East Regional breakdown, team capsules

Leave a comment

Who wins, who’s overrated and what’s the best game? We have an answer for each region. I had freelance writer Ray Glier pinch hit for the East breakdown, but the capsules are all me. Enjoy.

Underrated: Kentucky
Everyone looks and sees a young, freshman-laden team and says no way it can win a game past the Sweet 16. But UK committed just six turnovers against a veteran Florida team on Sunday in the SEC Championship game and it makes shots and plays defense. On the road, the freshmen were not very good (4-7), but on a neutral floor they were 6-1. The NCAA Tournament is a decidedly neutral floor for most schools, but UK always brings truckloads of fans to help them out.

The Wildcats take care of the ball and double-down hard in the post. They don’t have a lot of depth, but they have long-armed guards who want to play defense. Darius Miller, a junior, is on a roll finally in his career with a string of double-figure scoring games.

Kentucky will stay with Ohio State for most of a Sweet 16 matchup. Just watch Kentucky and envision this team next season with four starters back, if they all come back.

Overrated: Syracuse, as usual.
Since their title in 2003 the Orange have six NCAA Tournament wins. They load up with home games and pile up wins. Big deal. Syracuse is 8-7 over its last 15 games. Indiana State won’t beat the Orange, but Xavier has a good chance. XU has eight tournament wins the last four years, which is a pretty neat trick for an A-10 school.

Most likely first-round upset
No. 7 Washington is too furious and tough to lose to No. 10 Georgia, which can be bothered by aggressive defense and plays soft. No. 13 Princeton won’t be able to guard the UK dribblers and shooters. Carolina will lose, but it won’t be until the regional final.

You have to say Clemson. The Tigers will get warmed up with a win over UAB in a play-in game and then take out fifth-seed West Virginia. The Tigers are well-coached and West Virginia doesn’t get enough offensive rebounds to make up for poor shooting.

Demontez Stitt, a 6-2 senior guard, had a career-high 25 against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament. Brad Brownell, the Clemson coach, is good enough to match tactics with West Virginia’s Bob Huggins.

Best matchup: Kentucky vs. Ohio State
Ohio State will have more experience and the best big man on the floor, Jared Sullinger, but John Calipari is a better coach than Thad Matta and the Wildcats have better scoring guards. The Buckeyes will win, but it will be a thrilling game for 37-38 minutes.

Aaron Craft is a tough defender for the Buckeyes and it will be a treat to see him try and stay in front of UK guards Brandon Knight and Dorn Lamb. The Wildcats have a 6-7 forward, Darius Miller, who can be a matchup problem because he is shooting outside, but also getting loose inside for baskets.

Impact player
Xavier has lost twice since Jan. 9 and one of the reasons is 6-foot junior guard Tu Holloway. He averages 38 minutes a game and stuffs the stat sheet with 5.5 assists per game and 5.1 rebounds, not to mention 20 points.

The obvious impact player is Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger, who has scored in single-digits just once this season and that was in a 21-point rout of Indiana.

Who wins regional
Ohio State will beat North Carolina. You hate picking chalk in the NCAA Tournament, you want a thunderclap or two, but Ohio State has too much talent for the top part of the bracket. The lower part of this region’s bracket has a lot of teams that can’t compete on the boards with North Carolina. The Tar Heels will sail into the final once Xavier takes out Syracuse.

TEAM CAPSULES

No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes

Location: Columbus, Ohio.

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: Thad Matta

Pre-tournament record: 32-2, 16-2

Best wins: Florida, Purdue, Wisconsin

Surprising losses: None

Team stats

Key players: Freshman center Jared Sullinger, senior wing Jon Diebler, senior guard David Lighty, freshman guard Aaron Craft .

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, defensive rebounding, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: On-ball defense, depth.

Outlook: The favorites. Ohio State plays just seven guys – five play 70 percent of the minutes – but it’s a system that’s worked exceedingly well. That’s what happens when you have a supremely talented low-post scorer and smart passer like Sullinger and guys who hit 3-pointers.

It’s simple– if Sullinger doesn’t score, a Buckeye hoists a 3 or gets open for an easy bucket. Diebler’s the biggest threat outside – he hit 10 of 12 vs. Wisconsin in the season finale – but Lighty and junior William Buford also knock down shots. The question about OSU relates to two things: Depth and of Craft. The Buckeyes rarely get into foul trouble, but one could worry about tired legs and if teams try to run the 280-pound Sullinger too much. But more interesting is Craft. He doesn’t start, but still plays more than 30 minutes a game. He and Lighty usually draw the key defensive roles. Can Craft handle the tournament pressure? Matta can’t afford that. Not with his bench. Also, their draw isn’t too friendly.

No. 2 North Carolina Tar Heels

Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.

Conference: Atlantic Coast

Coach: Roy Williams

Pre-tournament record: 26-7, 14-2

Best wins: Duke, Kentucky

Surprising loss: Georgia Tech, Minnesota

Team stats

Key players: Freshman wing Harrison Barnes, freshman guard Kendall Marshall, sophomore forward John Henson, junior center Tyler Zeller.

Full team roster

Strengths: Challenging shots, ball-handling, rebounding.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, 3-point shooting, free-throw shooting.

Outlook: The Heels have found their form. Following a mid-January loss to Georgia Tech, UNC switched point guards, replacing junior Larry Drew II with Marshall. And that has made all the difference. The Heels’ offense, while not as crisp as it was during back-to-back Final Four years in ’08 and ’09, is playing fast and playing efficiently, which rarely happened under Drew. A better offense means more shots and more opportunities for a young team to build confidence, which is showing most in the play of Barnes, the nation’s top recruit. His shooting is still inconsistent, but he’s made clutch shots and is aggressive in attacking the basket. Just as crucial has been the impressive defense, led by Henson and Zeller. Foes rarely have chances to score down low and when they miss, Henson and Zeller are grabbing the rebound. It’s not a thing of beauty like in other years under Roy Williams, but it’s working.

No. 3 Syracuse Orange

Location: Syracuse, N.Y.

Conference: Big East

Coach: Jim Boeheim

Pre-tournament record: 26-7, 12-6

Best wins: Notre Dame, UConn

Surprising losses: Seton Hall

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Scoop Jardine, senior forward Rick Jackson, junior forward Kris Joseph.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, interior scoring, challenging shots.

Weaknesses: Defensive rebounding, getting to the free-throw line.

Outlook: Remember Syracuse’s four-game losing streak in January? It’s a thing of the past. The Orange excel at scoring inside the arc in part because their top scorers (Jardine and Joseph) look for mid-range jumpers or try to get to the basket. If they miss, Jackson’s there to grab the rebound and get the putback. It works regardless of foe. When it doesn’t, it’s usually because the Orange aren’t executing. Same with the defense. The Orange’s famed 2-3 zone forces opponents to work for shots, though open looks usually aren’t easy to come by, inside or outside the arc. Syracuse might have been more talented and experienced last season, but they’re no less dangerous this year. Expect another Sweet 16 spot.

No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats

Location: Lexington, Ky.

Conference: Southeastern

Coach: John Calipari

Pre-tournament record: 25-8, 10-6

Best wins: Notre Dame, Washington, Louisville, Florida (twice)

Surprising losses: Ole Miss, Arkansas

Team stats

Key players: Freshman guard Brandon Knight, freshman forward Terrence Jones, freshman guard Doron Lamb, junior wing Darius Miller.

Full team roster

Strengths: Interior defense, ball-handling, 3-point shooting.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, perimeter defense.

Outlook: Kentucky’s really good. Again. The Wildcats may have had some issues winning SEC road games (they were 2-6), but thrived in the conference tournament and have impressive non-conference wins over Notre Dame and Kentucky. They might not have the flair of last year’s squad that won 35 games, but they’re no less efficient, and they do it with fewer players. Kentucky also has an added bonus it didn’t have last year: It can hit 3-pointers. Lamb, Knight and Miller all make at least 40 percent of their attempts beyond the arc, which will be crucial come crunch time and against teams who want to zone the ‘Cats. Another run to the Elite Eight is possible. A Final Four’s not out of reach, either.

No. 5 West Virginia Mountaineers

Location: Morgantown, W.Va.

Conference: Big East

Coach: Bob Huggins

Pre-tournament record: 20-11, 11-7

Best wins: Purdue, Notre Dame, Louisville

Surprising losses: Miami (Fla.), Marshall

Team stats

Key players: Senior wing Casey Mitchell, junior guard Truck Bryant, junior forward Kevin Jones.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, perimeter defense.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, perimeter shooting.

Outlook: The Mountaineers are awfully similar to last year’s Final Four team, with a few crucial exceptions. They’re slightly worse from beyond the arc, don’t force as many turnovers and are worse at corralling defensive rebounds. That’s about it. West Virginia still crushes the offensive glass, hits a high percentage of its attempts inside the arc and does a fair job holding onto the ball. Maybe it’s as simple as the lack of a clutch shooter like De’Sean Butler and a versatile defender like Devin Ebanks. Whatever the reason, they still have one thing going for them: They won’t be an easy out.

No. 6 Xavier Musketeers

Location: Cincinnati

Conference: Atlantic 10

Coach: Chris Mack

Pre-tournament record: 24-7, 15-1

Best wins: Butler, Temple

Surprising losses: Miami (Ohio), Charlotte

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Tu Holloway, junior center Kenny Frease, senior forward Jamel McLean.

Full team roster

Strengths: Defensive rebounding, 2-point shooting, challenging shots.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, 3-point shooting, depth.

Outlook: Bad luck before the season forced Mack to adjust to a short bench, and it took the Musketeers most of their non-conference schedule to adjust. The solution? The more of Holloway, the better. He’s on the court all the time, touches the ball more than anyone else, scores the most, is the assists leader and can be a defensive stopper when needed. Frease and McLean fill their roles nicely, while senior Dante Jackson and sophomore guard Mark Lyons provide some stability. But if Xavier hopes to return to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight year, it’ll need two things: Two favorable matchups and a healthy Holloway who can’t miss. Might be one of the few years the Musketeers are home before the second week.

No. 7 Washington Huskies

Location: Seattle

Conference: Pac-10

Coach: Lorenzo Romar

Pre-tournament record: 23-10, 11-7

Best wins: Arizona (twice), UCLA (twice)

Surprising losses: Oregon State, Stanford

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Isaiah Thomas, senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning, senior wing Justin Holiday

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, ball-handling, offensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Defending rebounding, free-throw shooting.

Outlook: It’s déjà vu all over again. The Huskies underperformed last season, then got it together late, won the Pac-10 tournament and eventually reached the Sweet 16. This season, despite a record that belies their productivity, Washington could reach the second week once again. Romar’s team has all the ingredients for a run: A playmaking point guard capable of dominating a game with his tempo and shot-making skills (Thomas), fantastic outside shooters (C.J. Wilcox, Terrence Ross and Scott Suggs), a do-it-all wing (Holiday) and an athletic big man who blocks shots, rebound and scores (Bryan-Amaning). The problem is the Huskies don’t have much depth, their best defender (Venoy Overton) isn’t playing like it and Thomas can get into a me-first zone sometimes. If the Huskies aren’t slacking on defense and hitting even 35 percent of their 3-pointers, they’re a good bet to make the second week.

No. 8 George Mason Patriots

Location: Fairfax, Va.

Conference: Colonial Athletic

Coach: Jim Larranaga

Pre-tournament record: 26-6, 16-2

Best wins: ODU, Duquesne

Surprising loss: Hofstra

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Cam Long, junior forward Ryan Pearson, sophomore guard Luke Hancock.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, ball-handling, perimeter defense.

Weaknesses: Offensive rebounding, forcing turnovers.

Outlook: Until the Patriots lost to VCU in the CAA tourney semifinals, they’d been touted as a potential Final Four darkhorse. The potential is still there, but perhaps less hype will be a good thing for Jim Larranaga’s team. They’re a balanced, deep, talented squad that does everything well and is excellent at 3-point shooting and taking care of the ball, two things crucial to NCAA tournament success. If they only hit the offensive glass a little more, they’d be an even better version of Butler from 2010. Still, George Mason’s sure to provide a stiff challenge to Ohio State in the second round. An upset would be worthy of anything the 2006 team pulled off.

No. 9 Villanova Wildcats

Location: Philadelphia

Conference: Big East

Coach: Jay Wright

Pre-tournament record: 21-11, 9-9

Best wins: Louisville, Syracuse

Surprising losses: South Florida, Providence

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Corey Fisher, sophomore guard Maalik Wayns, sophomore forward Mouphtaou Yarou, senior wing Corey Stokes.

Full team roster

Strengths: Guard play, perimeter defense.

Weaknesses: Guard play, forcing turnovers.

Outlook: It’s all about the guards. When Fisher and Wayns are on, the Wildcats are as good as anyone. When they’re not, well, you close the season with five straight losses. Part of that’s the competition – ‘Nova closed with Syracuse, St. John’s, Notre Dame and Pitt – but that’s not the entire problem. They failed to close out games, hit shots and have dealt with injuries, too. Yarou and Stokes missed parts or all of the final five games, which robbed ‘Nova of two of their most reliable scorers. Fisher and Wayns could find their niche in time for an NCAA tournament win, but don’t count on it.

No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs

Location: Athens, Ga.

Conference: Southeastern

Coach: Mark Fox

Pre-tournament record: 21-11, 9-7

Best wins: Kentucky, Tennessee, UAB

Surprising losses: None

Team stats

Key players: Junior forward Trey Thompkins, junior guard Travis Leslie, junior guard Gerald Robinson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, interior defense.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, 3-point shooting.

Outlook: Thompkins and Robinson take more than half of Georgia’s shots, which isn’t good for the Dawgs’ offensive performance. Neither are efficient scorers, which means Georgia usually relies on its defense to win games – and that’s a dicey proposition given that it’s a bend-don’t-break defense that frustrates opponents. It doesn’t create easy scoring chances for Georgia. The bright side in all of this? Leslie is a fantastic player. The high-flying guard is capable of jaw-dropping plays off dunks or in the lane. Too bad he can’t hit a 3-pointer. The Dawgs should be happy to be in.

No. 11 Marquette Golden Eagles

Location: Milwaukee

Conference: Big East

Coach: Buzz Williams

Pre-tournament record: 20-14, 9-9

Best wins: Notre Dame, Syracuse

Surprising losses: Seton Hall

Team stats

Key players: Senior forward Jimmy Butler, junior guard Darius Johnson-Odum, junior forward Jae Crawford.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Defensive rebounding, perimeter defense.

Outlook: Marquette is perpetually underrated, probably because it is perpetually undersized and lacks a dominant player. The Eagles’ schedule is filled with solid wins, close losses – their 13 losses are by an average of six points – and results you’d expect. Consider them a team that’s good, but often not good enough. That track record might serve as an indicator of their NCAA tournament success, especially if they play a physical team with some size inside. And whattya know? Xavier has a 7-footer in Kenny Frease and a solid forward in Jamel McLean. Should be a great game.

No. 12 Clemson Tigers

Location: Clemson, S.C.

Conference: Atlantic Coast

Coach: Brad Brownell

Pre-tournament record: 21-11, 9-7

Best wins: Virginia Tech, Florida State

Surprising loss: South Carolina, N.C. State

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Demontex Stitt, senior foreard Jerai Grant, junior guard Andre Young.

Full team roster

Strengths: Forcing turnovers, challenging shots.

Weaknesses: Shooting, ball-handling.

Outlook: The Tigers haven’t missed a beat making the transition from Oliver Purnell’s up-tempo pressure defense to Brownell’s more deliberate, half-court style. Defense is still how Clemson wins. Guards like Stitt and Grant either harass ball-handlers or get into the passing lanes, while mobile big men Grant and Devin Booker do their best to thwart things down low. When Clemson’s offense catches up, they may even win a tournament game or two. Until then, it’s first round and out.

No. 12 Alabama-Birmingham Blazers

Location:Birmingham, Ala.

Conference: Conference USA

Coach: Mike Davis

Pre-tournament record: 22-8, 12-4

Best wins: UTEP, Southern Miss

Surprising losses: East Carolina, Arizona State

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Jamar Sanders, senior guard Aaron Johnson, junior forward Cameron Moore.

Full team roster

Strengths: Perimeter defense, interior scoring.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, 3-point shooting, shot-blocking.

Outlook: UAB was lucky to get in. A C-USA tournament loss to East Carolina didn’t dissuade the NCAA tournament committee, but the Blazers’ subpar season should concern you. They don’t do much of anything well. They defend 3-pointers OK, but opponents don’t shoot a lot of 3s against them because it’s just as easy to score inside. And defense is UAB’s strong suit. If there’s a plus, it’s that the Blazers get to play Clemson in the First Four. West Virgina won’t be as easy.

No. 13 Princeton Tigers

Location: Princeton, N.J.

Conference: Ivy League

Coach: Sydney Johnson

Pre-tournament record: 25-6, 12-2

Best wins: Rutgers, Tulsa, Harvard (twice)

Surprising losses: Brown, Presbyterian

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore forward Ian Hummer, senior guard Dan Mavaraides, senior forward Kareem Maddox.

Full team roster

Strengths: Defensive rebounding, shooting.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, offensive rebounding.

Outlook: Maddox, Hummer, Mavaraides and junior guard Douglas Davis (the hero of the tiebreaker win vs. Harvard) rarely leave the court, which is a good thing for the Tigers. All four are relatively experienced and efficient players, meaning they won’t be overwhelmed by their opponent, no matter what conference they’re from. Hummer and Maddox will be a little undersized, but that’s about it. Besides, when you shoot like this Princeton team – 37.4 from beyond the arc, 50.5 inside it – good things happen. That’s why the Tigers are back in the Big Dance for the first time since 2004 and for the 24th time overall. But getting a tournament win vs. Kentucky? That might be asking a bit much.

No. 14 Indiana State Sycamores

Location: Terre Haute, Ind.

Conference: Missouri Valley

Coach: Greg Lansing

Pre-tournament record: 20-13, 12-6

Best win: Missouri State (twice)

Surprising loss:Wyoming

Team stats

Key players:Junior guard Dwayne Lathan, junior guard Carl Richard, senior swingman Aaron Carter.

Full team roster

Strengths:Interior defense, 3-point shooting.

Weaknesses: Offensive rebounding, turnovers.

Outlook: Looking for a team that doesn’t rely on any one player and needs major contributions from at least four guys to win a tournament game? The Sycamores are it. Lathan and Richard are their leading scorers, but Carter and freshman guard Jake Odum were the difference in the Missouri Valley championship game. Throw in guys like senior Jake Kelly and junior forward Myles Walker, and Indiana State’s a team that found the right mix of players and rode it to a tourney berth. Don’t expect it to last. The Sycamores get crushed on the boards and don’t have the overall defense to force Syracuse into a poor shooting night.

No. 15 Long Island Blackbirds

Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Conference: Northeast

Coach: Jim Ferry

Pre-tournament record: 27-5, 18-2

Best wins: Robert Morris (twice)

Surprising losses: St. Francis (Penn.)

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore forward Jamal Olasewere, junior guard C.J. Garner, sophomore forward Julian Boyd, senior guard David Hicks.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, perimeter defense, getting to the free-throw line.

Weaknesses: Defensive rebounding, turnovers.

Outlook: The Blackbirds were 6-4 back in mid-December. They’ve been on a bit of a roll since. LIU features athletic forwards, two guards who can hit from outside and a nice mix of depth and experience. Thing is, they haven’t beaten anyone notable, or even played a notable team. Usually when a team sweeps their conference’s regular-season and tournament titles, it’s a sign of good things to come in March. But this might not apply here. LIU lost to MAAC champ St. Peter’s back in November, which is a fair indication of the Blackbirds’ NCAA tournament hopes. They won’t be around long unless they’re hitting everything from outside. And even that’s not guarantee.

No. 16 Alabama State Hornets

Location: Montgomery, Ala.

Conference: Southwestern Athletic

Coach: Lewis Jackson

Pre-tournament record: 17-17, 7-7

Best wins:Texas Southern (twice)

Surprising losses: Prairie View A&M, Grambling

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Tramaine Butler, junior Kenderek Washington, senior Robert Sanders

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, forcing turnovers.

Weaknesses: Shooting, ball-handling, defensive rebounding.

Outlook: At the start of February, the Hornets were just 6-16. Now they’re going dancing. Credit the aggressive that excels at forcing turnovers and making things tough for opponents in the lane. As a result, the Hornets play a lot of guys to stay fresh and avoid tired legs. If they manage to win their “First Four” game, they’ll need that defense to be better than ever to even stay close vs. Ohio State. Don’t expect much more than a good first half.

No. 16 Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners

Location: San Antonio

Conference: Southland

Coach: Brooks Thompson

Pre-tournament record: 19-13, 9-7

Best wins: San Jose State, Sam Houston State

Surprising losses: Samford, Texas State

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Devin Gibson, freshman forward Jeromie Hill, sophomore wing Melvin Johnson.

Full team roster

Strengths: 3-point shooting, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Rebounding.

Outlook: The Roadrunners were the surprise winner of the Southland Conference tournament, beating the league’s best team (Sam Houston State) and its top seed (McNeese State), mostly thanks to the superior play of Gibson. Everything runs through him on offense, and with good reason. He’s the Southland’s most explosive player and a dynamite scorer. Texas-San Antonio faces long odds to maintain their fun run, though. They could win their First Four game, but would get drilled by Ohio State.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

John Petty Jr. returns to Alabama for senior season

Getty Images
3 Comments

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

Getty Images
2 Comments

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

jared butler baylor
Getty Images
Leave a comment

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
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
5 Comments

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
(Getty Images)

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
college basketball preseason top 25
(Getty Images)

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

Getty Images
3 Comments

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.