The college basketball season came to an emphatic, dramatic end with the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament. The dream of playing under the bright lights of March Madness, of possibly hoisting a national championship trophy, wiped out by the coronavirus.
For a handful of players, earning a postseason honor offers a glimmer of happiness amid the uncertainty.
“Getting these awards, it brings brightness to my life right now,” Seton Hall's Myles Powell said. “To have it end so quickly was just like ... man.”
Powell added to his load Friday when he joined Dayton's Obi Toppin, Iowa's Luka Garza, Marquette's Markus Howard and Oregon's Payton Pritchard on The Associated Press All-America first team.
Toppin was the lone unanimous choice, receiving 65 votes from a nationwide media panel after averaging 20 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 63% in a breakout season. The 6-foot-9 sophomore helped the third-ranked Flyers match the program's highest ranking and be on track for a potential No. 1 seed before the NCAA Tournament was shelved. He is Dayton's first first-team AP All-American.
“I feel like everybody just knew what they had to do to help the next person succeed and that’s why I was so successful this year,” Toppin said. "I thank my teammates every single day for that."
Garza blossomed into one of college basketball's best players as a junior. A 6-11 forward, he increased his scoring average more than 10 points from a year ago to 23.9 per game, averaged 9.8 rebounds and shot 54% from the floor.
Garza set Iowa's single-season scoring record with 740 points and is the first Big Ten player since Ohio State's Dennis Hopson in 1987 to have at least 20 points in 16 straight conference games. He is Iowa's first first-team All-American since Chuck Darling in 1952.