My Preseason Top 25, All-America picks
1. North Carolina
3. Ohio State
23. Texas A&M
24. Michigan State
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Jeremy Lamb, UConn
Perry Jones, Baylor
Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin
Carolina obviously has the most overall talent and deserves to be a near-consensus No. 1. Doesn’t mean the Heels will win it all, but it’s hard to believe they won’t at least reach New Orleans.
I like UConn at No. 4 right now. I completely agree with Jim Calhoun’s assessment that the Huskies are more talented than last year’s national champs (which, of course, finished 9-9 and in ninth place in the Big East). And I also completely subscribe to the notion that Kemba Walker is irreplaceable. Who’ll provide all that leadership, make all the big plays in crunch time, hit all those buzzer-beaters? Well, maybe no one will have to. Maybe, with a far more balanced attack, UConn won’t have to constantly lean on one great player to bail them out, time and time again.
*** I’m going along with the general notion that Vandy is for real this year. Yes, they’ve been popped from the NCAA tourney in the first round three years running, but there is a lot of talent here. It won’t take much for me to change my mind on the Commodores, however – and get more angry e-mails from Vandy fans.
*** I don’t like the Big 10, don’t like Bo Ryan and can’t stand Wisconsin’s style of play. But with Jordan Taylor at the point and some good talent around him, it’s hard not to rate the Badgers pretty high.
*** I’m not as high on Marquette and Cincy as some others seem to be, but I’ll always err on the side of the Big East until the conference proves me wrong. It’s time for Yancy Gates to live up to his talent and physical presence.
*** As far as the All-America team, I picked Harrison Barnes as preseason first team last year and regretted it the minute I hit “Send.” I’ll never again vote a freshman as preseason All-American, so that’s why I’m not going for potentially legit candidates like Kentucky’s Anthony Davis or Duke’s Austin Rivers.
And yes, I expect a huge season from Jeremy Lamb this year. He’s added confidence to his already impressive feather-soft jumper, smooth drives to the hoop and impressive athleticism.