Honors keep rolling in for Zags

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  • AP Photos/John Locher, file Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura dunks against Saint Mary’s during the first half of the West Coast Conference tournament championship, March 12 in Las Vegas.

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    Gonzaga head coach Mark Few argues with an official during the second half of last week’s game against Saint Mary’s.

  • AP Photos/John Locher, file Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura dunks against Saint Mary’s during the first half of the West Coast Conference tournament championship, March 12 in Las Vegas.

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    Gonzaga head coach Mark Few argues with an official during the second half of last week’s game against Saint Mary’s.

As Gonzaga prepares for its Thursday NCAA tournament opener, national honors continued to pile up for the Bulldogs on Monday.

Rui Hachimura was named First Team All-American by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) and Mark Few was one of seven finalists for the Henry Iba Coach of the Year Award.

The USBWA first team features freshmen RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson of Duke, who are also finalists for the Wayman Tisdale Award as the National Freshman Player of the Year. Joining the two freshmen are forward Grant Williams of Tennessee, guard Ja Morant of Murray State and Hachimura at forward. The first team includes the USBWA Players of the Year from District III (Williamson), District IV (Williams) and District IX (Hachimura), and four of the five were the Players of the Year in their respective conferences.

Hachimura was tabbed the WCC Player of the Year. He is third in the West Coast Conference averaging 20.1 points per game. He is sixth in the league shooting 60.9 percent from the field and eighth grabbing 6.6 rebounds per game. The junior also has 25 blocks this season. He made 63.5 percent of his shots from the field in conference play, which ranked fourth in the league.

Hachimura scored in double-digits in 32 of the Zags’ 33 games this season, reaching 20 or more points 19 times. He has four double-doubles so far this season. The Toyama, Japan, native scored a career-high 33 points against Idaho State.

Few is among seven nominees for the national coach of the year award, along with Rick Barnes (Tennessee), Chris Beard (Texas Tech), Tony Bennett (Virginia), Matt Painter (Purdue), Kelvin Sampson (Houston) and Mike Young (Wofford).

Few extended his own conference record, capturing his 13th West Coast Conference Coach of the Year honor. He has led Gonzaga to a 30-3 record thus far, which marks the third-straight 30-win season. The Bulldogs have reached 30 wins for the fifth time in program history, with all five coming in the last seven years. GU also had its 12th straight season with at least 25 wins.

The USBWA has named an All-America team since its founding season of 1956-57. Traditionally, 10 players have been honored, divided into a first and second team beginning in the 1984-85 season. For the first time, the USBWA has formally expanded its All-America selections to 15 players on three teams. For the 1997-98 season, the USBWA did select 15 players on three teams.

GU falls to fourth in final AP Poll

Duke has a No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25 again to go with its top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils are back on top followed by Virginia and North Carolina to give the Atlantic Coast Conference a 1-2-3 showing in the final AP Top 25 poll this season.

Gonzaga, the fourth NCAA 1-seed, fell from No. 1 in last week’s poll after losing to Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference Tournament championship game for its first loss since December.

The Blue Devils (29-5) jumped from fifth to first Monday after winning last week’s league tournament with the return of freshman star Zion Williamson from a knee sprain that had sidelined him nearly six full games. That made Duke the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament when the field of 68 teams was unveiled Sunday night.

The Cavaliers (29-3) and Tar Heels (27-6) stayed in their positions in what is believed to be the first time a conference has claimed the top three spots in the final AP poll. Both also earned No. 1 seeds to headline their own NCAA regions.

Duke claimed 58 of 64 first-place votes, while Virginia claimed five and No. 4 Gonzaga got the other vote. That gave Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski his eighth No. 1 ranking in the final AP poll, breaking a tie with late UCLA coach John Wooden for the most all-time.

Big Ten Tournament champion Michigan State moved up a spot to fifth, followed by Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, Texas Tech and Florida State — which upset Virginia in the ACC semifinals to round out the top 10.

The year started with Kansas at No. 1, but Duke spent a national-best eight of a possible 20 polls on top. Gonzaga spent five weeks at No. 1, while Tennessee spent four weeks and the Jayhawks three.

SIDEBAR:

2018-19 USBWA All-America Team

First Team

R.J. Barrett, Duke

Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga

Ja Morant, Murray State

Grant Williams, Tennessee

Zion Williamson, Duke

Second Team

Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech

Carsen Edwards, Purdue

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Markus Howard, Marquette

Cassius Winston, Michigan State

Third Team

Chris Clemons, Campbell

Mike Daum, South Dakota State

De’Andre Hunter, Virginia

Dedric Lawson, Kansas

PJ Washington, Kentucky

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