The Freshman on the Pre-Season All-American Team Debate… Earning and Learning

Read the opposing argument from Optimist Prime.

You have missed this bit of news recently, and who would blame you because who pays attention to anything but football this time of year. But a true freshman was named to the Associated Press pre-season All America team in college basketball. That’s right, a wet behind the ears kid who has yet to play a meaningful game as an amateur athlete has been named one of the top five players in college basketball. Now, I know there is a lot of uncertainty going into this season with no member of last year’s first team All-America team returning, but does this seem right to you? It doesn’t to me!

For one thing, I think it’s a tremendous slap at all the returning players. But, I’m not going to use this space to debate the merits of even having a pre-season All-America team. That’d be pointless because it isn’t going anywhere, and situations like this obviously provide some type of buzz to a season that I think is lacking in hype. But to include someone who has never played against other amateur athletes cheapens the entire team. Not to mention the pressure it puts on freshmen! Imagine never having played a game and all of a sudden being asked, “How does it feel to be an All-American?”

It’s like bringing in the new guy at work and giving him an office with a window and a beautiful view of the city. What’s even worse is this guy is fresh out of college and has no work experience whatsoever. He has the “I graduated top of my class” look stamped all over his forehead (don’t you hate bozos like that?).

Parallel that to college basketball and to this particular debate. Harrison Barnes was a highly recruited McDonald’s All-American, the USA Today National Player of the Year for prep players last year, and has basically accomplished everything anyone can hope to accomplish in his position… on the high school level. What had he accomplished on a college basketball court when this team was announced (he has since played an exhibition game… and struggled)? Nil! The same as Bleacher Fan, Sports Geek, Babe Ruthless, Optimist Prime, and myself. And no, shooting the half court shot at half-time as part of some fundraiser does not mean you played basketball in college, Bleacher Fan!

Harrison Barnes may well turn out to an All-American. All his accolades up to this point lead to the belief that he has the potential to be the real deal. He committed to wear the Carolina Blue by choosing the Tar Heels in a hotly contested recruiting battle last fall. Playing in the spotlight on a nightly basis at school like North Carolina, he’s certainly going to have the opportunity, and I wish him the best.

That’s not the focus of this debate though. All-Americans should be proven players who have earned their stripes and who have run the gauntlet of a college basketball season at least once. Sticking true to my character, I’m very loyal to the guys who have served their time and earned their accomplishments. Barnes – and any other future freshmen – needs to come in to the game, earn their keep, and put up the numbers that warrant consideration of such accomplishments. He hasn’t done that, and therefore, he doesn’t belong on this team.

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