Rob Dauster

The NBC Sports 2016-17 Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25

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Putting together the Preseason Top 25 was more difficult than in past seasons because of the new NBA Draft rule that allows players to test the waters. We won’t know for another month and a half whether these guys are going to stay in the draft. 

To battle with this problem, we put a ‘*’ next to every potential draft pick that we think is returning to school. If a potential pro is not listed, it’s because we think he’s going to stay in the draft. 

The other part is the elite freshmen that have not yet committed to a school: Jarrett Allen and Marques Bolden. We are not making predictions on where they end up, but we will update the rankings when the decision gets made, just like we will update the rankings when as the transfer market spins. 

So here it is: The NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25. If you see any mistakes in the rosters, please let us know.

1. Duke

  • Returning: Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard*, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson, Chase Jeter
  • Newcomers: Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson, Javin DeLaurier
  • Why they’re here: With Grayson Allen returning to school, Duke should be the consensus No. 1 team in the country. Allen and Kennard will fit perfectly on the perimeter with Jackson and Tatum while Jefferson will slide in nicely alongside Giles, giving Coach K what may be the most explosive offensive team that he’s ever coached. The x-factor here is, obviously, the health of Giles’ knees. He’s now had both knees surgically repaired and will have not played basketball for a year by the time Duke’s season kicks off.

2. Kentucky

  • Returning: Derek Willis*, Dominique Hawkins, Isaac Humphries, Charles Matthews
  • Newcomers: De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard
  • Why they’re here: Kentucky is No. 2 — more like No. 1b — because we were concerned about where they would get perimeter shooting from to space the floor. Fox, Monk and Adebayo will let Coach Cal return to his dribble-drive motion past, but the question is just how good of a shooter Gabriel and Killeya-Jones will be at the four and whether or not Willis can slide in and play small forward for a team at this level. We’re assuming that Isaiah Briscoe will not be returning to Lexington.

3. Kansas

  • Returning: Frank Mason III, Devonte’ Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk, Carlton Bragg, Landen Lucas, Lagerald Vick
  • Newcomers: Josh Jackson, Udoka Azubuike, Mitch Lightfoot
  • Why they’re here: That back court of Mason and Graham will be bolstered by Jackson, a supremely talented recruit that has the dog in him to fit in well with that group. If Svi and Bragg can take a step forward, Lucas, Azubuike and Lightfoot should be able to handle the pivot for a team that will be the favorite to win the Big 12.

4. Villanova

  • Returning: Josh Hart*, Kris Jenkins, Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges. Newcomers: Eric Paschall, Dylan Painter, Omari Spellman
  • Why they’re here: Losing Ryan Arcidiacono’s leadership is really going to hurt these Wildcats, but Brunson should be able to step into those shoes and have a major impact as the primary ball-handler immediately. Getting Hart back for his senior season is the difference-maker here, as the trio of Hart, Jenkins and Bridges will be a nightmare for anyone to deal with.

5. Oregon

  • Returning: Dillon Brooks*, Tyler Dorsey*, Chris Boucher, Jordan Bell, Casey Benson
  • Newcomers: Dylan Ennis*, M.J. Cage, Keith Smith, Payton Pritchard
  • Why they’re here: The Ducks were one of the best teams in this country this past season and not only will they return the majority of their key pieces, but they add Villanova transfer Ennis and a solid three-man recruiting class. The key is going to be whether or not Brooks opts to return to school for his junior season.

6. Michigan State

  • Returning: Eron Harris, Gavin Schilling, Matt McQuaid, Tum Tum Nairn
  • Newcomers: Miles Bridges, Joshua Langford, Cassius Winston, Nick Ward
  • Why they’re here: The Spartans lose a ton — Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes, Matt Costello — but they also add a ton, bringing in a class headlined by Miles Bridges that is as talented as any that Tom Izzo has brought in in recent years. Their ceiling is high, but the question that needs to be answered is just how well they fit together and just how effective Winston and Nairn will be running the point.

7. Virginia

  • Returning: London Perrantes, Isaiah Wilkins, Devon Hall, Marial Shayok, Darius Thompson, Jarred Rueter
  • Newcomers: Austin Nichols, Kyle Guy, Jay Huff, Mamade Diakite, DeAndre Hunter, Ty Jerome
  • Why they’re here: Losing Anthony Gill and Malcolm Brogdon is a tough blow to overcome, but the Cavaliers now have a program that can survive personnel losses like that. Nichols will shine in that system, and we’re expecting one of Perrrantes, Hall, Shayok or Thompson to take a step forward offensively.

8. North Carolina

  • Returning: Joel Berry II, Justin Jackson*, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Nate Britt, Theo Pinson, Kenny Williams
  • Newcomers: Tony Bradley, Brandon Robinson, Seventh Woods
  • Why they’re here: Assuming that the Tar Heels get the guys back that they’re supposed to get back, they should actually have a better team next season than some may realize. Might they actually be able to repeat as ACC regular season champions?

9. Arizona

  • Returning: Allonzo Trier, Kadeem Allen, Dusan Ristic, Parker Jackson-Cartwright
  • Newcomers: Ray Smith, Rawle Alkins, Terrence Ferguson, Lauri Markkanen, Kobi Simmons
  • Why they’re here: There are some very valid questions about how Arizona’s roster is going to fit together next season. With Trier, Alkins, Ferguson and Simmons all on the roster, will there be enough shots to go around? I’ll trust Sean Miller to get the most out of these guys, but there’s a chance that this No. 9 ranking could end up looking silly next March.

10. Louisville

  • Returning: Quentin Snider, Donovan Mitchell, Mangok Mathiang, Ray Spalding, Deng Adel, Anas Mahmoud
  • Newcomers: Tony Hicks, V.J. King
  • Why they’re here: The Cardinals are another team that are going to be better than I realized next season. They lose Damion Lee, but expect Mitchell, Adel, Spalding and Mahmoud to all take significant steps forward.

11. Wisconsin

  • Returning: Nigel Hayes*, Bronson Koenig, Ethan Happ, Vitto Brown, Zak Showalter, Jordan Hill, Khalil Iverson, Charlie Thomas, Alex Illikainen
  • Newcomers: Andy Van Vliet, Brevin Pritzl
  • Why they’re here: The Badgers return literally everyone from this season, barring a surprise transfer or a player jumping to the NBA. We know about Hayes and Koenig, but don’t be surprised to see Ethan Happ turn into the best player on the roster by next season.

12. USC

  • Returning: Jordan McLaughlin, Julian Jacobs*, Bennie Boatwright, Elijah Stewart, Chimezie Metu, Nikola Jovanovic
  • Newcomers: Shaqquan Aaron, Harrison Henderson, Jonah Mathews, De’Anthony Melton
  • Why they’re here: USC brings back the majority of their important pieces while adding Louisville transfer Shaqquan Aaron to the mix. They were supposed to be a year away last season when they reached the NCAA tournament as a No. 8 seed.

13. Gonzaga

  • Returning: Josh Perkins, Silas Melson, Przemek Karnowski*
  • Newcomers: Nigel Williams-Goss, Johnathan Williams III, Zach Collins, Zach Norvell, Killian Tillie, Rui Hachimura
  • Why they’re here: The Zags may end up being better next season than they were last season, as Williams-Goss, Williams III and Collins may all end up being all-WCC players. They need Karnowski to decide to return for a fifth-year to anchor their defense.

14. Xavier

  • Returning: Trevon Bluiett*, Edmond Sumner, Myles Davis, J.P. Macura, Kaiser Gates
  • Newcomers: Quentin Goodin, Tyrique Jones, RaShid Gaston
  • Why they’re here: We all saw how good Xavier can be this season, and they return the majority of their pieces. The big question with them next season will be in the front court, which is why we have them sitting at 14th.

15. Syracuse

  • Returning: Malachi Richardson*, Tyler Lydon*, Tyler Roberson, Franklin Howard, Kaleb Joseph
  • Newcomers: Paschal Chukwu, Tyus Battle, Matthew Moyer
  • Why they’re here: Richardson and Lydon are perfect for the style that Jim Boeheim wants to play, as is Tyus Battle. The question is whether or not they’re both going to be there next season.

16. West Virginia

  • Returning: Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles Jr., Tarik Phillip, Esa Ahmad, Nathan Adrian, Elijan Macon
  • Newcomers: Maciej Bender, Chase Harler, Brandon Knapper, Sagaba Konate
  • Why they’re here: Losing Jaysean Paige and Devin Williams is really going to hurt, but this group has enough of a program mentality at this point that they should be able to remain competitive without them.

17. Indiana

  • Returning: Thomas Bryant, James Blackmon Jr.*, Troy Williams*, Robert Johnson, O.G. Anunoby, Juwan Morgan
  • Newcomers: Josh Newkirk, De’Ron Davis, Grant Gelon, Devonte Green, Curtis Jones
  • Why they’re here: The Hoosiers are another team that is very up in the air at this point, even with Thomas Bryant back in the fold. Will Williams be back, and will they get Anunoby to return as well? Can anyone replace Yogi Ferrell at the point?

18. UCLA

  • Returning: Isaac Hamilton, Bryce Alford, Thomas Welsh, Aaron Holiday, Jonah Bolden
  • Newcomers: Lonzo Ball, T.J. Leaf, Kobe Paras, Ike Anigbogu
  • Why they’re here: UCLA is the ultimate wildcard. If Ball has the impact that he’s expected to have, they’ll be a top five team. I could also see them being a .500 team. Your guess is as good as mine.

19. Florida State

  • Returning: Dwayne Bacon, Xavier Rathan-Mayes*, Terance Mann
  • Newcomers: Jonathan Isaac, Trent Forrest, Mfiondu Kabevgele, C.J. Walker
  • Why they’re here: There are talented pieces on this roster, and they should fit together better than the pieces on last year’s roster. Isaac is the wildcard here.

20. Maryland

  • Returning: Melo Trimble*, Jared Nickens, Dion Wiley, Michal Cekovsky
  • Newcomers: Anthony Cowan, Kevin Hurter, Micah Thomas
  • Why they’re here: Because we’re assuming that Trimble is coming back to school. Cowan is going to be good, but if Trimble isn’t there, this team is going to be in full rebuilding mode, and even if he is, this ranking may still be somewhat high.

21. Dayton

  • Returning: Charles Cooke*, Scoochie Smith, Kendall Pollard, Kyle Davis, Steve McElvene, Darrell Davis, Sam Miller
  • Newcomers: Josh Cunningham, Trey Landers
  • Why they’re here: They return basically everyone from last year’s team, including head coach Archie Miller, and add a former top 100 recruit in Josh Cunningham.

22. Rhode Island

  • Returning: E.C. Matthews, Jared Terrell, Hassan Martin, Kuran Iverson, Jarvis Garrett, Danny Hurley
  • Newcomers: Stanford Robinson, Mike Layssard, Jeff Dowtin, Cyril Langevine, Michael Tertsea
  • Why they’re here: The Rams are as talented as any team in the Atlantic 10 in recent memory. Can Danny Hurley put the pieces together?

23. Texas

  • Returning: Kerwin Roach Jr., Eric Davis Jr., Tevin Mack, Shaquille Cleare
  • Newcomers: Andrew Jones, Jacob Young, James Banks
  • Why they’re here: Shaka Smart proved his coaching chops last season, and next year he’ll have a roster that fits better with the style that he wants to play. Jones will be a star for him, leading a (really) young — but talented — back court. Losing Isaiah Taylor hurts, but the chance that they land Jarrett Allen combined with giving Smart the benefit of the doubt lands them here.

24. Virginia Tech

  • Returning: Zach LeDay, Seth Allen, Justin Bibbs, Chris Clarke, Justin Robinson, Kerry Blackshear Jr., Devin Wilson, Ahmed Hill, Ty Outlaw
  • Newcomers: Khadeem Sy
  • Why they’re here: Because this.

25. Cincinnati

  • Returning: Troy Caupain, Gary Clark, Jacob Evans, Kevin Johnson, Justin Jenifer
  • Newcomers: Jaron Cumberland, Kyle Washington, Nysier Brooks
  • Why they’re here: We know how good their guards are. The key for them is going to be how much of an impact Washington has in the front court.

ALSO CONSIDERED

  • Creighton (Returning: Mo Watson*, Cole Huff, Isaiah Zierden, Khyri Thomas; Newcomers: Justin Patton, Marcus Foster)
  • Saint Mary’s (Returning: Emmett Naar, Dane Pineau, Calvin Hermanson, Joe Rahon, Evan Fitzneg, Jock Landale; Newcomers: Jordan Ford, Elijah Thomas)
  • Purdue (Returning: Vince Edwards, Isaac Haas, Dakota Mathias, Ryan Cline, P.J. Thompson, Basil Smotherman; Newcomers: Carsen Edwards)
  • Texas A&M (Returning: Tyler Davis, Tonny Trocha-Morelos, Admon Gilder, D.J. Hogg, Kobie Eubanks; Newcomers: J.J. Caldwell, Robert Williams)
  • Wichita State (Retuning: Landry Shamet, Markis McDuffie, Conner Frankamp, Rashard Kelly, Zach Brown, Shaquille Morris; Newcomers: Peyton Allen, C.J. Keyser)
  • Miami (Returning: Davon Reed, Ja’Quan Newton, Anthony Lawrence Jr.; Newcomers: Bruce Brown, Dewan Huell, Rodney Miller, Dejan Vasilijevic, Rashad Muhammad)
  • UConn (Returning: Rodney Purvis, Jalen Adams, Amida Brimah, Steve Enoch; Newcomers: Terry Larrier, Juwan Durham, Alterique Gilbert, Vance Jackson, Mamadou Diarra)

Duke’s Amile Jefferson receives waiver, eligible for fifth year

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Duke announced on Friday that Amile Jefferson has received a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA making him eligible for the 2016-17 season.

Jefferson will be a fifth-year senior. Last season, the 6-foot-9 forward broke his foot after nine games. The NCAA mandates that in order for a player to be eligible to receive that waiver, he must play in no more than 30 percent of a team’s games during the regular season. Nine games was the cut-off.

This ruling was more a formality than a surprise, but it is still big news for the Blue Devils. Jefferson is the perfect, veteran power forward to slide in next year’s lineup alongside Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles. Last season, Jefferson averaged 11.4 points and 10.3 boards.

O.G. Anunoby to return to school for sophomore season

Indiana's OG Anunoby (3) dunks in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Michigan in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 72-69. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Indiana freshman O.G. Anunoby announced on Friday morning that he will not be testing the waters of the NBA Draft this spring.

“I will not be declaring for the NBA Draft this year and will return to Indiana University,” Anunoby said in the statement. “I love my teammates and coaches and look forward to getting better every day with their help.”

Anunoby was one of the most pleasant surprises in college basketball this season. He averaged just 5.8 points and 3.3 boards, but his size, athleticism and versatility defensively makes the Jefferson City, Mo., native a tantalizing prospect.

If Anunoby develops the way many expect him to and plays a bigger role next season, there’s a good chance he could end up being a first round pick down the road.

Heath Schroyer resigns at UT Martin, expected to join N.C. State staff

Tennessee-Martin coach Heath Schroyer reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Marquette on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
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Heath Schroyer is expected to accept a position as an assistant coach on N.C. State’s staff, a source told NBCSports.com.

On Thursday, UT Martin released a statement saying that Schroyer had resigned his position as head coach. Assistant Anthony Stewart has been promoted to interim head coach.

An announcement from N.C. State regarding the hire is expected soon.

Mark Gottfried’s staff with the Wolfpack has been in flux this offseason. Rob Moxley and Bobby Lutz were both reassigned, Moxley into an basketball operations position and Lutz to a role as an assistant to the Athletic Director. Gottfried added Butch Pierre, formerly of Oklahoma State, to his staff, and while it initially appeared that FGCU head coach Joe Dooley was going to accept the position as the third assistant on the staff, he opted to remain in Fort Myers, a source told NBCSports.com.

Schroyer won 41 games in two seasons with UT Martin. He has also been the head coach at Portland State and Wyoming.

Stephen Curry inducted into the Southern Conference Hall of Fame

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The SoCon announced this week that Stephen Curry will be inducted into their Hall of Fame in the Class of 2016, a fact that’s only surprising in that today’s biggest name in all of basketball has not yet made it to the Hall.

Curry is the lone member of the five-person class that you’ll have heard of — unless you’re a Michigan football fan, Armanti Edwards will be inducted as well — and while it remains to be seen just how long he can sustain the pace of this two-year run that he’s on and whether or not that will allow him to get into the Naismith Hall of Fame, there’s no question that his collegiate exploits were enough to get him recognized.

Curry scored 2,635 points in just three seasons at Davidson and still holds an NCAA record with 162 threes during the 2007-08 season; he also set the record for threes made during an NBA season, with 402 this year. His career averages during those three seasons? 25.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.1 steals, 41.2 percent shooting from deep while hitting 414 career triples. And while Curry missed the NCAA tournament during his junior season, he carried the Wildcats to within one shot of the Final Four as a sophomore, as they lost to Kansas 68-66 in the Elite 8.

Steph will always be remembered for what he did in the NBA, but what he did in college was just as unbelievable. Six times in those three seasons, Curry scored at least 40 points, including a first round game in the 2008 NCAA tournament — a tournament where he averaged 32.0 points — when the Wildcats beat Gonzaga:

Arizona transfer Justin Simon is headed to St. John’s

Arizona guard Justin Simon shoots next to Washington forward Noah Dickerson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona defeated Washington 99-67. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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For the second straight day, St. John’s has landed a high-profile transfer.

Former Arizona guard Justin Simon has committed to the Johnnies, he announced on Thursday.

“My next chapter has me in an Empire State of Mind,” Simon tweeted. “Happy to be a part of the St. John’s family.”

Simon was a top 50 recruit coming out of high school, but he was unable to find a way into Arizona’s back court rotation this season. With a load of talented perimeter players entering the program this summer, it didn’t make sense for Simon to return to Tucson to get buried on the bench.

“Having the opportunity to play for a Hall of Famer who has surrounded himself with an incredible staff that is all about getting their guys better was a huge draw in my decision to continue my college career at St. John’s,” said Simon. “I feel like I can be myself at St. John’s and reach my full basketball potential.”

The 6-foot-6 guard will sit out the 2016-17 season and have three years of eligibility remaining.

On Wednesday, the Johnnies landed a commitment from Marvin Clark, a transfer from Michigan State.