UC’s Kilpatrick, Jackson receive American honors

Feb 15, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats forward Justin Jackson (5) dribbles the ball around Houston Cougars forward Danrad Knowles (0) in the second half at FifthThird Arena. The Bearcats won 73-62.

Frank Victores/Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

University of Cincinnati senior guard Sean Kilpatrick was one of three unanimous choices as the American Athletic Conference announced its all-conference teams on Tuesday.

Bearcats senior forward Justin Jackson was named to the second team by the league coaches, giving UC first- and second-team all-conference players in the same season for the first time since 1999.

Kilpatrick is a favorite to be named AAC Player of the Year and a first-team All-America candidate after leading the first-year conference in scoring (20.9 ppg), 3-point shots made per game (2.8) and was third with an 84.4 percentage free throw shooting average. Kilpatrick became just the second player in UC history to surpass 2,000 career points this season and will leave the program No. 2 in all-time scoring behind only Oscar Robertson.

"I think he made that case over 31 games and 18 conference games," said UC head coach Mick Cronin. "He did it emphatically. He did it night in and night out. His character and leadership are pretty evident to anybody who watches our team play."

UC went 26-5 overall and won a share of the AAC regular season championship with Louisville by finishing 15-3 in the conference. The Bearcats are the No. 1 seed in this week’s AAC tournament in Memphis. They will play their first game Thursday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday’s first-round game between Central Florida and Temple.

Guards Russ Smith of Louisville and Shabazz Napier were also unanimous picks for the first team. Southern Methodist guard Nic Moore and Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell are also on the first team.

Jackson led the AAC in blocked shots (2.9), was fifth in rebounding (7.1) and fifth in shooting percentage (54.8) as he averaged a career-best 11.1 points per game this season.

Cronin challenged Jackson during the offseason to improve his inside game both offensively and defensively and he answered that challenge.  

"I’ve seen teams adjust to the way they attack the basket against him," said Cronin. "He hasn’t been talked about a lot but we would not have been able to finish the regular season tied for first if he wouldn’t have had the year he had."

Kilpatrick was a first-team All-Rookie pick in the Big East as a freshman in 2011. He was a second-team Big East selection the last two years. He is UC’s first unanimous choice for first-team all-league since Steve Logan was the Conference USA Player of the Year in 2002.

The last time UC had players selected for first- and second-team honors in the same year was in 1999 when Kenyon Martin and Pete Mickeal were on the C-USA first team and Melvin Levett was second team.

Kilpatrick was also named to the All-District V team by the United States Basketball Writers Association on Tuesday. The 10-member team covers the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.