Harrison Barnes became the first freshman ever selected to the AP's Preseason All-American team just a few days ago.
Barnes' talent is certainly worthy of accolades. He is an uncommonly gifted, versatile and driven player who is projected by many scouts and experts to be on the fast track for NBA stardom. He doesn't possess a Kobe Bryant or LeBron James-type athleticism, but his game is polished far beyond his years and he appears ready to be a dominating presence at the college level.
The North Carolina freshman's appearance on the AP All-American list, however, has as much to do with the uncertainty of the coming season than his obvious talent.
Don't get me wrong—Barnes is certainly good enough to be on the list. It wouldn't surprise many if he were on the actual All-American list at the end of the season.
But no one can deny that a freshman being a preseason All-American is a sign that even the experts have no idea what this season holds.
Consider the fact that Barnes only received 17 votes out of a possible 65—that's an incredibly small total to make the cut.
The other four players to make the AP's list (Kyle Singler, Jacob Pullen, Jimmer Fredette and JuJuan Johnson) received much more support as selections. Singler got the most votes with 62, and Johnson was the second lowest with 46.
Sinlger made the AP's list with the lowest number of votes last year, receiving 30 total votes. In 2008-09, Blake Griffin came in last in the AP's vote with 45 (there were 72 possible votes that year).
The fact that Barnes made the cut with so few votes shows that just about everyone is scratching their heads about the 2010-11 season.
Undoubtedly, there were a lot of guys in the 10-15 vote range (Nolan Smith, E'Twaun Moore, etc.) that Barnes barely edged out.
Last year was one full of breakout performances by players flying under the radar. None of the preseason All-Americans made the list at the end of the season. Those honors went to John Wall, Wesley Johnson, DeMarcus Cousins, Scottie Reynolds and Evan Turner.
In fact, none of last season's AP preseason selections made the second-team All-American list.
Will this season be just as surprising? Almost certainly.
There are very few sure things in college basketball this season. Too many young stars left early last year to give anyone an accurate barometer on what to fully expect.
Sure, there are teams like Duke and Michigan State that seem to be locks for NCAA tournament No. 1 seeds, but things get iffy after that. They get even more iffy when it comes to selecting individual players who will make headlines this year.
Barnes should feel honored to be a preseason All-American.
He is definitely talented enough to be on the list, and it's not like there haven't been freshmen to make the final team in recent years. Guys like Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins have done it and it wouldn't be a shock to see Barnes join them—he's the most talented player on the preseason list in terms of NBA potential.
Making the cut at 17 votes, though, is pretty shocking. It shows that a whole lot of people as close to college basketball as you can get are as confused as the rest of us.
This season, the only thing certain is that uncertainty reigns in college basketball.
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