For a few elite freshmen, college basketball is a one-and-done world.
John Wall took the express lane to the NBA after last season and no one will be surprised if his path is followed by North Carolina's Harrison Barnes -- so precocious he was named to the Associated Press preseason All-America team before playing his first game.
Coach Mike Montgomery, who last season guided a Cal team with four senior starters to its first Pac-10 Conference title since 1960, generally keeps freshmen at arm's length. During his 28 seasons as a head coach, only four college rookies have been full-time starters for Montgomery.
That could change this season. Montgomery restocked his roster with five freshmen, and two might be starters from Day 1. There is also a youth movement at Stanford, where coach Johnny Dawkins welcomes six freshmen.
Stanford's half-dozen earned a ranking as the top recruiting class in the Pac-10 and 16th-best in the country, according to Rivals.com. Cal's group was judged third-best in the conference, No. 21 nationwide.
As good as they are, none of the 11 is expected to pack his bags for the pros after one season.
"It's not fair for you to expect them to do all the things you want them to do yet. Most freshmen don't," Montgomery said. "Even the one-and-done freshmen are so phenomenally athletic, they don't need to be fundamentally sound.
"With this group, the key is going to be execution, and that takes timing and lots of repetition."
With Cal's season opener against Cal State Northridge looming on Tuesday, Montgomery hasn't settled on a starting lineup. But freshman guards Allen Crabbe and Gary Franklin Jr. could be on the floor for the opening tip, and forward Richard Solomon and guards Alex Rossi and Emerson Murray also figure to be in the rotation.
Dawkins wouldn't be pinned down on a lineup for the Cardinal's opener Monday against San Diego, but forward Dwight Powell and one other freshman are likely to be part of it. Point guard Aaron Bright is making a bid for playing time, as are wings Anthony Brown and Josh Huestis. Post players John Gage and Stefan Nastic may need a bit more seasoning.
If Montgomery is tackling a new challenge, Dawkins at least has a frame of reference for his assignment. In 1982, he was part of a highly touted six-player freshman class at Duke.
"There's some familiarity there," Dawkins said. "We didn't have a great freshman year, but we improved."
Did they ever. By the time Dawkins, Jay Bilas, Mark Alarie and David Henderson were seniors, the Blue Devils went 37-3 and reached the national championship game.
From those tender years to now, Dawkins admitted, "I have some gray hairs. Like any young players, they show signs of, 'What did we just work on yesterday?' But they're all enthusiastic, all want to get better, and all want us to be good."
That's the common thread between the Cal and Stanford freshmen: Player expectations are high.
Cal's Solomon anticipates some growing pains but wasn't afraid to suggest, "We plan on (someday) winning the NCAA championship. No matter how many people doubt us, we know we're capable of a lot."
Franklin agrees. "That is our goal," he said. "If you're not thinking that way, you might as well quit the sport. ... I think we'll surprise a lot of people."
With maturity, and all that comes with it, Montgomery suggested, "I'm thinking this could be a pretty good group."
Across the Bay, Dawkins said the coaches are setting "amazing standards" for the freshmen, and Powell said it's their responsibility to reach those goals. "We're basketball players. It's not about age," he said. "It's about what we're here to do, which is win."
Outside expectations for both programs are muted this season. Cal was picked by the media to finish seventh in the Pac-10, Stanford ninth.
At least Stanford has enough veteran presence that Dawkins and his staff don't have to do all the teaching. Four returning players started a combined 108 games last season.
"To hear it from the older guys, our peers who have been through it, is a message that's easier for us to understand," Powell said. "Especially since we have so many guys who aren't 100 percent sure of what's going on."
Montgomery has just two players back who totaled 23 starts a year ago, not enough to show his newcomers what to do and how to do it. "It's kind of starting from scratch in a lot of ways," he said.