The NCAA tournament didn’t happen this year and Kansas ended up at the top of the final AP Top 25 poll. With a strong recruiting class coming in next season, where will the Jayhawks start out? In a period of uncertainty with the NBA draft, transfer rules and a few top recruits still on the board, we take a look at a way-too-early college basketball Top 25 for next season.
No. 1: Villanova Wildcats
The Wildcats ended the season tied for first place in the Big East. They have a dangerous returning group of players led by senior Collin Gillespie, who averaged 15 points and 4.5 assists per game. Villanova’s potential best player, Bryan Antoine, didn’t even play this year due to a shoulder injury. Look for him to see a lot of playing time along with underclassmen Justin Moore and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.
No. 2: Gonzaga Bulldogs
Mark Few landed his highest-rated recruit ever in guard Jalen Suggs and also landed an elite shooting guard in Dominick Harris. The Zags will lose Killian Tillie and could lose Corey Kispert and Filip Petrusev to the NBA draft. Even with the loss of the team’s top scorers, Gonzaga will still run the West Coast Conference and could go undefeated in the conference. Look for forward Drew Timme to see some major minutes and the two star freshmen to lead the team.
No. 3: Baylor Bears
If point guard Jared Butler stays and doesn’t declare for the draft, Baylor will be returning almost the entire team from this past season. Incoming freshmen Zach Loveday and Dain Dainja will fill the hole Freddie Gillespie will leave in the frontcourt. Baylor and Kansas will be battling for the top spot in the Big 12 again next season.
No. 4: Creighton Bluejays
A potential Final Four contender next year. Recently, guard Mitch Ballock told Yahoo Sports that he thinks Ty-Shon Alexander is coming back. If that’s the case, the Bluejays might have one of the best backcourts in the country. Creighton is returning star point guard Marcus Zegarowski, who averaged 16 points per game and shot nearly 50 percent from the field this season.
No. 5: Duke Blue Devils
Point guard Tre Jones recently declared for the draft and Alex O’Connell entered the transfer portal. There’s a good chance Vernon Carey Jr. and a couple other Duke players will be declaring for the draft or at least testing the NBA waters. Where does that leave Coach K? Well, they have one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, led by five-stars DJ Steward, Jeremy Roach and Jalen Johnson.
No. 6: Virginia Cavaliers
If current seniors are allowed to return (big if) and Virginia gets another year with Mamadi Diakite and Braxton Key, Tony Bennett will be getting back a team that won eight straight games to close out the season. Sophomore Casey Morsell will have a bigger role on the team and former NBA player Shareef Abdur-Rahim’s son, Jabri Abdur-Rahim, will be joining this deep Virginia team.
No. 7: Kentucky Wildcats
Coach Cal is the king of one-and-dones and rebuilding year after year. Coming in next season is Bronny James’ teammate B.J. Boston and a slew of other five-stars. Kentucky could lose up to three players to the draft this year with Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and Nick Richards all likely to go to the NBA.
No. 8: Iowa Hawkeyes
Luka Garza is an early candidate for Player of the Year next season and Iowa is returning all of its starters from this past year. In a competitive Big Ten conference, expect the Hawkeyes to be one of the top teams in the conference next year.
No. 9: Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas was the favorite to win the national championship this year and will be losing the point guard and forward tandem of Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike. Each season, Bill Self finds a way to get the best out of his players and next year Kansas will be adding five-star guard Bryce Thompson.
No. 10: Tennessee Volunteers
Things didn’t work out with Rick Barnes’ squad this season and the Vols struggled in the SEC. If seniors are allowed to return, Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner would be joining five-star recruits Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson.
No. 11: Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes had a rollercoaster of a season, starting out 9-0 and then going 1-6 once conference play started in January. Ohio State has a very young, talented team and will return almost everyone except Kaleb Wesson, who will most likely declare for the NBA draft.
No. 12: Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys have the No. 1 recruit in the country, Cade Cunningham, joining the team next year. Along with Cunningham are four-star recruits Rondel Walker and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe. Cunningham is a 6-foot-7 point guard who can score at all three levels and will most likely be the No. 1 NBA draft pick in 2021.
No. 13: Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans were the preseason No. 1 team coming into this past season. Tom Izzo will lose his floor general Cassius Winston and possibly Aaron Henry to the NBA draft. Coming in is point guard A.J. Hoggard and an athletic shot-blocker in Mady Sissoko.
No. 14: North Carolina Tar Heels
Roy Williams had his worst season ever after going 14-19 and finishing second to last in the ACC. UNC is losing Cole Anthony to the NBA but is bringing in one of the nation’s top recruiting classes with four McDonald’s All-Americans in Day’Ron Sharpe, Caleb Love, R.J. Davis and Walker Kessler.
No. 15: Wisconsin Badgers
The Badgers won the last eight games to close out the season and are returning all starters and only losing one senior. This is a very seasoned team led by forwards Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter, who both averaged double-digit points this past season and shot over 45 percent from the field.
No. 16: Florida State Seminoles
If Patrick Williams returns for his sophomore season, the Seminoles will have one of the most athletic frontcourts in the country next year. Joining Williams is five-star recruit Scottie Barnes. Barnes is a fierce defender who runs well in transition for his 6-foot-8 frame.
No. 17: Michigan Wolverines
It’s only Juwan Howard’s second season and he is getting it done on the recruiting trail. After finishing 19-12 this past season, Michigan has a ton of talent joining the young squad, led by five-star center Isaiah Todd. The Wolverines are still in the running for top-10 player Josh Christopher and most recruiting experts believe it is between Michigan and Arizona State.
No. 18: Oregon Ducks
The Ducks are losing point guard and leading scorer Payton Pritchard but bringing in four-star point guard Jalen Terry next season. Sophomore center N’Faly Dante will get more touches on offense, Will Richardson will take over the role of starting point guard and sophomore Addison Patterson could have a breakout year.
No. 19: Texas Tech Red Raiders
The Red Raiders will lose potential lottery pick Jahmi’us Ramsey but will be gaining five-star recruit Nimari Burnett. Burnett is the very first McDonald’s All American Texas Tech has ever had and he will bring his elite shooting and high basketball IQ to the team next season. Look for sophomore Terrence Shannon Jr. to have a breakout year. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged just under 10 points per game this season but could double those numbers next year.
No. 20: Colorado Buffaloes
Daylen Kountz and Jakub Dombek entered the transfer portal but the Buffs will be returning leading scorer McKinley Wright IV, D’Shawn Schwartz and Evan Battey. Colorado hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 2012 and this is a group that can break that losing streak next season.
No. 21: Florida Gators
The Gators had an elite group of players on this last year’s team but couldn’t finish out games down the stretch. There is a chance freshman Scottie Lewis leaves for the NBA but Florida will be returning leading scorer Keyontae Johnson and the backcourt duo of Andrew Nembhard and Noah Locke.
No. 22: Houston Cougars
Sophomore guards Caleb Mills and Quentin Grimes are both returning after leading the team in scoring. Houston finished first in the American Athletic Conference and is only losing one senior. The Cougars run a fast-paced offense and are a fun team to watch in transition.
No. 23: LSU Tigers
The Tigers are losing senior Skylar Mays but returning almost everyone else that helped lead the team to a 21-10 record and second place in the SEC. LSU put up an average of 80 points each game and that won’t change next year with top recruits Cameron Thomas and Mwani Wilkinson joining the team.
No. 24: Arizona State Sun Devils
Marvin Bagley’s younger brother Marcus is headed to Tempe next year and is one of the most underrated recruits in the country. ASU is still in the running for five-star Josh Christopher, who is thought to be choosing between the Sun Devils and Michigan. Christopher’s brother Caleb is a sophomore on the team.
No. 25: Memphis Tigers
Memphis is still in the running for one of the top recruits in the country, Jalen Green. Penny Hardaway is returning most of his squad with the exception of Precious Achiuwa, who will most likely declare for the draft.
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