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Preseason All-Americans: Not too early to anoint Heels' Barnes


Harrison Barnes is the Preseason National Player of the Year.

One coach says of Barnes: 'He'll be the face of an NBA franchise.' (AP)  
One coach says of Barnes: 'He'll be the face of an NBA franchise.' (AP)  
And, yes, I know he hasn't played a game in college yet.

But that doesn't matter much because I've seen Barnes enough over the past two years to know greatness is coming -- just like I knew greatness was coming with Kevin Durant back in 2006-07, with Derrick Rose back in 2007-08, and with John Wall last season.

Combine that with my belief that preseason awards should be predictors of things to come, and you'll understand why I tabbed the North Carolina freshman with this honor, and why I did it without hesitation.

Barnes is the total package.

He has a work ethic to match his skill set, plus just about every intangible imaginable. He's smart and humble, focused and kind. The only possible negative is that Barnes is so unique for his age that it's unclear how he will fit in with his teammates because he started acting like a mature professional well before he graduated high school.

"He's interesting," UNC's Tyler Zeller told me last month, and I knew exactly what Zeller meant.

College coaches who recruited Barnes loved him because -- as one who missed on the Iowa native once told me -- "When you talk to him you feel like you're talking to an adult. You forget he's a kid. He's off-the-charts."

Same coach also told me this: "He'll be the face of an NBA franchise."

I agree with the statement, but that's at least a year away from happening. For now, Barnes will serve as the face of North Carolina's program, as the guy who helps the Tar Heels return to their rightful place among the nation's elite.

That's why he headlines the Preseason All-America team.

First team
Jacob Pullen -- Guard -- Kansas State
Why he's here: I asked Jacob Pullen this summer if he would be a first-team All-American. "I should be," he answered, and I agree. Pullen averaged 19.3 points last season while leading the Wildcats to 29 wins. He -- and by extension they -- could be even better this season, especially if Pullen's 3-point percentage stays around 40 percent.

Nolan Smith -- Guard -- Duke
Why he's here: Smith averaged 17.4 points last season -- and put 29 on Baylor in the Elite Eight -- to help Duke win the national title. Assuming the Blue Devils play at a faster pace with Kyrie Irving at the point, Smith's numbers should improve while the Blue Devils attempt to repeat as champions.

Harrison Barnes -- Forward -- North Carolina
Why he's here: By the time January rolls around folks will start wondering if Barnes is "so smart" that he'll want to "stay in school and get his degree." What those people will fail to realize is that it's not smart to stay in school for a second year when the money Barnes will have on the table is on the table. So if you're expecting this 6-foot-8 wing to be the next Shane Battier, think again. (Battier never was this talented.) Barnes is a one-year player barring an injury or NBA lockout. But it's going to be a nice year.

Kyle Singler -- Forward -- Duke
Why he's here: Singler is a big forward who can work around the rim or shoot from the perimeter. The super-skilled senior averaged 17.7 points and 7.0 rebounds last season, then, as a sure-bet first-round pick, postponed millions of dollars to return to school. That's good for Duke, bad for the ACC.

Jared Sullinger -- Center -- Ohio State
Why he's here: I asked somebody I trust -- and who is close to Sullinger -- on Sunday if he could have a freshman season like Kevin Love's freshman season. "What did Love average?" the somebody asked. I told him Love averaged 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds. "Yes," the somebody said. "[Sullinger] could do that." Good enough for me.

Second Team Third Team
G: Jimmer Fredette (BYU) G: Kyrie Irving (Duke)
G: Shelvin Mack (Butler) G: Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech)
G: E'Twaun Moore (Purdue ) G: LaceDarius Dunn (Baylor)
F: Marcus Morris (Kansas) F: Elias Harris (Gonzaga)
F: JaJuan Johnson (Purdue) F: Jon Leuer (Wisconsin)

30 other players under consideration
Lavoy Allen (Temple) Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh) Chandler Parsons (Florida)
Kevin Anderson (Richmond) John Henson (North Carolina) John Shurna (Northwestern)
Will Barton (Memphis) Scotty Hopson (Tennessee) Chris Singleton (Florida State)
Talor Battle (Penn State) Kevin Jones (West Virginia) Durrell Summers (Michigan State)
William Buford (Ohio State) Perry Jones (Baylor) Isaiah Thomas (Washington)
Randy Culpepper (UTEP) Kris Joseph (Syracuse) Trey Thompkins (Georgia)
Kim English (Missouri) Brandon Knight (Kentucky) Kemba Walker (Connecticut)
Kenneth Faried (Morehead State) Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State) Derrick Williams (Arizona)
Corey Fisher (Villanova) Kalin Lucas (Michigan State) Jordan Williams (Maryland)
Austin Freeman (Georgetown) Demetri McCamey (Illinois) Chris Wright (Dayton)

2010-11 Season Preview/Conference Countdown Schedule
Fri., Oct. 15Preseason Top 25 (and one) Fri., Oct. 29Conference No. 6: Pac-10
Mon., Oct. 18Preseason All-Americans Mon., Nov. 1Conference No. 5: SEC
Wed., Oct. 20Player rankings: Points/Combos Tues., Nov. 2Conference No. 4: ACC
Thurs., Oct. 21Player rankings: Wings Wed., Nov. 3Conference No. 3: Big East
Fri., Oct. 22Player rankings: Big men Thurs., Nov. 4Conference No. 2: Big 12
Mon., Oct. 25Coaches on the Hot Seat Fri., Nov. 5Conference No. 1: Big Ten
Wed., Oct. 27Best of the non-BCS Mon., Nov. 8Projections: Parrish | Palm

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.

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