Tyler Hansbrough's junior year at North Carolina has begun much the same way his sophomore did, as the leading vote-getter on The Associated Press' preseason All-America team.
The 6-foot-9 forward was one vote shy of a unanimous pick Monday and was joined by senior center Roy Hibbert of Georgetown, senior guard Chris Lofton of Tennessee, senior guard Drew Neitzel of Michigan State and junior guard Darren Collison of UCLA.
They were selected by the 72-member panel that votes in the weekly Top 25 poll.
Last year, Hansbrough's season ended with a crushing loss, one win shy of the Final Four. When he said he would return to North Carolina after being selected a second-team All-American as a sophomore, he said he wanted to "improve my game individually." Then he added, "There's also some team things that I want to accomplish."
That would mean getting the Tar Heels, ranked No. 1 in the AP's preseason poll, deeper in the NCAA Tournament. North Carolina lost the regional final to Georgetown, blowing an 11-point lead in the second half and missing 22 of 23 shots during one stretch that went into overtime. The loss denied the Tar Heels a chance at a second national championship in four years. Hansbrough now wants to see what can be done this season.
"He's a unique young man who loves playing college basketball and loves being a kid and being in college and enjoys his teammates and that is extremely refreshing," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.