UPDATED: 2015-2016 College Basketball Way-Too-Early Preseason Rankings

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PLEASE NOTE: Fred Hoiberg is off to the NBA, his replacement is on campus, Jamal Murray has committed to Kentucky and Thon Maker is officially staying in high school for another year. I think — I hope? — we’ve reached a point where we can say we know what next season’s rosters will look like.

And with that comes our latest — and final? — installment of the Preseason Top 25. There aren’t a ton of changes, but the top five looks different now than it did before.

1. North Carolina

  • Who’s back: Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Joel Berry, Nate Britt
  • Who’s gone: J.P. Tokoto, 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. 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, Rasheed Sulaimon, Jaylen Brantley
  • Why they’re here: Getting Trimble to announce that he will be coming back to school is huge, as is 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, and adding Sulaimon gives the Terps talent at every position.

3. Kentucky

  • Who’s back: Tyler Ulis, Marcus Lee, Alex Poythress
  • Who’s gone: Karl Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker, Dakari Johnson
  • Who they’re getting: Skal Labissiere*, Jamal Murray, Isaiah Briscoe, Charles Matthews, Mychal Mulder
  • Why they’re here: The Wildcats get bumped up to No. 3 in our updated rankings. I still have some questions about how this group will end up coming together, but there’s no questioning the talent level. If Lee develops the way many expect him too and if the back court of Ulis, Briscoe and Murray can find a way to coexist, you’re looking at a group that is capable of winning the national title. Not bad for a “down year” on the recruiting trail.

4. Kansas

  • Who’s back: Perry Ellis, Frank Mason, Devonte’ Graham, Wayne Selden, Brannen Greene, Svi Mykhailiuk, Landen Lucas
  • Who’s gone: Kelly Oubre, Cliff Alexander
  • Who they’re getting: Carlton Bragg, Cheick Diallo, LeGerald Vick
  • Why they’re here: Kansas has gotten quite a bit of good news this spring. In addition to finding out Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden are returning to school, the Jayhawks will be adding top five big man Diallo to the mix. He’ll had some much-needed toughness and energy to the Jayhawk front line. The x-factor for this team now becomes whether or not Mykhailiuk can live up to the hype he had when he signed with Kansas last summer.

5. Iowa State

  • Who’s back: Georges Niang, Monte’ Morris, Naz Long, Jameel McKay, Matt Thomas
  • Who’s gone: Fred Hoiberg, Bryce Dejean-Jones
  • Who they’re getting: Steve Prohm, Hallice Cooke, Deonte Burton
  • Why they’re here: The talent is still there — Niang and Morris are potential all-americans, and the Cyclones will have plenty of veteran role players available — but the man that brought them all together is not. The Cyclones were never really a good defensive team under former coach Fred Hoiberg, but they were an offensive juggernaut. Can Steve Prohm continue the program’s winning ways, or was Iowa State’s success a result of Hoiberg’s brilliance?

6. Virginia

  • Who’s back: Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey, London Perrantes, Marial Shayok
  • 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. The key for this group will be the development of Shayok as a potential replacement for Anderson.
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7. 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, Derryck Thornton, Luke Kennard, Chase Jeter, Sean Obi
  • Why they’re here: We’re assuming they get Ingram, which would be a major addition, but the bigger news is that Duke has now landed their point guard for 2015-16: Derryck Thornton. He’s not Tyus Jones, and he’s not going to replace Quinn Cook’s leadership, but he is a five-star point guard recruit.

8. Villanova

  • Who’s back: Ryan Arcidiacono, Josh Hart, Daniel Ochefu, Kris Jenkins, Phil Booth
  • 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.

9. 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: With Gathers and Prince returning, 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?

10. Arizona

  • Who’s back: Kaleb Tarczewski, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Elliott Pitts, Dusan Ristic, Gabe York
  • Who’s gone: Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brandon Ashley, T.J. McConnell
  • Who they’re getting: Justin Simon, Ray Smith, Chance Comanche, Allonzo Trier, Ryan Anderson, Kadeem Allen
  • Why they’re here: Sean Miller is once again bringing in a loaded class, which he’ll need as the Wildcats will likely lose four of their five starters from last season. That said, Anderson was a nightly double-double threat at Boston College and the trio of Simon, Smith and Trier will all be instant impact guys on the perimeter.

11. Cal

  • Who’s back: Ty Wallace, Jabari Bird, Jordan Mathews, Kameron Rooks
  • Who’s gone: David Kravish
  • Who they’re getting: Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Stephen Domingo, Tyson Jolly, Davon Dillard
  • Why they’re here: It was important for Cuonzo Martin to get Wallace and Bird back for another year, as his perimeter attack with Rabb in the middle has the chance to be really dangerous. Adding Brown late only sweetens the deal for the serious Pac-12 contenders.

12. Michigan State

  • Who’s back: Denzel Valentine, Lourawls Nairn, Bryn Forbes, Matt Costello, Gavin Schilling
  • 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. Adding Davis will help inside, but this group would be even more potent had they managed to hang onto Caleb Swanigan.

13. Wichita State

  • Who’s back: Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet, Gregg Marshall, Evan Wessel, Rashard Kelly, Shaquille Morris
  • Who’s gone: Darius Carter, Tekele Cotton, Ria’n Holland, Tevin Glass
  • Who they’re getting: Conner Frankamp, Markus McDuffie, Landry Shamet, Eric Hamilton, Tyrone Taylor, Anton Grady
  • Why they’re here: Losing Cotton and Carter is going to hurt, but with the Big Three — VanVleet, Baker and Marshall — all back, the Shockers will once again be in good shape. Also key for the Shockers is the addition of graduate transfer Anton Grady, who’s just the player they needed with Darius Carter out of eligibility.

14. Georgetown

  • Who’s back: Isaac Copeland, L.J. Peak, Tre Campbell, Paul White, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera
  • Who’s gone: Josh Smith, Mikael Hopkins, Jabril Trawick
  • Who they’re getting: Marcus Derrickson, Jessie Govan, Kaleb Johnson
  • Why they’re here: Getting Smith-Rivera back is huge, as he’ll be the senior leader for a team that had a terrific 2014 recruiting class. Will the Hoyas have enough talent and size on the interior?

15. Oklahoma

  • Who’s back: Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield, Ryan Spangler, Jordan Woodard
  • Who’s gone: Frank Booker, TaShawn Thomas
  • Who they’re getting: Christian James, Akolda Manyang, Rashard Odomes
  • Why they’re here: The return of Hield (and four starters overall) makes the Sooners a threat in the Big 12 along with Kansas and Iowa State. But there is the depth question, and how they account for the loss of Thomas is the biggest key for OU.

16. Indiana

  • Who’s back: Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr., Troy Williams, Robert Johnson, Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Nick Zeisloft
  • Who’s gone: Max Hoetzel, Stanford Robinson
  • Who they’re getting: Thomas Bryant, Juwan Morgan
  • Why they’re here: The four things that Tom Crean needed to have happen did: He landed a commitment from Bryant, a shot-blocking and rebounding presence around the rim, while getting Ferrell, Blackmon and Williams back for another year.
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17. Michigan

  • Who’s back: Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin, Kameron Chatman, Ricky Doyle, Spike Albrecht, Aubrey Dawkins
  • Who’s gone: Max Biefieldt
  • Who they’re getting: Moritz Wagner, Duncan Robinson
  • Why they’re here: The Wolverines struggled last season while dealing with injuries, but they return everyone that matters from last season, have a front line with a year of experience under their belt and John Beilein. I’ll bet on that.

18. Xavier

  • Who’s back: Trevon Bluiett, Jalen Reynolds, Myles Davis, Remy Abell, J.P. Macura, James Farr
  • Who’s gone: Dee Davis, Matt Stainbrook
  • Who they’re getting: Kaiser Gates, Edmund Sumner
  • Why they’re here: We’re expecting Bluiett, Reynolds and Macura to take big steps forward.

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
  • Why they’re here: You’re going to be the guy to bet against Bo Ryan turning this into a top 25 team? We’re not.

20. Louisville

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

21. Gonzaga

  • Who’s back: Kyle Wiltjer, Przemek Karnowski, Domas Sabonis, Josh Perkins, Silas Melson, Kyle Draginis
  • 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)
  • Why they’re here: Their front line will be awesome once again. But how will they overcome losing Pangos and Bell in the back court?

22. 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
  • Why they’re here: There’s a ton of talent on this roster, the question is what Steve Alford is going to be able to get out of it.

23. 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
  • Why they’re here: The combination of Luke Fischer and Henry Ellenson with all those talented guards around them is quite promising.

24. 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
  • Why they’re here: Demetrius Jackson has a chance to be an all-american next season.

25. 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
  • Why they’re here: One of the hottest teams in the country down the stretch, the Commodores bring back nearly every key piece and add a solid recruiting class to the mix. Damian Jones will be a first team all-SEC caliber player.

THE NEXT FIVE: Utah, SMU, Purdue, LSU, Texas A&M

ALSO CONSIDERED: Butler, Cincinnati, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, N.C. State, Oregon, San Diego State, UConn

Alabama loses Nick King, Brandon Austin to transfer

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Alabama is losing a pair to transfer as junior Nick King and sophomore Brandon Austin are planning to transfer, according to a release.

The 6-foot-7 King is expected to graduate and be eligible to play anywhere right away as a graduate transfer while the 6-foot-5 Austin will likely have to sit out a season before playing.

King started his career at Memphis but transferred to Alabama. A former starter at small forward, King played the first seven games of the season until a lung infection shut down his season. He averaged 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game before shutting it down.

A former top-50 recruit from the Class of 2013, King will look to jumpstart his career elsewhere during his final season of college basketball.

Austin only appeared in six games and played a total of 44 minutes this season as he also dealt with injuries like an early bone bruise.

The Crimson Tide are bringing in one of the best recruiting classes in the country next season as their freshmen could see a lot of playing time. So it comes as no surprise that players like King and Austin would transfer to assure more playing time.

Candidates Georgetown could target for head coach

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Georgetown moved on from head coach John Thompson III after 13 years at the helm on Thursday as the move sent shockwaves throughout college basketball.

The Thompson family has been a major institution for Georgetown basketball, dating back to the ’70s when John Thompson Jr. was head coach. So this new hire for the Hoyas will be a fascinating process.

Here’s a list of some early names that could be involved with Georgetown.

Tommy Amaker, Harvard — With a successful tenure at Harvard that at one point included four NCAA tournament bids in a row, Amaker has won at his latest job while coaching at an elite academic institution.

Put together with previous stops at Seton Hall and Michigan and Amaker has run a big-time program while also winning at an Ivy League school. Leaving Harvard might be tough though when Amaker is beginning to recruit at a national level at the program.

Jamion Christian, Mount St. Mary’s — Five years at Mount St. Mary’s has produced two NCAA tournament appearances for Christian as the 34-year-old would represent a bold, young hire for Georgetown.

Also an assistant coach for a season at VCU under Shaka Smart, Christian has recruited in that area before and he’s regarded by many as one of the bright, young head coaches in a low-major league. Coming from Smart at VCU, it should come as no surprise that Christian plays an uptempo system and presses on defense.

It would be a bit risky for Georgetown to hire someone as young as Christian but he also has the kind of enthusiasm to lead the tough rebuild that the Hoyas potentially face.

Nathan Davis, Bucknell — After leading Bucknell to the NCAA tournament in only his second season as a Division I head coach, Davis is someone to keep an eye on for the future.

The Washington D.C. native has quickly established himself as a potential young star in the coaching ranks but he also might be too inexperienced to take one of the Big East’s prestige positions. As a Division I head coach for only two seasons, Davis hasn’t faced the pressure of the high-major level at any of his previous coaching stops. Davis certainly deserves credit for his Division III coaching success and Final Four appearance with Randolph-Macon (Bo Ryan was pretty good in DIII before moving to Division I) but that’s a long way from the Big East.

Davis would have to prove that he’s capable as a coach and recruiter at the Big East level and he would be a risk if hired by the Hoyas.

Patrick Ewing Sr., Charlotte Hornets assistant  — The Hall of Fame center and Georgetown alum would be an intriguing name. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported that the Hoyas are considering Ewing as a potential head coach.

This wouldn’t just be a Chris Mullin at St. John’s type of scenario where Mullin had no coaching experience before taking the job. Ewing has been grinding as an NBA assistant coach for the past 15 years in the hopes of getting an NBA head coaching job. Georgetown represents an unique opportunity for Ewing to rebuild his former program and his son, Patrick Ewing Jr., would potentially work for him.

Recruiting would obviously be a major question mark but Ewing has the playing and coaching pedigree to be a wild card in this.

Dan Hurley, Rhode Island — The Rams finally broke through and made the NCAA Tournament in Hurley’s fifth year as head coach this season as Rhode Island made the second round before falling to Oregon in a close game.

Of the coaches on this list, the Rams have recruited a lot of top-100 prospects and futures pros like E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin, so we know that Hurley knows how to navigate elite recruiting.

As the son of legendary high school coach Bob Hurley and younger brother of Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley, Dan Hurley comes from a long line of basketball coaches. He’s made Rhode Island one of the premier programs in the Atlantic 10. Although he’s only made one NCAA Tournament appearance in seven seasons as a head coach, Hurley has things trending in the right direction.

Shaka Smart, Texas — This isn’t likely going to happen but Georgetown is at least going to call. Since Smart was so successful at nearby VCU before taking the Texas job, the Hoyas are going to see if he’d be interested in returning to the area after this season’s disappointing last-place Big 12 finish.

If this Georgetown coaching position had been made available two years ago, before Smart had taken the Texas job, then it would have been intriguing to see where things might stand between the two. But now that Smart has at least four, four-star prospects entering Texas next season, while returning most of the current roster, he has a chance to build from this season’s last-place finish.

VIDEO: Why did the NCAA ban dunking in 1967?

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With UCLA playing in the Sweet 16 tonight, it’s a fitting time to bring up the story of the time that the association banned dunking.

It was in 1967, and it was because there was a kid named Lew Alcindor (who would change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) at UCLA who led the Bruins to a 30-0 record and a national title.

And just think, that rule change, which lasted until 1976, kept some of the game’s greatest dunkers from showing what they could really do in college. Imagine David Thompson rattling rims, rather than his assortment of finger-rolls and layups. Dr. J soared at UMass, but never like Dr. J really could. And so on.

So as you’re watching the rest of the NCAA tournament, thank the rule-makers who brought the dunk back. We’re better for it.

Cleveland State hires Dennis Felton as head coach

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Cleveland State has found its next head coach as the school announced the hiring of Dennis Felton.

A veteran head coach with previous stops at Western Kentucky and Georgia, Felton made three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances with the Hilltoppers before taking the job with the Bulldogs before the 2003-04 season.

Felton takes over for previous head coach Gary Waters, who retired after 11 seasons at Cleveland State.

“I’m extremely excited to return to the head coaching ranks with this opportunity at Cleveland State University,” Felton said in the release. “I’m grateful to Dr. Berkman and Mike Thomas for the opportunity to lead this program. Cleveland State is an outstanding University that continues to grow in stature on the national landscape. I’m eager to start working with our players to build a championship program and getting out to share my vision of how we plan to partner with the entire community to do special things at Cleveland State.”

Felton made one NCAA Tournament appearance in six seasons with Georgia as he was fired in the middle of the 2008-09 season. Having a tough time overcoming NCAA sanctions lobbied after the Jim Harrick’s time with the school, Felton’s time with the Bulldogs never got rolling as he dealt with scholarship limitations and other obstacles.

After his time coaching in college, Felton spent time as a college scout with the Phoenix Suns before becoming director of pro player personnel for the San Antonio Spurs for a few seasons.

Cleveland State finished 18-45 over the last two seasons as they’ve struggled in the Horizon League. Felton will be tasked with turning the Vikings around as he hopes to find some of the magic that helped make Western Kentucky a consistent winner.

But with NBA connections and a lot of head coaching experience, Cleveland State made a solid hire here.

Frank Kaminsky trolls Arizona after high school teammate Sean O’Mara gets winning basket for Xavier

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No. 11 seed Xavier’s upset win over No. 2 seed Arizona left a lot of people stunned late Thursday night. Naturally, people took to Twitter to share their opinions of the Musketeers advancing to the Elite Eight to face No. 1 seed Gonzaga.

Some of those with comments on Arizona’s loss included members of Wisconsin’s back-to-back Final Four teams in 2014 and 2015. You might recall that the Badgers eliminated the Wildcats in both years in the Elite Eight to make the trips to the Final Four–so there is some history here between the two schools.

The Twitter comments started with former Wisconsin guard Ben Brust questioning Arizona head coach Sean Miller for going away from his big men. Brust’s “should have kept touching the big Serb” comment would indicate that getting touches for Arizona center Dusan Ristic was important–although others were pointing out freshman Lauri Markkanen’s minimal involvement in the Arizona offense during the last 10 minutes.

That’s when former Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky entered the discussion and promptly shut things down.

Wisconsin’s personal history with Arizona hit closer for Kaminsky than a normal game when Xavier junior big man Sean O’Mara scored the game-winning bucket for the Musketeers with just under a minute left.

There’s a major connection here. O’Mara hails from Benet Academy in the Western Suburbs of Chicago, the same high school program that produced Kaminsky.

So Kaminsky made sure to mention that after the loss.

When Kaminsky was a senior and Benet started its season 29-0 and was nationally ranked in the USA Today High School rankings, O’Mara was the freshman big man that Kaminsky was beating up in practice every day.

While Kaminsky has turned into a productive member of the Charlotte Hornets rotation this season, O’Mara is having himself a solid 2017 NCAA Tournament run as he’s averaging 12.3 points a game after putting up 6.1 per game during the regular season.

We definitely know who Kaminsky will be rooting for when it comes to the West Region.