A second version of pre-season rankings...
I hope this finds everyone staying safe and healthy.
I am updating my top-60 teams ranking based on the many roster movements that have taken place since version 1.0 was published back in mid-April. I will update this ranking again later in the summer (after the NBA draft early-entry-withdrawal deadline) and, possibly, right before the season (to try to take into account final transfers, injuries, redshirts, etc.).
Of note, and as reported by multiple outlets/sources, it appears that the early-entry withdrawal deadline has been shifted to August 3, or 10 days after the NBA combine, whichever comes first. That being said, I still felt it would be useful to put up a second version before we get to the dog-days of summer because there have been a number of significant developments.
Without further ado...
Here are the current depth-charts and rankings of the top-60 NCAA men’s basketball teams for the 2020-21 season
(brief comments per team, if I have something to say):
(Disclaimer: I have no ability to predict the future regarding roster developments and may have completely forgotten, omitted, or mis-depth-charted various players due to signings, transfers, or NBA decisions I have not accounted for. Please DO let me know about factual or obvious omissions and errors. I have indicated players who may depart for the NBA, I am assuming will return to school, or will join a given school with a ‘*’. I address each of these in the “Questions and Comments” in addition to any other relevant comments.)
I view this as a fun collective exercise: please offer your thoughts and critiques and don’t be surprised if I change my rankings and depth charts based on your excellent input!
1 - Devin Askew, Davion Mintz
2 - Terrence Clarke, Dontaie Allen
3 - BJ Boston, Cam’Ron Fletcher
4 - Isaiah Jackson, Keion Brooks jr
5 - Olivier Sarr, Lance Ware
Questions and Comments: For now I still see Kentucky as the best team in the nation - not sure why others don’t. Askew, Clarke, and Boston are superb, and Mintz is a really useful fourth guard to bring in off the bench. Their front-court depth and experience took a major hit losing Richards and Montgomery (neither of whom will be drafted), but they gained Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr (7’0”, offensively gifted, not a superb defender), and for projections’ sake I am assuming he will be granted a waiver to play immediately. Jackson will be a defensive beast from day-one and Brooks jr, Fletcher, Allen, and Ware will form another solid bench group - Brooks has a chance to start, but if Sarr can play I would guess that Calipari rolls with Jackson at the forward for his defensive acumen. Co-favorite in the SEC.
1 - Joel Ayayi, Dominick Harris, Aaron Cook
2 - Jalen Suggs, Julian Strawther
3 - Corey Kispert, Marytnas Arlauskas
4 - Drew Timme, Anton Watson
5 - Filip Petrusev, Oumar Ballo, Pavel Zahkarov, Abe Eagle
Questions and Comments: Gonzaga seems well positioned for now, neither Kispert nor Petrusev appear set to stay in the draft, and it looks like Suggs will head to Gonzaga for one year himself. Point guard consistency is still a question, but Ayayi is long, a good defender, and a great place to start.
1 - Jeremy Roach, Jordan Goldwire
2 - Wendell Moore jr, DJ Steward
3 - Jalen Johnson, Joey Baker
4 - Matthew Hurt, Jaemyn Brakefield
5 - Mark Williams, Patrick Tape, Henry Coleman
Questions and Comments: Nothing has changed since my last assessment - weird roster composition, not enough minutes to go around, expect transfers or redshirts, tons of talent. Furthermore, you can also expect the NCAA to just shrug at recent allegations of impropriety regarding Zion Williamson’s recruitment. Finalist for Florida transfer Andrew Nembhard (talented point guard who would sit one year). Sorting out their toughness in the front-court (behind Williams) will be important. Hurt and Brakefield are more finesse guys, and Tape and Coleman have to do it at this level. Co-favorite in the ACC
1 - Collin Gillespie, Caleb Daniels, Chris Arcidiacono
2 - Justin Moore, Brian Antoine
3 - Jermaine Samuels, Brandon Slater
4 - Cole Swider, Eric Dixon
5 - Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree
Questions and Comments: JRE is back, this team will be superb. Back-up guard minutes are unproven at this point - can Daniels (Tulane transfer, who was a quality player there; sat out last year), or Arcidacono “the younger” provide quality minutes off the bench? Antoine should be in line for a huge year (and may end up starting) - a former 5* All-American who was injured for most of the last year. Big-East favorite.
1 - Kihei Clark, Reece Beekman
2 - Casey Morsell, Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Carson McCorkle
3 - Thomas Woldetensae, Kody Stattman
4 - Sam Hauser, Justin McKoy
5 - Jay Huff, Francisco Caffaro, Kadin Shedrick
Questions and Comments: Way more offensive talent than last year. Can the defense remain elite (assume “yes”)? Beekman, Abdur-Rahim, McCorkle, and Hauser are terrific newcomers. Co-favorite in the ACC.
#6 Michigan State
1 - Rocket Watts, Foster Loyer
2 - Joshua Langford, AJ Hoggard
3 - Aaron Henry, Gabe Brown
4 - Joey Hauser, Malik Hall, Thomas Kithier
5 - Mady Sissoko, Marcus Bingham jr, Julius Marble
Questions and Comments: Josh Langford is back, and assuming health this is devastating news for the rest of the country. Langford provides scoring, shooting, leadership, veteran calm, and a third high level perimeter defender - regaining his explosion, agility, and confidence will be key, but he has at least four months before the regular season begins. Xavier Tillman, Aaron Henry, Karim Mane, and possible attrition. These are the questions still in the air. Game on. Co-favorites in the B1G.
1 - Santiago Vescovi
2 - Jaden Springer, Victor Bailey jr
3 - Josiah-Jordan James, Keon Johnson, Davonte Gaines
4 - Yves Pons, Corey Walker jr, EJ Anosike, Olivier Robinson-Nkamhoua
5 - John Fulkerson, Uros Plavsic, Drew Pember
Questions and Comments: Must-watch TV - awesome talent on the wings, and Pons and Fulkerson are a terrific duo in the post and at forward. Sorting out the wing-rotation and finding out which of the reserve bigs get to play are the questions. Co-favorites in the SEC.
1 - D’Mitrik Trice, Lorne Bowman
2 - Brad Davison, Trevor Anderson, Jordan Davis
3 - Aleem Ford, Tyler Wahl, Jonathan Davis
4 - Nate Reuvers, Ben Carlson
5 - Micah Potter, Joe Hedstrom, Steven Crowl
Questions and Comments: Song remains the same. Starting fice are terrific. Finding two or three solid bench guys is the swing question. Look for Carlson, Wahl, Anderson, Bowman, and Jordan Davis as the early contenders for those bench roles. Co-favorites in the B1G.
1 - Joe Toussaint, Ahron Ulis
2 - Jordan Bohannon, CJ Fredrick, Tony Perkins
3 - Connor McCaffery, Patrick McCaffery
4 - Joe Wieskamp, Kris Murray, Keegan Murray
5 - Luka Garza, Jack Nunge, Josh Ogundele
Questions and Comments: Iowa will be awesome. Some are projecting Toussaint to the bench, but I doubt we see that. Expect Bohannon off-ball, with Fredrick as the primary reserve guard, and often playing in a 3-guard line-up with Toussaint and Bohannon. If Ulis, Patrick McCaffrey, and Nunge can prove themselves healthy and as contributors Iowa will be a second-weekend team. Reserve bigs a bit of a question. Co-favorites in the B1G.
1 - Davion Mitchell, LJ Cryer
2 - Jared Butler*, Adam Flagler
3 - MaCio Teague, Jordan Turner
4 - Mark Vital, Matthew Mayer, Dain Dainja, Jonathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua
5 - Tristan Clark, Flo Thamba, Zach Loveday
Questions and Comments: If they lose Butler that really hurts, but they should be great if the squad as a whole is healthy - but Clark hasn’t been healthy in two years. Sorting out the center position is vital, as is identifying a fourth guard now that Bandoo has graduated. One of Cryer or Flagler must step up. Flagler made a ton of three’s at Presbyterian before transferring and Cryer is a top-100 guard; both will get chances. Co-favorites in the Big XII.
1 - Marcus Garrett, Dajuan Harris, Latrell Jossell
2 - Bryce Thompson, Tyon Grant-Foster
3 - Ochai Agbaji, Jalen Wilson
4 - Christian Braun, Mitch Lightfoot, Tristan Enaruna
5 - David McCormack, Silvio De Sousa, Gethro Muscadin
Questions and Comments: Same story on the wings - tons of them and they are all good. Same questions in the post and at the point - talent, but will they get consistent performances? Co-favorites in the Big XII.
#12 North Carolina
1 - Caleb Love, RJ Davis
2 - Anthony Harris, Kerwin Walton
3 - Leaky Black, Puff Johnson, Andrew Platek
4 - Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot
5 - Day’Ron Sharpe, Walker Kessler, Sterling Manley
Questions and Comments: Tons of talent, but not quite overwhelming enough for Roy to make waves with them. The addition of Walton really helps with their outside shooting.
#13 Texas Tech
1 - Nimari Burnett, Clarence Nadolny
2 - Kyler Edwards, Avery Benson
3 - Micah Peavy, Kevin McCullar
4 - Terrence Shannon, Chibuzo Agbo, Tyreek Smith
5 - Marcus Santos-Silva, Joel Ntambwe, Esahia Nyiwe
Questions and Comments: Moretti went pro, which kills TTU at the point guard; for now I am guessing that Burnett is given the ball, which also allows Peavy and Edwards to start. McClung, from Georgetown, and Burton, from Wichita State, will help next year, but likely will not get immediate eligibility. Santos-Silva the VCU transfer is short, stocky, a beast, and a grad-transfer who brings veteran experience. Ntambwe the UNLV transfer is a capable stretch-big, who took and made a lot of three-point shots as a freshman (38 percent on over 100 attempts). The looming question is Jonathan Kuminga, Ntambwe’s brother, who has reclassified to ‘20, but may yet go the G-League route. If they get Kuminga, they are easily a top-10 team, probably top-5. Can their best offensive line-ups also be their best defensive line-ups? Co-favorites in the Big XII.
1 - Trent Frazier, Andre Curbelo
2 - Adam Miller, Austin Hutcherson
3 - Ayo Dosunmu*, DaMonte Williams, Jacob Grandison
4 - Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Coleman Hawkins, Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk
5 - Kofi Cockburn*, Jermaine Hamlin
Questions and Comments: I am still assuming Dosunmu and Cockburn will return, though the fact that no one is talking about Dosunmu in the top-60 surprises me quite a bit. If he returns, then Illinois makes the B1G race a 4-team death-match with Michigan ready to jump into the fray at the first sign of weakness.
1 - Marcus Sasser, Jamal Shead
2 - Caleb Mills, Cameron Tyson
3 - DeJon Jarreau*, Tramon Mark
4 - Quentin Grimes, Justin Gorham, Cedrick Alley, J’Wan Roberts
5 - Brison Gresham, Kiyron Powell
Questions and Comments: Assuming only Jarreau returns (not Hinton), this team is still superb, but losing Fabian White to an ACL tear (in late April) really hurts their front-court depth. Four-guard lineups all day - I can no longer trust them until they find some front-court stability. AAC favorite.
#16 West Virginia
1 - Jordan McCabe, Taz Sherman
2 - Miles McBride, Sean McNeil, Kedrian Johnson
3 - Emmitt Matthews, Jalen Bridges, Taj Thweatt
4 - Oscar Tshiebwe, Gabe Osabuohien
5 - Derek Culver, Isaiah Cottrell
Questions and Comments: Still questions on offense on the perimeter, but their front-court will be a load once more. Team I trust second-least in the top-20 behind LSU.
1 - Amauri Hardy, Jalen Terry
2 - Will Richardson, Addison Patterson
3 - Chris Duarte, Eric Williams jr, Lok Wur
4 - Eugene Omoruyi, CJ Walker
5 - N’Faly Dante, Chandler Lawson
Questions and Comments: With the losses of Nix for UCLA and White for ASU, Oregon is back in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12. They lost Okoro to transfer (signed with Saint Louis), but still have Omoruyi (Rutgers transfer), Dante, Lawson, and Walker. This team is two-deep at every position. Pac-12 favorite.
1 - Zeb Jackson, Mike Smith
2 - Eli Brooks, Adrien Nunez
3 - Isaiah Livers, Chaundee Brown
4 - Franz Wagner, Brandon Johns jr, Terrance Williams
5 - Hunter Dickinson, Austin Davis
Questions and Comments: Returning talent is still really valuable and potent. I assume that Brown will get an immediate waiver, but he and Nojel Eastern may have to wait for a year before suiting up. Just below the B1G favorites due to point-guard play questions, but if that gets shored up (via Jackson, Smith, or Brooks), then UM makes the B1G an insane five-team race because Livers and Wagner will be good enough to carry them.
1 - Javonte Smart, Eric Gaines, Jalen Cook
2 - Cam Thomas, Aundre Hyatt, Charles Manning jr
3 - Josh LeBlanc, Mwani Wilkinson
4 - Emmitt Williams, Darius Days, Courtese Cooper
5 - Trendon Watford, Shareef O’Neal, Josh Gray, Bradley Ezewiro
Questions and Comments: Second tier of the SEC, but damn good and talented - talent gets even better if Moussa Cisse, a 5* center who just reclassified to ‘20 joins the team. Will they get coached? Will they have the discipline to really test elite teams? I doubt it given the various headaches - legal and NCAA - associated with so many in this program. Despite their huge talent last year they still only finished #37 in Kenpom, but they return four starters in Smart, and add in explosive scoring talent in Cam Thomas. Georgetown transfer LeBlanc (who left Georgetown amid apparent legal questions) should be eligible for the spring; Courtese Cooper was suspended this summer for possession. They appear to be two over the scholarship limit, so I am sure there will be more movement in the near future. There is always excitement going on in this program - not all of it good. I don’t trust this team.
#20 Florida State
1 - Scottie Barnes, Rayquan Evans
2 - MJ Walker, Nathanael Jack
3 - Sardaar Calhoun, Anthony Polite, Wyatt Wilkes
4 - Raiquan Gray, Malik Osborne
5 - Balsa Koprivica, Quincy Ballard
Questions and Comments: FSU is getting slept on because they lost a fair amount. But this program just produces great players and teams. Gray, Osborne, Calhoun, Polite, Jack, Walker, and Barnes will turn in awesome performances, they need more out of Evans, and they really need Koprivica to stand and be accounted.
1 - Matt Coleman
2 - Courtney Ramey, Jase Febres, Donovan Williams
3 - Andrew Jones, Gerald Liddell, Brock Cunningham
4 - Greg Brown, Royce Hamm, Will Baker
5 - Jericho Sims, Kai Jones, Kamaka Hepa
Questions and Comments: Greg Brown is in the fold (and may play some as a jumbo-wing). This team sorted itself out down the stretch to save Shaka’s job, and look poised for a real dog-fight for a top-four finish in the Big XII. If Baker can force his way into the front-court conversation it gets more shooting on the court. Coleman, Ramey, Jones, and Febres look poised for massive years on the perimeter.
#22 Arizona State
1 - Remy Martin, Holland Woods
2 - Josh Christopher, Jaelen House
3 - Alonzo Verge, Caleb Christopher
4 - Marcus Bagley, Taeshon Cherry
5 - Kimani Lawrence,Jalen Graham
Questions and Comments: Martin may return and Verge will return, but losing Romello White is BRUTAL. This team may go with a 4-guard/wing line-up, and it just might work. Co-favorites in the Pac-12.
1 - Tre Mann, Ques Glover, Tyree Appleby
2 - Noah Locke, Niels Lane
3 - Scottie Lewis, Samson Ruzhentsev
4 - Keyontae Johnson, Anthony Duruji, Osayi Osifo
5 - Omar Payne, Jason Jitoboh
Questions and Comments: Still bemused by Mike White as a coach, and so was Andrew Nembhard, who decided to transfer. Tons of talent, plays an awful style of ball (one of the slowest in the nation), and shackles his talented players without getting a decent rate of return. Second-tier SEC team.
1 - Marcus Zegarowski, Shereef Mitchell
2 - Mitch Ballock, Jett Canfield
3 - Damien Jefferson, Denzel Mahoney
4 - Christian Bishop, Antwann Jones
5 - Ryan Kalkbrenner, Jacob Epperson
Questions and Comments: They lost two talented guards in Mintz and Alexander, the front-court is still a question until it proves itself consistently, and Zegarowski’s knee needs to be fully healed. But this team has the goods to push Villanova in the Big East.
1 - Sharife Cooper, Tyrell Jones
2 - Allen Flanigan, Jamal Johnson, Justin Powell
3 - Devan Cambridge, Javon Franklin
4 - JT Thor, Chris Moore, Jaylin Williams
5 - Babatunde Akingbola, Dylan Cardwell
Questions and Comments: Adding Cardwell, a very solid center as a freshman, helps shore up the front-court a bit, which returns basically zero meaningful minutes. But this team will be made by Sharife Cooper and the wings. Second-tier SEC team with the quality to finish in the top-three.
#26 Ohio State
1 - CJ Walker, Abel Porter
2 - Duane Washington jr, Gene Brown, Musa Jallow
3 - Seth Towns, Justice Sueing, Justin Ahrens
4 - EJ Liddell, Zed Key
5 - Kyle Young, Ibrahima Diallow
Questions and Comments: This may seem too high for OSU, but it is not. Walker, Washington, Liddell, Young, Jallow (now healthy), and Ahrens are a solid enough starting-five on their own. But if Towns, Sueing, Brown, Key, and Diallow can take minutes from that core group, then this team has legit prospects for the NCAA tournament. In a truly stacked B1G, however, they are firmly outside of the top-five teams.
1 - Khristian Lander, Rob Phinisee
2 - Al Durham, Armaan Franklin, Anthony Leal
3 - Jerome Hunter, Jordan Geronimo, Trey Galloway
4 - Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson
5 - Joey Brunk
Questions and Comments: Justin Smith transferring is a brutal blow as he provided athleticism, toughness, and scoring-outburst potential. TJD and Brunk are a great front-court pair, but questions remain. Can Archie Manning get offense from his guards and wings? He has largely failed to do so in his tenure to this point, but Lander, Durham, and Hunter (now healthy) may provide enough - look for Leal and Galloway to become fan favorites who could help on the perimeter too.
1 - Isaiah Joe*, KK Robinson
2 - Desi Sills, Davonte Davis, JD Notae
3 - Justin Smith, Moses Moody, Jalen Tate
4 - Vance Jackson, Ethan Henderson, Abayiomi Iyiola
5 - Connor Vanover, Jaylin Williams
Questions and Comments: Assuming Isaiah Joe returns, Arkansas will be really good. Adding Indiana grad-transfer Justin Smith shores up their small-forward position too. Joe is a stud, and their recruiting class is sensational - no one-and-done guys, but tons of high-level 4* guys. Possible dark-horse in the SEC.
1 - Daejon Davis, Michael O’Connell
2 - Bryce Willis, Isaac White, Noah Taitz
3 - Zaire Williams, Brandon Angel
4 - Spencer Jones, Jaiden Delaire, Max Murrell
5 - Oscar da Silva, Lukas Kisunas, Keenan Fitzmorris
Questions and Comments: Tyrel Terry looks like he’s gone, but this team still returns a ton and adds likely top-five pick in Zaire Williams. Top-four in the Pac 12 should be the expectation.
1 - Tyger Campbell
2 - David Singleton, Jaylen Clark
3 - Jules Bernard, Jake Kyman
4 - Jaime Jaquez
5 - Jalen Hill, Cody Riley, Kenneth Nwuba
Questions and Comments: UCLA got gutted by the G-League in losing Nix. That loss kills their ceiling (along with losing Chris Smith). Still a lot of talent, and they learned how to win last year. Can the guards elevate their play? Will there be enough depth? A lot of that hinges on Jaylen Clark, who should be good. If he can be great, then UCLA may yet challenge for the Pac-12.
1 - Jacob Young
2 - Geo Baker, Montez Mathis
3 - Caleb McConnell, Paul Mulcahy, Mawot Mag, Oksar Palquist
4 - Ron Harper, Mamadou Doucoure, Dean Reibert
5 - Myles Johnson, Cliff Omoruyi
Questions and Comments: Poor Rutgers, their first tourney trip in a while taken from them. Still, they return everyone of note except Yeboah, and they add in a terrific freshman big in Omoruyi. Second tier of the B1G unless they improve their shooting and demonstrate the ability to win on the road in conference play - the possibility of reduced home-court advantages could play into their hands on this front.
#32 Penn State
1 - Jamari Wheeler, Sam Sessoms
2 - Myreon Jones, Izaiah Brockington, Dallion Johnson
3 - Myles Dread, DJ Gordon, Caleb Dorsey
4 - Seth Lundy, Abdou Tetchueng Tsimbila
5 - John Harrar, Valdir Manuel, Trent Buttrick
Questions and Comments: I am still really high on Chambers and PSU. They will make the tourney next year, and their perimeter group could develop into one of the best in the B1G. Everyone can shoot it except for Wheeler, and adding grad-transfer Sessoms is useful for a veteran bench-presence. Jones, Brockington, Dread, and Lundy will be super. And Harrar and Manuel will be everything PSU needs at the five.
#33 San Diego State
1 - Terrell Gomez, Lamont Butler jr
2 - Trey Pulliam, Adam Seiko, Keith Dinwiddie
3 - Jordan Schakel, Che Evans, Keshad Johnson
4 - Matt Mitchell, Aguek Arop
5 - Nathan Mensah, Joel Mensah, Joshua Tomaic
Questions and Comments: Flynn is gone, but this team still has a lot going for it. Including tons of returning minutes.
1 - David Johnson, Carlik Jones
2 - Josh Nickelberry, D’Andre Davis
3 - Samuell Williamson, JJ Traynor
4 - Jae’lyn Withers, Quinn Slazinski
5 - Malik Williams, Aidan Igiehon
Questions and Comments: This team has a ton of talent, but can it coalsece, and can all of the guys in new roles (and transfer Carlik Jones) produce at the level required of a top-four finish in the ACC? That remains to be seen. Jae’lyn Withers could be the key to the season. If he can take off at the forward along with improvements from Williamson, Johnson, and Williams this team could cause problems for the top-ACC teams. For now, I have moved them down a bit because they lost so much and are so young.
1 - Jacob Gilyard, Isaiah Wilson
2 - Blake Francis, Connor Crabtree
3 - Nick Sherod, Andre Gustavson, Jake Wojcik
4 - Nathan Cayo, Tyler Burton
5 - Grant Golden, Matt Grace, Souleymane Koureissi
Questions and Comments: Richmond finished the year #46 in Kenpom, returns its entire starting-five, three of whom shoot very well from beyond the arc, and all of whom will be seniors. They have to be favorites in the A-10, with Saint Louis following closely behind.
1 - McKinley Wright, Keeshawn Barthelemy
2 - Maddok Daniels, Eli Parquet, Dominique Clifford
3 - D’Shawn Schwartz, Daylen Kountz, Luke O’Brien
4 - Jeriah Horne, Jabari Walker, Alex Strating
5 - Evan Battey, Dallas Walton
Questions and Comments: Colorado returns a lot, expect them to finish top-5 in the Pac-12, which may get six or seven teams to the tournament (unless Arizona and USC fade early and then keep fading).
#37 NC State
1 - Cam Hayes, Teddy Allen jr, Shakeel Moore
2 - Braxton Beverly, Dereon Seabron
3 - Devon Daniels
4 - Jericole Hellems, Nick Farrar
5 - DJ Funderburk, Manny Bates, Ebenezer Dowuona
Questions and Comments: Losing Josh Hall caps the ceiling of NC State, but they will still be solid. Hayes is terrific, and they return plenty of minutes and bodies all over the court. NCAA tourney team for sure.
1 - Jahvon Quinerly, Josh Primo
2 - John Petty, Keon Ellis
3 - Jaden Shackelford, Darius Miles, Juwan Gary
4 - Herb Jones, Jordan Bruner, Keon Ambrose-Hylton
5 - Javian Davis-Fleming, Alex Reese, Galin Smith
Questions and Comments: Alabama could be interesting. Quinerly needs to hit this time around after flopping at Villanova. But Petty, Primo (a talented canadian guard), Jones, and the rest of the front-court are solid. The swing for this team is Primo - if he is one-and-done quality, then this team may make moves in the SEC, but he has to be REALLY good.
1 - Aaron Thompson, Myles Tate
2 - Christian David, Chuck Harris
3 - Jordan Tucker, Khalif Battle
4 - Bryce Nze, Carlos Johnson, JaKobe Coles
5 - Bryce Golden, John-Michael Mulloy, Miles Wilmoth
Questions and Comments: Butler returns a lot. Expect them to finish top-three in the Big East.
1 - Ethan Anderson, Tahj Eaddy
2 - Noah Baumann
3 - Max Agbonkpolo, Isaiah White
4 - Isaiah Mobley, Chevez Goodwin
5 - Evan Mobley, Boubacar Coulibaly
Questions and Comments: Solid team, mega-talent in Evan Mobley, will the guards be good enough now that Weaver has transferred?
#41 Saint Louis
1 - Yuri Collins, Demarius Jacobs
2 - Jordan Goodwin, Fred Thatch
3 - Gibson Jimerson, Terrence Hargrove, Markhi Strickland
4 - Javonte Perkins, Andre Lorentsson
5 - Hasahn French, Jimmy Bell, Madani Diarra
Questions and Comments: Collins, Goodwin, Perkins, and French all return (and eight of their nine rotation players overall). And Jimerson, who may set NCAA records from three-point range next season, will finally be healthy - he was the missing ingredient last year (was averaging two-of-five from three-point range every game for the first 10 games of the season before his injury). Richmond will be in a real dogfight for the A-10, and Saint Louis could easily upset a team or two in the NCAA tourney.
#42 Seton Hall
1 - Bryce Aiken, Jahri Long
2 - Dimingus Stevens, Shavar Reynolds, Takal Molson
3 - Myles Cale, Anthony Nelson
4 - Jared Rhoden, Tyrese Samuel
5 - Sandro Mamukelashvili, Ikey Obiagu
Questions and Comments: No Powell chucking, no Gill stuffing. Expect rock-fights and slug-fests unless Aiken and Stevens can really make fireworks every night.
1 - Alex Lomax, Damion Baugh
2 - Tyler Harris, Boogie Ellis, Jayden Hardaway
3 - Lester Quinones, DJ Jeffries, Ryan Boyce
4 - Lance Thomas, Ahmad Rand
5 - Malcolm Dandridge, Isaiah Stokes
Questions and Comments: Now we get to see if Hardaway et al. can really coach. This team should be poised for a great year, but with no clear one-and-done guys in the fold Memphis will need to see major internal developments. Major upside for this team if Landers Nolley somehow gets a waiver to play immediately after transferring from Va Tech.
1 - Eric Ayala, Serrel Smith jr, Marcus Dockery
2 - Darryl Morsell, Aquan Smart
3 - Aaron Wiggins, Hakim Hart
4 - Donta Scott, Galen Smith
5 - Chol Marial, Jarius Hamilton
Questions and Comments: Return some good wings, bring in a few decent players, but will really need Marial to be a stud and to be able to play at least 25 minutes a night. If he can, his length and talent, alone, may allow Maryland to compete in the B1G and win a game or two in the tourney.
#45 Oklahoma State
1 - Cade Cunningham, Rondel Walker, Avery Anderson
2 - Isaac Likekele, Ferron Flavors jr
3 - Donovan Williams
4 - Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, Montreal Pena jr
5 - Yor Anei, Keylan Boone, Kalib Boone, Hidde Roessink
Questions and Comments: This team may creep higher simply because they have the likely #1 pick in the draft in Cunningham. The front-court seems understaffed, but the back-court should be interesting next to Cunningham.
#46 South Carolina
1 - Jermaine Couisnard, Trae Hannibal, TJ Moss
2 - AJ Lawson, Justin Minaya
3 - Keyshawn Bryant, Trey Anderson
4 - Alanzo Frink, Jalyn McCreary
5 - Wildens Leveque, Patrick Iriel, Ja’Von Benson
Questions and Comments: Couisnard is good, heck the entire starting-five return and get a year older. Martin can still coach, and they have some intriguing depth. Should make the tournament.
1 - Joe Girard
2 - Buddy Boeheim, Kadary Richmond
3 - Quincy Guerrier
4 - Marek Dolezaj, Robert Braswell, Woody Newton
5 - Bourama Sidibe, Jesse Edwards, John Bol Ajak
Questions and Comments: Will Boeheim find a way to elevate the considerable talent on this team? He has generally failed to do so with talented teams in the last ten years.
1 - Chris Lykes, Isaiah Wong
2 - Kameron McGusty, Harlond Beverly
3 - Earl Timberlake, Matt Cross
4 - Sam Waardenberg, Anthony Walker III
5 - Nysier Brooks, Deng Gak, Rodney Miller jr
Questions and Comments: Miami could surprise me after two years of disappointment. The reasons: Earl Timberlake (a likely one-and-done stud wing player) and Nysier Brooks (the Cincinnati transfer with a huge frame and Charles Oakley game). Keep an eye on this crew in the non-con. There’s plenty of quit in this team, but they may just have too much talent not to find their way into the NCAA tournament.
1 - Devion Harmon, Trey Phipps
2 - Alondes Williams
3 - Austin Reaves, Jalen Hill
4 - Brady Manek, Victor Iwuakor, Anyang Garang
5 - Kur Kuath, Rick Issanza
Questions and Comments: Losing Bienemy hurts, but they do return some talent. I cannot see them cracking the top of the Big XII.
1 - RJ Cole, Jalen Gaffney
2 - James Bouknight, Brendan Adams
3 - Andre Jackson, Tyrese Martin
4 - Akok Akok, Tyler Polley, Richard Springs
5 - Isaiah Whaley, Josh Carlton, Javonte Brown-Ferguson, Adama Sanogo
Questions and Comments: Back in the Big East, with a tougher set of teams and a larger pool of good coaches, Hurley should struggle somewhat. He has plenty of size in the front-court, but Bouknight and the freshman Jackson are the only perimeter players that really scare me.
1 - Paul Scruggs, Dwon Odom
2 - KyKy Tandy, Colby Jones
3 - Naji Marshall, CJ Wilcher, Myles Hanson
4 - Jason Carter, Daniel Ramsey
5 - Zach Freemantle, Dieonte Miles
Questions and Comments: They could move up, but the same basic story from last season holds: not enough talent or depth to really make much noise, but a competitive mid-level team in the Big East.
#52 Virginia Tech
1 - Wabissa Bede, Jalen Cone
2 - Tyrece Radford, Joe Bamisile, Nahiem Alleyne
3 - Cartier Diarra, Darius Maddox, Hunter Cattoor
4 - PJ Horne
5 - John Ojiako, Keve Aluma, David N’Guessan
Questions and Comments: Va Tech really flamed out last year despite having a healthy amount of talent and a TON of shooting acumen. They just could not defend to save their lives, or their record. But Young has brought in Diarra (KSU transfer) and gets Aluma off of his red-shirt. This team could overtake Syracuse, Miami, and NC State if all goes well.
1 - Eric Hunter, Ethan Morton, Isaiah Thompson
2 - Sasha Stefanovic, Brandon Newman
3 - Mason Gillis, Jaden Ivey
4 - Aaron Wheeler
5 - Trevion Williams, Zach Edey
Questions and Comments: Losing Eastern and Haarms may seem like a big deal, and they are. But those losses will likely help Purdue in the end simply because those two guys had issues: Haarms was a big who didn’t rebound well, and Eastern was a wing/guard who could not score or shoot to save his life. Those minutes get replaced by minutes for other guys who will have their own problems, but will fit better and reorient the team properly: Williams and Wheeler are the features, with tons of supporting players on the wings and behind the arc. Big questions are 1) was Wheeler’s incredibly bad sophomore season a fluke (i.e. will he look more like he did as an out-of-nowhere freshman) and, 2) how much can Edey (Haas replica) contribute as a freshman? I have moved them down for now until I get some confidence in their scoring prowess and the answers to these two questions.
#54 Georgia Tech
1 - Jose Alvarado, Bubba Parham
2 - Mike Devoe, Tristan Maxwell
3 - Jordan Usher, Khalid Moore
4 - Moses Wright, David Didenko
5 - Saba Gigiberia, Jordan Meka
Questions and Comments: They’re all back, there are a lot of seniors, and unless they all get a lot better they’re gonna keep losing.
1 - Jared Bynum, Alyn Breed
2 - David Duke
3 - AJ Reeves, Jyare Davis
4 - Greg Gantt, Kris Monroe
5 - Nate Watson
Questions and Comments: This is a nod to Providence’s season last year, they kinda-sorta proved me wrong. But they lost their best player, and will struggle this season. Bryce Goodine (Syracuse transfer) will sit one.
#56 Loyola Chicago
1 - Keith Clemons, Marquise Kennedy, Baylor Hebb
2 - Lucas Williamson, Paxson Wojcik, Braden Norris
3 - Tate Hall, Cooper Kaifes
4 - Aher Uguak
5 - Cameron Krutwig, Tom Welch, Franklin Agunanne
Questions and Comments: Loyola Chicago and Northern Iowa could both win the MVC, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the loser get an at-large bid. Both are potential cinderella type teams. But Loyola Chicago gets the edge from me because their entire starting-five are seniors and Kennedy, Wojcik, Kaifes, and Welch are as solid a mid-major bench unit as you will find.
#57 Northern Iowa
1 - Antwan Kimmons, Bowen Born, Tytan Anderson
2 - AJ Green, Nathan Heise
3 - Trae Berhow
4 - Tywhon Pickford, Cole Henry
5 - Austin Phyfe, Noah Carter, James Betz
Questions and Comments: A lot of returning talent, but they lost some key players. Keep an eye on them in the non-conference.
1 - Brandon Williams
2 - James Akinjo, Dalen Terry
3 - Jemarl Baker, Bennedict Mathurin
4 - Ira Lee
5 - Jordan Brown, Christian Koloko
Questions and Comments: Sean Miller will be sweating through suits yet again next year as his under-talented squad tries to elevate his underwhelming coaching in a way that no other squad has been able to. A tournament appearance and/or an above-.500 performance in-conference may be a career-best coaching performance for Miller.
1 - DJ Carton, Koby McEwen
2 - Greg Elliott, Symir Torrence, Dexter Akanno
3 - Jamal Cain
4 - Dawson Garcia, Justin Lewis
5 - Theo John, Osasere Ighodaro
Questions and Comments: I no longer assume Mane will commit to Marquette.
Will Carton be granted immediate eligibility? Carton has been granted immediate eligibility, which is the peak of comedy. He will start along with Elliott (finally healthy), Cain, the excellent freshman Garcia, and Theo John. This is a competitive mid-level team in the Big East either way, but I will bump them a bit with this news in the next edition.
1 - Jalen Harris, Tyler Beard, Dante Harris
2 - Jahvon Blair, Jaden Robinson
3 - Jamari Sibley, Kobe Clark
4 - Jamorko Pickett
5 - Qudus Wahab, Timothy Ighoefe, Malcolm Wilson
Questions and Comments: McClung is transferring, yet another mini-disaster in Ewing’s tenure of non-stop-disasters. I will point out that this Georgetown team, after the mid-season attrition and MSU-level of injuries, won a game playing six players (and a walk-on for three minutes) - with three players playing all 40 minutes. There is some toughness and grit to this group, but I don’t see consistency from them in my crystal ball.
Bonus: #61 St Mary’s
1 - Tommy Kuhse, Logan Johnson
2 - Kristers Zoriks, Quinn Clinton
3 - Alex Ducas, Jabe Mullins
4 - Dan Fotu, Kyle Bowen, Judah Brown
5 - Matthias Tass, Matthew van Komen, Mitchell Saxen
Questions and Comments: St Mary’s should be good again, per usual. But unless they schedule and beat some quality teams in the non-con and unless they take down Gonzaga at least once they face a tough road getting into the tournament. Still tons of shooting to go along with their Wisconsin-level of pace.
Conference standings predictions:
B1G: MSU/Wisconsin/Iowa/Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana, Rutgers, Penn State, Purdue, Maryland, the rest in some order [9-11 teams in tourney]
Big XII: Baylor/Kansas/Texas Tech, Texas, WVU, OSU/OU, the rest in some order [6-7 teams in tourney]
ACC: UVA/Duke, FSU, UNC, Louisville, NC State, Miami, Syracuse, Va Tech, the rest in some order [8-9 teams in tourney]
SEC: UK/UT, LSU, Auburn, Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina, Alabama [6-8 teams in tourney]
Pac-12: UCLA/Oregon, ASU, Stanford, Colorado [5 teams in tourney]
Big East: Villanova, Creighton, Butler, Xavier, Seton Hall, Marquette, Georgetown, UConn, Providence, DePaul, St. John’s [4-7 teams in tourney]
Others notables: Gonzaga, SDSU, Richmond, Memphis, Saint Louis, Loyola Chicago, UNI, St. Mary’s