Oct. 18, 2012
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - After arriving on a national stage in postseason play last season, Lehigh senior C.J. McCollum and Bucknell senior Mike Muscala are both receiving plenty of preseason recognition heading into the 2012-13 campaign.
McCollum has been named to a number of Division I preseason All-America teams. In addition to his first-team honor from Sporting News, McCollum has been selected as a fourth-team preseason All-American by CBSSports.com and a first-team pick from SBNation.com.
Both players received preseason Mid-Major All-America recognition from NBCSports.com. McCollum made the first team and Muscala was on the second team as both players were regarded among the top 10 Mid-Major players in the nation. McCollum and Muscala were also both ranked among the top 100 players by CBSSports.com, with the Lehigh guard at No. 17 and the Bucknell forward/center at No. 80. The website MidMajorMadness.com called McCollum one of the top Mid-Major players in the nation, and also listed Muscala as one of five to watch to make an impact in 2012-13.
In addition to the preseason accolades, each player has been featured by a major national website. Both players talked with Andy Glockner of SI.com about their senior year showdown, while McCollum's decision to stay for his senior season at Lehigh was chronicled by Jeff Eisenberg of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports
McCollum enters his senior season second in Patriot League history in career scoring. He needs only 151 points to break the League mark of 2,224 held by Holy Cross' Rob Feaster (1991-95), while he's 630 from breaking the school record of 2,703 currently held by Daren Queenan. McCollum has been a consistent scorer from day one, averaging 19.1 points per game as a freshman, 21.8 as a sophomore and 21.9 a season ago. After leading Lehigh to the Patriot League Championship with an 82-77 win at Bucknell on March 7, the Canton, Ohio native posted 30 points, six rebounds and six assists in an NCAA Tournament second-round win over Duke on March 16. McCollum is a two-time Patriot League Player of the Year and AP Honorable Mention All-American (2010, 2012). He was named ECAC Player of the Year a season ago, winning the honor over players from the ACC, Big East and Atlantic 10. McCollum garnered NABC First Team All-District laurels for a third straight season and was one of only 25 players nationally named a Lute Olson All-American by CollegeInsider.com.
Muscala comes off another outstanding season for the Bison, who won the Patriot League regular-season title and advanced in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) with a 65-54 win at Arizona on March 14. Muscala was fourth in the Patriot League with 17.0 points per game and led all players by a wide margin with 9.1 rebounds per contest. He had 16 double-doubles for the season, including a 30-point, 14-rebound effort in the League Championship loss to Lehigh on March 7. Muscala totaled 75 points and 38 rebounds combined in Bucknell's final three games. He earned first-team All-Patriot League honors for the second straight season after also receiving the Player of the Year award in 2011. Muscala was named by CollegeInsider.com to the Lou Henson All-America Team, consisting of the top 25 Mid-Major players in the country outside of the eight who made the Lute Olson squad, and also earned NABC First-Team All-District recognition for the second straight season.
The preseason recognition for the senior stars comes after an earlier round of praise from media outlets in the spring. McCollum was named the top shooting guard in the nation by both Sporting News and Bleacher Report and was recognized as one of Ten Mid-Major guards to watch by basketball reporter Jon Rothstein. Meanwhile, Muscala was named the No. 5 center in the nation by the Bleacher Report. The standouts were recognized jointly by SI.com, with Glockner listing both McCollum and Muscala among a group of 10 seniors from outside the football-centric conferences who stand good chances of making an impact on the NCAA Tournament in March. NBCSports.com looked at the expected race for Patriot League Player of the Year honors between McCollum and Muscala in 2012-13.
A number of media outlets also highlighed what they expect to be a race between McCollum and Muscala's teams for the 2012-13 Patriot League title. Links to previews of the Patriot League race are included below.
CBSSports.com - Patriot League boasts NBA talent this season
Yahoo Sports - Expect another spirited Bucknell-Lehigh title race
Rush the Court - Patriot League conference primer
Bleacher Report - Lehigh, Bucknell top dogs once again
SI.com - Lehigh, Bucknell among teams eyeing early-season upsets