Conference Countdown: No. 3 Big East

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Pre-Season Awards

Player of the Year: Corey Fisher, Villanova

Its
no secret that Jay Wright runs an offense geared towards back court
players, and with Villanova losing a first team all-american with
Scottie Reynolds’ graduation, Fisher is in line to be the feature
guard. Fisher is a dynamic scorer that can get to the basket, can
finish amongst the trees, and, as he proved this summer,
is a very good three point shooter. He’s a tough kid from the Bronx,
which leaves me with little doubt that he can flourish as a senior
leader for a Nova club with a wealth of young talent.

And a close second goes to: Austin Freeman, Georgetown

To
be honest, any one of the five players listed below on the Big East’s
first team could slide in here, as the top six players in the league
seem fairly obvious. Freeman is probably the best of that group,
however. At 6’4″, 240 lb, Freeman is built more like a linebacker than
a shooting guard, but for someone his size, he is nimble, mobile, and
athletic. The best aspect of his game is his ability to shoot — when
he gets it going, he is damn near impossible to stop. Ask UConn. Or Louisville.
He needs to improve on his ability to get to the rim — he shot less
than 100 free throws last season — but he has a high basketball IQ and
truly understands what is a good shot and what isn’t. Freeman is the
perfect guard for JT III’s offense, and should thrive this year.

Breakout Star: Kris Joseph, Syracuse

The
last two years, Joseph has come off the bench, playing a role for a
team that had legitimate stars — Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf, Wes
Johnson, Andy Rautins. But with that talent off to the NBA (or New
Zealand) someone is going to have to fill the void, and Joseph is the
perfect player. At 6’7″, Joseph is athletic enough to be a dangerous
slasher. He can get to the rim, and he can finish once there. He has
the length to be a nightmare defensively in the Syracuse zone. If he
can add a consistent jump shot, then Joseph seems like a safe bet to be
a first round pick whenever he decides to go pro.

All-Conference First Team:

  • POY – Corey Fisher, Villanova, Sr.
  • G – Kemba Walker, UConn, Jr.
  • G – Austin Freeman, Georgetown, Sr.
  • F – Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame, Sr.
  • F – Kris Joseph, Syracuse, Jr.
  • F – Kevin Jones, West Virginia, Jr.

All-Conference Second Team:

  • G – Chris Wright, Georgetown, Sr.
  • G – Ashton Gibbs, Pitt, Jr.
  • G – Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall, Sr.
  • F – DJ Kennedy, St. John’s, Sr.
  • F – Jimmy Butler, Marquette, Sr.

Freshman of the Year: Fab Melo, Syracuse

In
an era of one-and-done basketball, its pretty amazing that in a 16 team
conference, Melo is really the only kid with a chance of being in the
NBA in 2011. The seven-foot Brazilian has a pretty good back to the
basket game for a player his age and is regarded by a few recruiting
outlets as the best center in the class. Playing alongside Rick Jackson
and Joseph, the Orange will have a very good front line.

All-Freshman Team:

  • G – Eric Atkins, Notre Dame
  • G – Vander Blue, Marquette
  • G – Dion Waiters, Syracuse
  • F – Roscoe Smith, UConn
  • F – Nate Lubick, Georgetown

What Happened?:

  • NCAA Sanctions: From a basketball perspective, the biggest story in the Big East this summer was up at UConn. The Huskies received a notice of allegations
    from the NCAA in May, informing them of eight major violations in the
    recruitment of Nate Miles. UConn will find out its final punishment
    from the NCAA in October, but the violations have already cost them two
    assistants — Beau Archibald and Brad Sellers, the son of former Husky
    star Rod Sellers. Jim Calhoun avoided the heavy artillery — getting
    grazed with a citation for “failure to monitor” the program, which is
    ironically what the best coaches need to do to succeed.
  • Coaches:
    The NCAA infractions weren’t the only reason Calhoun was in the news.
    Ailing health, which isn’t helped by the fact that he is nearing 70,
    coupled with the impending NCAA sanctions, a team that is going to need
    some rebuilding, and the fact his contract was up made many believe
    Calhoun would hang ’em up this summer. Wrong. He signed a five-year
    deal instead.

    Calhoun had far from the worst summer for coaches
    in the Big East. Rick Pitino let the world — and every single opposing
    student section — know about his 15 second tryst on a restaurant table with one Karen Sypher. Bob Huggins fell, a result of being in Vegas the medicine he took on an empty stomach making him light-headed, and broke seven ribs. Fred Hill was run out of Rutgers, in part because he lost it on the Pittsburgh baseball team’s coaching staff.

    Through all of that, perhaps the worst summer was had by Bobby Gonzalez, who lost his job at Seton Hall, had the entire episode come out in the New York Times, sued he former employer, was unable to receive credentials at the NBA Draft, and then go himself arrested for attempting to steal a $1,400 man-purse satchel.

    Perhaps
    the only coach you can actually feel bad for this summer was Norm
    Roberts. All Roberts did was St. John’s program and get his kids to
    play as hard as they could for 40 minutes a game all season long. But
    he couldn’t win, and thus got the axe. The Johnnies dipped into the
    ESPN studios and pulled out Steve Lavin, the former UCLA head coach, to
    make the trip east.

    The four new coaches to the conference:
    Oliver Purnell left Clemson for DePaul; Mike Rice filled in for Hill at
    Rutgers, leaving Robert Morris; Steve Lavin replaced Norm Roberts at
    St. John’s; and Kevin Willard left Iona and took Gonzo’s spot at Seton
    Hall.

  • LOI’s: Three Big East teams made headlines for issues with LOI’s that they had recruits sign. DePaul initially refused to release Walter Pitchford, Jr., from his LOI.
    He signed with Jerry Wainwright, who was at DePaul two coaches ago.
    After appealing both the school and the NCAA, DePaul finally released
    Pitchford. The same thing is currently happening to Joseph Young at Providence, who as of this writing has not yet been granted a release by Providence. At Marquette, DJ Newbill was dropped from his LOI
    when Buzz Williams had the opportunity to bring in former top 100
    recruit Jamil Wilson, a transfer from Oregon. All in all, Big East
    members did not shine bright this summer.
  • Back to Providence: Man oh man, did they have a rough summer.
    Two freshmen kicked out of school for beating up a student. Their star
    Greedy Peterson thrown off the team. Another player arrested.
  • Seton Hall didn’t fare much better:
    Aside from their coach being kicked to the curb, the Pirates had their
    best big man spend nearly a month in the hospital because he collapsed after finishing a workouts and saw Robert “Sticks” Mitchell get arrested for (get this) robbing eight people at gunpoint just two days after being kicked off the team.

What’s Next?

  • Expansion:
    I’ve had enough expansion talk for the summer, which is why I’m putting
    it down here. Despite all the rumors and the doomsday scenarios and the
    possibility of the conference disintegrating (or blowing up to 20,
    depending on who you asked), we are still here, a 16 team college hoops
    behemoth. In the future, who knows if that remains true. Do Syracuse,
    Rutgers, Pitt, and/or UConn go to the Big Ten? Do the Big XII’s
    remnants — including the Kansas schools and Baylor — join the Big
    East? What about Memphis and Central Florida? Who knows. We’ll save
    those discussions for next summer.

Power Rankings:

  1. Villanova:
    While the Wildcats do lose all-american Scottie Reynolds, Jay Wright’s
    club (as always) will be more than fine in the back court. Corey
    Fisher, fresh off an alleged 105 point performance in a Bronx summer
    league, and Maalik Wayns will be as dynamic as any back court in the
    country and should be able to thrive in Scottie’s absence. Corey Stokes
    is still going to be a lights out shooter. Dominic Cheek and James
    Bell, who is out indefinitely with stress fractures, will be dangerous
    on the wings. Up front, the five-man rotation of Antonio Pena, Mouph
    Yarou, Isaiah Armwood, Maurice Sutton, and JayVaughn Pinkston gives
    Villanova a very deep, very talented roster for the upcoming season.
    The Wildcats should compete for the Big East title and, depending on
    how well some players develop (Armwood, Cheek, Wayns, Yarou) and how
    good a couple of freshmen are (Bell, Pinkston), Nova could very well
    make a run at the Final Four.
  2. Pitt:
    The Panthers were the surprise of the Big East last season, finishing
    tied for second in the conference, and the majority of their roster is
    coming back this season. Pitt has almost reached the level of a
    Wisconsin — no matter who is on their roster, this is a team that is
    disciplined and well coached to the point that they are always going to
    be competitive. As always, expect a gritty, defensive-minded team from
    the Panthers. An already solid back court of Ashton Gibbs, Brad
    Wanamaker, and Travon Woodall will be bolstered by the addition of
    freshmen Isaiah Epps, JJ Moore, and Cameron Wright, as well as Lamar
    Patterson finally getting healthy. Gilbert Brown, who missed the first
    half of last season due to academic issues, will be back at the small
    forward spot. Brown had an inconsistent season in 2010, but showed
    flashes of some serious potential. Gary McGhee and Nasir Robinson, who
    will miss the first 10 or so games, will bolster the front line, but
    the real x-factor on this team is going to be sophomore Dante Taylor.
    Taylor was one of the most highly touted recruits last year, but it
    took him a while to adjust to the Big East. If Taylor can live up to
    his promise, Pitt is a potential Final Four team. If not, this is still
    a club that will be competing for a league title.
  3. Syracuse:
    It is easy to look at the Orange and think that, with the players they
    lost (Wes Johnson, Andy Rautins, Arinze Onuaku), they will be down next
    season. Well, they might not win a Big East title, but they certainly
    will be in the mix atop the conference standings. Brandon Triche and
    Scoop Jardine will anchor the back court, with freshman Dion Waiters
    providing an offensive spark as an off-guard. Kris Joseph should
    blossom into a dangerous weapon as a slasher on the wing, and if he can
    add some strength and a jumper this summer, could very well be in the
    running as a first-team all-Big East selection. Rick Jackson will be
    paired with Fab Melo, who Boeheim has been raving about (he raved about
    Wes Johnson last summer, and look how that turned out), in the front
    court. With guys like CJ Fair, Mookie Jones, and James Southerland
    providing minutes off the bench, there is no doubt Syracuse will be a
    good team. How good — borderline top 25 or a potential Big East champ
    — remains to be seen.
  4. Georgetown:
    Georgetown only lost one player form last season, but it just so
    happens that one player was Greg Monroe. Without Monroe, the Hoyas are
    going to rely heavily on their loaded back court of Chris Wright, Jason
    Clark, and Austin Freeman, which very well could turn out to be the
    best in the conference. Throw Hollis Thompson into the mix on the
    perimeter, and the Hoyas have a back court that rivals Duke’s for the
    best in the country. Julian Vaughn is a solid power forward, and with
    Henry Sims returning and freshmen Nate Lubick and Moses Abraham coming
    in, there is some potential up front. This is a deeper group with a
    different roster makeup than we are used to seeing JT III have. The
    Hoyas are a tournament team and should compete for a top four spot in
    the league, especially if one of the big men can become a high post
    passing threat.
  5. West Virginia:
    Expect the Mountaineers to have a bit of a different makeup next
    season. Three of the five players from their all small forward line-up
    are gone — Da’Sean Butler, Wellington Smith, and Devin Ebanks. Whereas
    the ‘Eers were seemingly short of point guards last season, they will
    be flush this year. Joe Mazzulla may never be a real shooting threat
    again, but he is a bulldog and a true leader. His ailing shoulder
    should be as healthy as it ever will be. Truck Bryant, who dealt with
    some injuries and inconsistencies after a good freshman year, is also
    back. Noah Cottrill, one of the better point guard recruits in the
    class of 2010, is built in the same mold but should immediately be the
    best shooter of the three. The interesting question for Bob Huggins is
    going to be what happens on the perimeter. Casey Mitchell, who just
    returned from a suspension for violation of team rules, and Dalton
    Pepper were both touted as shooters and scorers coming into Morgantown,
    but neither really lived up to the hype last season. The front court
    will be fine for WVU. Kevin Jones is a star-in-the-wings at the power
    forward spot, while Deniz Kilicli should fare much better this season
    without having to serve a 20 game suspension. With guys like John
    Flowers, Cam Thoroughman, Danny Jennings, and freshman Kevin Noreen —
    who may end up being the best scorer of the bunch — Huggy Bear has
    plenty of options up front. WVU loses a lot defensively or on the
    offensive glass this season, and since they aren’t loaded on the
    offensive end, for WVU to make the tournament their bigs are going to
    need to find a way to replace the production of Ebanks, Smith, and
    Butler.
  6. Marquette:
    Don’t be surprised if you see predictions that the Golden Eagles will
    be down this season. Yes, they lost Lazar Hayward. Yes, Mo Acker and
    David Cubillan graduated. But, as we should come to expect from the
    Golden Eagles these days, Marquette will have on of the the best back
    courts in the conference come season’s end. Darius Johnson-Odom is one
    of the best shooters in the country, and will get quite a few more
    looks with Lazar Hayward in the NBA. Junior Cadougan is a bulldog at
    the point and should be much improved now that he is healthy. Vander
    Blue is a consensus top 40 recruit that is athletic, attacks the rim,
    and plays a tough, aggressive brand of basketball. Marquette also
    returns the streaky Dwight Buycks. The Golden Eagles are going to be
    thin up front, which means they need Jimmy Butler to continue to
    develop for his senior year. Keep an eye on Juco transfer Jae Crowder
    as well. Marquette is once again going to have a short bench and play
    small ball, but with that back court, they will be able to compete.
  7. Seton Hall:
    Seton Hall is the x-factor in the Big East this season. They got rid of
    Bobby Gonzalez. They have a very good back court. Jeremy Hazell, who
    may be the best returning scorer in the conference, returns for his
    senior season. He’ll play along side Jordan Theodore, an underrated
    point guard who will get a chance to be the ‘man’ with Eugene Harvey’s
    graduation. Keon Lawrence (the talented but enigmatic Missouri
    transfer), Jamel Jackson (a streaky shooter who hit 12 threes in a game
    last season), and freshman Fuquan Edwin should all see significant
    minutes. Eniel Polynice, the Ole Miss transfer, will be eligible
    immediately and could sneak into the Pirate starting line up. At 6’5″,
    Polynice is more of a defender, a slasher, and a creator and should
    really complement Hazell well. Up front, Seton Hall is going to be thin
    even if Herb Pope is cleared. If he’s not, Jeff Robinson, who pulled
    his name out of the NBA Draft, and Ferrakhan Hall will be the only
    returnees on a young, inexperienced front line. If Pope, who averaged a
    double-double last season, returns, Seton Hall has all the pieces they
    need to make a run at a spot in the top four of the league. The
    question is whether new head coach Kevin Willard can fit all those
    pieces together. Hazell doesn’t understand the concept of team
    basketball or what a good shot is. Pope was ejected from the NIT last
    year for punching a Texas Tech player below the belt. Four players have
    transferred in from different colleges. This is a talented group, but
    if there is no chemistry, it could be another disappointing season.
  8. Notre Dame:
    The Fighting Irish have their work cut out for them this season, as
    they will be losing Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson. Mike Brey’s club
    will count heavily on their front line next season, which is headlined
    by last season’s second-leading scorer Tim Abromaitis. Scott Martin, a
    Purdue transfer who tore his acl before the season started, will be
    back after sitting out the past two years. One guy I expect to have a
    big season is Carleton Scott, a senior that nearly left the program
    before finding a groove as he moved into the starting lineup when Gody
    got injured. Ty Nash and Jack Cooley complete the front line rotation.
    In the back court, its going to be Ben Hansbrough and a lot of
    inexperience. After Hansbrough, the Irish return just 30 games played
    of experience with Joey Brooks and Tom Kopko combined, and add three
    freshman to the mix. Eric Atkins, a freshman point guard, should see
    time immediately and is probably the best of that group. Notre Dame
    made a run to the NCAA Tournament last season by changing their style,
    slowing the pace, and becoming a defensively oriented group. Will there
    be more of the same this season?
  9. St. John’s:
    St. John’s is in a good position for new head coach Steve Lavin as the
    Johnnies are loaded with seniors. Ten, to be exact, with eight expected
    to see significant minutes in the Johnnies rotation. This group isn’t
    just experienced, either, they are fairly talented as well. DJ Kennedy
    is as underrated as anyone in the league, averaging 15 points, 6
    boards, and 3 assists last year. Dwight Hardy (who can heat up as
    quickly as anyone in the league, save Jeremy Hazell), Paris Horne, and
    Malik Boothe make up the rest of the Johnnies back court. Anthony
    Mason, Jr., graduated, but with Justin Brownlee, Sean Evans, Justin
    Burrell, and Rob Thomas all returning, Lavin will have a lot of big,
    athletic bodies at his disposal. The x-factor may end up being freshman
    Dwayne Polee, a 6’7″ bean pole with athleticism for days. Norm Roberts
    had his flaws as a coach, but one thing he got his club to do was to
    play all out for 40 minutes. If Lavin can get this group to defend and
    hit the glass, they have the experience, the depth, and a legitimate
    first-team all-conference player. This is the year for St. John’s to
    make a run at the tournament. When this class leaves, it may be a while
    before they are back in the mix.
  10. UConn:
    The Huskies once again lost a ton of talent, as Jerome Dyson, Stanley
    Robinson, and Gavin Edwards all graduated from a team that disappointed
    many fans in Connecticut. Returning is Kemba Walker, the Huskies
    lightening quick point guard, as well as big man Alex Oriakhi, who had
    a solid, if unspectacular, freshman campaign. But beyond that, UConn
    has no proven or reliable pieces returning. Jamal Coombs-McDaniel was
    inconsistent. Charles Okwandu haven’t lived up to expectations and Ater
    Majok left school to sign a pro contract. Donnell Beverly is a solid
    back court player, but is not a starter in the Big East. Calhoun was
    able to land Roscoe Smith, a very highly regarded wing that should be
    able to take over for Robinson. The other two freshman — Jeremy Lamb
    an Shabazz Napier — are top 100 recruits that will replace Darius
    Smith and Jamaal Trice, last year’s duo of top 100 freshman that
    transferred out. UConn has some solid pieces in Walker, Oriakhi, and
    Smith, but unless some depth and balance develops, the Huskies are
    looking at another disappointing year.
  11. Louisville:
    Now that they are past the trial of the century in Kentucky, the
    Cardinals now actually have a college basketball season to prepare for.
    And preparing for it is going to be tougher than you think. Gone are
    starters Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith, and Reginald Delk. Gone is their rock
    in the post, as Samardo Samuels went pro to support his family. For
    those scoring at home, that means that Louisville will be losing their
    top three scorers and four players that started at least 26 games.
    Then, consider that Roburt Sallie was not allowed to transfer in from
    Memphis, Justin Coleman did not get cleared, and Jared Swopshire and
    Russ Smith are injured. At least they were allowed to bring in freshman
    Gorgui Deng. That’s tough to overcome when you aren’t bringing in
    Kentucky’s recruiting class. That said, there is still talent on this
    roster. Terrence Jennings and Jared Swopshire have all sorts of
    potential on the front line, Peyton Siva — as well as Preston Knowles
    — should be able to showcase his ability in a featured role in the
    back court. And with guys like Kyle Kuric, Mike Marra, and Raheem
    Buckles, there are capable role players who have shown flashes of
    potential. Louisville will need to catch a few breaks to make the
    tournament.
  12. South Florida:
    The Bulls are going to have a big time front court this season.
    Augustus Gilchrist, when healthy (he missed about half the season last
    year), is an absolute force in the paint. Jarrid Famous is 6’11”, 240
    lb, athletic, and has shoulders as broad as Dwight Howard’s. Stan Heath
    also has two more-than-adequate backups in Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and Ron
    Anderson, who is now eligible after transferring in from Kansas State.
    The issue for the Bulls is going to be in the back court. Dominique
    Jones, Chris Howard, and Mike Mercer are all gone, which means that the
    Bulls lost over 40 ppg and their three best creators. Remember, this is
    a team that struggled to score at times last season. In two Big East
    tournament games, the only three the Bulls hit came from a walk-on in
    garbage time. Anthony Crater, the Ohio State transfer, is the only
    returner in the back court that played any kind of significant minutes.
    Beyond Crater, there are a couple walk-ons, a couple JuCo transfers,
    and a couple freshmen. USF may be able to make a run at a finish in the
    top half of the league and, possibly, a trip to the NCAA Tournament if
    they can become a staunch defensive team and find someone that can
    score and create in their back court. That is a very big “if”, however.
  13. Cincinnati:
    The Bearcats are going to be in trouble next season. With Deonta Vaughn
    graduating and Lance Stephenson off to the NBA Draft, Mick Cronin is
    going to be left without any real perimeter scoring threats. Point
    guard Cashmere Wright, a top 100 recruit in 2008 that tore his acl
    before playing a game, will be counted on heavily to be a playmaker.
    Cinci does have a big front line, headlined by potential all-Big East
    center Yancy Gates, and with the number of big, strong wings they have,
    Cronin is going to need to rely on his club’s rebounding and defensive
    toughness, because they certainly will struggle to score this season.
  14. Providence:
    The Friars have had a disastrous offseason. They lost assistant coach
    Pat Skerry, which cost them a top 100 recruit in Naadir Tharpe. They
    saw their best player, Greedy Peterson, get booted out of school along
    with freshmen Johnnie Lacy and James Still. Then, Kadeem Batts, a
    redshirt freshman, was arrested outside a club. All this happened while
    Joseph Young has been trying to get out of his letter of intent so he
    can attend college closer to an ailing aunt. Currently, 12 of the 15
    players listed on the Providence roster are underclassmen, including
    nine freshmen. There are a couple of bright spots for the Friars.
    Senior Marshon Brooks is an underrated scorer as an off-guard, and
    sophomores Bilal Dixon, Vincent Council, and Duke Mondy showed flashes
    of potential during the season, but don’t expect much out of Keno
    Davis’ club this year.
  15. Rutgers:
    There was quite a bit of turnover in Piscataway this summer. Gone is
    Fred Hill, replaced by Mike Rice, who nearly led 15th seeded Robert
    Morris to an upset of Villanova in the NCAA Tournament. Mike Rosario
    and Gregory Echenique, the Scarlet Knights’ two best scorers,
    transferred to Florida and Creighton, respectively. Hamady Ndiaye
    graduated. What’s left? Well, sophomore Dane Miller was a unanimous
    selection to the Big East’s all-rookie team. Jonathon Mitchell, who
    averaged 11.8 ppg and 6.1 rpg, returns for his senior season. But
    beyond that, there isn’t much talent on this roster, and this freshman
    class isn’t going to be coming to the rescue. The future is bright with
    new head coach Mike Rice recruiting like a maniac, but this year will
    be another long season for Rutgers, even if they do get Kadeem Jack
    midway through the year.
  16. DePaul:
    DePaul is not going anywhere this season. Gone is Mac Kowshal. Gone is
    Will Walker. How bad has it gotten for the Blue Demons? The most noise
    they made this summer was when they refused to release Walter
    Pitchford, Jr., from his LOI, and when they were able to land a visit
    — not a commitment, simply a visit — from Chicago native Anthony
    Davis. DePaul was able to land Cleveland Melvin, who was originally a
    UConn commit, however most believe him to be a stretch for the Big
    East. Oliver Purnell was known for his hot starts to a season at
    Clemson. The Big East may not be as friendly.


Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit

John Petty Jr. returns to Alabama for senior season

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama guard John Petty Jr. is staying in school instead of entering the NBA draft.

The Crimson Tide junior announced his decision to return for his senior season Monday on Twitter, proclaiming: “I’m back.”

Petty, the Tide’s top 3-point shooter, averaged 14.5 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds rebounds last season. He was second on the team in assists.

Petty made 85 3-pointers in 29 games, shooting at a 44% clip.

Alabama coach Nate Oats called him “one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal,” Oats said.

Fellow Tide guard Kira Lewis Jr. is regarded as a likely first-round draft pick.

McKinley Wright IV returns to Colorado

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McKinley Wright IV will be back for season No. 4 with the Colorado Buffaloes.

The point guard tested the NBA draft process before announcing a return for his senior year. It’s a big boost for a Buffaloes team that’s coming off a 21-11 mark in 2019-20 and was potentially looking at an NCAA Tournament bid before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wright was an All-Pac-12 first team selection a season ago, along with an all-defensive team pick. He and athletic forward Tyler Bey declared for the draft in late March. Bey remains in the draft.

“We’ve got unfinished business,” said Wright, who averaged 14.4 points and 5.0 assists per game last season.

Midway through the season, the Buffaloes were looking like a lock for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since ’15-16. Then, the team hit a five-game skid, including a loss to Washington State in the Pac-12 tournament. Simply put, they hit a defensive rut they just couldn’t shake out of, Wright said. It drove him to work that much harder in the offseason.

“This is my last go-around and I’ve got big dreams,” the 6-footer from Minnesota said. “I want to take CU to a place they haven’t been in a while. We want to go back to the tournament and win high-level games.”

The feedback from NBA scouts was reaffirming for Wright. He said they appreciated his transition game, movement away from the ball and his defensive intangibles. They also gave Wright areas he needed to shore up such as assist-to-turnover ratio and shooting the 3-pointer with more consistency.

He took it to heart while training in Arizona during the pandemic. He recently returned to Boulder, Colorado, where he’s going through quarantine before joining his teammates for workouts.

“The work I put in and the time I spent in the gym compared to all my other offseasons, it’s a big gap,” Wright said. “Last offseason, I thought I worked hard. But it was nothing compared to the time and different type of mindset I put myself in this year.”

Another motivating factor for his return was this: a chance to be the first in his family to earn his college degree. He’s majoring in ethnic studies with a minor in communications.

“My grandparents are excited about that. My parents are excited about that,” Wright said. “I’m excited about that as well.”

Wright also has an opportunity to take over the top spot on the school’s all-time assists list. His 501 career assists trail only Jay Humphries, who had 562 from 1980-84. Wright also ranks 13th all-time with 1,370 career points.

NOTES: Colorado announced the death of 95-year-old fan Betty Hoover, who along with her twin sister, Peggy Coppom, became fixtures at Buffs sporting events and were season ticket holders since 1958. Wright used to run into them not only on the court, but at the local bank. “I’ve never met anyone as loving and supporting and caring as those two,” Wright said. “They hold a special place in my heart. It sucks that Betty won’t be at any games this year. Maybe we can do something, put her name on our jersey. They’re two of the biggest fans in CU history.”

Jared Butler returns to Baylor

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Baylor got some huge news on Monday as potential All-American Jared Butler announced that he will be returning to school for his junior season, joining MaCio Teague is pulling his name out of the 2020 NBA Draft to get the band back together.

Butler was Baylor’s leading scorer a season ago, averaging 16.0 points and 3.1 assists for a team that went 26-4, spent a portion of the season as the No. 1 team in the country and was in line to receive a 1-seed had the 2020 NCAA Tournament taken place.

With Butler and Teague coming back to school, the Bears will return four starters from last season’s squad. Starting center Freddie Gillespie is gone, as is backup guard Devonte Bandoo, but those are holes that can be filled. Tristan Clark, who was Baylor’s best player during the 2018-19 season before suffering a knee injury that lingered through last year, will be back, and there is more than enough talent in the program to replace the scoring pop of Bandoo. Matthew Mayer will be in line for more minutes, while transfer Adam Flagler will be eligible this season.

Baylor will enter this season as a consensus top three team in the country. They will receive plenty of votes as the No. 1 team in the sport, making them not only a very real contender for the Big 12 regular season crown but one of the favorites to win the national title.

Preseason Top 25 | Mock Draft 3.0 | Early Entry Tracker

As MaCio Teague returns, Baylor now awaits Jared Butler’s NBA draft decision

Butler is the key.

Baylor was one of college basketball’s best defensive teams last year. They finished fourth nationally in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric, a ranking that dropped after they Bears lost two of their last three games to TCU and West Virginia. Where they struggled was on the offensive end of the floor. The Bears would go through droughts were points were at a premium and their best offense was a missed shot. Butler’s intrigue for NBA teams was his ability to shoot and to create space in isolation. He’s the one guy on the roster that can create something out of nothing for himself.

And now he is back to try and lead Baylor to a Final Four.

College Basketball Preseason Top 25

college basketball preseason top 25
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Today, we are unveiling the NBC Sports college basketball preseason top 25.

As always, there are plenty of caveats here.

For starters, we are still in the process of figuring out who will and will not be returning to school and where the myriad transfers are going to end up this year.

Given the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the way recruiting and the predraft process will work, it is hard to know how and where these guys will end up, which is why every college basketball preseason top 25 published right now is going to have plenty of assumptions, projections and moving parts.

So with that in mind, here is the current iteration of NBC Sports college basketball preseason top 25:

college basketball preseason top 25
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COLLEGE BASKETBALL PRESEASON TOP 25

1. VILLANOVA

  • GONE: Saddiq Bey
  • COMING BACK: Collin Gillespie, Justin Moore, Jermaine Samuels, Bryan Antoine, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Cole Swider, Brandon Slater, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Caleb Daniels, Eric Dixon
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Collin Gillespie, Justin Moore, Bryan Antoine, Jermaine Samuels, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

With the exception of Saddiq Bey, Villanova returns everyone from a team that won a share of the Big East regular season title last season while adding Tulane transfer Caleb Daniels (16.9 ppg) and a healthy Bryan Antoine. There is enough talent on this roster that I think they are the clear No. 1 team in the country right now. And while Bey was their best player, I don’t think that they will have much trouble replacing him. Villanova has a roster full of talented wings and perimeter weapons. Bey was the best of the bunch, but Antoine’s healthy, Daniels is really good and the likes of Justin Moore, Jermaine Samuels and Cole Swider return as well. Throw in Jeremiah Robinsin-Earl and this roster is loaded.

RELATED: College basketball preseason top 25 (link)

2. BAYLOR

  • GONE: Freddie Gillespie, Devonte Bandoo
  • COMING BACK: Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell, Mark Vital, Tristan Clark, Matthew Mayer, Jordan Turner, Flo Thamba
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Adam Flagler, L.J. Cryer, Dain Dainja, Zach Loveday, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell, Mark Vital, Tristan Clark

The Bears get all three of their guards back now that Jared Butler has opted to return to school, and with Mark Vital returning, they’ll once again have two of the best defenders in college basketball on the roster (Davion Mitchell). They’re coming off of a 26-4 season, and there are plenty of bench options at Scott Drew’s disposal — Matthew Mayer, Jordan Turner, Adam Flagler — but the big question is going to be at the five. Which Tristan Clark are we going to get next season?

3. GONZAGA

  • GONE: Filip Petrusev, Admon Gilder, Ryan Wooldridge, Killian Tillie
  • COMING BACK: Joel Ayayi, Drew Timme, Anton Watson, Martynas Arlauskas, Pavel Zakharov
  • WAIT AND SEE: Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert
  • NEW FACES: Oumar Ballo, Aaron Cook, Julian Strawther, Dominick Harris
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jalen Suggs, Joel Ayayi, Corey Kispert, Drew Timme, Oumar Ballo

The Zags should once again be a powerhouse next season, but they are still waiting on a couple of draft decisions. Their star freshman guard is Jalen Suggs, who would be a perfect fit next to Joel Ayayi and Corey Kispert on Gonzaga’s perimeter if both return to school. As much as I like Ayayi as a player, I’m not sure he’s going to be drafted this year. Kispert doesn’t have much else that he can prove at the college level and has a real chance to be a early-to-mid second round pick. Gonzaga’s frontcourt is going to be absolutely loaded even without Filip Petrusev because Drew Timme and Oumar Ballo both have WCC Player of the Year upside. Throw in a healthy Anton Watson, and the Zags should be loaded again.

Mock Draft | Early Entry Tracker

4. VIRGINIA

  • GONE: Mamadi Diakite, Braxton Key
  • COMING BACK: Kihei Clark, Jay Huff, Casey Morsell, Tomas Woldetensae, Kody Stattman, Justin McCoy
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Sam Hauser, Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Carson McCorkle, Reece Beekman
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Kihei Clark, Casey Morsell, Tomas Woldetensae, Sam Hauser, Jay Huff

The Cavaliers should be much better offensively with Sam Hauser replacing Mamadi Diakite in the starting lineup, and while Diakite is a significantly better defender than Hauser, it’s hard to imagine Virginia ever being a bad defensive team, especially when Hauser has had a year to learn the system. Kihei Clark and Jay Huff are both back, and I would expect Casey Morsell to take a step forward this season. Throw in a strong freshman class, and UVA should be competing for an ACC title once again.

RELATED: 2020 NBA Mock Draft

5. KANSAS

  • GONE: Udoka Azubuike, Devon Dotson, Isaiah Moss
  • COMING BACK: Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Christian Braun, Tristan Enaruna, Jalen Wilson, Mitch Lightfoot, DaJuan Harris, Silvio De Sousa
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Bryce Thompson, Tyon Grant-Foster, Gethro Muscadin, Latrell Jossell
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Marcus Garrett, Bryce Thompson, Ochai Agbaji, Tristan Enaruna, David McCormack

When it comes to the amount of talent on the Kansas roster, there are certainly enough weapons here. They are incredibly loaded on the wing — Marcus Garrett, Bryce Thompson, Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, Tyon Grant-Foster, Tristan Enaruna, Jalen Wilson, sheesh — and David McCormack showed enough flashes last season that I expect him to be able to do an adequate job replacing Udoka Azubuike. Assuming Self (correctly) plays small-ball again, they should be really, really good. The problem? Other than Garrett, there is not a point guard on the roster that has played a second of college basketball. The best Jayhawk teams have had a killer at that position, and I’m not sure Garrett qualifies as such.

NBA DRAFT PROSPECT PROFILES

RELATED: College basketball preseason top 25

6. DUKE

  • GONE: Tre Jones, Vernon Carey Jr., Cassius Stanley, Jack White, Alex O’Connell, Javin DeLaurier
  • COMING BACK: Wendell Moore, Matthew Hurt, Jordan Goldwire, Joey Baker
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, D.J. Steward, Mark Williams, Jaemyn Brakefield, Henry Coleman, Patrick Tape
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jeremy Roach, D.J. Steward, Wendell Moore, Jalen Johnson, Mark Williams

The Blue Devils lose quite a bit of talent off of last season’s roster if as Tre Jones, Vernon Carey and Cassius Stanley all headed to the pros. But with six top 50 prospects coming into the program — headlined by a potential lottery pick in Jalen Johnson as well as point guard Jeremy Roach and scoring guard D.J. Steward — there will be quite a bit of talent on display. A starting lineup that includes those three freshmen and Wendell Moore will be fun. Duke is going to be very young, however, and a frontline that includes a bunch of freshmen and a grad transfer from Columbia is less than ideal.

7. IOWA

  • GONE: Bakari Evelyn, Ryan Kreiner, Cordell Pemsl
  • COMING BACK: Luka Garza, C.J. Frederick, Joe Weiskamp, Joe Toussaint, Jordan Bohannon, Connor McCaffery, Jack Nunge
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Tony Perkins, Ahron Ulis, Patrick McCaffery
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Joe Toussaint, C.J. Frederick, Joe Weiskamp, Jack Nunge, Luka Garza

Luka Garza will be back for his senior season, which is a helluva way for Fran McCaffery to anchor a roster that looks as good as anyone in the Big Ten. I think Joe Toussaint has a chance to be one of the breakout stars in college basketball next year, which is a pretty good sign for a team that also returns the preseason Player of the Year — yes, I’m taking the liberty of locking Luka into that award — along with talents like Joe Weiskamp and C.J. Frederick.

8. TENNESSEE

  • GONE: Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden
  • COMING BACK: John Fulkerson, Santiago Vescovi, Josiah Jordan-James, Olivier Nkamhoua, Drew Pemper
  • WAIT AND SEE: Yves Pons
  • NEW FACES: Keon Johnson, Jaden Springer, Corey Walker, Victor Bailey, E.J. Anosike, Malachi Wideman
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Santiago Vescovi, Josiah Jordan-James, Keon Johnson, Yves Pons, John Fulkerson

Last season, one of the biggest issues with Tennessee was a lack of firepower on their perimeter. This year, they will be adding five-star guards Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer to Josiah Jordan-James and Santiago Vescovi. They’ll have weapons, and that’s before you add in John Fulkerson, who was one of the best bigs in the SEC down the stretch of the season. Yves Pons will be the best defender in college basketball if he pulls out of the draft. If Vescovi can handle full-time point guard duties better with an offseason under his belt, the Vols are going to be the favorite to win the SEC.

9. ILLINOIS

  • GONE: Andres Feliz, Kipper Nichols, Alan Griffin
  • COMING BACK: Ayo Dosunmu, Kofi Cockburn, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Da’Monte Williams, Trent Frazier
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Andre Curbelo, Adam Miller, Coleman Hawkins, Brandon Lieb
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Trent Frazier, Ayo Dosunmu, Da’Monte Williams, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Kofi Cockburn

Illinois has a chance to be very, very good this coming season. The big news came with just days left before the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the draft, when Ayo Dosunmu announced that he would be returning to school for his junior season. Dosunmu is one of the best big-shot makers in the sport and will likely see his name on a preseason All-American team. With Trent Frazier and Giorgi Bezhanishvili coming back and a couple of talented freshmen guards — Andrew Curbelo, Adam Miller — enrolling, Brad Underwood has a terrific core. With Kofi Cockburn also deciding to return, the Illini will have a real shot at winning the Big Ten title and getting to a Final Four.

10. TEXAS TECH

  • GONE: Jahmi’us Ramsey, Chris Clarke, Davide Moretti, T.J. Holyfield, Russel Tchewa
  • COMING BACK: Kyler Edwards, Terrance Shannon Jr., Kevin McCullar, Avery Benson
  • WAIT AND SEE: Mac McClung, Jamarius Burton
  • NEW FACES: Nimari Burnett, Micah Peavy, Marcus Santos-Silva, Joel Ntambwe, Chibuzo Agbo, Esahia Nzyiwe
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Kyler Edwards, Nimari Burnett, Terrance Shannon, Joel Ntambwe, Marcus Santos-Silva

The Red Raiders should have a roster that is a much better fit for the way that Chris Beard wants to play. Kyler Edwards and Nimari Burnett are both built in the mold of a classic Texas Tech lead guard, while Terrance Shannon will be on quite a few of the breakout sophomore lists you’ll find. The two major questions with this group is whether or not Edwards can takeover full-time point guard duties, and if VCU transfer Marcus Santos-Silva or Joel Ntambwe can handle the five spot better than T.J. Holyfield did this past season. There are enough talented perimeter weapons for me to buy-in, but without an anchor at the five a la Tariq Owens, their ceiling is somewhat limited.

11. HOUSTON

  • GONE: Nate Hinton, Chris Harris
  • COMING BACK: Quentin Grimes, Caleb Mills, Marcus Sasser, DeJon Jarreau, Fabian White, Justin Forham, Brison Gresham, Cedrick Alley
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Tramon Mark, Jamal Shead, Kiyron Powell
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Marcus Sasser, Caleb Mills, DeJon Jarreau, Quentin Grimes, Brison Gresham

We all know that Kelvin Sampson can coach, and he will be bringing back a roster where his top six scorers were all underclassmen from a team that finished top 15 on KenPom. They are going to be loaded in the backcourt — Kansas transfer Quentin Grimes might end up being their third or fourth best guard — and there will be some veterans in their frontcourt. The Cougars look to be the favorite in the American despite the fact that Nate Hinton left school a year earlier than expected.

12. WISCONSIN

  • GONE: Brevin Pritzl
  • COMING BACK: D’Mitrik Trice, Brad Davison, Nate Reuvers, Micah Potter, Aleem Ford, Tyler Wahl, Trevor Anderson
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Ben Carlson, Lorne Bowman, Johnny Davis, Jordan Davis, Steve Crowl
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: D’Mitrik Trice, Brad Davison, Aleem Ford, Nate Reuvers, Micah Potter

After winning a share of last year’s Big Ten regular season title, the Badgers are on track to essentially return everyone of note. Their frontline of Aleem Ford, Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter will be as good as anyone in the Big Ten, D’Mitrik Trice has developed into a solid shot-maker and Tyler Wahl is waiting in the wings as a super-sub. Throw in Brad Davison, and the Badgers will compete for the league title once again.

13. NORTH CAROLINA

  • GONE: Cole Anthony, Brandon Robinson, Jeremiah Francis
  • COMING BACK: Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, Leaky Black, Andrew Platek, Anthony Harris
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Caleb Love, Walker Kessler, R.J. Davis, Day’Ron Sharpe, Puff Johnson
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Caleb Love, Anthony Harris, Leaky Black, Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks

The Tar Heels lost Cole Anthony, but with Caleb Love entering the program, they will once again be led by a five-star lead guard perfectly suited to running Roy Williams’ system. The Tar Heels will also have arguably the best frontline in college basketball, as Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot will be joined by five-stars Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler. The key to this team is going to be on the wings, where Leaky Black, Anthony Harris, Puff Johnson, R.J. Davis and Andrew Platek will be asked to carry the load. If I had more confidence in that group the Tar Heels would be ranked much higher.

RELATED: Coaching Carousel
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14. FLORIDA STATE

  • GONE: Trent Forrest, Devin Vassell, Patrick Williams, Dominik Olejniczak
  • COMING BACK: M.J. Walker, Balsa Koprivica, Anthony Polite, Malik Osborne, Raiquan Gray, Wyatt Wilkes, Nathanael Jack
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Scottie Barnes, Sardaar Calhoun
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Anthony Polite, M.J. Walker, Scottie Barnes, Raiquan Gray, Balsa Koprivica

Florida State is a tough one to project because it’s hard to know exactly what is going to happen with Patrick Williams and Devin Vassell gone to the draft. Both are projected to go somewhere in the first round. With Scottie Barnes coming in and M.J. Walker returning, Florida State still has some dangerous weapons. The Seminoles are a machine at this point, and I’m betting thatwsc the system will continue to work. And even if both Vassell and Williams had decided to come back, it doesn’t answer the most pressing question of Leonard Hamilton’s team: How do they replace Trent Forrest at the point?

15. MICHIGAN STATE

  • GONE: Cassius Winston
  • COMING BACK: Rocket Watts, Aaren Henry, Gabe Brown, Malik Hall, Marcus Bingham, Julius Marble, Thomas Kithier, Foster Loyer
  • WAIT AND SEE: Josh Langford
  • NEW FACES: Joey Hauser, Mady Sissoko, A.J. Hoggard
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Rocket Watts, Josh Langford, Aaron Henry, Joey Hauser, Marcus Bingham

Rocket Watts showed down the stretch of last season that he was ready to take over the reins offensively, and with Joey Hauser getting eligible, he should have a second scoring threat on the floor with him. That will allow Aaron Henry to play his jack-of-all-trades role, and with Gabe Brown, Malik Hall and Marcus Bingham all, in theory, taking a step forward, there’s plenty of weaponry, even if a number of those pieces are young and unproven. Losing Xavier Tillman, an anchor and a leader, is a massive blow.

16. KENTUCKY

  • GONE: Immanuel Quickley, Nate Sestina, Tyrese Maxey, Nick Richards, Ashton Hagans, Johnny Juzang, E.J. Montgomery
  • COMING BACK: Keion Brooks, Dontaie Allen
  • WAIT AND SEE: Olivier Sarr
  • NEW FACES: B.J. Boston, Terrence Clarke, Devin Askew, Isaiah Jackson, Lance Ware, Cam’Ron Fletcher, Davion Mintz
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Devin Askew, Terrence Clarke, B.J. Boston, Keion Brooks, Isaiah Jackson

Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and Nick Richards are all heading to the NBA. E.J. Montgomery declared as well. Nate Sestina graduated. Johnny Juzang transferredwest. What that leaves is another loaded recruiting class and Keion Brooks. I love the combination of Terrence Clarke and Brandon Boston on the wings, and Devin Askew should be able to step in and handle point guard duties along with Davion Mintz. This will be another season for the Wildcats where they have talent but not necessarily a great fit on their roster. The key to their season is going to be whether or not they can get Olivier Sarr a waiver to be eligible immediately.

17. WEST VIRGINIA

  • GONE: Jermaine Haley, Chase Harler
  • COMING BACK: Oscar Tshiebwe, Derek Culver, Miles McBride, Emmitt Matthews, Gabe Osabuohien, Jalen Bridges, Sean McNeil
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Isaiah Cottrell, Taj Thweatt, Kedrian Johnson , Jalen Bridges
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Miles McBride, Kedrian Johnson, Emmitt Matthews, Derek Culver, Oscar Tshiebwe

The Mountaineers are going to be exactly what they were last season: Big, physical, overpowering defensively and on the glass and able to win games when Miles McBride and Emmitt Matthews are able to made enough shots to keep defenses from collapsing.

18. CREIGHTON

  • GONE:  Ty-Shon Alexander, Kelvin Jones, Davion Mintz
  • COMING BACK: Mitchell Ballock, Damien Jefferson, Christian Bishop, Denzel Mahoney, Jacob Epperson, Shereef Mitchell
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Antwaan Jones, Ryan Kalkbrenner
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Marcus Zegarowski, Mitchell Ballock, Damien Jefferson, Denzel Mahoney, Christian Bishop

Creighton’s ranking depended on what their talented backcourt of Ty-Shon Alexander and Marcus Zegarowski decided to do. With both of them back, I had the Bluejays as a top four team. Without Alexander, they’re more of a back-end top 25 team. The other question is going to be what happens at the five spot. Christian Bishop was adequate in his minutes last season, and with four-star recruit Ryan Kalkbrenner and a (hopefully) healthy Jacob Epperson in the mix, there will be options to answer that question.

19. RUTGERS

  • GONE: Akwasi Yeboah, Shaq Carter
  • COMING BACK: Geo Baker, Ron Harper, Myles Johnson, Montez Mathis, Caleb McConnell, Jacob Young, Mamadou Doucoure, Paul Mulcahy
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Cliff Omoruyi, Dean Reiber, Oskar Palmquist, Mawot Mag
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Geo Baker, Montez Mathis, Caleb McConnell, Ron Harper Jr., Myles Johnson

The Scarlet Knights return basically everyone from a team that would have made the program’s first NCAA tournament since 1991. In total, eight of their top nine players are returning, and only Akwasi Yeboah (9.8 ppg) is gone.

20. MICHIGAN

  • GONE: Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske
  • COMING BACK: Isaiah Livers, Eli Brooks, Brandon Johns, Adrian Nunez
  • WAIT AND SEE: Chaundee Brown
  • NEW FACES: Hunter Dickinson, Mike Smith Terrance Williams, Zeb Jackson, Jace Howard
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Mike Smith, Eli Brooks, Isaiah Livers, Franz Wagner, Hunter Dickinson

The Wolverines are going to have one of the better frontlines in college basketball in 2020-21, as they seem likely to return Isaiah Livers in addition to Franz Wagner. Throw in a recruiting class that includes Hunter Dickinson, and the Wolverines will be loaded. Their guards are old, but there are some questions about the upside of Columbia grad transfer Mike Smith and Eli Brooks. Can Wake Forest transfer Chaundee Brown get eligible?

21. TEXAS

  • GONE: None
  • COMING BACK: Matt Coleman, Courtney Ramey, Andrew Jones, Kai Jones, Jericho Sims, Jase Febres, Kamaka Hepa, Royce Hamm, Donovan Williams, Gerald Lidell, Will Baker
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Greg Brown
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Matt Coleman, Courtney Ramey, Andrew Jones, Greg Brown, Jericho Sims

The Longhorns bring back all 12 players from last year’s team, including 11 of whom started at least one game last season. Plus, they add top ten recruit Greg Brown to a team that won five of their last six regular season games. That’s a good thing! Keeping everyone happy on a roster this deep when there are 13 guys available for just five spots on the floor and 200 combined minutes a night? That’s not going to be easy to deal with.

22. LOUISVILLE

  • GONE: Jordan Nwora, Dwayne Sutton, Steve Enoch, Fresh Kimble, Ryan McMahon, Darius Perry
  • COMING BACK: David Johnson, Samuell Williamson, Malik Williams, Josh Nickelberry, Aidan Ighiehon, Jaelyn Withers
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Carlik Jones, Charles Minlend, D’Andre Davis, J.J. Traynor
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Carlik Jones, David Johnson, Charles Minlend, Samuell Williamson, Malik Williams

The Cardinals are going to build around sophomores David Johnson and Samuell Williamson as well as senior Malik Williams this season. The addition of Radford grad transfer Carlik Jones should help out quite a bit as well. Johnson and Williamson have both shown flashes of having star potential. The addition of San Francisco grad transfer Charles Minlend should help add some depth on the perimeter.

23. ARIZONA STATE

  • GONE: Rob Edwards, Romello White, Mickey Mitchell
  • COMING BACK: Remy Martin, Alonzo Verge, Kimani Lawrence, Taeshon Cherry, Jaelen House, Khalid Thomas, Jalen Graham
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES:  Josh Christopher, Marcus Bagley, Holland Woods
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Remy Martin, Alonzo Verge, Josh Christopher, Taeshon Cherry, Jalen Graham

This ranking is dependent on Remy Martin making the decision to return to school for the 2020-21 season, but if they do, the Sun Devils have a chance to be really, really good. Losing Romello White is going to hurt, but Alonzo Verge had a breakout season, and they added Josh Christopher, a five-star prospect from California.

24. RICHMOND

  • GONE: None
  • COMING BACK: Jacob Gilyard, Grant Golden, Blake Francis, Nick Sherod, Nathan Cayo, Andre Gustavson, Jake Wojcik, Tyler Burton
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Isaiah Wilson
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jacob Gilyard, Blake Francis, Nick Sherod, Nathan Cayo, Grant Golden

Chris Mooney did not have a senior on the roster of a team that finished 24-7 overall and 14-4 in the Atlantic 10. With Obi Toppin gone, the Spiders will likely be the class of the conference heading into next season. Jacob Gilyard has a chance to be Atlantic 10 Player of the Year.

25. MEMPHIS

  • GONE: James Wiseman, Precious Achiuwa, Tyler Harris
  • COMING BACK: D.J. Jeffries, Lester Quinones, Boogie Ellis, Damian Baugh, Alex Lomax, Isaiah Maurice
  • WAIT AND SEE: Landers Nolley II, DeAndre Williams
  • NEW FACES: Moussa Cisse, Isaiah Stokes
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Alex Lomax, Boogie Ellis, Lester Quinones, D.J. Jeffries, Moussa Cisse

Moussa Cisse is the piece that Memphis had been missing. I explain why here.

SIX THAT JUST MISSED THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL PRESEASON TOP 25

UCLA

  • GONE: Daishen Nix, Prince Ali, Alex Olesinski
  • COMING BACK: Chris Smith, Jalen Hill, Cody Riley, Jaime Jaquez, Tyger Campbell, Jake Kyman, Jules Bernard, David Singleton
  • WAIT AND SEE: Chris Smith
  • NEW FACES: Daishen Nix, Jaylen Clark
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tyger Campbell, Johnny Juzang, Chris Smith, Jaime Jaquez, Jalen Hill

OREGON

  • GONE: Payton Pritchard, Anthony Mathis, Shakur Juiston, C.J. Walker
  • COMING BACK: Will Richardson, Chris Duarte, C.J. Walker, Francis Okoro, Chandler Lawson, Addison Patterson, N’Faly Dante
  • WAIT AND SEE: L.J. Figueroa
  • NEW FACES: Amauri Hardy, Jalen Terry, Eric Williams, Eugene Omoruyi
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Will Richardson, Chris Duarte, Amauri Hardy, Eric Williams, Eugene Omoruyi

OHIO STATE

  • GONE: Kaleb Wesson, Luther Muhammad, Andrew Wesson, D.J. Carton, Alonzo Gaffney
  • COMING BACK: Duane Washington, Luther Muhammad, C.J. Walker, Kyle Young, E.J. Liddell, Justin Ahrens, Alonzo Gaffney, Ibrahima Diallo
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Seth Towns, Eugene Brown, Zed Kay, Justice Suenig, Abel Porter
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: C.J. Walker, Duane Washington, Seth Towns, E.J. Liddell, Kyle Young

INDIANA

  • GONE: De’Ron Davis, Devonte Green, Justin Smith
  • COMING BACK: Trayce Jackson-Davis, Joey Brunk, Al Durham, Rob Phinisee, Jerome Hunter, Race Thompson
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: Khristian Lander, Trey Galloway, Jordan Geronimo, Anthony Leal
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Khristian Lander, Rob Phinisee, Al Durham, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Joey Brunk

UCONN

  • GONE: Christian Vital, Alterique Gilbert, Sid Wilson
  • COMING BACK: James Bouknight, Josh Carlton, Akok Akok, Jalen Gaffney, Tyler Polley, Brendan Adams, Isaiah Whaley
  • WAIT AND SEE: None
  • NEW FACES: R.J. Cole, Andre Jackson, Javonte Brown-Ferguson, Richie Springs, Adama Sanogo
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: R.J. Cole, James Bouknight, Andre Jackson, Akok Akok, Josh Carlton

LSU

  • GONE: Emmitt Williams, Skylar Mays, Marlon Taylor
  • COMING BACK: Charles Manning Jr., James Bishop
  • WAIT AND SEE: Trendon Watford, Darius Days, Javonte Smart
  • NEW FACES: Cam Thomas, Josh Leblanc, Jalen Cook, Shareef O’Neal, Mwani Wilkinson, Bradley Ezewiro
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Javonte Smart, Cam Thomas, Charles Manning, Josh LeBlanc, Darius Days

Arizona State’s Martin to return for senior season

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TEMPE, Ariz. (–Arizona State guard Remy Martin is withdrawing from the NBA draft and will return for his senior season in the desert.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to coach Remy Martin for one more season,” Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley said in a statement Sunday. “Remy will be one of the best players in college basketball this year and will be on a mission to lead Arizona State basketball in its pursuit of championships.”

A 6-foot guard, Martin is the Pac-12’s leading returning scorer after averaging 19.1 points in 2019-20. He also averaged 4.1 assists per game and helped put the Sun Devils in position to reach the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martin’s return should put Arizona State among the favorites to win the Pac-12 next season.

Martin joins fellow guard Alonzo Verge Jr. in returning to the Sun Devils after testing the NBA waters. Big man Romello White declared for the draft and later entered the transfer portal.

Hurley has signed one of the program’s best recruiting classes for next season, headed by five-star guard Josh Christopher.