The deadline for underclassmen to remove their names from the NBA Draft has officially passed. As such, we now know who will be lacing them up on campus next year, as well as who will be sitting through a probable NBA lockout. With that in mind, here is our way too early look at the Sports Dudes’ College Hoops Top 25. Want to know why your team isn’t in the conversation? Do you think your team is ranked too low? Sound off and we’ll delve into your team’s chances next season! Enjoy!
1. North Carolina
He gone: F/C Justin Knox
They’re back: C Tyler Zeller, PF John Henson, SF Harrison Barnes, PG Kendall Marshall, G Dexter Strickland, G/F Leslie McDonald, G/F Reggie Bullock
Impact newcomers: PF James McAdoo, G/F P.J. Hairston
Bottom line: This team is very reminiscent of the 2005 and 2009 National Championship teams. Basically everyone has returned to school for one more shot at the title. This team is talented, deep and experienced. There are a few chinks in the armor though. There’s very little point guard depth behind Kendall Marshall and Roy Williams needs to find one or two guards that can consistently hit outside shots. However, few teams can match their length, athleticism and tempo.
From left: Kendall Marshall, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Harrison Barnes
He gone: PG Brandon Knight, G/F DeAndre Liggins, C Josh Harrellson
They’re back: PF Terrence Jones, SG Doron Lamb, G/F Darius Miller, F/C Eloy Vargas
Impact newcomers: G Marquis Teague, PF Anthony Davis, SF Michael Gilchrist, F/C Kyle Wiltjer
Bottom line: Your typical John Calipari coached Kentucky team: an extremely talented freshman class and a few talented holdovers. They are going to miss Brandon Knight and Josh Harrellson, but Calipari has five-star recruits coming out his ears. Marquise Teague will take over the point and his game is very similar to that of his brother, former Wake Forest guard Jeff Teague. He’s a big-time scorer, but will need to do a better job of getting shots for his teammates. Davis is an incredibly talented big man who is still growing into his body. Terrence Jones had an up and down freshman year, but made the right decision to return. He and sophomore sharpshooter Doron Lamb will provide some serious offensive punch. Youth has never been a problem for Calipari before.
3. Ohio State
He gone: G/F David Lighty, SG Jon Diebler, C Dallas Lauderdale
They’re back: C Jared Sullinger, G/F William Buford, PG Aaron Craft, F Deshaun Thomas
Impact newcomers: C Aamir Williams, PG Shannon Scott, SF LaQuinton Ross, G/F Sam Thompson
Bottom line: Conventional wisdom last year was that Sullinger was the reason this team was so good. While he was certainly great, it was their deadly outside shooting that made the Buckeyes such a force. They are going to miss those contributions from Diebler and Lighty, as well as the leadership they provided. Still, there’s plenty of talent left. Point guard Aaron Craft played beyond his years last year and forward Deshaun Thomas could breakout big-time in his sophomore season. William Buford will provide shooting and athleticism on the wing and Sullinger will force defenses to collapse on him inside. There aren’t really any stars amongst the freshmen, but they should help fill in the gaps and provide solid depth.
He gone: No one of note
They’re back: SG John Jenkins, F Jeffery Taylor, C Festus Ezeli, PG Brad Tinsley, F Lance Goulbourne, F Rod Odom, F Steve Tchiengang, F Andre Walker, G Kyle Fuller
Impact newcomers: SG Dai-jon Parker, PG Kedren Johnson
Bottom line: It’s seems strange to mention the Commodores in the same breath as these other basketball powers, but any expert will tell you this is no stretch. They return everyone from a very good team that flamed out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against a very solid Richmond team. Guard John Jenkins might be the best player that no one, and I mean no one, knows about. He’s an excellent shooter from distance and is great at the charity stripe. Jeffery Taylor is a very good inside-out player and Festus Ezeli was a monster in the paint last year. Point guard Brad Tinsley could be the key. He needs to take care of the ball and get good shots for his teammates.
He gone: PF Rick Jackson
They’re back: SF Kris Joseph, PG Scoop Jardine, G Brandon Triche, SG Dion Waiters, F C.J. Fair, F James Southerland, C Fab Melo, PF Baye Moussa Keita
Impact newcomers: C Rakeem Christmas, G/F Michael Carter-Williams, SG Trevor Cooney
Bottom line: The loss of Rick Jackson hurts, but everyone else is back and has another year of experience under their belts. There’s a ton of talent and athleticism here, but the key will be point guard Scoop Jardine. This team takes way too many threes, especially when you look at the percentage they shoot. It will be Jardine’s responsibility to get this team good shots. The defense should be stifling as usual with long and talented youngsters Melo and Christmas guarding the front of the rim.
He gone: PF Will Coleman
They’re back: G/F Will Barton, PG Joe Jackson, PF Tarik Black, F Wesley Witherspoon, G Antonio Barton, G Charles Carmouche, G Chris Crawford, G/F D.J. Stephens
Impact newcomers: SF Adonis Thomas
Bottom line: Another young team that simply shoots too many threes. There’s too much talent and athleticism here to simply stand around the arc jacking up long jump shots. Sophomores Will Barton and Joe Jackson should form an excellent backcourt and Tarik Black is a bully on the inside. I love Wesley Witherspoon on the wing. He’s a long, lanky forward with a lot of bounce and range on his jump shot. Freshman Adonis Thomas isn’t a big-time scorer, but he’s a great athlete and will stuff the stat sheets.
Senior Forward Wesley Witherspoon
He gone: F/C Vernon Macklin, F Chandler Parsons, PF Alex Tyus
They’re back: PG Erving Walker, G Kenny Boynton, C Patric Young, F Erik Murphy, G Scottie Wilbekin
Impact newcomers: SG Mike Rosario (Transfer), SG Brad Beal
Bottom line: Most will contend that the loss of Chandler Parsons is the headline here, but the departures of Macklin and Tyus could actually hurt much more. Florida really beat people up inside during the tournament last year and the only physical big man left is sophomore Patric Young. However, the perimeter should be excellent. Starting guards Walker and Boynton return and, outside of their sometimes questionable shot selection (noticing a trend here?), they are very good players. Also jumping into the rotation will be very talented freshman Brad Beal and Rutgers transfer and former McDonald’s All-American Mike Rosario. A Villanova-like three guard lineup could be potent.
He gone: G Preston Knowles, PF Terrence Jennings
They’re back: PG Peyton Siva, SG Kyle Kuric, G Chris Smith, SF Rakeem Buckles, G Mike Marra, C Gorgui Dieng, F Stephan Van Treese, G Elisha Justice, F Jared Swopshire
Impact newcomers: G/F Wayne Blackshear, PF Chane Behanan, C Zach Price, SG Kevin Ware
Bottom line: This team really surprised last year, but they won’t sneak up on anyone this time around. Most of the key contributors are back, namely guards Siva and Kuric. The return of Jared Swopshire from injury will help and the freshmen class, namely Blackshear and Behanan, is full of talent. However, I think the loss of big man Terrence Jennings will hurt more than Rick Pitino would like to admit. Like a lot of other teams here, Louisville’s shot selection will be a big factor in how deep they play in March.
He gone: G Nolan Smith, F Kyle Singler, G Kyrie Irving
They’re back: SG Andre Dawkins, SG Seth Curry, F/C Miles Plumlee, F/C Mason Plumlee, PF Ryan Kelly, PG Tyler Thornton
Impact newcomers: G Austin Rivers, G/F Michael Gbinije, PG Quinn Cook, C Marshall Plumlee, SF Alex Murphy
Bottom line: Don’t kid yourself, the losses of Smith, Singler and Irving are going to hurt. A lot. But there’s still a lot of talent here. This Duke team is actually very similar to a lot of the recent, gulp, Carolina teams. A ton of talent, but young, inexperienced and a somewhat odd fit. Dawkins and Curry are great shooters, but most of their open shots came off of penetration from either Smith or Irving. Who takes that role now? Rivers, one of the top ranked freshman in the entire 2011 class, is more of a scorer than a facilitator. It may come down to another freshman, point guard Quinn Cook, to take this team by the horns.
He gone: C Gary McGhee, PG Brad Wanamaker, G/F Gilbert Brown
They’re back: G Ashton Gibbs, F Dante Taylor, F Nasir Robinson, PG Travon Woodall, PF Talib Zanna, G/F Lamar Patterson
Impact newcomers: PF Khem Birch, F/C Malcolm Gilbert, G/F Durand Johnson
Bottom line: The graduation losses will hurt here as well, but the return of Ashton Gibbs was a season saver. Gibbs is a great scorer, fantastic shooter and a capable ballhandler. He will help take some of the pressure off of newly minted starting point Travon Woodall. I really love Talib Zanna. If he can stay healthy, I think he is easily their best inside player. People also quickly forget about Dante Taylor. He was a five-star recruit and has length and athleticism. Freshman Khem Birch is the best recruit in the history of the program. He’s a long, athletic shot blocker and should be a terror on the defensive end if Jamie Dixon can keep him motivated.
He gone: F Jamel McLean, G/F Dante Jackson
They’re back: PG Tu Holloway, G Mark Lyons, C Kenny Frease, F Jeff Robinson, F Andrew Taylor
Impact newcomers: PG Dee Davis, G/F Dezmine Wells
Bottom line: The X-Men return on of the best guards in the country in Tu Holloway. He’s an elite scorer and is fantastic off the dribble. His backcourt mate Mark Lyons is also back and 7-footer Kenny Frease is emerging as a force inside. The losses of McLean and Jackson will hurt, but they’ve got a solid class coming in to help. The big question is, can they find one or two guys who can consistently knock down outside shots?
Senior Guard Tu Holloway
He gone: PG Darius Morris
They’re back: G/F Tim Hardaway Jr., PF Jordan Morgan, G Zack Novak, G Stu Douglass, PF Evan Smotrycz, G Matt Vogrich
Impact newcomers: PG Trey Burke, SG Carlton Brundidge
Bottom line: If Darius Morris had returned, this team would be in the top 10 easily. I declared them a fluke for most of the season last year, but they won me over during the NCAA Tournament. Tim Hardaway Jr. is long and talented and does an excellent job getting to the rim. Jordan Morgan is a force inside and shows nice footwork. The real gem though is sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz. At 6’9”, 225 lbs with the ability to step out to the three-point line, he’s an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses. Just ask Duke, they had no clue how to guard him in last year’s NCAA Tournament. If someone can stabilize the point guard position (paging freshman Trey Burke), I really like this team. They can flat-out shoot it.
He gone: F Jimmy Butler , G Dwight Buycks
They’re back: G Darius Johnson-Odom, F Jae Crowder, C Chris Otule, G Vander Blue, G Junior Cadougan, F/C Davante Gardner
Impact newcomers: G/F Juan Anderson
Bottom line: Jimmy Butler was a very talented player, but they will get by without him. Darius Johnson-Odom is a great slasher and Jae Crowder really stepped up towards the end of the year. He’s got a nice inside-outside game. Vander Blue, last year’s top recruit, should take on a bigger role this year and if Davante Gardner can continue to shed weight, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with inside. Can Junior Cadougan stabilize the point guard spot?
14. Miami (FL)
He gone: F Adrian Thomas
They’re back: C Reggie Johnson, G Macolm Grant, G Durand Scott, F DeQuan Jones, F/C Julian Gamble, G/F Rion Brown, G/F Garrius Adams
Impact newcomers: None of note
Bottom line: It’s pretty rare that a high-major program loses their coach then brings in a mid-major coach and we call it an upgrade. And yet, that’s exactly what happened at Miami. Frank Haith, he of one NCAA Tournament appearance and a .384 ACC winning percentage, landed a big payday at Missouri and the university brought in former George Mason Head Coach Jim Larranaga. Larranaga, an excellent coach, walks into a very nice situation. Despite their poor record last season, Miami has a ton of talent returning. Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott might be the best backcourt in the ACC and Reggie Johnson is a mountain of a man in the lane. The wings are long and talented and there’s some solid depth. If Larranaga can get these guys to buy into his approach like his Mason teams did, watch out!
He gone: F Derrick Williams, F Jamelle Horne
They’re back: G Lamont “Momo” Jones, F Solomon Hill, G Kyle Fogg, G/F Kevin Parrom, F Jesse Perry, G Jordin Mayes, G/F Brendon Lavender, C Kyryl Natyazhko
Impact newcomers: PG Josiah Turner, PF Angelo Chol, SG Nick Johnson, PF Sidiki Johnson
Bottom line: It would be easy to note Derrick Williams’ departure and immediately peg this team for a down season. However, that would be shortsighted. They return some very nice talent, namely guard Momo Jones and forward Solomon Hill. There’s a lot of other experienced talent returning as well. Freshman point guard Josiah Turner, part of a very solid recruiting class, is a big-time player and should immediately take the reins for the Wildcats.
He gone: G Charvez Davis, G Senario Hillman, PF Chris Hines
They’re back: F JaMychal Green, SF Tony Mitchell, PG Trevor Releford, G/F Andrew Steele, G/F Charles Hankerson Jr.
Impact newcomers: PF Nick Jacobs, G/F Levi Randolph
Bottom line: After a bunch of ugly out-of-conference losses, Alabama really turned it on last season. They probably improved more from the start of the season than any team in the country, narrowly missing out on the NCAA Tournament. JaMychal Green is a big-time inside force and Tony Mitchell really stepped forward on the wing last season. Point guard Trevor Releford had a solid freshman year, but he needs to tighten up his handle and improve his assist to turnover ratio. Someone needs to step forward and hit some outside shots.
Guard Trevor Releford, left, and Forward JaMychal Green
He gone: PG Isaiah Thomas, PF Matthew Bryan-Amaning, SF Justin Holiday, G Venoy Overton
They’re back: PG Abdul Gaddy, F Darnell Gant, G/F C.J. Wilcox, G/F Terrence Ross, G/F Scott Suggs, C Aziz N’Diaye
Impact newcomers: G Tony Wroten
Bottom line: Isaiah Thomas was a phenomenal talent, but people quickly forget that Abdul Gaddy was the top point guard in his entire recruiting class. He was off to a nice start last year before tearing his ACL. If he’s at full strength, this team looks very similar to last year’s team. There’s a lot of athletic shooters on the wing and freshman guard Tony Wroten will help Gaddy with the ballhandling responsibilities while also providing scoring. Can Aziz N’Diaye hold down the fort in the paint?
He gone: G/F Steven Gray, G Demetri Goodson (Transfer)
They’re back: F Elias Harris, C Robert Sacre, C Sam Dower, G Marquise Carter, C Kelly Olynyk, PG David Stockton, G/F Mangisto Arop, F Mathis Monninghoff
Impact newcomers: G Gary Bell
Bottom line: The Zags underperformed last year to some degree, but the injuries to Elias Harris were a big part of that. With Harris back healthy, and Robert Sacre dominating the paint, the Zags are the easy choice in the West Coast Conference. With Demetri Goodson transferring, David Stockton, son of the former Gonzaga great John Stockton, will need to stabilize the point guard position. There’s solid depth and some very interesting talent here, namely 7-footer Kelly Olynyk who can step out to the three-point line.
He gone: No one of note
They’re back: G Marcus Denmon, F Laurence Bowers, G/F Kim English, PF Ricardo Ratliffe, PG Michael Dixon, G Phil “Flip” Pressey, G Matt Pressey, PF Justin Safford, C Steve Moore
Impact newcomers: None of note
Bottom line: With new coach Frank Haith coming in and all of last year’s roster returning, it will be interesting to see if Mizzou changes their style of play. Known in recent years for their 40 minutes of full court press and relentless pushing of the tempo, will the Tigers change speeds with former coach Mike Anderson now at Arkansas? With a guard heavy lineup and very little inside presence, Haith would be wise to continue to push the pace. Guard Marcus Denmon is a great scorer, but he can’t do it all himself. Wing Kim English needs to play up to his potential and provide another scoring option.
20. Michigan State
He gone: PG Kalin Lucas, G/F Durrell Summers, C Garrick Sherman (Transfer)
They’re back: F Draymond Green, G Keith Appling, PF Delvon Roe, G/F Austin Thornton, C Derrick Nix, C Adreian Payne, G Mike Kebler
Impact newcomers: G/F Brandon Dawson, G Brandon Wood (Transfer)
Bottom line: Lucas and Summers are gone, but Summers never re-discovered his NCAA Tournament form from the previous year and Lucas didn’t seemed right after all those injuries. Their best player is actually returning in forward Draymond Green. He’s a highly effective distributor for a big man and Tom Izzo would be wise to run a lot of the offense through him while breaking in sophomore Keith Appling at the point. Forward Delvon Roe is a great defender and brings a lot of energy. Brandon Dawson is a big-time recruit on the wing and Valpo transfer Brandon Wood should bring more scoring on the wing. In Izzo I trust.
He gone: PF Lavoy Allen
They’re back: G Ramone Moore, PG Juan Fernandez, SF Scootie Randall, G Khalif Wyatt, C Michael Eric, G T.J. DiLeo, G/F Aaron Brown, SF Rahlir Jefferson
Impact newcomers: None of note
Bottom line: The loss of Lavoy Allen is a big blow, especially on the defensive end. Everyone else is back though for coach Fran Dunphy. Guard Ramone Moore really emerged as a scorer last year and Scootie Randall brings a lot of skill on the wing. Point man Juan Fernandez needs to improve his ball security and do a better job of getting his teammates good shots and center Michael Eric needs to establish himself inside now that Allen is gone.
Senior Guard Ramone Moore
22. Mississippi State
He gone: SF Ravern Johnson, PF Kodi Augustus, G Riley Benock
They’re back: PG Dee Bost, F/C Renardo Sidney, G Jalen Steele, G Brian Bryant, C Wendell Lewis, G/F Twany Beckham
Impact newcomers: SF Rodney Hood, G/F David Gardner
Bottom line: If Renardo Sidney can get his head on straight, the sky is the limit for this team. Sidney is as skilled as any big man in the nation, but he can’t seem to get himself into shape or stay out of trouble. If he can do those two things, he’s got the potential to be mentioned in player of the year discussions. Dee Bost returns at the point where he needs to show a little better shot selection. He’s a solid player though, especially if he can cut the turnovers a bit. Freshman Rodney Hood is a big-time recruit. He’s got length and athleticism and is a great scorer on the wing. This team could make some noise in the SEC.
23. Texas A&M
He gone: PG B.J. Holmes, F Nathan Walkup
They’re back: PF David Loubeau, F Khris Middleton, PF Kourtney Robertson, G/F Naji Hibbert, PG Dash Harris, F Ray Turner, G Andrew Darko
Impact newcomers: PG Jamal Branch
Bottom line: With Khris Middelton and David Loubeau returning, the Aggies have the four and five spots covered. Middleton is a lanky wing with range and scoring ability and Loubeau provides solid punch on the block. I also like Kourtney Robertson stepping in inside for Nathan Walkup. The question is, who is playing on the perimeter? With B.J. Holmes gone, Dash Harris and/or freshman Jamal Branch need to seize the point guard spot. Where is the shooting coming from?
He gone: F/C Marcus Morris, F/C Markieff Morris, G Josh Selby, G Tyrel Reed, G Brady Morningstar, G/F Mario Little
They’re back: PG Tyshawn Taylor, PF Thomas Robinson, G/F Travis Releford, G Elijah Johnson
Impact newcomers: SG Ben McLemore, PG Naadir Tharpe
Bottom line: This is not your typical Kansas team. A load of talent is walking out the door, but it would be a mistake to say the cupboard is bare. Tyshawn Taylor had a solid season at the point last year and I expect him to take another step forward as a senior. Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson both showed flashes during their sophomore seasons, and both will need to step up on the wing this year. The key here though is forward Thomas Robinson. Grief stricken last year after the loss of his mother, he looked lethargic at times. However, he emerged late in the season and has the tools to make the Morris twins look like scrubs. If he steps forward, the only question is who is taking all of the outside shots when people collapse on him inside? Freshman Ben McLemore could help there, he’s a talented scorer and should contribute immediately.
He gone: G Tre’Von Willis, SF Derrick Jasper
They’re back: F Chace Stanback, G Oscar Bellfield, G Anthony Marshall, PF Quintrell Thomas, G Justin Hawkins, F/C Carlos Lopez, F/C Brice Massamba
Impact newcomers: None of note
Bottom line: New Head Coach Dave Rice has promised to bring back the “Runnin’ Rebels” style of the Jerry Tarkanian era. Losing Willis, their leading scorer, will make that tough, but most everyone else is back. This team shares the ball very well and has quite a few guys that can handle it. Junior Quintrell Thomas needs to step forward and provide an inside force to go with all of their perimeter players. Senior Chace Stanback could be in for a big breakout.
Just missed the cut:
He gone: G Kemba Walker, F Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (Transfer), C Charles Okwandu
They’re back: G/F Jeremy Lamb, PG Shabazz Napier, C Alex Oriakhi, F Roscoe Smith, G/F Niels Giffey, PF Tyler Olander
Impact newcomers: PG Ryan Boatright
Bottom line: There’s some solid talent back, especially sophomore wing Jeremy Lamb. However, losing guard Kemba Walker will hurt more than anyone could possibly anticipate.
He gone: SF Rashad Bishop, G Larry Davis, F/C Ibrahima Thomas, F Darnell Wilks
They’re back: F/C Yancy Gates, PG Cashmere Wright, G Sean Kilpatrick, G Dion Dixon, F Justin Jackson
Impact newcomers: G/F Jermaine Sanders, SF Shaquille Thomas
Bottom line: Some decent talent goes out the door, some solid talent comes in. The Bearcats are simply lacking that one elite player to take them to the next level. Can senior forward Yancy Gates be that guy?
He gone: C JaJuan Johnson, SG E’Twaun Moore
They’re back: SF Robbie Hummel, PG Lewis Jackson, SG Ryne Smith, G/F D.J. Byrd, G/F Kelsey Barlow, G Terone Johnson, G John Hart
Impact newcomers: None of note
Bottom line: Even with the losses of Johnson and Moore, there is some nice talent returning here. However, with so much pressure falling on Robbie Hummel, and his knee, who knows how much he will be able to bring to the table?
He gone: SG LaceDarius Dunn
They’re back: PF Quincy Acy, PF Perry Jones, PG A.J. Walton, F Anthony Jones, G/F Fred Ellis, C J’Mison Morgan, G Stargell Love
Impact newcomers: F Quincy Miller, G/F Deuce Bello
Bottom line: The frontcourt is loaded with talent. However, they struggled last year because of the point guard spot and not much has changed there. Freshman forward Quincy Miller is highly skilled, but is coming off a serious knee injury.
He gone: SF Jordan Hamilton, G Cory Joseph, PF Tristan Thompson, G Dogus Balbay, PF Gary Johnson, G Jai Lucas, PF Matt Hill
They’re back: G J’Covan Brown, PF Alexis Wangmene
Impact newcomers: PG Myck Kabongo, PF Jonathan Holmes, G/F Sheldon McClellan, SG Julien Lewis
Bottom line: By all rights, Texas shouldn’t even be in this conversation after losing so much talent. However, the backcourt of J’Covan Brown and freshman Myck Kabongo could be absolutely dynamite. Brown has always showed great tools, but lacks maturity. Still, when he asserts himself, he is almost unstoppable (watch the Arizona game from the NCAA Tournament). Can he keep his composure? Kabongo is a brilliant young point guard who will allow Brown to play off the ball some. Who will fill in around them?