Rob Dauster

2016-17 College Basketball Preseason All-American Team

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PRESEASON NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Grayson Allen, Duke

Picking the Preseason National Player of the Year this season was not an easy thing to do. This year’s freshman class will rival the Class of 2013 — Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, etc. — in terms of overall talent, and there are a number of newcomers entering into a situation in which they should be able to shine. Hell, there are two potential No. 1 picks and a third projected lottery pick on Duke’s roster this season, and none of them are named Grayson Allen.

But the reason we picked all for this award is actually pretty simple: He’s the best player on the best team in the country. Don’t believe me? Think about this: As a sophomore, his first season playing consistent minutes at the collegiate level, Allen averaged 21.6 points, 4.6 boards and 3.5 assists while posting a 61.6 true shooting percentage. That hasn’t been done by a high major basketball player since 1993, which is as far back as the CBB Reference database has statistics. As far as I know, it’s never happened before by a player at the high major level. For comparison’s sake, when Damian Lillard was a senior at Weber State, he was one of the three other players to post those stats.

And Allen did it while playing in a conference that sent six teams to the Sweet 16 and two to the Final Four last season.

You may hate him, but you cannot deny that the kid can flat out play.

RELATED: A Different Shade of Grayson

Washingtons Markelle Fultz, USA Basketball
Washingtons Markelle Fultz, USA Basketball

FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICA

Markelle Fultz, Washington: Fultz was one of just two other guys that we truly considered for Preseason Player of the Year. He’s the current favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft and, given Washington’s uptempo style of play, he has a chance to post massive numbers. The biggest question mark here is whether or not the Huskies are going to be good enough to dance; to win the award on a team that’s not a national title contender is hard to do. It’s only happened three times in the last two decades, and all three of those winners — Doug McDermott, Jimmer Fredette and Kevin Durant — averaged more than 26 points. McDermott and Fredette were on teams that earned No. 3 seeds in the NCAA tournament.

Josh Hart, Villanova: Hart was the third player to get serious consideration for National Player of the Year. He’s the guy that is most likely to have a Buddy Hield-esque, breakout senior season. As a junior with the Wildcats, Hart averaged a team-high 15.5 points and 6.8 boards, playing an integral role in Villanova’s small-ball attack. His ability to attack the glass and playing bigger than his 6-foot-5 frame will be even more important for Jay Wright’s club this season as they deal with a lack of size on the interior, but the key for Hart’s long-term future will be his three-point shooting. He made 35.7 percent of his threes last season and 46.4 percent the season before, but that was on relatively limited attempts and his flat shot and awkward release makes it tough to project him as a floor-spacer at the next level. Did he put in the work this offseason to make a jump the way Hield did last season?

Josh Jackson, Kansas: Jackson was ranked the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2016 by a number of outlets, and there are still people that believe he’ll eventually be the best NBA player out of this group. A freak athlete like Andrew Wiggins, Jackson is a bit more polished and a whole lot tougher than Wiggins was a freshman. It’s not crazy to think that he can match Wiggins’ output (17.7 points, 5.9 boards, nation’s top perimeter defender), and considering Kansas is a preseason top five team, that puts him firmly in the All-America discussion. But here’s what will limit him: If Carlton Bragg makes the improvement many expect him to, Jackson’s offense may be cut into, and considering there are a pair of alpha-dogs that will be the guys called on to make big shots in key moments, it’s hard to see him having any “Wooden Moments”.

Ivan Rabb, California: We went with Rabb as the nation’s best big man this season. Like Fultz, Rabb could end up playing on a team that doesn’t reach the NCAA tournament. That’s concerning, but there’s a real chance that Rabb could end up averaging 18 points and 10 boards this season. Last season as a freshman, he averaged 12.6 points and 8.5 boards playing as a tertiary option on the offensive end. He would have been a lottery pick had he opted to declare for June’s NBA Draft.

TCU guard Michael Williams (2) defends as Iowa State guard Monte Morris (11) leaps to the basket for a shot in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Fort Worth, Texas. Morris had 18 points and six assists and No. 19 Iowa State followed a win over top-ranked Oklahoma with a 73-60 victory over TCU on Saturday. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Iowa State guard Monte Morris (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICA

Monte’ Morris, Iowa State: Morris is in an interesting situation this season. For the past three years, he’s defined himself as the model of point guard efficiency, a facilitator who makes big shots when he has to but who excelled as running a team and creating for the guys around him. This year? That talent around him is depleted, meaning Morris will be asked to become more of a volume scorer. We expect him to embrace that role and excel in it.

Dennis Smith Jr., N.C. State: Smith tore his ACL last August, forcing him to miss his senior season of high school. But the injury meant that he was able to graduate high school early, enroll in college in January and spend the majority of his rehab time doing so with the Wolfpack trainers. The result? He’s returned from the injury as good as new, which is important considering the fact that so much of what makes Smith dangerous is his explosiveness. A potential top five pick, Smith is talented enough that he could take a perennially under-achieving team to the NCAA tournament.

Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga: You may not recognize this name. A former top 30 recruit, Williams-Goss transferred out of Washington after an all-Pac 12 season as a sophomore. He sat out last year as a transfer and will step in to the starting point guard role this season. Gonzaga lost Kyle Wiltjer and Domas Sabonis, but with the talent they have returning — and becoming eligible this season — the Zags have the look of a top ten team, and we expect Williams-Goss to be their engine.

Austin Nichols, Virginia: Nichols is going to be the star for this year’s Virginia team, which is once again a contender for the ACC title. As a sophomore at Memphis, the former McDonald’s All-American averaged 13.4 points, 6.7 boards and 3.4 blocks. He spent last season redshirting at Virginia and learning the system, which he is a perfect fit for. He’s a better big man that Anthony Gill, and Anthony Gill was one of the most underrated players in the country last season.

Thomas Bryant, Indiana: Bryant is another guy that had a chance to be a first round pick last season but opted to return to school. He had a promising first year in Bloomington, but it came with typical freshman mistakes: He was lost early in the year, especially on the defensive end. But Bryant has the tools, he plays extremely hard and he’s young for his grade; he was born five months after Josh Jackson.

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks (AP Photo/John Locher)

THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICA

Dillon Brooks, Oregon: Health is the big question with Brooks, and the reason that he’s a third-teamer instead of being in contention for the first team. Brooks has a foot injury, one that Oregon has already said could keep him out at the start of the season. If healthy, he’s a junior that averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 boards and 3.1 assists last season for a preseason top five team.

Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson: Blossomgame had a chance to leave college and head to the NBA Draft this spring, but he opted to return to school for his senior season. Blossomgame is certainly talented enough to be on this list — he averaged 18.7 points last season — but without the hype of a guy like Smith or Fultz, will he be able to get the Tigers to be a good enough team that people will play attention to him?

Jayson Tatum, Duke: The Blue Devils are the most talented team in the country, and trying to predict where production is going to come from in that offense is tough. Tatum is one of the best pure scorers in college basketball this season, but there’s a real possibility he could end up being the third or fourth leading scorer on this team. The good news? Jabari Parker and Brandon Ingram thrived in the role he’ll play. The bad news? Harry Giles III may be the best player on Duke come March.

Alec Peters, Valparaiso: Peters is the best player at the mid-major level in the country, a kid that graduated from school in three years and had the chance to leave for literally any other program in the country. He didn’t. He opted to stay at Valpo, where he’ll be the centerpiece of new head coach Matt Lottich’s offense. It’s not crazy to think he could average 23 points.

Bam Adebayo, Kentucky: Who is going to be Kentucky’s leading scorer this season? It’s tough to figure out, right? Our money is on Adebayo, their 6-foot-10 center. He’s a freak athletically with more of a face-up game than he gets credit for. Given the lack of perimeter shooting for the Wildcats this season, Adebayo will be asked to carry much of the load.

Bam Adebayo (Photo by Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images)
Kentucky’s Bam Adebayo (Photo by Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images)

Arizona freshman suffers leg injury in exhibition win

Ray Smith, courtesy Arizona athletics
courtesy Arizona athletics
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Arizona redshirt freshman Ray Smith left Tuesday night’s exhibition win over the College of Idaho with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.

Twice before that incident, Smith left the court and returned to the locker with an injury. On the third incident, Smith signaled to the bench almost immediately when he landed. Smith, who was seeing action in his first college game after suffering ACL tears in each of the previous two years, tweeted this the night before the game:

“Tough night for us, watching Ray go down. It certainly didn’t look good; we’ll know more in the next couple of days,” head coach Sean Miller said. “I think that trumps everything else tonight.”

“It’s heartbreaking. I don’t have any words to really couch it, make it better than it really is, it’s just awful.”

It was an all-around awful day to be an Arizona fan. Allonzo Trier was in street clothes after warming up with the team as the Wildcats deal with concerns about his eligibility for the upcoming season. Miller declined to comment on Trier’s status in a Monday press availability and after Tuesday’s exhibition. He did, however, comment on Chance Comanche’s absence, saying in a statement that it was Comanche’s “lack of academic responsibility” that got him benched.

All told, in the last six months, Arizona has lost Justin Simon to transfer, Elliot Pitts to suspension, Comanche to academics, Terrence Ferguson to Australia and, potentially, Trier. That’s a lineup that’s good enough to make a run at an NCAA tournament berth, and it has left the Wildcats with just seven scholarship players available.

CBT Podcast: Previewing the SEC

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AP
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Today’s podcast is spent rolling through the SEC, breaking down and previewing every team in what is a … weird conference.

If you’re more into reading than listening, we previewed the conference for the site right here.

Is it just Kentucky and everyone else? Listen and find out. If you like what you hear, take a few seconds and rate and review the podcast in whatever app you listen on. It helps us gain a larger audience and is very much appreciated.

Subscribe to the CBT Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Audioboom

WATCH: The 30 best dunkers in college basketball

Malik Monk (Kentucky Athletics)
Malik Monk (Kentucky Athletics)
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Everyone loves dunks. So here are the 30 best dunkers in college basketball, with video evidence. Clear out 20 minutes for this.

But first, a note: Here are links to all our preview coverage. Read through and get ready for college hoops.

Top Backcourts | Top Frontcourts | Top 100 Players | Top 25

POSITION RANKS: Lead Guards | Off Guards | Wings | Big Men

LEAGUE PREVIEWS: Big 12 | ACC | Pac-12 | Big Ten | Mid-Majors

CONTENDER SERIES: Duke | Oregon | Kentucky | Kansas | Villanova

30. Zach Smith, Texas Tech

A 6-foot-8 forward with a better-than 40 inch vertical, Smith is a guy that will catch a lot of lobs and tip-dunks even if he isn’t the kind of player that will win dunk contests.

29. New Williams, Auburn

Now New Williams is a guy that could certainly win a dunk contest. The question is whether or not he’ll actually get into a game to show what he can do.

28. Mo Alie-Cox, VCU

Mo isn’t the tallest big man that you’ll see in the collegiate ranks, but good luck finding someone that is stronger or more powerful than the VCU center.

27. Khalil Iverson, Wisconsin

He’s not the most well-known of the Wisconsin Badgers, but he is maybe the only guy on the roster that can actually finish this dunk.

26. Chimezie Metu, USC

Metu has the kind of size and athleticism that will attract NBA scouts to USC games all season long, thanks to dunks like this.

25. Malik Pope, San Diego State

Pope has worlds of potential because he’s 6-foot-10, he can play the wing and he can do things like this. Consistently producing is a different story.

24. Dwayne Bacon, Florida State

Bacon turned into one of the best scorers in the ACC as a freshman, but don’t forget that he won the McDonald’s All-American dunk contest.

23. Darius Thompson, Virginia

Someone is going to have to step up for UVA and replace the offense that Malcolm Brogdon provided. I don’t know if that will be Thompson, but we’re OK with it as long as he does this more often.

22. Allonzo Trier, Arizona

Trier doesn’t seem like he’d be the most explosive dunker, but when he gets into space he is a powerful finisher.

21. Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina

Thornwell has flown under the radar throughout his career, but as a senior, if he keeps doing this he’ll get some more attention.

20. Tyrique Jones, Xavier

He’ll replace Jalen Reynolds as the most vicious dunker in the Xavier front court.

19. Zena Edosomwan, Harvard

Edosomwan is a freakishly powerful athlete, and given that he’s playing in the Ivy League, he’ll have a chance to do this quite a bit.

18. Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State

Weatherspoon morphed into one of the best freshman in the SEC last season, partly for plays like this.

17. Hassan Martin, Rhode Island

Martin is one of the most explosive players in the country when healthy. Let’s hope he stays healthy this season.

16. Garland Owens, Boston College

You probably don’t know the name Garland Owens, but any dunkers list without him on it is one that you shouldn’t pay any attention to. Why? This is why.

15. Prince Ali, UCLA

He’s about the fifth-most well-known guard on UCLA’s roster, which is impressive when you consider that he’s done this multiple times in his short UCLA career.

14. Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson

Blossomgame is a sleeper NBA Draft prospect. He’s a good defender, a big wing and a three-point threat, but he’s also an athlete capable of doing things like this.

13. Rashawn Thomas, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Thomas is one of the best dunkers at the mid-major level.

12. Rayjon Tucker, FGCU

The highlights weren’t quite there as a freshman, but no one was more impressive dunking the ball on the AAU circuit than Tucker.

11. Bam Adebayo, Kentucky

He is going to break a backboard this year. I’m convinced of it.

10. Josh Jackson, Kansas

He’s a freaky athlete that compares favorably to Andrew Wiggins.

9. Edmond Sumner, Xavier

Sumner is the surprising name on this list. Thanks to a late growth spurt and a redshirt year to get stronger, he’s now a 6-foot-6 athlete that is thrilling in the open floor.

8. Donovan Mitchell, Louisville

Mitchell is so strong and so powerful with such long arms that plays like this seem ordinary for him.

7. Grayson Allen, Duke

Love him or hate him, you cannot deny that Allen is a freight train in transition with the explosiveness to dunk in traffic.

6. Dennis Smith Jr., N.C. State

Now that his knee is back to 100% healthy, Smith looks like he might end up being a top three pick in the NBA Draft because of explosiveness like this. (No. 8 here is ridiculous.)

5. Kerwin Roach, Texas

This really might be one of the five best dunks I’ve seen in college basketball.

4. Malik Monk, Kentucky

When he’s got it going, there is not a more thrilling player in college basketball this season than Malik Monk.

3. Deonte Burton, Iowa State

This is still one of my favorite moments covering college hoops. I can’t believe how much power there is in this dunk.

2. Miles Bridges, Michigan State

Bridges is the most powerful player in the country this season. He is going to destroy at least one defender’s confidence.

1. Kwe Parker, Tennessee

I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a Kwe Parker birther. I will not believe he is human until I see a birth certificate.

SEC Preview: It’s Kentucky’s world, everyone else is living in it

LEXINGTON, KY - MARCH 05:  John Calipari the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats gives instructions to his team in the game against the LSU Tigers at Rupp Arena on March 5, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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Beginning in September and running up through November 11th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2016-2017 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the SEC.

For the last two or three years, all we’ve heard about the SEC is how the conference is on the way up.

It wasn’t just going to be simply be football and Kentucky anymore. Bruce Pearl was going to turn around Auburn. Ben Howland and Rick Barnes would do the same for Mississippi State and Tennessee. Billy Kennedy had himself a pipeline at Texas A&M, while Johnny Jones was landing No. 1 draft picks at LSU.

And yet, here we are in 2016-17, and the preseason AP poll has Kentucky ranked No. 2 … and nary another SEC program to be found.

I guess it’s going to be football and Kentucky for at least one more season.

LEAGUE PREVIEWS: Big 12 | ACC | Pac-12 | Big Ten | Mid-Majors

De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky Athletics
De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky Athletics

FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:

1. Kentucky is loaded with talent once again: Are you really surprised that, in a year where the freshman class is as good as we’ve ever seen it be, that Kentucky has a roster stocked with future first round draft picks? It starts with Bam Adebayo, a top ten prospect and the most athletic big man in the SEC, and continues with another pair of potential lottery picks in back court mates De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. Isaiah Briscoe was a five-star prospect last season, Wenyen Gabriel could end up being the best defender on this team and there are some NBA people that think Sacha Killeya-Jones might end up being the best long-term prospect on the roster.

And I haven’t even mentioned Derek Willis or Isaac Humphries yet. Kentucky is certainly loaded with talent …

2. … but there are legitimate questions about fit: Specifically, just how well does this roster fit together? The way I see it, there are two legitimate concerns, the first of which is UK’s perimeter shooting. Fox and Briscoe have yet to prove themselves as three-point threats while Monk has been anything-but consistent as a perimeter shooter in his young career. Willis was the difference-maker last season when he was thrust into the squad, but when he is on the floor, issues emerge for the Wildcats defensively. Does he guard threes or fours? Can you play him over Gabriel, who isn’t the same shooter but who is a potential stopper defensively? Can Humphries act as a rim protector? Can he play with Adebayo on a team that is just about locked into perimeter shooting issues?

To read more on this, I went in-depth on the Wildcats here. It takes more than a paragraph to fully flesh out that thought process.

3. Florida has a team that can get to the tournament: For my money, Florida is the second-best team in the SEC on paper, and I’m not sure it is all that close. Kasey Hill is a former five-star recruit who finally, after nearly three seasons of inconsistency, looked like a McDonald’s All-American down the stretch. KeVaughn Allen had flashes of brilliance in a promising freshman year. Devin Robinson has the kind of physical tools that should allow him to thrive in Mike White’s uptempo style of play, and Chris Chiozza offers a nice counter-balance to the insanity as a heady playmaker. Throw in Canyon Barry – Rick’s last son – and powerhouse big man John Egbunu, not to mention a slew of solid role players coming off the bench, and this team has the pieces to crack the top 25. Can White unlock their potential?

CONTENDER SERIES: Duke | Oregon | Kentucky | Kansas | Villanova

ANNAPOLIS, MD - NOVEMBER 13: KeVaughn Allen #4 of the Florida Gators puts up a shot in front of Jace Hogan #44 of the Navy Midshipmen in the first half during the Veterans Classic at Alumni Hall on November 13, 2015 in Annapolis, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
KeVaughn Allen (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

4. Beyond that, who can you trust in the SEC?: I’m legitimately asking you, because I don’t know that there is a team here you can. Georgia has J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten and nary another proven contributor. Ole Miss is going to be relying on a pair of transfers in Cullen Neal and Deandre Burnett. I’m not sure Arkansas has the talent around Moses Kingsley to be worth paying attention to. Texas A&M lost so many veteran pieces from a season ago. Vanderbilt made a needed change at head coach, but losing two first rounders for a First Four program is not easy to over come. This feels like it is South Carolina’s year, but what have they done to prove that they’re something more than a middle-of-the-pack SEC program?

5. Auburn, Mississippi State and Tennessee really are on the right track: It really should not be a surprise to anyone that Ben Howland, Bruce Pearl and Rick Barnes are able to recruit, because they’ve been able to recruit at every stop they’ve landed during their coaching careers. And while all three programs are still at least a year away, they’re heading in the right direction. Pearl finally has a roster of 13 scholarship players whom he recruited, headlined by a five-star prospect in Mustapha Heron with a top five recruiting class coming next season. Howland has a potential star in Quinndary Weatherspoon and six four-star freshmen entering his program. Barnes has more work to do still, but the Vols are not devoid of talent, just size. The results are coming … eventually.

PRESEASON SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Moses Kingsley, Arkansas

Unless you are from the state of Arkansas, you may not realize just how good Kingsley was as a junior last season. The 6-foot-10 center averaged 15.9 points, 9.3 boards and 2.4 blocks despite playing for a Razorback team that didn’t have too many other threats.

Top Backcourts | Top Frontcourts | Top 100 Players

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 13: Moses Kingsley #33 of the Arkansas Razorbacks dunks against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Georgia Dome on March 13, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Moses Kingsley (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

THE REST OF THE ALL-SEC FIRST TEAM:

  • De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky: Fox could very well end up being the best perimeter defender in college basketball this season.
  • J.J. Frazier, Georgia: Frazier is so underrated. he averaged 16.9 points, 4.5 boards and 4.4 assists last season.
  • Bam Adebayo, Kentucky: If a Kentucky player is destined to win the SEC Player of the Year award, I think that it will end up being Bam.
  • Malik Monk, Kentucky: There isn’t a more exciting player in college basketball this season than Monk. The question is whether or not he is going to be consistent enough to garner postseason awards.

FIVE MORE NAMES TO KNOW:

  • Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State
  • KeVaughn Allen, Florida
  • Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina
  • Tyler Davis, Texas A&M
  • Yante Maten, Georgia

BREAKOUT STAR: Tyler Davis, Texas A&M

Last year, playing on a team that was dominated by perimeter talent, a freshman like Davis was never really going to be a guy that was featured … and yet he still managed to average 11.3 points in just over 22 minutes. With guys like Danuel House, Alex Caruso and Jalen Jones gone, it’s going to be the Davis show for Billy Kennedy.

COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Johnny Jones, LSU

When you have the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft on your team posting stat lines of 19 points, 12 boards and five assists every single night, and you cannot get that team to care enough to get into the NCAA tournament, it’s not an easy task to justify your salary to your bosses. Jones did that. We’ll see if it’s still the case if the Tigers have a disastrous 2016-17 season.

ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING … : Man, the SEC was lucky to get more than two teams into the Big Dance this year.

I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT: Seeing how John Calipari puts all the pieces on his roster together.

FIVE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES TO CIRCLE ON YOUR CALENDAR:

  • 11/15, Kentucky vs. Michigan State
  • 12/3, Kentucky vs. UCLA
  • 12/6, Florida vs. Duke
  • 12/17, Kentucky vs. North Carolina
  • 1/28, Kentucky vs. Kansas

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @kysportsradio

POSITION RANKS: Lead Guards | Off Guards | Wings | Big Men

De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky Athletics
De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky Athletics

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Kentucky: Duh.
2. Florida: I just love the talent on this roster. I do think that, out of the rest of the teams in this league, the Gators have the highest ceiling, but don’t go betting your mortgage on Mike White being able to tap into that talent until he proves he can win at this level.
3. Georgia: The Bulldogs have the best 1-2 punch in the SEC this season with J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten. If you know who is going to step up to support those two, please drop us a line and let us know. But that duo should be enough to get the Bulldogs into the NCAA tournament conversation.
4. Ole Miss: Andy Kennedy is the longest-tenured coach in the SEC and has done a pretty good job running a program that you may forget has a basketball team. Transfers Cullen Neal and Deandre Burnett should thrive in Kennedy’s offense – think of Neal as Marshall Henderson minus the crazy – while Sebastian Saiz is one of the more underrated bigs nationally.
5. Texas A&M: I think the Aggies are still probably a year away, but with Admon Gilder, D.J. Hogg and J.J. Caldwell playing around Tyler Davis, I think Billy Kennedy has enough pieces to make a run at the top four in the league and a trip to the NCAA tournament.
6. South Carolina: It’s hard to know what to make of the Gamecocks. I think Frank Martin has the pieces he needs to play the way he wants to play, but it’s hard to ignore that they lost three starters or how their season ended in 2016. Let’s see if P.J. Dozier is the real deal.
7. Vanderbilt: Vandy lost two first round picks and their head coach, which is a lot to overcome. But Bryce Drew may actually be an upgrade and there is probably more talent in this program than you may realize: Matthew Fisher-Davis, Camron Justice, Luke Kornet, Jeff Roberson. The big question: Can Riley LaChance handle the point guard duties full-time?
8. Arkansas: Moses Kingsley is an animal and Dusty Hannahs has game good enough to back up one of the best names in college hoops, but I’m not yet convinced that a team coached by Mike Anderson can out-perform expectations.
9. Mississippi State: Quinndary Weatherspoon is one of the best players you haven’t heard of, and his ability is one of the reasons that no one is really talking about Malik Newman leaving the Bulldog program. Given their youth, this team is a year away, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Howland find a way to get them to around .500 in league play come March.
10. Alabama: There are some pieces here – namely Dazon Ingram, Riley Norris and Memphis transfer Nick King – but we’d be having a very different conversation about the Tide is Terrence Ferguson hadn’t decommitted.
11. Auburn: I have a feeling that Mustapha Heron is going to be better than some people realize, but the talent on the Tiger roster is just a bit too raw at this point to expect them to really compete for the postseason.
12. Tennessee: The Vols are going to be fun to watch this year because they’ll spread the floor and get up and down the court, but when you play high-major basketball and have just three players taller than 6-foot-6, you’re in trouble.
13. LSU: Johnny Jones couldn’t win with the most talented player in college basketball last season, which should we expect him to win with essentially the same team and no Ben Simmons?
14. Missouri: Head coach Kim Anderson climbed out of a coffin at Midnight Madness. That wasn’t the kind of symbolism the Tigers intended, I’m sure.

VIDEO: Remembering Ray Allen’s Big East tourney-winning floater

19 Feb 1996: Guard Ray Allen #34 of the Connecticut Huskies pauses on the court during a break in the action against the Georgetown Hoyas in this Big East match-up at the USAir Arena in Washington, D.C. Georgetown defeated UConn 77-65.
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Ray Allen announced his retirement from basketball on Tuesday morning.

He’ll go down in history as one of the greatest shooters in the history of the sport. And while you’ll likely see remembrances pop-up all day – focusing on how he wasn’t just a shooter or the shot he hit to force Game 7 in the 2013 NBA Finals or his unforgettable role as Jesus Shuttleworth in the Spike Lee classic He Got Game – this is a college basketball site.

And Ray Ray hit one of the most unforgettable shots in college basketball history, an off-balance leaner to win the 1996 Big East tournament title game, capping off an 11-point comeback in the final three minutes.

You can see the highlight here: