The college basketball season has come and gone, meaning that it is officially time for us to start looking forward to next year.
And what better way is there to do that than by publishing a Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25!
DISCLAIMER: We don’t know about all of the NBA Draft decisions yet. Not even close. So if you see a * next to player’s name, it is because we are taking a guess — some more educated than others — on what he is going to be doing this spring.
Drop us a line here or @CBTonNBC if you see any names missing.
Here is the top 25:
1. KANSAS JAYHAWKS
- Who’s gone: Devonte’ Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk, Malik Newman
- Who do they add: Dedric Lawson, K.J. Lawson, Charlie Moore, Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson, David McCormack
- Projected starting lineup: Charlie Moore, Marcus Garrett, Quentin Grimes, Dedric Lawson, Udoka Azubuike*
Losing Graham is a major, major blow for this program, but they had as much talent sitting out this season as any program in college basketball. Cal transfer Charlie Moore should be able to step in and handle the point guard duties while Dedric Lawson and K.J. Lawson will give Bill Self actual power forwards, something he has been yearning for the last two years. There is still going to be some turbulence with this roster. Do they hold onto Udoka Azubuike? Will they land Romeo Langford? Will anyone get run out of town? But the bottom line is that they are talented, they are old, they are well coached and they have a functional point guard on their roster.
2. VILLANOVA WILDCATS
- Who’s gone: Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson
- Who do they add: Jahvon Quinerly, Cole Swider, Brandon Slater
- Projected starting lineup: Collin Gillispie, Phil Booth, Donte DiVincenzo*, Eric Paschall, Omari Spellman*
This ranking really does depend on what happens with DiVincenzo and Spellman. DiVincenzo was the MOP of the Final Four. Spellman, as we noted here, is the piece that brings it all together for the Wildcats. Both would be borderline first round picks at best if they declare for the draft. At this point, Spellman is probably 50-50 over whether he stays in the draft. I think DiVincenzo probably returns.
3. KENTUCKY WILDCATS
- Who’s gone: Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Jarred Vanderbilt*, Sacha Killeya-Jones
- Who do they add: Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, E.J. Montgomery, Ashton Hagans*
- Projected starting lineup: Immanuel Quickly, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, Wenyen Gabriel*, P.J. Washington*
As always, there are so many moving parts with this Kentucky team’s roster and who will end up leaving school. Everyone from Kentucky is going to declare, and at this point, I’m going to set the over-under for the number of players that leave for the draft at four: Knox, Gilgeous-Alexander, Diallo and … either Gabriel or Vanderbilt? Maybe both? Sacha Killeya-Jones already transferred out as well. We’ll see how that all plays out, but regardless of what happens, I think the combination of incoming backcourt talent and the remaining front court veterans is going to be a fun combination for Kentucky fans to watch.
4. DUKE BLUE DEVILS
- Who’s gone: Grayson Allen, Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr., Trevon Duval, Gary Trent Jr., Marques Bolden*
- Who do they add: Tre Jones, Cam Reddish, R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson
- Projected starting lineup: Tre Jones, Cam Reddish, R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, Javin DeLaurier
The Blue Devils are another team that has a lot left to figure out. Bagley, Trent, Duval and Carter will be following Allen out the door, but what about Bolden? I’m still torn on how this Duke team — which will likely end up starting four freshmen — will play. That has not always been the path to success, but the talent here is impossible to ignore.
5. GONZAGA BULLDOGS
- Who’s gone: Silas Melson, Johnathan Williams III
- Who do they add: Brandon Clarke, Joel Ayayi, Filip Petrušev, Greg Foster Jr.
- Projected starting lineup: Josh Perkins, Zach Norvell Jr., Corey Kispert, Rui Hachimura, Killian Tillie
I’m not fully convinced that I love Perkins as a point guard, but with Norvell and Kispert a year older and Hachimura and Tillie on the front line, the Zags have a chance to be really, really good once again. Throw in the transfer addition of Clarke and a couple more talented foreigners — Ayayi and Petrušev — and this is just about what you would expect for Gonzaga.
6. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
- Who’s gone: James Daniel III
- Who do they add: No one
- Projected starting lineup: Lamonte’ Turner, Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden, Admiral Schofield, Grant Williams
Tennessee won the SEC last season and returns literally everyone from that team outside of Daniel, who came off the bench. Williams was the SEC Player of the Year last year, and Rick Barnes has plenty of perimeter talent and switchable pieces at his disposal. There are also some young, talented pieces on this roster — Bone, Bowden, Yves Pons, Kyle Alexander — that still have room to develop. I don’t think it’s crazy to think Tennessee could end up making a run at a No. 1 seed.
7. VIRGINIA CAVALIERS
- Who’s gone: Devon Hall, Isaiah Wilkins, Nigel Johnson
- Who do they add: Kody Stattmann, Kihei Clark
- Projected starting lineup: Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, Deandre Hunter, Mamadi Diakite, Jack Salt
I’ll never doubt Virginia again (unless they are a No. 1 seed … kidding!), even when they are losing their best guard and their best defender. Hunter is ready to step up and be the star for this team, and I think Mamadi Diakite will have a chance to be an elite defensive presence. If there is a real concern here, it’s depth, but I trust Tony Bennett will be able to figure something out. Always trust in Tony.
8. NEVADA WOLF PACK
- Who’s gone: Kendell Stephens, Hallice Cooke
- Who do they add: Tre’Shawn Thurman, Corey Henson, Jazz Johnson, Nisre Zouzoua, Kwame Hymes, Vince Lee
- Projected starting lineup: Lindsay Drew, Caleb Martin*, Cody Martin*, Jordan Caroline*, Josh Hall
This one is a bit tougher to project, as the Martin twins and Caroline are all going to be fifth-year seniors and it’s always difficult to predict what they are going to do. If they already have their degree, does it make sense to return to school for another season? Drew’s recovery from a torn achilles is also something that could be a problem. But this was a wildly talented team that came a point away from the Elite Eight despite losing their starting point guard and having their best player deal with a foot injury the last two months of the season.
9. KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
- Who’s gone: No one
- Who do they add: Shaun Williams
- Projected starting lineup: Kamau Stokes, Barry Brown*, Carter Diarra, Xavier Sneed, Dean Wade
This will probably be the highest that you see the Wildcats ranked heading into the season, but I really like this group. They have a crop of tough-minded, playmaking guards that can really get out and defend, and their best player is a guy that the public at-large hasn’t really seen play in Wade. Bruce Weber is going to silence the haters!
10. NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS
- Who’s gone: Joel Berry III, Theo Pinson, Jalek Felton
- Who do they add: Coby White, Nassir Little, Rechon Black
- Projected starting lineup: Coby White, Kenny Williams, Nassir Little, Cam Johnson, Luke Maye
Where you rank UNC in the preseason is going to depend entirely on two things: How good you think their freshmen — White and Little — are going to be, and what kind of development you expect out of Brandon Huffman, Sterling Manley and Garrison Brooks. Will there be a returning player in college basketball next season that is better than Luke Maye?
11. VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES
- Who’s gone: Devin Wilson, Justin Bibbs
- Who do they add: Jon Kabongo, Landers Nolley II, Jarren McAllister
- Projected starting lineup: Justin Robinson, Ahmed Hill, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Chris Clarke, Kerry Blackshear
The Hokies bring back seven of their top eight players, but the key for this team is going to be the development of their rising sophomore class: Alexander-Walker, Wabissa Bede, P.J. Horne. We know how good Clarke, Robinson and Blackshear are, but if those three take a step forward we could be looking at a top ten team.
12. AUBURN TIGERS
- Who’s gone: Davion Mitchell, Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley*, DeSean Murray
- Who do they add: Samir Doughty
- Projected starting lineup: Jared Harper, Bryce Brown*, Danjel Purifoy, Chuma Okeke, Anfernee McLemore
Assuming that Purifoy and Wiley don’t enter the NBA Draft, Auburn would return everyone from a team that shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee. Their guards are just so talented, and that was without Purifoy and Doughty. The health of McLemore, who suffered a dreadful ankle injury in February, will be critical, as well as the development of Chuma Okeke, especially if Wiley keeps his name in the draft.
13. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
- Who’s gone: Miles Bridges, Jaren Jackson, Ben Carter, Gavin Schilling, Tum Tum Nairn
- Who do they add: Foster Loyer, Aaron Henry, Gabe Brown, Marcus Bingham Jr., Thomas Kithier
- Projected starting lineup: Cassius Winston, Matt McQuaid, Josh Langford, Nick Ward*, Xavier Tillman
I can’t help but look at this roster and see all the same issues that they had this past season, only without their two most talented players. Turnovers. Lack of star power. Some defensive issues. Winston has a chance to be a first-team all-Big Ten player, but Langford and Ward are going to have to live up to their potential. It feels like this group has nice pieces, but that those pieces doesn’t necessarily fit together.
14. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
- Who’s gone: Braian Angola, C.J. Walker, Brandon Allen
- Who do they add: Devin Vassell
- Projected starting lineup: Trent Forrest, M.J. Walker*, Terance Mann*, Mfiondu Kabengele*, Phil Cofer
I really like this group in theory. They have a whole bunch of athletic, switchable wings that can score. Mann, Walker and Kabengele returning would be key, as would finding another point guard on the transfer market to replace C.J. Walker, who left the program.
15. MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
- Who’s gone: No one
- Who do they add: Reggie Perry, Robert Woodard, Jethro Tshisumpa Mbiya, D.J. Stewart
- Projected starting lineup: Lamar Peters*, Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary Weatherspoon*, Aric Holman*, Abdul Ado
I am not totally sold on Ben Howland getting this thing going at Mississippi State, but this will be his most talented team. The Weatherspoon brothers are both going to be good players, Peters still intrigues some NBA teams and Holman should fill a role. Reggie Perry should be a nice addition and an impact player as well.
16. LOUISVILLE CARDINALS
- Who’s gone: Anas Mahmoud, Quentin Snider, Ray Spalding, Deng Adel
- Who do they add: Chris Mack, Steve Enoch
- Projected starting lineup: Darius Perry, Dwayne Sutton, V.J. King, Steve Enoch, Malik Williams
How good of a coach do you think that Mack is? Because that is what this really comes down to. Even though the Cardinals lose Adel along with Spalding to the draft, there is enough talent on this roster to make an NCAA tournament — I think the evidence of that is that if the Cardinals hadn’t lost a fluke game to Virginia they would have been in the tournament last season. And all due respect to David Padgett, Mack is a better coach than he is right now.
17. OREGON DUCKS
- Who’s gone: Elijah Brown, MiKyle McIntosh, Troy Brown
- Who do they add: Bol Bol, Louis King, Miles Norris, Will Richardson
- Projected starting lineup: Payton Pritchard, Louis King, Paul White, Kenny Wooten, Bol Bol
For my money, Oregon’s season hung on whether or not Brown returned to school, and Ihe’s gone. Bol and King are both potential one-and-done players, and Wooten is an elite defensive prospect, but I’m in a wait and see mode with them. Personally, I’m not on the Bol Bol bandwagon, but I understand why he is, in theory, a high-level prospect.
18. MARYLAND TERRAPINS
- Who’s gone: Justin Jackson, Jared Nickens, Michal Cekovsky, Sean Obi, Dion Wiley
- Who do they add: Schnider Herard, Jalen Smith, Aaron Wiggins, Eric Ayala
- Projected starting lineup: Anthony Cowan, Darryl Morsell, Kevin Huerter*, Jalen Smith, Bruno Fernando*
Losing Justin Jackson was a major blow, but there are some pieces for Mark Turgeon to work with here. Cowan and Huerter could be all-Big Ten players as juniors, Morsell and Fernando had promising freshman years and Turgeon does bring in four solid pieces. They’ve got a chance in a weak Big Ten.
19. UCLA BRUINS
- Who’s gone: Aaron Holiday, Thomas Welsh, G.G. Goloman
- Who do they add: Tyger Campbell, Shareef O’Neal, Moses Brown, Kenny Nwuba, David Singleton III, Jules Bernard, Cody Riley, Jalen Hill
- Projected starting lineup: Jaylen Hands*, Prince Ali, Kris Wilkes*, Cody Riley, Moses Brown
This is a make or break year for Steve Alford. Odds seem good that he’ll have every underclassmen except Aaron Holiday back, meaning that back-to-back top five-ish recruiting classes will be on campus. It’s time for the Bruins to put up or shut up, and I think they’ll be right there as a favorite to win the Pac-12.
20. TCU HORNED FROGS
- Who’s gone: Kenrich Williams, Vlad Brodziansky, Ahmed Hamdy
- Who do they add: Kendric Davis, Kaden Archie, Angus McWilliam, Yuat Alok, Russel Barlow Jr.
- Projected starting lineup: Alex Robinson, Jaylen Fisher, Desmond Bane, Kouat Noi, Kevin Samuel
Losing Williams and Brodziansky is going to be a blow, but there are still plenty of pieces. Bane and Noi should be in line for breakout seasons, and Jamie Dixon going small-ball with a two-point guard look should be fun to watch.
21. WEST VIRGINIA
- Who’s gone: Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles, D’Angelo Hunter
- Who do they add: Jordan McCabe, Derek Culver, Trey Doomes, Andrew Gordon
- Projected starting lineup: Beetle Bolden, Brandon Knapper, Lamont West, Esa Ahmad*, Sagaba Konate*
West Virginia has survived losing program guys in past seasons, but Carter and Miles were responsible for turning West Virginia into Press Virginia. Calling them program guys is a disservice. So we’ll see how this plays out. At this point, I’m trusting that Bob Huggins will figure out a way to make it work.
22. N.C. STATE WOLFPACK
- Who’s gone: Omer Yurtseven, Al Freeman, Abdul-Malik Abu, Lennard Freeman, Sam Hunt
- Who do they add: C.J. Bryce, Blake Harris, Saddiq Bey, Jericole Hellems, Derek Funderburk, Ian Steere, Immanuel Bates
- Projected starting lineup: Braxton Beverly, Markell Johnson, Torin Dorn, C.J. Bryce, Derek Funderburk
Kevin Keatts is going to miss Yurtseven, because he doesn’t have any size on his roster anymore. He does, however, have half-a-million guards on his roster, and all of them can play. That’s enough for me to bet on Keatts getting it done.
23. XAVIER MUSKETEERS
- Who’s gone: Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura, Chris Mack, Kerem Kanter, Sean O’Mara
- Who do they add: Keonte Kennedy, Dontarius James, Jake Walker, Kyle Castlin, Zach Hankins, Ryan Welage
- Projected starting lineup: Quentin Goodin, Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall, Kaiser Gates, Tyrique Jones
So just how good is Travis Steele? We’ll find out right away. This roster has some dudes. They are also quite young with a first-year head coach.
24. LSU TIGERS
- Who’s gone: Duop Reath, Randy Onwuasor, Aaron Epps, Jeremy Combs, Mayan Kiir, Galen Alexander
- Who do they add: Naz Reid, Emmitt Williams, Javonte Smart, Darius Days, Kavell Bigby-Williams
- Projected starting lineup: Tremont Waters, Javonte Smart, Skylar Mays, Naz Reid, Emmitt Williams
LSU is really young. They are also really talented. Waters is so entertaining, and the including trio of Smart, Reid and Williams is very good. Effort will be a key, as will their ability to play together, but they have a chance to be really good.
25. CLEMSON TIGERS
- Who’s gone: Gabe DeVoe, Donte Grantham, Mark Donnal
- Who do they add: John Newman III, Hunter Tyson, Trey Jamison
- Projected starting lineup: Shelton Mitchell*, Marcquise Reed*, AJ Oliver, Aamir Simms, Elijah Thomas
Obviously, the calculus here changes if Mitchell and Reed end up staying in the NBA Draft, but at this point, I think that they’ll come back. With those two in the fold, plus Elijah Thomas in the paint, this has the makings of another team that will push for a top five seed.