Nov. 6, 2012
Lute Olson Preseason All-America Team
College Insider Preseason Mid-Major top 25
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - With the 2012-13 men's basketball season just days away, the honors continue to pour in for a pair of Patriot League seniors and their teams.
This time the accolades came from College Insider, which placed both Lehigh senior C.J. McCollum and Bucknell senior Mike Muscala on the 25-man Lute Olson Preseason All-America Team. While College Insider showcases Mid-Major teams and student-athletes, the Lute Olson squad is comprised of players from all around the country. McCollum and Muscala were two of only 10 on the team from Mid-Major schools, and the Patriot League joined the West Coast Conference as the only Mid-Major leagues with multiple players on the team.
Lehigh and Bucknell were also each recognized as top teams in the College Insider Mid-Major Preseason top 25. The Mountain Hawks came in at No. 6 in the ranking, while the Bison were ranked No. 16.
McCollum and Muscala have been joined at the hip since their freshman seasons, and have both received a number of preseason accolades. Each player was named a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award candidate last week in addition to their various preseason All-America honors.
McCollum's honors include a first-team Preseason All-America selection from both the Associated Press and Sporting News. He enters his senior season second in Patriot League history in career scoring, needing only 151 points to break the League mark of 2,224 held by Holy Cross' Rob Feaster (1991-95). 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.
It's no surprise to see their teams ranked among the best in the Mid-Major ranks, either. Lehigh put together one of the best seasons in Patriot League basketball history in 2011-12, highlighted by an 82-77 win at Bucknell in the League Championship on March 7 and a 75-70 upset of Duke in the NCAA Tournament on March 16. The Mountain Hawks bring back the majority of last year's team, with Gabe Knutson, Holden Greiner and Mackey McKnight returning as starters along with McCollum.
Bucknell beat Lehigh out for the Patriot League regular-season title and won 65-54 at Arizona in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) on March 14. Like Lehigh, the Bison bring back the core of last year's squad with Cameron Ayers, Joe Willman and Bryson Johnson along with Muscala.
McCollum, Muscala and their teams will face challenges right away with difficult season openers on Friday night. Lehigh heads to No. 18/19 Baylor while Bucknell visits Purdue to tip off the 2012-13 season.