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

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.