All-Americans announced

By Jim O’Connell The Associated Press

Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina led a preseason All-America team of underclassmen.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore forward was the top vote-getter yesterday on the team chosen by the same panel that selects The Associated Press’ weekly college basketball poll.

Joining Hansbrough were juniors Joakim Noah of Florida, Ronald Steele of Alabama and Glen Davis of LSU and sophomore Brandon Rush of Kansas.

The 2006-07 team was decidedly different from the season before when four seniors and a junior were picked for the preseason honors.

Hansbrough was named on 65 of the 72 ballots, one more than Noah. Steele received 55 votes, while Davis had 51 and Rush 26.

Hansbrough was the key to North Carolina’s surprising season that saw the Tar Heels go from unranked to 10th in the final poll. He averaged 18.9 points and 7.9 rebounds and made Carolina fans and coach Roy Williams very happy when he decided to return for a second season in Chapel Hill.

“There’s a lot of things I want to accomplish as a team,” Hansbrough said. “I had a good year, but I talked to coach and we both agreed there’s a lot of things I could get better at individually. I’d like to go a little farther in the tournament and have a better ending.

“I’ve never really known a player to spend another year with coach Williams and get worse.”

The 6-11 Noah was the star of Florida’s run to its first national championship last season, averaging 14.2 points and 7.1 rebounds. His flowing hair and engaging smile has made him a fan favorite and his ever-improving talent has made the son of former tennis star Yannick Noah one of the country’s top players.

“Don’t expect to see Michael Jordan out there right now. There was so much hype around him at the end of the year. He’s not Michael Jordan,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “I had an opportunity to show him the tape of every basket he scored last year. I think it was amazing for him to get a chance to see that he scored a lot of baskets just by hustling and working hard. He’s not a great 3-point shooter. He’s not a guy that’s going to score a variety of different ways. He scored on being a great hustler, a great runner and a highly competitive kid. I’ve talked to him about not losing that. Sometimes you’ve got a kid like Joakim Noah coming back to college basketball and people expect to see Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or Michael Jordan. He is nothing remotely close to that. He’s a very, very good player who’s eager to get better.”

Davis was hard to miss as LSU made its run to the Final Four. Known as “Big Baby,” the 6-9 Davis played at 310 pounds last season, a number some thought may have been generous, and he was named Southeastern Conference player of the year, averaging 18.6 points and 9.7 rebounds.

It will be a much-different looking Davis this season as he has slimmed down considerably, losing about 50 pounds.

“I’m just eating healthier, but it’s tough especially for a college student,” he said this summer. “It’s not like I eat crazy, it’s just really, really difficult when you stay up late and do all that college stuff.

“I want to go into the NBA with experience, basically grown up,” he said. “I don’t want to sit for a couple of years. For now, I just want to establish myself in college basketball and win a national championship. It’s all about winning.”

The 6-3 Steele is the only true guard on the team. He averaged 14.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Crimson Tide last season, while averaging just over 40 minutes per game.

Rush, a 6-6 swingman, averaged 13.5 points and 5.9 rebounds last season for the Jayhawks.

UCLA junior guard Arron Afflalo was the next-leading voter-getter with 20.

Last year’s preseason All-America team was seniors J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams of Duke, Dee Brown of Illinois and Craig Smith of Boston College along with junior Adam Morrison of Gonzaga.

Redick, Williams and Morrison were first-team selections after the season, while Brown was on the second team and Smith the third.