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2015-2016 College Basketball Way-Too Early Preseason Top 25

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PLEASE NOTE: We have since updated our Preseason Top 25.

The updated rankings, which reflect decisions made by the likes of Buddy Hield, Yogi Ferrell, Caris LeVert, Kyle Wiltjer and Derryck Thornton, can be found here.

1. North Carolina

  • Who’s back: Everyone. Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks.
  • Who’s gone: Desmond Hubert.
  • Who they’re getting: Luke Maye
  • Why they’re here: Marcus Paige is going to be healthy, the Tar Heels return their entire front line and Joel Berry and Justin Jackson will have a full offseason to turn into the complimentary players they showed flashes of being at the end of the season.

2. Iowa State

  • Who’s back: Georges Niang, Monte’ Morris*, Naz Long, Jameel McKay, Matt Thomas, Fred Hoiberg*
  • Who’s gone: Bryce Dejean-Jones
  • Who they’re getting: Hallice Cooke, Deonte Burton, Chieck Diallo*
  • Why they’re here: Assuming that Hoiberg is back in Ames next season, it looks like he’s going to have the best team of his coaching career. Morris and Niang will be back with Burton, a Marquette transfer, getting eligible in December and McKay back to control the paint. Even if they miss on Diallo, the Cyclones are looking at being a top five team.

3. Maryland

  • Who’s back: Melo Trimble, Jake Layman*, Jared Nickens, Michal Cevosky
  • Who’s gone: Dez Wells, Richaud Pack
  • Who they’re getting: Robert Carter, Diamond Stone, Jaylen Brantley
  • Why they’re here: Getting Trimble to announce that he will be coming back to school is huge, as would the return of Layman, because the Terps are going to have plenty of firepower up front. Georgia Tech transfer Carter and top ten recruit Stone will headline one of the better front lines in the Big Ten.

4. Kentucky

  • Who’s back: Tyler Ulis*, Marcus Lee*, Alex Poythress*, Dakari Johnson*
  • Who’s gone: Karl Towns*, Willie Cauley-Stein*, Aaron Harrison*, Andrew Harrison*, Trey Lyles*, Devin Booker*
  • Who they’re getting: Isaiah Briscoe, Skal Labissiere*, Charles Matthews
  • Why they’re here: So much of Kentucky’s 2015-2016 team is in the air. Who is returning to school? Who is going pro? Will they get any of the McDonald’s All-Americans that have yet to commit to a school? Will Labissiere be eligible? We’ll have a much better idea by the end of the month.

5. Virginia

  • Who’s back: Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey, London Perrantes
  • Who’s gone: Darion Atkins, Justin Anderson*
  • Who they’re getting: Jarred Reuter
  • Why they’re here: The Cavs return essentially their entire roster from the 2015-2016 team with the notable exception of Anderson. Without him, they really struggled to score at times. If Anderson does actually return to school, UVA would probably shoot up as high as No. 2.

6. Kansas

  • Who’s back: Perry Ellis*, Frank Mason, Devonte’ Graham, Wayne Selden*, Brannen Greene*, Svi Mykhailiuk
  • Who’s gone: Kelly Oubre, Cliff Alexander*
  • Who they’re getting: Carlton Bragg
  • Why they’re here: Bill Self. Beyond that, there’s not a lot that I love about this team next season beyond Bill Self. Mason and Graham will be a very good back court, and getting Selden back will be a key. How much does Mykhailiuk develop, and will Bragg turn into a low-post hoss?

7. Villanova

  • Who’s back: Ryan Arcidiacono, Josh Hart, Daniel Ochefu
  • Who’s gone: JayVaughn Pinkston, Darrun Hilliard
  • Who they’re getting: Jalen Brunson, Tim Delaney, Donte Divincenczo
  • Why they’re here: Losing Hilliard and Pinkston is really going to hurt, but there are two things that make be feel really good about this Villanova team: Hart is going to be an all-Big East player this season, and Brunson is the real deal.

8. Baylor

  • Who’s back: Rico Gathers*, Taurean Prince*, Jonathan Motley, Lester Medford
  • Who’s gone: Kenny Chery, Royce O’Neale
  • Who they’re getting: King McClure, Jake Lindsey, Wendell Mitchell, Joseph Acuil
  • Why they’re here: Assuming that Gathers and Prince return, the Bears will have one of the best front lines in the country. The big issue for them is going to be their ball-handling. Can Lester Medford handle full time point guard duties?

9. Michigan State

  • Who’s back: Denzel Valentine, Lourawls Nairn, Bryn Forbes
  • Who’s gone: Travis Trice, Branden Dawson
  • Who they’re getting: Eron Harris, Deyonta Davis, Matt McQuaid
  • Why they’re here: West Virginia transfer Harris is going to have a chance to be a very, very good player in this back court. They need Nairn to take a significant step forward, particularly offensively, but Valentine may end up being the Big Ten Player of the Year.

10. Arizona

  • Who’s back: Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Elliott Pitts, Dusan Ristic, Gabe York
  • Who’s gone: Stanley Johnson*, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson*, Brandon Ashley, T.J. McConnell, Kaleb Tarczewski*
  • Who they’re getting: Justin Simon, Ray Smith, Chance Comanche, Allonzo Trier, Ryan Anderson
  • Why they’re here: Sean Miller is once again bringing in a loaded class, which he’ll need as the Wildcats will likely end up losing their entire starting lineup from a season ago. There will likely be a learning curve here, but there is enough talent — on the roster and the coaching staff — to make some noise.

11. Georgia

  • Who’s back: Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines, Yante Maten, J.J. Frazier
  • Who’s gone: Marcus Thornton, Nemanja Djurisic
  • Who they’re getting: Jaylen Brown*, William Jackson, William Ogbeide, E’Torrion Wilridge
  • Why they’re here: If they don’t get Brown — which is probably more likely than them landing him — we’re looking at a top 20-25 team.

12. N.C. State

  • Who’s back: Trevor Lacey, Cat Barber, BeeJay Anya, Kyle Washington
  • Who’s gone: Ralston Turner, Desmond Lee
  • Who they’re getting: Terry Henderson
  • Why they’re here: The Wolfpack have enough talent on their roster to compete for an ACC title next season.

13. Xavier

  • Who’s back: Trevon Bluiett, Jalen Reynolds, Myles Davis
  • Who’s gone: Dee Davis, Matt Stainbrook
  • Who they’re getting: Kaiser Gates
  • Why they’re here: We’re expecting Bluiett and Reynolds to take a big step forward.

14. Duke

  • Who’s back: Matt Jones, Grayson Allen, Marshall Plumlee, Amile Jefferson
  • Who’s gone: Tyus Jones*, Jahlil Okafor*, Justise Winslow*
  • Who they’re getting: Brandon Ingram*, Luke Kennard, Chase Jeter, Sean Obi
  • Why they’re here: If Jones comes back, they’ll be a top ten team. If they don’t end up getting Ingram, they’re probably closer to No. 25.

15. Louisville

  • Who’s back: Quentin Snider, Shaqquan Aaron, Mangok Mathiang
  • Who’s gone: Terry Rozier, Montrezl Harrell, Wayne Blackshear
  • Who they’re getting: Trey Lewis*, Donovan Mitchell, Ray Spalding, Deng Adel
  • Why they’re here: Part of it is loving their freshmen class, part of it is faith in Rick Pitino and part of it is the assumption that they have more additions coming.

16. Cal

  • Who’s back: Ty Wallace*, Jabari Bird*, Jordan Mathews, Kameron Rooks
  • Who’s gone: David Kravish
  • Who they’re getting: Ivan Raab*, Caleb Swanigan*, Stephen Domingo, Davon Dillard

17. UCLA

  • Who’s back: Bryce Alford, Tony Parker, Isaac Hamilton*, Thomas Welsh
  • Who’s gone: Kevon Looney, Norman Powell
  • Who they’re getting: Jonah Bolden, Prince Ali, Aaron Holiday, Alex Olesinki

18. Georgetown

  • Who’s back: Isaac Copeland*, L.J. Peak, Tre Campbell, Paul White
  • Who’s gone: D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Josh Smith, Mikael Hopkins
  • Who they’re getting: Marcus Derrickson, Jessie Govan, Kaleb Johnson

19. Wisconsin

  • Who’s back: Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig
  • Who’s gone: Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker*, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson, Duje Dukan
  • Who they’re getting: Brevin Pritzl, Charlie Thomas, Alex Illikainen, Jahlil Iverson

20. Marquette

  • Who’s back: Duane Wilson, Sandy Cohen, Jajuan Johnson, Luke Fischer
  • Who’s gone: Juan Anderson, Matt Carlino, Derrick Wilson
  • Who they’re getting: Henry Ellenson, Matt Heldt, Traci Carter, Haanif Cheatham, Sacar Anim

21. Notre Dame

  • Who’s back: Zach Auguste, Demetrius Jackson, Steve Vasturia, Bonzie Colson
  • Who’s gone: Jerian Grant, Pat Connaughton
  • Who they’re getting: Rex Pflueger, Elijah Burns, Matt Ryan

22. Gonzaga

  • Who’s back: Kyle Wiltjer*, Przemek Karnowski, Domas Sabonis, Josh Perkins
  • Who’s gone: Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell, Byron Wesley
  • Who they’re getting: None as of right now (Jesse Wade will be on his LDS mission)

23. Vanderbilt

  • Who’s back: Damian Jones, Riley LaChance, Wade Baldwin
  • Who’s gone: James Siakam
  • Who they’re getting: Camron Justice, D’jery Baptiste, Samir Sehic, Joseph Toye

24. Oregon

  • Who’s back: Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell, Dwayne Benjamin, Elgin Cook
  • Who’s gone: Joseph Young
  • Who they’re getting: Tyler Dorsey, Kendall Small, Trevor Manuel

25. Butler

  • Who’s back: Kellen Dunham, Roosevelt Jones, Andrew Charbacsz, Kelan Martin
  • Who’s gone: Alex Barlow, Kameron Woods
  • Who they’re getting: Nate Fowler, Sean McDermott

PHOTO: Purdue unveils statue of John Wooden outside Mackey Arena

John Wooden (Purdue Athletics)
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John Wooden will forever be associated with the UCLA program for what he did while coaching there.

10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. Not bad, right?

What some people may forget is that before he got into coaching, Wooden was one of the best basketball players in the world. He played his collegiate ball at Purdue, where he was a three-time all-american and the 1932 National Player of the Year.

To honor Wooden’s legacy as one of the greatest Boilermakers ever, Purdue built a statue of Wooden and unveiled it in front of Mackey Arena this weekend:

“Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,” Jim Hicks, the alumnus that donated the statue, said. “I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.”

One of the neat touches of the statue: Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is right there for all to see.

North Carolina lands third commitment in 2017 class

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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North Carolina picked up their third commitment in the Class of 2017 on Monday in big man Brandon Huffman.

A four-star prospect who will play his final season of high school ball at Word of God Academy in North Carolina, Huffman’s strength at this point in his development is as a defensive presence around the basket. He stands 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and should be able to help replace Kennedy Meeks, who graduates this spring.

Huffman’s development on the offensive end of the floor isn’t quite there yet. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman is still learning how to be more influential on that end.

Huffman joins Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek in UNC’s 2017 class.

VCU lands third commitment in Class of 2017

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VCU landed their third commitment in the Class of 2017 over the weekend, as 6-foot-8 forward Sean Mobley announced that he will play his college ball for the Rams.

A three-star prospect, Mobley is a nice program piece for the Rams. He’s not an overpowering athlete or a menace on the low block, but he is good rebounder, a guy that can space the floor with his jump shot and a smart player that should be able to find and fit into a role.

Mobley picked VCU over Dayton and West Virginia, joining top 75 point guard and big man Marcus Santos-Silva in Will Wade’s recruiting class.

Top 25 Non-Conference Games

LAWRENCE, KS - JANUARY 30:  Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats and head coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks greet each other prior to the game at Allen Fieldhouse on January 30, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Beginning in September and running up until November 11th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2016-2017 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Non-conference scheduling has rightfully been much maligned in recent years with many programs opting to keep their non-league slates as a tune-up rather than a challenge, but there are still plenty of gems out there in the season’s first two months. Neutral-site event games again provide some of the strongest matchups, but there are plenty of on-campus contests that will be among the year’s best as well.

THE TOP 15

1. Kansas vs. Duke – Champions Classic (New York) – Nov. 15 (9 p.m.): The Champions Classic has easily become the most anticipated non-conference event most years (until the PK80 next year), and this year’s matchup between the Jayhawks and Blue Devils is the premier non-conference game of the season. Both teams return a ton from last year’s successful seasons and also add stellar recruiting classes. It’s not hard to envision this as a Final Four or national title preview, and there’s a very real chance that it could end up being a matchup between No. 1 Duke vs. No. 2 Kansas.

2. Michigan State at Duke – ACC/Big Ten Challenge – Nov. 29 (9:30 p.m.): This game gets the nod over similarly interesting matchups because it’s going to be played on campus in Durham at Cameron Indoor. It pits two Hall of Fame coaches operating near the height of their powers with teams expected to contend for a national championship. It’s sure to be an electric evening.

MORE: 2016-17 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

3. Kentucky at Louisville – Dec. 21 (7 p.m.): John Calipari has another powerhouse on his hands while Rick Pitino’s squad is expected to continue its upward progression and be a potential top-10 team. This in-state rivalry game will have all the gravitas it normally has along with the national implications that come when two potential No. 1 seeds meet in the non-conference.

4. Kansas at Kentucky – Jan. 28 (6 p.m.): The SEC/Big 12 Challenge is largely irrelevant this season because the Big 12 is down and the SEC looks like a mid-major conference outside of Kentucky. But the Wildcats, who nearly beat Kansas in overtime in Phog Allen last season, and the Jayhawks are both preseason top five teams loaded with NBA talent and positioned to make a run towards another national title.

5. Michigan State vs. Kentucky – Champions Classic (New York) – Nov. 15 (7 p.m.): The other half of the Champions Classic, the Spartans and Wildcats will provide nearly just as much entertainment. The matchup between Michigan State’s super-recruit Miles Bridges and Kentucky’s squadron of them could be the highlight of the night.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - DECEMBER 19: London Perrantes #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers dribbles the ball against Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats in the first half during a game at John Paul Jones Arena on December 19, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
UVA’s London Perrantes guarded by Villanova’s Josh Hart (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

6. Virginia at Villanova – Jan. 28 – (1 p.m.): Virginia deserves credit as one of the elite programs that’s unafraid to challenge themselves with home-and-home series, but I can’t imagine that, when Tony Bennett signed up for this, he knew he’d be taking his team on the road, in the middle of ACC play, to square off with the reigning national champs. It will be an intriguing matchup of styles, both in terms of basketball and the suits worn by the opposing head coaches.

7. UCLA at Kentucky – Dec. 3 (12:30 p.m.): Two of the most storied programs in the sport, the Bruins and Wildcats both figure to have interesting seasons as Steve Alford looks to satiate uneasy UCLA fans and Calipari looks to add another national championship to his resume. UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball facing off against Kentucky’s backcourt in Rupp Arena will garner a lot of headlines. And we shouldn’t forget that the Bruins picks off Kentucky in LA last December.

8. North Carolina vs. Kentucky – Las Vegas – Dec. 17 (5:45 p.m.): UNC is coming off a season where they finished as the national runners-up. Losing Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson will hurt, no doubt, but there is still some talent on the roster. Kentucky, as we’ve mentioned, is once again loaded. Both teams will likely be ranked in the top-10 when they meet in Sin City in yet another clash of the sport’s heavyweights.

9. Michigan State vs. Arizona – Armed Forces Classic (Honolulu) – Nov. 11 (7 p.m.): Not a bad way to tip off the season with the Spartans and Wildcats squaring off in Hawaii on opening night. The game was originally to be played at Pearl Harbor, but was moved to the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii. Arizona may have lost Terrence Ferguson to the pros, but it’ll have plenty of firepower to match up against Michigan State with Allonzo Trier, Lauri Markkanen and Rawle Atkins.

10. Louisville vs. Indiana – Indianapolis – Dec. 31 (12:30 p.m.): This border battle game will be played off-campus at the home of the Pacers, but with Indy’s close proximity to both schools and a pair of fervent fanbases, this one should have that big-time collegiate feel with two top-15 teams.

11. Kansas vs. Indiana – Armed Forces Classic (Honolulu) – Nov. 11 (9 p.m.): The nightcap of the Armed Forces Classic is another incredibly strong game that will pit the two midwestern powers against each other. Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby will provide quite the test for Kansas’ revamped frontcourt while the Hoosiers will have to contend with one of the country’s strongest backcourts in Kansas’ Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham.

12. Wisconsin at Creighton – Gavitt Games – Nov. 15 (8:30 p.m.): The country knows how strong the Badgers will be this year after the transition to coach Greg Gard propelled them into the Sweet 16, but Creighton is flying a bit under the radar despite having some top-level talent in Mo Watson and Marcus Foster. The Blue Jays also have one of the more underrated home crowds in the game. This one will be a treat in the season’s opening week.

13. Arizona vs. Gonzaga – Naismith Memorial HOF Game (Los Angeles) – Dec. 3 (6:30 p.m.): Two West Coast powers face off in L.A. a month into the season with perhaps a seed line at stake. Gonzaga will likely open the season in the top-15 on the strength of getting senior center Przmek Karnowski back and the Nigel Williams-Goss eligible after transferring from Washington.

t-14. North Carolina at Indiana – ACC/Big Ten Challenge – Nov. 30 (9 p.m.)

t-14. Syracuse at Wisconsin – ACC/Big Ten Challenge – Nov. 29 (9 p.m.): The ACC/Big Ten Challenge provides two more top games with the Tar Heels visiting Bloomington and the Badgers hosting the Orange. The Bryant-Kennedy Meeks matchup will be one to watch, while NBA scouts and draftniks will be tuning in to this one to see how Tyler Lydon and Nigel Hayes matchup. The game itself will provide college hoops fans plenty with the Badgers being a Big Ten favorite and Syracuse bolstering its ranks with Nebraska graduate transfer Andrew White.

15. Washington at Gonzaga – Dec. 7 (11 p.m.): The Huskies aren’t a lock to make the NCAA tournament this year, but this game will still be a must-watch thanks to Gonzaga’s strength, Markelle Fultz’s talent and it being an in-state rivalry game played on campus. Don’t underestimate how much these two fanbases dislike each other.

MORE: 2016-17 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

TEN MORE TIMES YOU’LL NEED TO SET YOUR DVR

16. UConn vs. Syracuse – New York City – Dec. 5 (7 p.m.): Madison Square Garden will play host to this former Big East rivalry game. This is the loudest you’ll hear the Garden all season long, and that includes the games that the Knicks play.
17. Valparaiso at Oregon – Nov. 17 (9 p.m.): Valpo might be the best mid-major in the country and has a potential All-American in Alec Peters. The Ducks may not have Dillon Brooks for this one, but will still likely be ranked in the top-10.
18. Indiana vs Butler – Crossroads Classic – Dec. 17 (5 p.m.): A Hoosier State rivalry game that’s sure to be closely contested.
19. Villanova vs. Notre Dame – Never Forget Games (Newark, N.J.) – 12 p.m.: The defending champs take on one of the ACC’s best.
20. Purdue at Louisville – ACC/Big Ten Challenge – Nov. 30: Another strong game courtesy of the cross-conference challenge.
21. Villanova at Purdue – Nov. 14 (7 p.m.): This game got more difficult for the ‘Cats without Omari Spellman to combat Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas.
22. Northern Iowa vs. Xavier – Nov. 16 (12 p.m.): A sneaky-strong game with Xavier being a team that figures to push Villanova in the Big East and the Panthers featuring potential MVC player of the year Jeremy Morgan.
23. Oregon at Baylor – Nov. 15 (3:30 p.m.): This will be the Ducks’ only true road game in the non-conference. Baylor’s Johnathan Motley figures to be a tough guard for the Pac-12 favorites.
24. Arizona vs. Texas A&M – Dec 17 (1 p.m.): The Aggies lost quite a bit from last year’s team, but will still be a top-25 contender.
25. Florida State at Florida – Dec. 11 (4 p.m.): The Seminoles will bring quite a bit of talent with them to Gainesville in Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac for this intrastate rivalry game.

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 13: Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils dunks over Javion Ogunyemi #0 of the Siena Saints during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Grayson Allen (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Vanderbilt lands commitment from top 100 big man

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 20: Head coach Bryce Drew of the Valparaiso Crusaders directs his team during the second round of the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 20, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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Bryce Drew reached up into Virginia to land a commitment from Ejike Obinna this weekend.

Obinna is a top 100 big man originally from Nigeria. At 6-foot-9, he’s one of the better rebounders in the Class of 2017 and should have an immediate impact on the glass for the Commodores.

Drew beat out Florida, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Virginia Tech, among others, for Obinna’s commitment.

Obinna joins wings Saben Lee and Maxwell Evans in Vandy’s 2017 class.