CBT PICKS: College Basketball Dream Teams


This is one of our favorite exercises of the preseason: picking out a college basketball Dream Team.

The guidelines for making picks were simple. You get to pick a coach and fill 13 roster spots for a team that will spend play a full season at the college level.

Here is the squad each of our three writers put together:

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I’m a huge fan of John Beilein’s ability to build an offense — I think the man is brilliant — which is why I picked him as my team’s coach. So with that in mind, I built my team with players that will succeed in Beilein’s offense. Simply put: ball-handlers that thrive in ball-screen actions, bigs that can roll to the rim or thrive in pick-and-pops and wings that are shooters, versatile enough to play multiple positions or, ideally, both.

Considering how much Beilein uses ball-screens, and considering Kris Dunn is the best player in the country, he was the obvious pick to build a roster around. Ben Simmons was also an easy pick for me simply because of how good of a playmaker he is. Ron Baker, like Dunn, is a terrific on-ball defender and has all the attributes that I’m looking for in a guard — he can shoot, run ball-screens, pass — and Denzel Valentine’s ability to spread the floor and create on his own was enough to get him into my starting lineup. Since Dunn and Simmons both can struggle shooting the ball, I went with Skal Labissiere in the starting lineup over Damian Jones and Jakob Poeltl.

The bench was a bit tougher to hash out. I went with BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth for the same reason I picked Simmons — he’s a 6-foot-8 point forward that can run ball-screens, pass and rebound — while I went with Jaylen Brown over Brandon Ingram and Taurean Waller-Prince because I think he’s better suited to playing an undersized four role; think Draymond Green. James Blackmon Jr.’s shooting was too much to pass up, and I love Buddy Hield’s ability as a 3-and-D guy on my team.

In the back court, I love Demetrius Jackson. He’s absolutely perfect for this system. Fred Van Vleet may not be the most talented point guard in the country, he’s a leader and a winner and a guy that every coach in the country would want at their disposal. Up front, I think Damian Jones will be the best low-post center in the country this year, and Jakob Poeltl’s ability as the roll-man in ball-screen actions, combined with his prowess as a rim protector defensively, made him a perfect fit.

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For my Dream Team, I wanted to put the five most talented players in college basketball on the floor. With the backcourt of Dunn and Murray, I’ll be able to push tempo with bigger guards who can do a bit of everything. Adding Ben Simmons and his ability to handle the ball means I’ll have three pretty good ball handlers on the floor in my starting lineup.

Skal and Ingram are on the floor to create mismatches and score. Ingram’s ability to hit shots from anywhere is important to my team, especially since he’s playing the ‘3’ in this group. Labissiere will be huge setting high ball screens for my guards and creating off of those plays.

My bench features steady leadership with a lot of upperclassmen and ball handlers. Jaylen Brown is just too talented to not make the roster and he brings a lot to the table as a bench scorer along with Buddy Hield. Jakob Poeltl and Damian Jones give me a lot of interior depth while Tyler Ulis and Fred Van Vleet can handle any kind of defense.

Kyle Wiltjer gives me a luxury floor spacer in the front court and Kyle Collinsworth is my jack-of-all-trades final roster spot who can come in and do a bit of everything. John Calipari is one of the few coaches in America who could get all of these guys to buy in and play together, so he’s the easy decision for my head coach.


When I put my team together, the main goal was to load up on talent and figure out how the pieces fit from there. That explains the presence of a ball-dominant point guard in Dunn and a point forward in Simmons in the starting lineup. But they’re both incredibly talented players who are likely the two best in college basketball this season, so the logistics of who has the ball in their hands can be worked out. At the two I like Hield, who can knock down perimeter shots and also attack teams off the dribble. On the wing I took Caris LeVert, a versatile player who can operate without the ball in his hands and that’s key with the group. In the middle, Skal Labissiere. Sure there’s a need to get stronger, but he can do so much in that role that we’ll make up for it.

As for the bench, Fred VanVleet is a point guard who can also score and he’s a flat-out winner to boot. Those kind of guys are incredibly valuable to a team, whether they start or not. And in Denzel Valentine there’s a versatile player who is capable of initiating the offense himself. But with the presence of Dunn and Simmons in the starting lineup, I like Denzel as a reserve with this group. Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon is a consistent, efficient scorer who is also a very good defender. I may have skimped on the defensive guards, which makes his inclusion essential for this group. Also available to play on the perimeter are two highly regarded freshmen in Jamal Murray and Jaylen Brown. I like the ability of both to play multiple positions, with Murray being able to play some point and Brown anywhere from the two to the four (in a small lineup).

In the front court I took a player in Kyle Wiltjer who should be one of the nation’s best offensive players this season. Will he be a lockdown defender? Probably not but that’s fine; off the bench he can focus on scoring from all three levels. The presence of Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones, one of the best big men in the country, and a rugged forward in NC State’s Abdul-Malik Abu will help make up for any defensive issues Wiltjer may encounter. And the man I’m entrusting to coach this group is Michigan’s John Beilein, who is arguably the best offensive coach in college basketball. Given the many options on this team, and the fact that a few of them seemingly need the ball in their hands to be at their best, there’s a need for a coach who can spread things out and get everyone their opportunities to shine on that end of the floor.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.