2015-2016 College Basketball Way-Too Early Preseason Top 25

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PLEASE NOTE: We have since updated our Preseason Top 25.

The updated rankings, which reflect decisions made by the likes of Buddy Hield, Yogi Ferrell, Caris LeVert, Kyle Wiltjer and Derryck Thornton, can be found here.

1. North Carolina

  • Who’s back: Everyone. Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks.
  • Who’s gone: Desmond Hubert.
  • Who they’re getting: Luke Maye
  • Why they’re here: Marcus Paige is going to be healthy, the Tar Heels return their entire front line and Joel Berry and Justin Jackson will have a full offseason to turn into the complimentary players they showed flashes of being at the end of the season.

2. Iowa State

  • Who’s back: Georges Niang, Monte’ Morris*, Naz Long, Jameel McKay, Matt Thomas, Fred Hoiberg*
  • Who’s gone: Bryce Dejean-Jones
  • Who they’re getting: Hallice Cooke, Deonte Burton, Chieck Diallo*
  • Why they’re here: Assuming that Hoiberg is back in Ames next season, it looks like he’s going to have the best team of his coaching career. Morris and Niang will be back with Burton, a Marquette transfer, getting eligible in December and McKay back to control the paint. Even if they miss on Diallo, the Cyclones are looking at being a top five team.

3. Maryland

  • Who’s back: Melo Trimble, Jake Layman*, Jared Nickens, Michal Cevosky
  • Who’s gone: Dez Wells, Richaud Pack
  • Who they’re getting: Robert Carter, Diamond Stone, Jaylen Brantley
  • Why they’re here: Getting Trimble to announce that he will be coming back to school is huge, as would the return of Layman, because the Terps are going to have plenty of firepower up front. Georgia Tech transfer Carter and top ten recruit Stone will headline one of the better front lines in the Big Ten.

4. Kentucky

  • Who’s back: Tyler Ulis*, Marcus Lee*, Alex Poythress*, Dakari Johnson*
  • Who’s gone: Karl Towns*, Willie Cauley-Stein*, Aaron Harrison*, Andrew Harrison*, Trey Lyles*, Devin Booker*
  • Who they’re getting: Isaiah Briscoe, Skal Labissiere*, Charles Matthews
  • Why they’re here: So much of Kentucky’s 2015-2016 team is in the air. Who is returning to school? Who is going pro? Will they get any of the McDonald’s All-Americans that have yet to commit to a school? Will Labissiere be eligible? We’ll have a much better idea by the end of the month.

5. Virginia

  • Who’s back: Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey, London Perrantes
  • Who’s gone: Darion Atkins, Justin Anderson*
  • Who they’re getting: Jarred Reuter
  • Why they’re here: The Cavs return essentially their entire roster from the 2015-2016 team with the notable exception of Anderson. Without him, they really struggled to score at times. If Anderson does actually return to school, UVA would probably shoot up as high as No. 2.

6. Kansas

  • Who’s back: Perry Ellis*, Frank Mason, Devonte’ Graham, Wayne Selden*, Brannen Greene*, Svi Mykhailiuk
  • Who’s gone: Kelly Oubre, Cliff Alexander*
  • Who they’re getting: Carlton Bragg
  • Why they’re here: Bill Self. Beyond that, there’s not a lot that I love about this team next season beyond Bill Self. Mason and Graham will be a very good back court, and getting Selden back will be a key. How much does Mykhailiuk develop, and will Bragg turn into a low-post hoss?

7. Villanova

  • Who’s back: Ryan Arcidiacono, Josh Hart, Daniel Ochefu
  • Who’s gone: JayVaughn Pinkston, Darrun Hilliard
  • Who they’re getting: Jalen Brunson, Tim Delaney, Donte Divincenczo
  • Why they’re here: Losing Hilliard and Pinkston is really going to hurt, but there are two things that make be feel really good about this Villanova team: Hart is going to be an all-Big East player this season, and Brunson is the real deal.

8. Baylor

  • Who’s back: Rico Gathers*, Taurean Prince*, Jonathan Motley, Lester Medford
  • Who’s gone: Kenny Chery, Royce O’Neale
  • Who they’re getting: King McClure, Jake Lindsey, Wendell Mitchell, Joseph Acuil
  • Why they’re here: Assuming that Gathers and Prince return, the Bears will have one of the best front lines in the country. The big issue for them is going to be their ball-handling. Can Lester Medford handle full time point guard duties?

9. Michigan State

  • Who’s back: Denzel Valentine, Lourawls Nairn, Bryn Forbes
  • Who’s gone: Travis Trice, Branden Dawson
  • Who they’re getting: Eron Harris, Deyonta Davis, Matt McQuaid
  • Why they’re here: West Virginia transfer Harris is going to have a chance to be a very, very good player in this back court. They need Nairn to take a significant step forward, particularly offensively, but Valentine may end up being the Big Ten Player of the Year.

10. Arizona

  • Who’s back: Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Elliott Pitts, Dusan Ristic, Gabe York
  • Who’s gone: Stanley Johnson*, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson*, Brandon Ashley, T.J. McConnell, Kaleb Tarczewski*
  • Who they’re getting: Justin Simon, Ray Smith, Chance Comanche, Allonzo Trier, Ryan Anderson
  • Why they’re here: Sean Miller is once again bringing in a loaded class, which he’ll need as the Wildcats will likely end up losing their entire starting lineup from a season ago. There will likely be a learning curve here, but there is enough talent — on the roster and the coaching staff — to make some noise.

11. Georgia

  • Who’s back: Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines, Yante Maten, J.J. Frazier
  • Who’s gone: Marcus Thornton, Nemanja Djurisic
  • Who they’re getting: Jaylen Brown*, William Jackson, William Ogbeide, E’Torrion Wilridge
  • Why they’re here: If they don’t get Brown — which is probably more likely than them landing him — we’re looking at a top 20-25 team.

12. N.C. State

  • Who’s back: Trevor Lacey, Cat Barber, BeeJay Anya, Kyle Washington
  • Who’s gone: Ralston Turner, Desmond Lee
  • Who they’re getting: Terry Henderson
  • Why they’re here: The Wolfpack have enough talent on their roster to compete for an ACC title next season.

13. Xavier

  • Who’s back: Trevon Bluiett, Jalen Reynolds, Myles Davis
  • Who’s gone: Dee Davis, Matt Stainbrook
  • Who they’re getting: Kaiser Gates
  • Why they’re here: We’re expecting Bluiett and Reynolds to take a big step forward.

14. Duke

  • Who’s back: Matt Jones, Grayson Allen, Marshall Plumlee, Amile Jefferson
  • Who’s gone: Tyus Jones*, Jahlil Okafor*, Justise Winslow*
  • Who they’re getting: Brandon Ingram*, Luke Kennard, Chase Jeter, Sean Obi
  • Why they’re here: If Jones comes back, they’ll be a top ten team. If they don’t end up getting Ingram, they’re probably closer to No. 25.

15. Louisville

  • Who’s back: Quentin Snider, Shaqquan Aaron, Mangok Mathiang
  • Who’s gone: Terry Rozier, Montrezl Harrell, Wayne Blackshear
  • Who they’re getting: Trey Lewis*, Donovan Mitchell, Ray Spalding, Deng Adel
  • Why they’re here: Part of it is loving their freshmen class, part of it is faith in Rick Pitino and part of it is the assumption that they have more additions coming.

16. Cal

  • Who’s back: Ty Wallace*, Jabari Bird*, Jordan Mathews, Kameron Rooks
  • Who’s gone: David Kravish
  • Who they’re getting: Ivan Raab*, Caleb Swanigan*, Stephen Domingo, Davon Dillard

17. UCLA

  • Who’s back: Bryce Alford, Tony Parker, Isaac Hamilton*, Thomas Welsh
  • Who’s gone: Kevon Looney, Norman Powell
  • Who they’re getting: Jonah Bolden, Prince Ali, Aaron Holiday, Alex Olesinki

18. Georgetown

  • Who’s back: Isaac Copeland*, L.J. Peak, Tre Campbell, Paul White
  • Who’s gone: D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Josh Smith, Mikael Hopkins
  • Who they’re getting: Marcus Derrickson, Jessie Govan, Kaleb Johnson

19. Wisconsin

  • Who’s back: Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig
  • Who’s gone: Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker*, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson, Duje Dukan
  • Who they’re getting: Brevin Pritzl, Charlie Thomas, Alex Illikainen, Jahlil Iverson

20. Marquette

  • Who’s back: Duane Wilson, Sandy Cohen, Jajuan Johnson, Luke Fischer
  • Who’s gone: Juan Anderson, Matt Carlino, Derrick Wilson
  • Who they’re getting: Henry Ellenson, Matt Heldt, Traci Carter, Haanif Cheatham, Sacar Anim

21. Notre Dame

  • Who’s back: Zach Auguste, Demetrius Jackson, Steve Vasturia, Bonzie Colson
  • Who’s gone: Jerian Grant, Pat Connaughton
  • Who they’re getting: Rex Pflueger, Elijah Burns, Matt Ryan

22. Gonzaga

  • Who’s back: Kyle Wiltjer*, Przemek Karnowski, Domas Sabonis, Josh Perkins
  • Who’s gone: Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell, Byron Wesley
  • Who they’re getting: None as of right now (Jesse Wade will be on his LDS mission)

23. Vanderbilt

  • Who’s back: Damian Jones, Riley LaChance, Wade Baldwin
  • Who’s gone: James Siakam
  • Who they’re getting: Camron Justice, D’jery Baptiste, Samir Sehic, Joseph Toye

24. Oregon

  • Who’s back: Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell, Dwayne Benjamin, Elgin Cook
  • Who’s gone: Joseph Young
  • Who they’re getting: Tyler Dorsey, Kendall Small, Trevor Manuel

25. Butler

  • Who’s back: Kellen Dunham, Roosevelt Jones, Andrew Charbacsz, Kelan Martin
  • Who’s gone: Alex Barlow, Kameron Woods
  • Who they’re getting: Nate Fowler, Sean McDermott

Duke lands Steward, third commitment in the Class of 2020

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Duke landed their third commitment in the Class of 2020 on Wednesday, as Chicago shooting guard D.J. Steward pledged to play his college ball for Coach K.

A high-volume scorer and potent shot-maker, the 6-foot-2 Steward visited Duke over the weekend before committing.

“Me and my family were amazed on our official visit, we loved the principals of Duke, and how united Duke is as a basketball program,” Steward told Rivals.com. “At Duke I will be able to get the best of both worlds; education wise and on the court playing on the biggest stage possible night in and night out.

“I will get to chase my goals and be one step closer to achieving my dream of playing in the NBA. Also I will be able to develop as a person off the court and as a ball player while playing under the most winningest coach in history, Coach K.”

Steward joins five-star forward Jalen Johnson and five-star point guard Jeremy Roach in Duke’s 2020 recruiting class. Johnson is the quintessential small-ball four that we have seen arrive in Durham in recent classes, while Roach appears to be the heir apparent to Tre Jones at the point guard spot. Steward should fit in nicely playing off the ball for the Blue Devils, who can always use some excess shot-making.

Duke is far from done here, as they are in the mix for the likes of Walker Kessler, Ziaire Williams and Henry Coleman.

New York senator the latest to propose bill to abolish amateurism

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A second state now has legislation in the works that would make it legal for college athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness.

Kevin Parker, a New York state senator from Brooklyn, has proposed a bill similar to California’s Fair Pay To Play act, not only giving college athletes the ability to sell their NIL rights but also requiring athletic departments to give a 15 percent share of their annual revenue to the student-athletes. California’s bill, which will go into effect in 2023 if it is signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, would make removing a student-athlete from their scholarship for accepting endorsement money illegal.

“It’s about equity,” Parker told ESPN. “These young people are adding their skill, talent and labor to these universities.

“You don’t need the shortcuts and the end-arounds because now we’re providing some real support for these student-athletes.”

New York joins the growing list of organizations that are pushing back against the NCAA’s rules on amateurism. South Carolina, Maryland, Colorado and Washington have had legislators discuss whether or not to make similar changes to the law, while Congressmen from North Carolina and Connecticut have made pushes at the federal level. Democratic Presidential candidate Anrew Yang has blasted the NCAA over their amateurism rules, while just last week, NBA agents made public the fact that they will be refusing to register for the NCAA’s proposed certification process.

Rick Pitino, Louisville settle lawsuit

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19: Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals looks on in the first half against the Michigan Wolverines during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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The University of Louisville and former head coach Rick Pitino have reached a joint agreement to drop their lawsuits against each other.

The two sides “have mutually agreed to dismiss their legal claims against each other, designate his departure as a resignation and move forward,” according to a joint statement that was released by the University and Pitino. Pitino will not be paid any money as a result of this settlement, but he departure will now be classified as a resignation, effective Oct. 3rd, 2017.

Pitino had sued Louisville for somewhere around $40 million.

“For 17 years, Coach Pitino ran a program that combined excellence on the court with a commitment to the program’s student-athletes, their academic achievement, and their futures in and out of basketball,” the state said. “Nevertheless, there were NCAA infractions during his term which led to serious consequences for the university. Although these infractions may not have occurred at Pitino’s direction or with his knowledge, the problems leading to NCAA infractions happened under his leadership. We thank Coach Pitino for his years of service to the University of Louisville basketball program and wish him well.”

“Today I move on to a new chapter in my life,” a statement from Pitino reads. “Against my lawyer’s advice, I’m dropping my lawsuit with ULAA. I am very proud of the many accomplishments my teams achieved at Louisville. I’m so thankful and honored to coach such dedicated athletes. I’m also disappointed in how it ended. But as head coach I am held responsible for the actions of all team members. I still have so much passion for the game and so many goals I want to achieve. From this day forward I start my climb.”

Kentucky lands commitments from two more elite prospects

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John Calipari is getting his work done early in the 2020 recruiting class, as he added two more commitments over the weekend.

On Thursday, it was Lance Ware, a 6-foot-10 post player from Camden, New Jersey, that announced his commitment. Ware is a top 50 recruit that held offers from the likes of Michigan, Ohio State and Miami. The bigger news, however, came on Saturday afternoon, when Terrance Clarke announced that he will be enrolling at Kentucky whenever he ends his high school tenure. Clarke is currently a member of the Class of 2021, but the plan is for him to reclassify and graduate high school this year.

Clarke is a consensus top three player in 2021 – and he may be the No. 1 player in that class, depending on who you ask – and should immediately vault into the top five of the 2020 recruiting class. An athletic, versatile wing that stands 6-foot-6, Clarke is a potential lottery pick given his physical tools and the way that he projects as multi-positional defender with the ability to create off of the dribble. Ware, like Nick Richards and E.J. Montgomery before him, projects as the kind of player that will spend 2-3 years in Lexington.

Clarke and Ware join top ten prospect B.J. Boston and another top 50 recruit, Cam’Ron Fletcher, in Kentucky’s 2020 class. That’s three wings in the class with Johnny Juzang, Kahlil Whitney, Dontaie Allen and Keion Brooks currently on campus. Throw Montgomery into the mix, and that’s eight players that fit somewhere into a lineup as a wing or a face-up big man, and it seems rather unlikely that all five of the guys currently at Kentucky will leave the school this offseason. Put another way, this looks like the end of Kentucky’s pursuit of the likes of Jalen Green and Josh Christopher.

Calipari is still recruiting Cade Cunningham despite the fact that many expect Cunningham to end up at Oklahoma State, where Mike Boynton hired his brother Cannen, but Cade has skyrocketed up the recruiting rankings as he has transitioned to playing the point. Kentucky is still in the mix for a handful of other forwards, including Scottie Barnes, Isaiah Todd and Greg Brown.

Tony Bennett turns down raise, signs contract extension

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Virginia announced that they have signed head coach Tony Bennett to a contract extension, keeping him under contract through the 2025-26 season.

This is not unexpected. He just won the national title. I think he earned a new deal.

What is unique here, however, is that Bennett turned down a raise. He asked for more money for his assistants and for some cash to be put towards improvements in both his program and the other Virginia sports teams, but he passed on getting more money put into his own bank account.

“[My wife] Laurel and I are in a great spot, and in the past I’ve had increases in my contract,” Bennett said in the news release. “We just feel a great peace about where we’re at, all that’s taken place, and how we feel about this athletic department and this community and this school. I love being at UVA.

“… I have more than enough, and if there are ways that this can help out the athletic department, the other programs and coaches, by not tying up so much [in men’s basketball], that’s my desire.”

That’s the dream scenario right there, being rich enough to turn down more money.