The old guys are back in charge in college basketball this season.
After recent years with the focus locked on one-and-done talent, it's the seniors — guys such as No. 1 Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, No. 3 Oklahoma's Buddy Hield and No. 5 Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon — leading some of the nation's best teams.
It's created a throwback look to when upperclassmen stuck around elite programs instead of bolting early for the NBA.
Coaches are loving the dynamic.
"You'd always rather have experienced leadership than not, of course," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "Always, the message goes out when it goes from player to player as opposed to coach to player, it's more effective."
In this week's Top 25, six top-10 teams and 14 teams in the poll have seniors as leading scorers. And in some cases there's more than one in a leading role. Compare that to last year's final AP Top 25 of the season, when three top-10 teams and eight ranked squads had seniors as leading scorers. And this week's totals are higher than for any of the final AP polls dating to at least the 2007-08 season, according to STATS.
The best example of that senior success has been Michigan State's Valentine, who has grown from a complimentary scorer for a Final Four team to a candidate for national player of the year.
The 6-5 guard, who will miss the next two to three weeks because of minor knee surgery, is averaging 18.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists. He's had two triple-doubles this year, including a 29-point, 12-rebound, 12-assist performance when the Spartans handed Kansas its only loss.
"I can get a lot better," Valentine said earlier this month. "I need to work on my defense. And, I need to make the most of every possession."
This senior-led formula has worked well for coach Tom Izzo before. His 2000 national championship team had strong leadership with seniors Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson, while touted freshman Jason Richardson took a supporting role.
"I like the one-and-dones because they're pretty talented," Izzo said. "Seniors, they bring a lot to your team. They really do.
"I won a championship with a couple of redshirt seniors. That's very important, because you've always got someone to go to."
The signs were there to start the year that seniors were poised for a big impact. Three — Hield, No. 11 Iowa State's Georges Niang and Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer — were named to the five-man AP preseason All-America team, the most in five seasons.
Hield, a 6-4 guard, entered the week ninth nationally in scoring at 23.5 points per game.
Niang, a 6-8 forward, entered the week averaging 18.7 points and is one of three seniors averaging in double figures for the Cyclones — an experienced group together so long that new coach Steve Prohm has largely stuck with former coach Fred Hoiberg's playbook.
Wiltjer, a 6-10 forward who spent a year at Kentucky, guided the Zags to the NCAA Elite Eight last year and entered the week averaging 20.6 points.