2017-18 College Basketball Preseason Top 25
The NCAA’s deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft for early entry candidates that have not signed with an agent came and went last night, and while a few of the decisions took us right up to the deadline, it mostly played out the way it was expected to.
Some big names returned. Some surprising names left.
Next season’s top 25 is awful uninspiring. There also isn’t anything close to a clear-cut No. 1 team, although the consensus at this point seems to be that Michigan State, Arizona and Kansas, despite their flaws, are the three best teams in the country in some order.
Drop us a line here or @CBTonNBC if you see any names missing.
Here is the top 25:
- Who’s gone: Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III, Luke Kennard, Frank Jackson
- Who do they add: Marvin Bagley III, Gary Trent Jr., Wendell Carter, Alex O’Connell, Trevon Duval, Jordan Tucker
- Projected starting lineup: Trevon Duval, Grayson Allen, Gary Trent Jr., Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter
- I totally get why people are going to push back against this, but think about it: Duke has the Class of 2017’s top power forward who doubles as the best player in the class and a potential No. 1 pick in 2017 in Bagley, 2017’s top point guard in Duval, 2017’s second-best center in Carter and a fourth five-star in Trent that some rank as 2017’s best shooting guard. All of that is before you factor in senior and former all-american Grayson Allen, who Coach K has told us is finally healthy. They’re still flawed -- I’m not sold on Duval as the point guard they need -- but to me they’re the best team in the country.
2. Michigan State
- Who’s gone: Eron Harris, Alvin Ellis III
- Who do they add: Jaren Jackson, Xavier Tillman
- Projected starting lineup: Cassius Winston, Josh Langford, Miles Bridges, Jaren Jackson, Nick Ward
- I like this Michigan State team a lot. Nick Ward was a beast last year and Jaren Jackson is the perfect sidekick. Cassius Winston and Josh Langford will both take a step forward. The key, however, is that a potential Player of the Year in Miles Bridges opted to return to school.
- Who’s gone: Lauri Markkanen, Kadeem Allen, Kobi Simmons, Chance Comanche
- Who do they add: Deandre Ayton, Emmanuel Akot*, Brandon Randolph, Ira Lee, Alex Barcello, Dylan Smith
- Projected starting lineup: Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins, Deandre Ayton, Dusan Ristic
- The Wildcats add the most talented big man in the class in Deandre Ayton, as well as Emmanuel Akot and Brandon Randolph. The reason they’re a top five team, however is the return of Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins.
- Who’s gone: Frank Mason II, Josh Jackson, Landen Lucas
- Who do they add: Malik Newman, Billy Preston, Marcus Garrett, Sam Cunliffe
- Projected starting lineup: Devonte’ Graham, Malik Newman, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Billy Preston, Udoka Azuibuike
- The Jayhawks are going to have a lot to replace, but they do have some players coming in. With Devonte’ Graham back, I think he’ll be a star and all-Big 12 player at the point, and he’ll be joined by a former top 10 prospect in Malik Newman and a current top ten prospect in Billy Preston.
- Who’s gone: De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo, Isaiah Briscoe, Derek Willis, Mychal Mulder, Dominique Hawkins
- Who do they add: Hamidou Diallo, Quade Green, Kevin Knox, Nick Richards, P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jemarl Baker
- Projected starting lineup: Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo*, Kevin Knox, Jarred Vanderbilt, Nick Richards
- Kentucky is a tough team to peg for next season. They should be really good defensively -- Hamidou Diallo and Jarred Vanderbilt are elite defenders -- and insanely athletic, but it’s going to be another year where we don’t know who shoots it for Kentucky. Adding Knox is big.
- Who’s gone: Davon Reed, Kamari Murphy
- Who do they add: Lonnie Walker, Chris Lykes, Deng Gak, Sam Waardenburg
- Projected starting lineup: Ja’Quan Newton, Bruce Brown, Lonnie Walker, Anthony Lawrence, Dewan Huell
- Losing Reed and Murphy will hurt, but Bruce Brown was one of the best-kept secrets last year, Lonnie Walker is a big-time scorer and Dewan Huell is a former top 30 prospect in line for a big bump in minutes this year. Jim Larrañaga is exactly the coach to take advantage of this guard-heavy lineup, too.
- Who’s gone: Kasey Hill, Canyon Barry, Justin Leon, Devin Robinson
- Who do they add: Isaiah Stokes, Egor Koulechov, Chase Johnson, DeAundre Ballard, Michael Okauru, Jalen Hudson, Dontay Bassett
- Projected starting lineup: Chris Chiozza, KeVaughn Allen, Egor Koulechov, Kevarrius Hayes, John Egbunu
- Coming off of a trip to the Elite 8, the Gators bring back most of their key pieces while adding a talented recruiting class and two players that redshirted last season. Two keys to this team’s ceiling: The health of John Egbunu, who missed the second half of last season, and the development of KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza.
- Who’s gone: Mangok Mathiang, David Levitch, Tony Hicks, Jaylen Johnson, Donovan Mitchell
- Who do they add: Brian Bowen, Malik Williams, Darius Perry, Jordan Nwora, Lance Thomas
- Projected starting lineup: Quentin Snider, VJ King, Deng Adel, Ray Spalding, Anas Mahmoud
- Louisville has a chance to be very, very good next season, particularly now that Deng Adel is back and Brian Bowen is in the mix. If guys like VJ King, Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud take a step forward, the Cardinals might compete for an ACC title. That says a lot this year.
- Who’s gone: Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Darryl Reynolds
- Who do they add: Jermaine Samuels, Collin Gillispie, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Omari Spellman
- Projected starting lineup: Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth, Donte DiVincenzo, Mikal Bridges, Omari Spellman
- The Wildcats are going to take a major hit with Josh Hart finally graduating, but the good news is that Jay Wright is still around, as is Jalen Brunson. Omari Spellman getting eligible will help, and I know I’m not the only one that thinks Donte DiVincenzo has a chance to develop into an all-Big East player.
10. Wichita State
- Who’s gone: No one
- Who do they add: Samajae Haynes-Jones, Asbjorn Midtgaard
- Projected starting lineup: Landry Shamet, Connor Frankamp, Zach Brown, Markis McDuffie, Shaq Morris
- The Shockers finished the season ranked in the top ten at KenPom, but ended up with a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament because they struggled to get used to each other early on in the season. With everyone returning from last year’s team, don’t be surprised to see Gregg Marshall’s team as a Final Four contender.
11. West Virginia
- Who’s gone: Tarik Phillip, Nathan Adrian, Teyvon Myers, Brandon Watkins
- Who do they add: Derek Culver, Brandon Knapper, D’Angelo Hunter, Teddy Allen, Wesley Harris
- Projected starting lineup: Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles Jr., Esa Ahmad, Lamont West, Sagaba Konate
- At this point, I’m just going to assume that Bobby Huggins is going to put a good team on the floor regardless of the situation. The names don’t even matter, although Jevon Carter is back for what feels like his 17th season in college hoops while Esa Ahmad seems primed for a monster year.
- Who’s gone: Charles Buggs
- Who do they add: Derryck Thornton, Charles O’Bannon, Jordan Usher
- Projected starting lineup: Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Elijah Stewart, Bennie Boatwright, Chimezie Metu
- There is a lot of talent on the USC roster for now, especially now that Metu, Stewart and Boatwright are all returning. The Trojans will push Arizona for the Pac-12 title if they decide to defend.
- Who’s gone: Akeem Springs
- Who do they add: Isaiah Washington, Jamir Harris, Davonte Fitzgerald
- Projected starting lineup: Nate Mason, Dupree McBrayer, Amir Coffey, Jordan Murphy, Reggie Lynch
- The Golden Gophers bring everyone back from last season, a year where they were one of the most surprising teams in the country. Minnesota could win the Big Ten.
- Who’s gone: Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton
- Who do they add: Jaylen Hands, LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, Jalen Hill, Chris Smith
- Projected starting lineup: Jaylen Hands, Aaron Holiday, Kris Wilkes, Cody Riley, Thomas Welsh
- It’s going to be interesting to see how the Bruins move on from the Lonzo Ball era. It will also be interesting to see how LaVar Ball handles the fact that LiAngelo Ball isn’t Lonzo. Jaylen Hands and Aaron Holiday will be an elite back court.
- Who’s gone: Troy Caupain, Kevin Johnson
- Who do they add: Keith Williams, Trevor Moore, Eliel Nsoseme, Cane Broome
- Projected starting lineup: Cane Broome, Jarron Cumberland, Jacob Evans, Gary Clark, Kyle Washington
- The Bearcats return a lot of important pieces from a team that won 30 games last season. Broome averaged 23 points for Sacred Heart as a sophomore.
16. Seton Hall
- Who’s gone: Madison Jones
- Who do they add: Myles Cale, Darnell Brodie
- Projected starting lineup: Khadeen Carrington, Myles Powell, Desi Rodriguez, Ishmael Sanogo, Angel Delgado
- This is the team that I’m going to probably overhype all offseason. I love this group.
- Who’s gone: Edmond Sumner, Malcolm Bernard, RaShid Gaston
- Who do they add: Kerem Kanter, Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall, Elias Harden, Jared Ridder, Kentrevious Jones
- Projected starting lineup: Quentin Goodin, J.P. Macura, Trevon Bluiett, Kaiser Gates, Sean O’Mara
- The Musketeers were thrust back into the top 25 and the Big East title conversation when Trevon Bluiett opted to return to school.
18. North Carolina
- Who’s gone: Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Nate Britt
- Who do they add: Jaleek Felton, Cameron Johnson, Sterling Manley, Brandon Huffman, Andrew Platek, Garrison Brooks
- Projected starting lineup: Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams, Theo Pinson, Luke Maye, Garrison Brooks
- The Tar Heels are coming off of back-to-back national title game appearances, but they lose three key seniors from that team as well as Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley. Berry will be a National Player of the Year contender and Luke Maye will move into the starting lineup. Will Cam Johnson be eligible to play?
- Who’s gone: Nigel Williams-Goss, Przemek Karnowski, Jordan Mathews, Zach Collins
- Who do they add: Jacob Larsen, Zach Norvell, Corey Kispert, Jesse Wade
- Projected starting lineup: Josh Perkins, Silas Melson, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams III, Killian Tillie
- With Nigel Williams-Goss gone, the key to Gonzaga’s season will be the development of Josh Perkins. Can he play the point full-time and do it successfully?
- Who’s gone: Sanjay Lumpkin, Nathan Taphorn
- Who do they add: Anthony Gaines, Aaron Falzon, Rapolas Ivanauskas
- Projected starting lineup: Bryant McIntosh, Scottie Lindsey, Vic Law, Aaron Falzon, Dererk Pardon
- The Wildcats, a year removed from their first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament, bring back essentially everyone from last season and get Aaron Falzon healthy. Bryant McIntosh will contend for Big Ten Player of the Year.
- Who’s gone: Nick King, Jimmie Taylor, Shannon Hale, Corban Collins
- Who do they add: Collin Sexton, John Petty, Daniel Giddens
- Projected starting lineup: Collin Sexton, John Petty, Dazon Ingram, Braxton Key, Daniel Giddens
- The Crimson Tide bring back a talented young core and add two five-star guards, including Collin Sexton, who could lead the conference in scoring.
22. Notre Dame
- Who’s gone: Steve Vasturia, VJ Beachem
- Who do they add: DJ Harvey, Nikola Djogo
- Projected starting lineup: Matt Farrell, Temple Gibbs, Rex Pflueger, Bonzie Colson, Martinas Geben
- At this point, I’m fine betting on Brey to have Notre Dame in the mix every year. They’re going to need Rex Pfleuger and Temple Gibbs to take a step forward, but Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell can carry the Irish.
23. Virginia Tech
- Who’s gone: Seth Allen, Zach LeDay
- Who do they add: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Wabissa Bede
- Projected starting lineup: Justin Robinson, Ahmed Hill, Justin Bibbs, Chris Clarke, Khadim Sy
- The Hokies return all five starters from last season despite the fact that the team graduates their top two scorers. A healthy Chris Clarke and Kerry Blackshear will help.
24. Saint Mary’s
- Who’s gone: Joe Rahon, Dane Pineau
- Who do they add: Kristers Zoriks, Malik Fitts, Cullen Neal
- Projected starting lineup: Jordan Ford, Emmett Naar, Calvin Hermanson, Evan Fitzner, Jock Landale
- Losing Rahon will hurt, but with Naar and Landale coming back, the Gaels are going to push Gonzaga in the WCC race once again.
- Who’s gone: Ishmail Wainright, Johnathan Motley
- Who do they add: Mark Vital, Tyson Jolly, Tristan Clark
- Projected starting lineup: Manu Lecomte, Jake Lindsey, King McClure, Terry Maston, Jo Lual-Acuil
- Losing Johnathan Motley is a massive blow for the Bears, but there should be enough experience on the roster to keep them in the top 25.