Oct. 15—The first games of the 2023-24 men's college basketball season tip off in less than a month.
AP Top 25 voter and Illinois beat writer Scott Richey is celebrating the month of October like he always does. Previewing the coming season. First up? The Top 100 returning players — that's the increasingly rare same faces, same places in the transfer portal era (More, C-9-10):
1. Zach Edey
Purdue senior center
Edey put up historic numbers last season (22.3 points per game on 60.7 percents shooting plus 12.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game), as he swept his way to consensus national player of the year honors. While the 7-foot-4 center didn't get any less dominant in the offseason, the Boilermakers might actually be better off if his supporting cast ate into his production a little.
2. Tyler Kolek
Marquette senior guard
"Kolek played off the ball a lot as a freshman at George Mason, but when Shaka Smart and his staff were hired at Marquette in 2021, they recruited him from the transfer portal and handed him the ball. Kolek is an incredible pick-and-roll player with elite passing vision. He struggled shooting the ball his first season at MU (28.1 percent on three-pointers) but really improved last season (39.8 percent on threes), and that opened up even more passing lanes for him. Smart has said that he expects Kolek to shoot even better this season." — Ben Steele, Milwaukee (Wis.) Journal Sentinel
3. Kyle Filipowski
Duke sophomore forward
Filipowski likely would have been selected in the first round of the 2023 NBA draft had he not withdrawn to spend a second (and likely final) season at Duke. Now the Blue Devils' big man is projected as a potential preseason All-American as a sophomore following ACC Freshman of the Year honors after averaging 15.1 points and nine rebounds.
4. Armando Bacot
North Carolina graduate forward
Bacot channeled his inner Lovie Smith when decreeing that former teammate Caleb Love "is like the wife you divorced, but you both still have a kid together." Seems like the Tar Heels' big man is expecting smoother sailing this year after a bumpy 20-13 effort last year. UNC's all-time leading rebounder will play a big role in that having put up 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game last season.
5. Boogie Ellis
Southern Cal senior guard
Ellis is the fifth-year veteran in what's become an intriguing USC backcourt with five-star freshman Isaiah Collier's arrival. While big things are expected of Collier, Ellis has already proven it at this level. The 6-3 guard did everything better last season. He scored more, rebounded better, handed out more assists and was more efficient shooting on twos and threes.
6. Terrence Shannon Jr.
Illinois senior guard
Shannon left Texas Tech for Illinois looking for a go-to role last season. He found it. The 6-6 guard set career-highs in scoring, rebounds and assists by averaging 17.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists last season. Shannon eschewed a shot at being drafted to run it back in Champaign as one of the top guards in the country.
7. Ryan Kalkbrenner
Creighton senior center
Kalkbrenner has gone from catching alley-oops from current Illinois quarterback turned wide receiver Isaiah Williams at Trinity Catholic (Mo.) to dunking on the Big East's best big men and denying them at the rim. The two-time reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year blocked at least one shot in 25 consecutive games last season and finished the year averaging 15.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
8. Donovan Clingan
Connecticut sophomore center
After splitting time with Adama Sanogo — last year's NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player — Clingan was supposed to be the guy for the Huskies this season. He will be as long as the foot strain he suffered at the end of September doesn't linger.
9. PJ Hall
Clemson senior center
The competition for best big man in the ACC this season is a loaded one. The rapid development Hall showed during the 2022-23 season — he was runner-up for the conference's most improved player — put him squarely in that conversation. Hall's overall numbers didn't change dramatically (or even at all), but he was significantly more efficient as a scorer with a 53/40/79 shooting slash ... at 6-10.
10. Jamal Shead
Houston senior guard
The dominant backcourt that led the Cougars to 93 wins, a Final Four, an Elite Eight and a Sweet 16 in the last three seasons looks different this year. Mostly because Shead is the last man standing from that group. But he's still an important piece for a Houston team looking to win just as much in the Big 12 as it did in the American.
11. Norchad Omier
Miami junior forward
The stage wasn't too big for Omier after he transferred from Arkansas State to Miami last season. The 6-7 forward averaged a double-double in his two seasons with the Red Wolves and then averaged a double-double in his first year with the Hurricanes, putting up 13.1 points and 10 rebounds per game as a key player in their Final Four run.
12. RJ Davis
North Carolina senior guard
Davis was the more efficient option in the Tar Heels' backcourt the last three seasons sharing space with the more high volume Love. Another season like last year — 16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists with a 44/36/88 shooting slash — could help UNC bounce back from a disappointing 2022-23 campaign.
13. Wade Taylor IV
Texas A&M junior guard
Texas A&M was one of the best teams in the country in the final two months of the 2022-23 season, and Taylor played a significant role in that success for the SEC runners-up. The Dallas native led the Aggies in scoring and assists, averaging 16.3 points, 3.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds as an All-SEC First Team pick.
14. Boo Buie
Northwestern graduate guard
Buie had the ball in his hands almost immediately after arriving in Evanston for the 2019-20 season. His first four seasons at Northwestern have been steady progress that led to being a Bob Cousy Award finalist last season. The Wildcats' point guard led them in both scoring (17.3 points) and assists (4.5).
15. Jahmir Young
Maryland senior guard
Young didn't have any trouble in his move from three years in Conference USA at Charlotte to the Big Ten last season. The 6-1 guard immediately became the Terrapins' top player and put up 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game to earn All-Big Ten honors.
16. DaRon Holmes II
Dayton junior forward
Did the Flyers live up to the lofty expectations they faced entering the 2022-23 season as a Top 25 team? Not quite. But it wasn't because Holmes didn't deliver. The 6-10 forward averaged a career-high 18.4 points and 8.1 rebounds and added a second straight Atlantic-10 All-Defensive Team selection to his résumé as a dynamic two-way big.
17. Judah Mintz
Syracuse sophomore guard
"Judah had a great freshman season. Led all ACC freshmen in points and assists. Led the entire conference in steals. He needs to show that he's improved his outside shot. He made just 30 percent of his threes last year. He also needs to take care of the ball better, especially in late-game situations." — Mike Waters, Syracuse (N.Y.) Post-Standard
18. Tyson Walker
Michigan State graduate guard
Walker has been through his Big Ten growing pains after transferring to Michigan State from Northeastern ahead of the 2021-22 season. The 6-1 guard has evolved into more of a scorer than a facilitator in his time in East Lansing, Mich., but he did both well last season in putting up 14.8 points, 2.9 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game.
19. Isaiah Stevens
Colorado State graduate guard
Stevens was supposed to miss up to two months after breaking his foot in the lead up to the 2022-23 season. Instead, he returned in late November having missed just seven games and secured First Team All-Mountain West honors after averaging 17.9 points, 6.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds.
20. Johnell Davis
Florida Atlantic junior guard
Would Davis have had high-major suitors in an alternate reality where the Owls, who will play Illinois on Dec. 5 at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of the Jimmy V Classic, didn't just run it back after a Final Four appearance and the players used that momentum to chase the bag elsewhere? You bet. That's what happens when you show out like Davis did last year, averaging 15.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 2.3 assists in the postseason.
21. Tolu Smith
Mississippi State graduate forward
"Getting Smith back was the biggest offseason news for Mississippi State because he can accomplish a ton. Various publications have given him preseason first-team honors, and that'll likely continue. As Mississippi State goes, he goes. He's among the best bigs in the game when healthy." — Stefan Krajisnik, Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger
22. Trey Alexander
Creighton junior guard
Alexander won't have to fill the void created with Ryan Nembhard's transfer by himself, but it's certainly an opportunity for the 6-4 guard to enhance his role after what was a breakout sophomore season in 2022-23. The 13.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists Alexander averaged last year? Expect to see more from the Oklahoma City native in 2023-24.
23. Oso Ighodaro
Marquette junior forward
There's real value in a big man with high-level passing skills. Particularly paired with a point guard like Kolek. That Ighodaro doubles as Marquette's best defender makes him just as valuable as Kolek (if not more so at times) as the Golden Eagles try to win another Big East title.
24. Oumar Ballo
Arizona redshirt senior center
Ballo had his breakout season in the 2022-23 campaign, going from first big off the Wildcats' bench to full-time starter putting up 14.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. The Koulikoro, Mali, native is one of the top centers in the country and as efficient as he is productive.
25. Kevin McCullar
Kansas redshirt senior guard
The Jayhawks — who visit State Farm Center for a charity exhibition game on Oct. 29 to play Illinois, as former Illini coach Bill Self makes his return to C-U — got a serious boost to their national championship hopes when McCullar withdrew from the NBA draft and opted for one more season in Lawrence, Kan. The 6-7 Texan is one of the best two-way wings in the country and averaged 10.7 points, seven rebounds, 2.4 assists and two steals last year as a Naismith Defensive Player of the Year semifinalist.
26. Bryce Hopkins
Providence junior guard/forward
"It was interesting to hear Bryce Hopkins introduced as a guard/forward at the program's Late Night Madness event. That suggests he could play more 3 — maybe even a possession or two of 2 — than 4. It would obviously be a decision to help his pro stock, but is that best for the 2023-24 edition of Providence? Hopkins is a true matchup problem at the 4 and makes a real impact on the glass even against bigger players." — Bill Koch, The Providence (R.I.) Journal
27. Johni Broome
Auburn junior forward
It was a crowded frontcourt for Auburn last season. Crowded enough that five-star freshmen Yohan Traore barely scratched out a role. Mostly because of Broome. The Morehead State transfer led the Tigers in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.
28. Jamal Mashburn Jr.
New Mexico senior guard
Mashburn chose to follow Richard Pitino from Minnesota to New Mexico, and the Lobos' coach has benefited from that decision. Fairly productive in a backup role for the Gophers as a freshman, Mashburn has blossomed into a high-level scorer at New Mexico. The 6-2 guard scored a career-high 19.1 points per game during the 2022-23 season and shot a career-best 38 percent from three.
29. Dajuan Harris Jr.
Kansas redshirt junior guard
Harris is arguably the best pure point guard in the country, with an assist percentage last season that topped 30 percent and an assist-to-turnover ratio just better than 3:1. That Harris was also the 2022-23 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year only increases his value to the Jayhawks.
30. Jeremy Roach
Duke senior guard
Roach will be a steady for a Duke team that might not be the youngest in recent memory but is still mostly built with five-star freshmen and former five-star sophomores. Plus Roach, a former five-star recruit himself, put up 13.6 points, 3.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game last season in a similar veteran role.
31. Tristen Newton
Connecticut graduate guard
Newton quickly found his footing last season in Storrs, Conn., after transferring from East Carolina. The 6-5 point guard, who set a UConn record with two triple-doubles in the same season, started 38 of 39 games and averaged 10.1 points, a team-high 4.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds for the NCAA champions.
32. N'Faly Dante
Oregon senior center
No other player in Oregon basketball history has been as efficient a scorer as Dante. The 6-11 center out of Bamako, Mali, is a career 64 percent shooter through four seasons and leveled up across the board in the 2022-23 season by averaging a career-high 13.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.
33. Baylor Scheierman
Creighton senior guard
Scheierman maxed out what he could accomplish at South Dakota State as the Summit League Player of the Year in 2022. While his scoring might have dropped on a deeper Creighton team last season, the 6-7 guard still averaged 12.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. If he shoots it like he did for the Jackrabbits — 41.4 percent from three in three seasons — he could have a monster second season with the Bluejays.
34. Eric Dixon
Villanova redshirt senior forward
Dixon was one of the few bright spots for Villanova in a challenging 2022-23 season. A 17-17 record and sixth-place finish in the Big East was probably more borderline disaster given the expectations on the Main Line. But Dixon was steady, leading the team with 15.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
35. Santiago Vescovi
Tennessee senior guard
Vescovi might not be the most famous Uruguayan basketball player — Esteban Batista is still going strong at 40 — but the Vols' veteran has certainly made an indelible mark on Tennessee's success going on half a decade. Vescovi earned his second straight All-SEC First Team honor last season after averaging 12.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
36. Antonio Reeves
Kentucky senior guard
Did Kentucky's season hinge on Reeves returning to Lexington, Ky., for his fifth and final season? Yeah, maybe. The Wildcats brought in their usual share of five-star freshmen, but bringing back the reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year (a career 40 percent three-point shooter) was significant.
37. Coleman Hawkins
Illinois senior forward
Hawkins flashed his peak potential when he notched the first triple-double of his career with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a late November blowout win against Syracuse. Tapping into that versatile potential consistently is Hawkins' challenge in his senior season with the Illini.
38. Tyrese Proctor
Duke sophomore guard
Proctor essentially split point guard duties with Roach last season, and the 6-5 Australian delivered. He actually led Duke in assists and was the team's third-leading scorer at 9.4 points, 3.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game for good measure.
39. Aidan Mahaney
Saint Mary's sophomore guard
"Aidan Mahaney, who grew up near the Saint Mary's campus, had an excellent freshman season (13.9 points, All-WCC), but he did falter toward the end of it. He scored in double figures only once in the final six games, possibly because defenses made him more of their focus. With fellow guard Logan Johnson graduated, Mahaney will be the unquestioned No. 1 option in the backcourt. If Augustas Marciulionis (son of former Warriors guard Sarunas Marciulionis) can take some of the ball-handling and scoring load off Mahaney, I would expect Mahaney to have an even better sophomore season than he did as a freshman." — Steve Kroner, San Francisco Chronicle
40. Clifford Omoruyi
Rutgers senior center
No word yet if Omoruyi regrets his decision to return after Cam Spencer and Paul Mulcahy made late decisions to transfer. The Scarlet Knights have to be thrilled, though, to bring back the 6-11 center that was a All-Big Ten Defensive Team and All-Big Ten Second Team selection in the 2022-23 season.
41. Adem Bona
UCLA sophomore forward/center
Bona was a bit of an outlier on the 2022-23 roster, with the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year one of three international Bruins. Now he's one of seven and primed to build off a season where he averaged 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds and ranked second in the Pac-12 shooting 67.5 percent from the field.
42. Nijel Pack
Miami junior guard
Pack certainly earned the first half of the $800,000 name, image and likeness deal he signed after transferring from Kansas State to Miami ahead of the 2022-23 season. The 6-foot guard was the Hurricanes' third-leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Final Four team.
43. Tucker DeVries
Drake junior guard/forward
Is DeVries the best mid-major player in the country? An argument can be made. The two-time All-Missouri Valley wing and reigning MVC Player of the Year set a new career high scoring 18.6 points per game last season and did so shooting a career-best 37 percent from three for the Bulldogs, who nearly upset Miami in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
44. Joel Soriano
St. John's senior center
New St. John's coach Rick Pitino basically told the entire Red Storm roster thanks, but no thanks, when he got the job. Soriano, who averaged 15.2 points and 11.9 rebounds last season, is one of just two returning players for the Queens, N.Y.-based program.
45. Justin Moore
Villanova graduate guard
Surgery to repair the Achilles tendon he tore in the 2022 Elite Eight game against Houston cost Moore basically half of the 2022-23 season. The 13 games he did play mostly lived up to expectations for a player that went from Big East All-Freshman in the 2019-20 season to All-Big East Second Team in the 2021-22 season.
46. Milos Uzan
Oklahoma sophomore guard
Expectations are high for Uzan in his second season in Norman, Okla., after an effective, efficient freshman year. The 6-4 guard worked his way into the Sooners' starting lineup in early December and finished his debut season by averaging 7.6 points, three assists and 2.7 rebounds while shooting 41 percent from three-point range.
47. Keisei Tominaga
Nebraska senior guard
Tominaga came into his own as a scorer in the final 15 games of the 2022-23 season, averaging 17.3 points and shooting 53 percent overall and 42 percent from three-point range. That carried over to the 2023 FIBA World Cup where Tominaga, the only collegiate player on the Japanese roster, put up 11.4 points per game and shot 37 percent from three.
48. KJ Simpson
Colorado junior guard
"He played off the bench as a freshman and was a starter last year. A big key for him taking the next step is just staying healthy. He had a second-half dropoff last year as he battled an ankle injury and, a little later, an illness that eventually was diagnosed as mono. His numbers dropped during the second half." — Pat Rooney, Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera
49. A.J. Hoggard
Michigan State senior guard
The fit between Hoggard and Walker in the Michigan State backcourt might be perfect. The 6-3 Hoggard is more of a playmaker for others, leading the Spartans with 5.9 assists per game last season, but can affect the game in several ways. He also averaged 12.9 points and 3.7 rebounds in the 2022-23 season.
50. Alijah Martin
Florida Atlantic junior guard
Martin was the second half of the Owls' effective 1-2 backcourt punch playing alongside Davis. The 6-2 guard scored in double figures in 24 of 36 games — topping 20-plus four times — and finished the Final Four season averaging 13.4 points and 5.3 rebounds to go with 37 percent three-point shooting.
51. Kadary Richardson
Seton Hall senior guard
Tagging any player with a "Draymond Green-esque" label is unfair, but Richardson gives off those vibes as a big wing with a versatile skill set. The 6-6 New Yorker averaged 10.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists last season, shot 44 percent from three and was the Pirates' best defender.
52. Kam Jones
Marquette junior guard
Kolek might be the Golden Eagles' All-American, but it was Jones who led the 29-win Big East champions in scoring last season. The 37 percent career three-point shooter certainly benefited playing next to the Big East Player of the Year point guard and ultimately doubled his scoring from a year prior to 15.1 points per game.
53. Davonte Davis
Arkansas senior guard
The only common thread in the Razorbacks' back-to-back-to-back Sweet 16 runs? That would be Davis. The 6-4 guard is a two-way threat and was voted to the SEC All-Defensive Team last season. He picked up his game offensively in the final two-thirds of the season, averaging 12.5 points with a 44/38/69 shooting slash in his final 24 games.
54. Quinten Post
Boston College graduate forward
Post accrued 23 of 75 votes among 11 different players to be named the ACC's most improved player last season. The 7-footer out of Amsterdam was the Eagles' leading scorer at 15.1 points per game and the only qualifying Division I player to post at least a 50/40/80 shooting line.
55. Frankie Collins
Arizona State junior guard
The lingering question of former Illini Adam Miller's eligibility this season will determine just how much the Sun Devils need Collins. He'll already need to fill a bigger role than he did last season where he put up 9.7 points, 4.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game as a quarter of ASU's four-guard lineup with the since-departed Desmond Cambridge, DJ Horne and Devan Cambridge.
56. Branden Carlson
Utah graduate center
Carlson's evolution into a stretch 5 continued last season, as he shot 33 percent from three-point range on four attempts per game. The 7-footer kind of does it all and averaged 16.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and two blocks in a Pac-12 First Team-caliber 2022-23 season.
57. Riley Kugel
Florida sophomore guard
Kugel forced Florida coach Todd Golden's hand in late January. The Gators couldn't keep the then-freshman out of the starting lineup. Kugel started the last 14 games of the season, averaging 14.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in that span while shooting 37 percent from three.
58. Tyrese Hunter
Texas junior guard
The Longhorns' backcourt still isn't Hunter's alone — Oral Roberts transfer Max Abmas parachuted in — but he could still be primed for a breakout season. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2022 at Iowa State didn't have a huge jump in production last season but was much more efficient as a three-point shooter.
59. Mark Sears
Alabama senior guard
Not every former mid-major star can replicate previous success after transferring up to a high-major program. Sears didn't at Alabama last year — not entirely with Brandon Miller the top option and several other guards to share the ball with — but he still made an impact for the Crimson Tide. An impact that should grow given his experience and how the Alabama roster has turned over.
60. Anton Watson
Gonzaga graduate forward
It's Watson's turn to cook after playing the last four seasons next to Drew Timme in the Bulldogs' frontcourt. Timme's now with the Milwaukee Bucks, and Gonzaga will turn to Watson up front plus, Wyoming transfer Graham Ike, after the latter averaged career-highs in scoring (11.1 points) and rebounding (6.2) last season.
61. Trevon Brazile
Arkansas sophomore forward
Brazile posterizing South Dakota State's Broden Lien in a mid-November game last season brought serious attention to the Missouri transfer. He tore his ACL six games later, missing the rest of the season, and finishing with averages of 11.8 points and six rebounds as the Razorbacks' brief sixth man. Not to mention being their best three-pointer shooter, at 6-10, at 38 percent.
62. Dillon Mitchell
Texas sophomore forward
Mitchell was a McDonald's All-American and a top five prospect in the Class of 2022 coming out of Montverde Academy (Fla.). While he started all 38 games last season for the Longhorns, he was far from their top option. But based on his pedigree and departures of Timmy Allen and Christian Bishop, Mitchell should be in line for more minutes and a more prominent role.
63. Reece Beekman
Virginia senior guard
"Reece Beekman will be relied on heavily by the Cavaliers for leadership, defense and increased scoring. He's the most experienced player on the roster, and given Kihei Clark's graduation after last season, Beekman has played in coach Tony Bennett's system the longest of any current Hoo. Beekman was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year last season, and he's usually asked to defend the opponent's best guard. He'll be asked to do that again, and score more because UVa lost four of its top five scorers from last season with the exception of Beekman." — Greg Madia, Charlottesville (Va.) Daily Progress
64. Mark Mitchell
Duke sophomore forward
Mitchell might trail Filipowski and Proctor when it comes to Duke's top NBA draft prospects, but the 6-9 big wing is still a borderline late first-round pick. Mitchell won't be the Blue Devils' first (or second or maybe third) option, but he's a solid rebounder and gives off some three-and-D potential.
65. Julian Reese
Jr., F, Maryland
Reese's sister Angel is slightly more famous having led LSU to a national championship last season, but "little" brother showed serious improvement as a sophomore during the 2022-23 season with the Terrapins. Reese more than doubled his scoring from the year prior and averaged 11.4 points on 63 percent shooting to go with 7.2 rebounds per game.
66. Tyrece Radford
Texas A&M graduate guard
Radford had the distinction of being the only SEC player shorter than 6-7 (he's 6-2) to average more than 13 points and five rebounds (13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds) during the 2022-23 season. The Baton Rouge, La., native has become a staple in the Texas A&M lineup after transferring from Virginia Tech, starting 75 straight games.
67. Jaelen House
New Mexico graduate guard
The Lobos can make the argument they have the best mid-major backcourt in the country — if not one of the best overall — with House playing alongside Mashburn. Year two in Albuquerque for the 6-foot guard saw him drop 16.9 points, 4.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game.
68. Erik Reynolds II
Saint Joseph's junior guard
The path back to a winning season — one Saint Joseph's coach Billy Lange sort of desperately needs — runs through Reynolds. The Hawks' top three scorers all return after last year's 16-17 campaign, with Reynolds at the top coming off a season where he averaged 19.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
69. Tyler Thomas
Hofstra graduate guard
The Pride suffered a typical mid-major offseason, with leading scorer Aaron Estrada decamping for Alabama. But all is not lost for Hofstra, with Thomas back in the fold after averaging 16.5 points and 3.8 rebounds with a 49/40/78 shooting slash last year. No Estrada means more touches for Thomas.
70. Jaylen Forbes
Tulane senior guard
Tulane took a hit when Jalen Cook decided to transfer back to LSU, but Forbes' return should bolster the Green Wave and keep them competitive in the American. The 6-5 guard started his career at Alabama and played sparingly, but he's averaged 17.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in three seasons in New Orleans.
71. Bruce Thornton
Ohio State sophomore guard
Thornton was the steadiest of the Buckeyes' freshmen during a challenging 2022-23 season they all learned on the job. The 6-2 guard got more consistent as the season progressed, averaging 14.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists in his final 13 games while shooting 51 percent overall and 37 percent from three.
72. Payton Sandfort
Iowa junior forward
The evolution for Sandfort from 2023 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year to next Hawkeyes forward to emerge from basically nowhere as a legitimate scoring threat seems preordained. That Sandfort averaged 19 points and shot 44 percent from three in Iowa's foreign tour this summer seems to back that up.
73. Zakai Zeigler
Tennessee junior guard
Zeigler hasn't been given the 100 percent all clear from the Vols just yet. They're bringing the 5-9 guard along with care as he returns from a torn ACL that ended his 2022-23 season prematurely in February. Fully healthy, Zeigler is a legitimate two-way player as a pass-first point guard and lockdown perimeter defender.
74. Tony Perkins
Iowa senior guard
An ideal scenario for the Hawkeyes is Perkins reprises his role as a strong positional rebounder and reliable scorer — one Illinois knows all about — while picking up some of the slack in creating for others created with Connor McCaffery running out of eligibility.
75. Tristan da Silva
Colorado senior forward
The 6-9 German averaged 15.9 points last season as a 50/39/75 shooter making his race to 1,000 career points — he's just 79 short — a short one once the 2023-24 season begins. It's a benchmark made easier by da Silva's steady improvement as a three-point shooter in his time in Boulder, Colo.
76. Keion Brooks Jr.
Washington graduate forward
Brooks was mostly a role player at Kentucky — albeit one who topped 10 points per game as a sophomore and junior. The former five-star recruit flashed that level of potential last season in his first at Washington, putting up 17.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
77. Tamin Lipsey
Iowa State sophomore guard
Count on Lipsey being central to the Cyclones' success this season after Iowa State lost the other three guards from their rotation a year ago. Lipsey flashed some strength at both ends of the court in the 2022-23 season, leading the Cyclones with 146 assists and 73 steals as a day one freshman starter.
78. Emanuel Miller
TCU senior forward
Miller has earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors the past two seasons, but the 6-7 Canadian wing isn't all that far removed from being a top 10 scorer and rebounder in the SEC during his sophomore year at Texas A&M in the 2020-21 season. No Mike Miles means the Horned Frogs need more from Miller.
79. Trey Calvin
Wright State graduate guard
Calvin was both a prolific and efficient scorer last season for the Raiders. the 6-foot guard out of Glendale Heights averaged 20.3 points (19th most in the country) and also ranked in the top 25 nationally with 250 made field goals on 508 attempts.
80. Zhuric Phelps
SMU junior guard
Phelps was at his best running the SMU offense late in the 2022-23 season, with at least four assists in eight of the Mustangs' final 13 games. He was a strong scorer the entire season and finished off his sophomore year averaging 17.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
81. Sean Pedulla
Virginia Tech junior guard
Pedulla's overall usage rate might not have changed all that much last season, but his role certainly did as his minutes essentially tripled as the Hokies' starting point guard. What Virginia Tech needs after Pedulla put up 15 points, 3.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game last season is for him to rediscover the shooter that knocked down 45 percent of his threes during the 2021-22 season.
82. Dawson Garcia
Minnesota junior forward
Garcia can escape the "good-stats-bad-team" rap last season at Minnesota because he put up good stats on good Marquette and North Carolina teams before. It's not exactly a sizable group of 6-11 big men averaging 15.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists while also being a career 35 percent three-point shooter.
83. Chase Hunter
Clemson senior guard
Hunter simply filled a role — and not a large one — during his first three seasons at Clemson. Call it a slow burn breakout. The 6-4 guard set new career highs across the board last season, capably filling a dual role as a scoring complement to Hall and the Tigers' table setter at the point.
84. Dylan Disu
Texas graduate forward
Disu hasn't played a big primary enough role — or simply enough minutes — in his two seasons at Texas to match his sophomore breakout as a scorer at Vanderbilt. What the 6-9 forward has done, though, is become a significantly better defender for the Longhorns than he ever was with the Commodores.
85. Nolan Hickman
Gonzaga junior guard
How much Creighton transfer Ryan Nembhard cuts into Hickman's role at point guard will determine what kind of effect the Seattle native can have in his third season with the Bulldogs. Hickman was one of two five-star guards Gonzaga signed out of the Class of 2021, and he stayed while Hunter Sallis left.
86. Jalen Bridges
Baylor senior forward
Highly touted freshmen and transfers repopulate a new-look backcourt for the Bears this season. The frontcourt has a few familiar faces, including Bridges. The 6-9 forward averaged 10.3 points and a team-best 5.6 rebounds last season after transferring from West Virginia and projects into a similar role this year.
87. Dae Dae Grant
Duquesne senior guard
The conference doesn't seem to matter. Grant simply produces. The 6-2 guard averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in three seasons at Miami (Ohio) before putting up 15.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last season for the 20-win Dukes.
88. Fousseyni Traore
BYU sophomore forward
Traore already ranks in the top 20 in BYU program history in offensive rebounds, blocks and double-doubles in just two seasons. "Fouss" arrived in Provo, Utah, from Wasatch Academy (Utah) via Bamako, Mali, and has started 54 of 66 career games while averaging 11.2 points and 8.2 rebounds in that time.
89. Bryan Antoine
Radford senior guard
A persistent right shoulder injury and then a knee injury derailed Antoine's first three seasons at Villanova, but the 6-5 guard did start his college career as a consensus top-20 prospect for a reason. Year one with the Highlanders showed some of that promise, as Antoine put up 11.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game and shot 42 percent from three.
90. Chucky Hepburn
Wisconsin junior guard
Hepburn's production increased across the board last season, including significantly better three-point shooting. But it still came off as something of an underwhelming sophomore campaign given preseason expectations. The 6-2 guard gets another crack at those expectations this season.
91. Lamont Butler
San Diego State senior guard
The Aztecs were trailing Florida Atlantic when Butler drilled a buzzer-beater to send SDSU to the national championship game (a Final Four first). After averaging 8.8 points, 3.2 assists and 2.7 rebounds last season, Butler's role (and production) should increase with Matt Bradley exhausting his eligibility.
92. Bryce Thompson
Oklahoma State senior guard
The jump Thompson made as a shooter last season, going from then a career 27 percent three-point shooter to making 37 percent on nearly five attempts is certainly notable. How he builds off that improvement could mean a lot for an Oklahoma State team that was seventh in the Big 12 in the 2022-23 season.
93. Matthew Murrell
Mississippi senior guard
New Rebels coach Chris Beard would probably like to see Murrell combine the scoring mentality he showed last season when he led Ole Miss by averaging 14.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists and the efficiency he flashed in the 2021-22 season when he knocked down a career-best 39 percent of his three-pointers.
94. Xavier Johnson
Indiana redshirt senior guard
Johnson is back for a sixth season of college basketball after a foot injury cost him enough of the 2022-23 season to qualify for a medical redshirt. The hope in Bloomington, Ind., is the veteran 6-3 guard can channel the shooter he was in the 2021-22 season with the Hoosiers and the scorer he was in three seasons at Pittsburgh.
95. Darrion Trammell
San Diego State senior guard
Trammell made the game-winning free throw that sent the Aztecs to the Final Four last season. It wasn't the only contribution the Seattle transfer made. Trammell put up 9.8 points, 2.9 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game and will be asked to do more this season.
96. Rayshon Harrison
Grand Canyon junior guard
Harrison's lateral move from Presbyterian to Grand Canyon paid off for him and the Antelopes last season. The 6-4 guard averaged career highs in scoring (17.8 points) and assists (3.6) despite playing fewer minutes than he did with the Blue Hose, while getting back on track as a three-point shooter.
97. Devontae Blanton
Eastern Kentucky senior guard
Blanton is the primary reason the Colonels won 23 games last season and finished third in the Atlantic Sun behind Liberty and Kennesaw State. The 6-6 wing bumped his scoring by nearly six points per game from the year prior and averaged 16.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
98. Pelle Larsson
Arizona senior guard
How Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd uses Larsson this season could determine how effective the 6-5 Swedish guard is for the Wildcats. Larsson wasn't all that efficient as a starter last season, but shot 48 percent from three and averaged 9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists after a midseason switch to a sixth-man role.
99. Jaylin Williams
Auburn graduate forward
It might behoove Bruce Pearl to put Williams in the starting lineup and keep him there. The Nahunta, Ga., native's role has fluctuated in four seasons with the Tigers, but he's averaged 11 points and 4.7 rebounds in two seasons as a starter and 4.7 points and 2.4 rebounds in two seasons coming off the bench.
100. Will Richard
Florida junior guard
Richard handled the move from Belmont to Florida with aplomb last season with only a minor dip in production going from the Ohio Valley Conference to the SEC. The Gators' moves in the transfer portal will keep Richard off the ball in a role where he averaged 10.4 points and shot 40 percent from three last year.