AP’s youngest-ever All-America team promising sign

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The AP preseason All-America team boasted its first freshman last season. But it’s younger than ever this year. This is the future.

Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor is the lone senior on a team filled with sophomores – Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones and UConn’s Jeremy Lamb. That’s only slightly different from our preseason team, but nobody on there is even remotely a stretch.

It’s just five of the nation’s best players.

Adding the likes of Tu Holloway, John Jenkins, Anthony Davis, Perry Jones, Kendall Marshall, John Henson, Thomas Robinson or Austin Rivers is acceptable, but not crucial. What I’m more interested in is the youth movement.

North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes became the first newcomer to land on the preseason team last year, which caused a small stir. Was he worthy? How did the voters know he’d live up to the hype? A freshman? Make him earn it!

When Barnes struggled and didn’t live up to those expectations, established (read: old fogeys) onlookers nodded and went back to living in a world where seniors, juniors and the occasional sophomore only landed on these teams.

Well, the NBA lockout may have helped push four sophomores onto the team (most of ‘em might otherwise be in the NBA), but this is how things’ll go from now on. The preseason team never had more than two sophomores on it before this season. I’m certain preseason teams in the future will continue to feature more and more sophomores and freshmen.

This is how expectations should be for freshmen and sophomores. We should expect them to be among the nation’s best players. If they don’t meet those hopes, that’s fine. Many seniors do the same. Past examples include Drew Neitzel, Jacob Pullen, Kyle Singler and Erwin Dudley. It’ll sort itself out by season’s end – only the 2007-08 team had a combination of three freshmen and sophomores – but no more overlooking class standing.

Embrace the new.

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