam Lulka will be as to how much he can continue to improve in 2019/20.
On a re-tooled Great Danes roster, Lulka grabbed the opportunity to lock up a starters role as a freshman before finishing the season with averages of 8.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. The 6’8 forward started all 32 games, logging 15 double-figure scoring games and two double-doubles. If he can top that effort as a sophomore playing alongside fellow Aussie Cameron Healy in the starting lineup, then both Lulka and the Great Danes are in for a much improved season ahead.
9 | Makuach MALUACH | Junior | G | New Mexico
An exciting athletic talent, Makuach Maluach can also shoot and play great defence.
As a sophomore for the Lobos, Maluach solidified his position as a starter last season before finishing the season with averages of 9.9 points and 4 rebounds per game. Compared to his freshman year, his shooting was inconsistent last season, but still managing to dial long distance at a 32.8% clip, down from an amazing 46% as a freshman. His best last year was a 23 point and 10 rebound effort to register his first career double-double in a win against Colorado State.
Maluach is one of three starters returning for the Lobos this season, with a big yera from Maluach likely to help New Mexico eclipse their preseason coaches poll prediction of third place in the Mountain West.
8 | Tanner KREBS | Senior | F | Saint Mary’s
Tanner Krebs cemented his place in the Gael’s rotation last season, and despite two solid years where he has logged 27.6 and 30.3 minutes per game, one feels we have yet to see the best of the sharpshooting Tasmanian.
Consistently shooting better than 42% from the field overall and 39% from beyond the arc, Krebs has the skills to thrive in the Saint Mary’s 4-out offense. This was on full display when he scorched the net for 13 points in the first half against Gonzaga in the WCC championship game and a season-high 20 points against San Jose State.
He finished the year third in the team in scoring with 8.9 points per game, and could well be the barometer for the Gaels who are once again expected to challenge rivals Gonzaga for the WCC championship.
7 | Kyrin GALLOWAY | Senior | F | UNC Greensboro
The 6’8 senior forward was thrust into the Australian fold when he was selected for the 2019 World University Games side. With an American father and an Australian mother, both his parents played basketball, with his mother Kylie having played in Townsville, and has chosen to identify as Australian and (holds a dual passport).
With an ability to stretch opposition defences, Galloway was ranked fifth in three point percentage (44.2%) and seventh in blocks per game (1.1) in the Southern Conference last season. He also stepped up to provide 9.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in starting 35 of 36 games for the Spartans. He exploded for a season high of 32 points which came against LSU, and will be hoping to become a more consistent scorer this coming season.
6 | Jacob RIGONI | Junior | G/F | Quinnipiac
Sharpshooter Jacob Rigoni has an ability to make an impact on any game with his dead-eye three-point shooting.
Named to the preseason All-MAAC Third Team, Rigoni is one of the most important pieces returning for the Bobcats alongside Rich Kelly. Last season Rigoni posted 10.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while shooting the three-ball at 38.2% – down on his 45.5% clip from his freshman year. He finished off last season with a 30 point explosion in the MAAC tournament quarterfinals, demonstrating his capability on the big stage.
A big year from Rigoni could see the Bobcats, who are tipped to be a contender in the MAAC, make a genuine run towards the NCAA Tournament.
5 | Jack WHITE | Senior | F | Duke
Expectations were high for Jack White last season. Named as a Duke co-Captain, he started the season as an integral member of the main rotation. Yet by season end, he found himself deeper and deeper down the bench. 2019/20 provides White the opportunity to redeem himself on a talented Duke roster.
While White averaged a career-best 20.4 minutes per game last season, he provided just 4.1 points with 4.7 rebounds per game. While his defensive prowess and high IQ plays do not always show up on the stats sheet, his three-point shooting deserted him last year, going on to shoot just 27.8% from long-range.
White will still be a leader for the Blue Devils this season, with his destiny in his own hands as to just how much he can contribute.
4 | Cameron HEALY | Sophomore | G | Albany
The 6’3 guard led the Great Danes in scoring, three pointers, and free-throw percentage, while setting a freshman season scoring record and single-season and single-game records for three pointers!
As a freshman, Cameron Healy was arguably one of the best performed Australian in college basketball last season and quickly became the focal point of Albany’s offence. Averaging an incredible 16 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists, he also shot the three-ball at 41.6%. He led the Great Danes in scoring, three pointers, and free-throw percentage, setting a freshman season scoring record and single-season and single-game records for three pointers.
While it will be difficult for Healy to replicate those numbers this coming season, there is no doubting the influence the New South Welshman has on Albany’s chances for success.
3 | Mason PEATLING | Senior | F | Eastern Washington
Mason Peatling enjoyed a terrific 2018/19 season with the Eagles, and is the best performed Aussie forward in Cheney since Venky Jois.
After an injury interrupted season start, Peatling was the most dominant player on the roster, pouring in 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while guiding the Eagles to the Big Sky Championship game in which he was named to the All-Tournament team and Second Team All-Conference. While the Eagles fell to Montana, they have left no stone upturned in going one better in 2019/20, with Peatling the centrepiece in their campaign. A preseason All-Big Sky First Team selection, he will also play an invaluable mentoring role for incoming freshman Australian junior representative Tyler Robertson.
2 | Dejan VASILJEVIC | Senior | G | Miami
Dejan Vasiljevic returns for his senior year with Miami as the most experienced Australian guard to take to the court this season. He will need to deliver his best year yet if the Hurricanes have any hopes of making some noise in a loaded ACC.
An explosive scorer, he is best known for being a knock-down three-point shooter.He averaged career-high’s of 11.8 points and 4.5 rebounds last season, and may need to further improved on that in 2019/20 if the Hurricanes are to make some noise in an extremely tough ACC.
1 | Josh GREEN | Freshman | G | Arizona
It should come as no surprise that heralded freshman Josh Green tops our preseason list. A McDonald’s All-America, Nike Hoop Summit participant and national championship winner and game MVP, Green enters his freshman college season as the first Australian ‘one and done’ prospect since Ben Simmons.
Widely predicted to be a first round selection in the 2020 NBA Draft, Green is primed for a big year with the Wildcats, playing in a talented Arizona side with good mate and projected NBA lottery pick Nico Mannion. It’s going to be fun watching these two playing together in Tucson in their one and only season in college.
Already named to the Julius Erving Award preseason watch list, make no mistake, Josh Green is not only the best Australian freshman stepping out on the US college hardwood this season, but he is set to be the best of them all.