Jordan Taylor is in a class by himself on The Associated Press’ preseason All-America team.
The guard from Wisconsin was the only senior on the team Monday. He was joined by four sophomores, including Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, a unanimous pick of the 65-member national media panel.
Harrison Barnes of North Carolina, Terrence Jones of Kentucky and Jeremy Lamb of Connecticut were the other sophomores.
The 6-foot-1 Taylor averaged 18.1 points and 4.7 assists last season in leading the Badgers to a 25-9 record, third place in the Big Ten and their 13th straight NCAA tournament appearance. He received 51 votes.
”I just hope he doesn’t think he has to score 40 a game this year,” coach Bo Ryan said. ”I think we’re going to be in trouble if he does. He doesn’t. He wants to be even more consistent. He wants to be more inclusive with his teammates, maybe in transition. There are different things we’re looking at in trying to get done with a different-sized team maybe on the floor.”
The 6-9 Sullinger was one of the players who decided to pass on the NBA draft. His coach said an impending lockout had nothing to do with him returning.
”He knew what he was going to do from the time he got to Ohio State in the summer,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. ”When he told me he was coming back, I said, ‘Are you sure? Let’s talk about this.’ I want what’s best for our players. He said, ‘No, there’s no need to do it, I’m coming back.”’
His return has Ohio State at No. 3 in the AP preseason Top 25, behind two schools also featuring the return of a star.
North Carolina was a runaway choice for No. 1, and Barnes was second to Sullinger in the voting with 63. The Tar Heels’ entire front line is back after thinking about entering the draft.
The 6-8 Barnes was the first freshman selected to the preseason team, which started before the 1986-87 season. Many felt there was too much pressure on Barnes as the season started, and he did start to play more consistently once conference play began.
”Coming into last year, there was a lot of expectations, but we didn’t know what to expect and we didn’t know how things went,” said Barnes, who averaged 15.7 points and 5.8 rebounds for an inexperienced North Carolina team. ”There wasn’t really anybody we could talk to on the team who had been through that. … I think this year we kind of know what to expect. We’re not looking at it as championship or bust. We’re looking at it as go out and play the best basketball we can.”
Jones, who received 33 votes, also thought about leaving for the NBA but he will be back for the Wildcats, who were No. 2 in the preseason Top 25. The 6-9 forward averaged 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds last season as Kentucky reached the Final Four.
Lamb asserted himself as the season went on and became a key player in the Huskies’ 11-game run to their third national championship. The 6-5 guard, who received 25 votes, averaged 11.1 points and 4.5 rebounds last season.
The last unanimous pick to the preseason All-America team was North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough before the 2008-09 season.
Besides Barnes, the other members of last season’s preseason team were Jimmer Fredette of BYU, who went on to become national player of the year; JaJuan Johnson of Purdue, a first-team selection; Jacob Pullen of Kansas State, a third-team pick; and Kyle Singler of Duke, an honorable mention.
The other members of the postseason first team were Nolan Smith of Duke and Kemba Walker of Connecticut.