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Singler, Pullen top AP preseason All-America team

Singler, Pullen top AP preseason All-America team
North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, BYU's Jimmer ...

Fierce rivals, Duke and North Carolina are all tied up to start the preseason.

Duke's Kyle Singler was the leading vote-getter and only repeat selection for The Associated Press preseason men's basketball All-America team, while North Carolina's Harrison Barnes became the first freshman to make the list since voting began before the 1986-87 season.

The team, chosen by the 65-member national media panel that selects the AP Top 25 men's basketball poll, was announced Monday.

Singler, the leader of the Blue Devils' run to a fourth national championship last season, was listed on 62 of 65 ballots. Barnes received the lowest vote total of the starters with 17.

Joining Singler and Barnes on the team were Jacob Pullen of Kansas State with 53 votes, Jimmer Fredette of BYU, who received 49 votes, and JaJuan Johnson of Purdue, who got 46.

"This is indicative of the great respect that Harrison has nationally, and it's an unbelievable accomplishment for a freshman," said Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, who is coming off his first non-NCAA tournament season at North Carolina. "I know Harrison would agree, however, that it would be even more exciting to make the All-America team that's picked after the season.

"So far in practice, he has shown the ability to grasp things that we are teaching very quickly, he has tremendous concentration and I fully expect that is he going to be a very important player for us from day one."

Singler, a 6-8 senior forward, averaged 16.5 points and 7.7 rebounds last season, which he started on the preseason All-America team and finished with an honorable mention postseason selection.

"Someone asked me if we don't win a national championship, will it ruin the year? You just never know what to expect in the year and toward the end of the year. We're not worried about that right now," Singler said of the 2010-11 Blue Devils, who were the No. 1 choice in the preseason Top 25. "There's so much we can accomplish, especially at the beginning of the year and the middle of the year. There's so much to learn and experience."

The 6-0 Pullen, whose beard took on a profile of its own last season, averaged 19.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals for Kansas State, which was knocked out of the NCAA tournament by Butler one game before the Final Four. The Wildcats reached as high as No. 5 in the polls last season and start this season ranked third in the Top 25.

Pullen, a defensive stalwart, might have given his virtuoso performance covering Fredette in the NCAA tournament's second round. Pullen had a career-high 34 points that game while Fredette finished with 21 points on 4-of-13 shooting, two days after getting 37 points against Florida.

Fredette, a 6-2 guard known for his ability to score from anywhere on the court, averaged 22.1 points last season while shooting 45.8 percent from 3-point range, one of the best marks in the country.

The 6-10 Johnson averaged 15.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks last season as the Boilermakers spent all but one week in the top ten. Despite losing forward Robbie Hummel to an injury late in the season, Purdue reached the third round of the NCAA tournament. Hummel, who many expected to be a preseason All-America, injured the same knee just after practice began last month and will miss the season.

No member of last season's All-America team returned. Freshmen John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins of Kentucky, and juniors Evan Turner of Ohio State and Wes Johnson of Syracuse all went to the NBA, while Scottie Reynolds of Villanova was a senior.

None of those players were on the preseason team that featured Singler, Kansas' Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins, Kentucky's Patrick Patterson and Luke Harangody of Notre Dame. Collins was a second-team pick after the season, while Aldrich and Harangody were on the third team. Patterson, like Singler, was among the honorable mentions.

Pullen and Fredette were also among the postseason honorable mentions.

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