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Re-ranking the 2013 recruiting class

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July’s live recruiting period, the last of its kind, just finished up, meaning that the Class of 2019 have fully had a chance to prove themselves to the recruiters and the recruitniks around the country.

Scholarships were earned and rankings were justified over the course of those three weekends, but scholarship offers and rankings don’t always tell us who the best players in a given class will end up being.

Ask Steph Curry.

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will be re-ranking eight recruiting classes, from 2007-2014, based on what they have done throughout their post-high school career. 

Here are the 25 best players from the Class of 2013, with their final Rivals Top 150 ranking in parentheses:

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1.  Joel Embiid (25)

The meteoric rise of “The Process” has been fascinating to witness. Embiid didn’t become a five-star caliber prospect until his senior season of high school. He parlayed that into one good season at Kansas before a stress fracture in his foot prevented him from suiting up in March. After missing his first two seasons of NBA ball with the Philadelphia 76ers due to injury, Embiid became one of the game’s best players — and biggest personalities — over the last several years.

Embracing the role of franchise savior in Philly, Embiid became a second-team All-NBA player in his first full(ish) season in 2017-18. Injury concerns prevent Embiid from playing on back-to-back nights during the regular season, but the All-Star is a major force when he’s healthy. Embiid signed a max extension to stay in Philadelphia after his rookie deal ended.

2. Andrew Wiggins (1)

One of the most hyped high school players of the past decade, Wiggins has been debated as much as any player on this list. Becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft after a good season at Kansas, Wiggins has been remarkably durable during his four-year NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Missing only one game during that four-year span, Wiggins has averaged 36.2 minutes per game for his career as he’s grown into a functional scoring wing. During his third season, Wiggins averaged 23.6 points per game as his inconsistent perimeter jumper improved enough for him to make a leap. Polarizing among some in the NBA community, Wiggins has been criticized at times for not making enough of an impact outside of scoring.

3. Aaron Gordon (3)

A mega-athlete at forward, Gordon has become a successful NBA starter during his four seasons with the Orlando Magic. The former Pac-12 Freshman of the Year showed flashes of potential greatness during his one season at Arizona. Since the Magic surprisingly (at the time) selected Gordon with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, he made some memorable appearances in the dunk contest while growing into one of the league’s better young talents. During the 2017-18 season, Gordon averaged 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for the Magic as he looks like their centerpiece to build around the next few years.

(Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

4. Zach LaVine (44)

A classic late-bloomer, LaVine has used his supreme athleticism to make a name for himself in the NBA the past few seasons. Coming off of the bench during his only season at UCLA, LaVine’s dominant performance at the NBA Draft Combine vaulted him into a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. With the Minnesota Timberwolves, LaVine developed into a double-figure scorer while also becoming the fourth player in history to win back-to-back dunk contests. A torn ACL has limited LaVine’s play the past two seasons, as he was the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade that brought LaVine to the Chicago Bulls before the 2017-18 season. Despite a sluggish return from the ACL injury last season, the Bulls matched a lucrative offer sheet from the Sacramento Kings to retain LaVine this offseason.

5. Julius Randle (2)

After a decorated high school and college career that included a Final Four run with Kentucky, Randle has carved out a nice niche in the NBA. Playing the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Randle started to figure things out during the past two years as he was especially effective coming off of the bench in small-ball situations. Putting up 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game on 55 percent shooting this past season, Randle left the Lakers as a free agent this offseason as he signed to play with the New Orleans Pelicans.

6. Jabari Parker (4)

Another decorated high school player and one-and-done, Parker made an impact during his one season at Duke — particularly on the offensive end. Selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Parker showcased natural scoring ability during his four seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks — peaking at 20.1 points per game during the 2016-17 season. Parker’s big issue has been health. He’s suffered two torn ACLs during his four years in the The League. Showing flashes of former brilliance during his return late last season — including a 35-point game at Denver — Parker signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Bulls this offseason. He’ll return to his hometown in the hopes of remaining healthy and revitalizing his career.

7. Bobby Portis (15)

The first player on this list to not be a one-and-done, Portis had a memorable sophomore season at Arkansas as he became SEC Player of the Year. Picked at No. 22 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, Portis has exceeded expectations by becoming one of the game’s better bench scorers. A shot-happy big man who can space the floor out to the three-point line, Portis put up 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in only 22.5 minutes per game for the Bulls last season. For as good as Portis has been on the floor, he’s perhaps best known for a violent fight with Bulls teammate Nikola Mirotic before the 2017-18 season. The incident left Mirotic with a concussion and multiple facial fractures as Portis was suspended eight games.

8. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (21)

The former Arizona product has started to come into his own as an NBA player. Following two good seasons with the Wildcats, where he was one of the best two-way forwards in the country, Hollis-Jefferson has carved out a starting role with the Brooklyn Nets. In his third season as a pro, Hollis-Jefferson developed into a double-figure scorer who could do a little bit of everything. Although Hollis-Jefferson still struggles to make perimeter jumpers, he averaged 13.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game during the 2017-18 season, as he started in 59 games for the rebuilding Nets.

9. Josh Hart (84)

After a decorated four-year college career at Villanova, not surprisingly, Hart has found his way into an NBA rotation. With the Wildcats, Hart went from low-end four-star prospect, to National Player of the Year candidate as he was a first-team All-American during his senior season. Hart also won a national title at Villanova and helped turn the Wildcats into one of the most consistent programs in the nation. At the NBA level, Hart is coming off of a promising rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers as he started 23 games and put up 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

10. Andrew Harrison (5)

The former Kentucky star made two Final Four appearances during his college career. As a pro, Harrison has steadily gained traction the past few seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. After beginning his career in the G League, Harrison has been a rotation player with the Grizzlies the past two seasons. Starting 46 games during the 2017-18 season, Harrison averaged 9.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game as his campaign was cut short due to injury.

11. Pascal Siakam (UR)

A late-bloomer to come from the mid-major ranks, Siakam redshirted during his freshman season at New Mexico State due to injury. From there, Siakam has hit the ground running. He was named WAC Freshman of the Year his first season and WAC Player of the Year as a sophomore. Since getting drafted by the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, Siakam has developed into a well-rounded backup big man. Last season, Siakam played 81 games and averaged 7.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.

12. Jordan Bell (68)

Bell has worked hard to make the NBA as he was a key role player for the Golden State Warriors during their 2017-18 championship run. Initially redshirted during his freshman season at Oregon, Bell eventually become a second-team All-Pac 12 player and the league’s defensive Player of the Year in 2017 as he helped the Ducks to the Final Four. As a rookie, Bell earned a lot of buzz in the NBA community as a do-it-all backup forward as he received a healthy amount of minutes during the NBA Playoffs.

13. Noah Vonleh (8)

Averaging nearly a double-double as a freshman at Indiana, Vonleh became the No. 9 overall pick of the Charlotte Hornets in the 2014 NBA Draft. Although Vonleh has continued to clean the glass at a solid rate as a role player, he hasn’t found the right fit during his four-year NBA career. Traded twice during his first four seasons, Vonleh has spent time in Charlotte, Portland and Chicago. The New York Knicks recently signed Vonleh for the 2018-19 season.

14. Jarell Martin (13)

Following two successful seasons at LSU, which included first-team All-SEC honors as a sophomore, Martin has found his way as an energy big man coming off of the bench. Spending the last three seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, Martin started 36 games last season as he averaged 7.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. During the offseason, Martin was traded to the Orlando Magic in a deal involving Dakari Johnson.

15. Wayne Selden (12)

The former McDonald’s All-American was a polarizing player at times during his three-year career at Kansas as he earned second-team All-Big 12 honors with the Jayhawks in 2016. Going undrafted in 2016, Selden defied expectations by going from the G League to earning NBA Playoff minutes as a rookie with the Memphis Grizzlies. Selden’s second season with the Grizzlies was cut short to 35 games during the 2017-18 season as he battled a right quad injury. Selden averaged 9.3 points per game during his second season.

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16. Cameron Payne (UR)

Payne went from unranked mid-major player into an NBA lottery pick after only two seasons of college at Murray State. The former Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year, Payne drew some Damian Lillard comparisons coming out of college since both players had similar college trajectories. Payne has struggled with inconsistent play and injury during his three NBA seasons. Last season with the Chicago Bulls, Payne looked like a potential rotation guard as he averaged 8.8 points and 4.5 assists per game in 25 games and 14 starts.

17. James Young (11)

Helping Kentucky to the Final Four as a freshman, Young parlayed second-team All-SEC honors into the No. 17 pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. Spending his first three seasons with the Boston Celtics, Young was let go, as he eventually signed a two-way contract with the Philadelphia 76ers last season. Still only 22 years old, Young has appeared in 95 career NBA games.

18. Semi Ojeyele (31)

Starting his college career at Duke, Ojeyele eventually transferred and found a better fit at SMU. After winning AAC Player of the Year honors in 2017, Ojeyele kept his name in the 2017 NBA Draft, as the Boston Celtics scooped him up in the second round. Playing in 73 games and 17 playoff games as a rookie last season, Ojeyele looks like a potential steal for the Celtics — although he’s stuck in a deep rotation of wings now that Gordon Hayward is returning from injury.

19. Frank Mason (76)

Exceeding all expectations during a memorable four-year career at Kansas, Mason evolved into a first-team All-American and one of the best two-way point guards in the country. Following his time with the Jayhawks, Mason was picked in the second round by the Sacramento Kings in the 2017 NBA Draft as he played in 52 games last season. Mason averaged 7.9 points and 2.8 assists per game.

20. Damian Jones (77)

The former two-time All-SEC first-team selection at Vanderbilt was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in 2016 by the Golden State Warriors. Although Jones has spent most of his pro career playing in the G League, thanks to the Warriors’ insane depth, he has played 25 games in the NBA the past two seasons. Most importantly, Jones has two rings in his first two seasons. It’ll be interesting to see how Jones develops over time since he’s been stuck on one of the deepest teams in basketball.

21. Sindarius Thornwell (43)

The former South Carolina star helped lead the Gamecocks to a Final Four appearance in 2017 as he was a first-team All-SEC selection that season. Picked in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft, Thornwell’s rights were traded to the Los Angeles Clippers before the season. Thornwell exceeded expectations by appearing in 73 games, and starting 17, for the Clipper as a rookie as he averaged a little over 15 minutes per game.

22. Tyler Ennis (22)

Jumping to the NBA after one season at Syracuse, Ennis was the No. 18 overall selection of the Phoenix Suns in the 2014 NBA Draft. Spending the past four seasons in the NBA, Ennis appeared in 186 total games and made 21 starts as he spent time with the Suns, Bucks, Rockets and Lakers. Although Ennis played in 54 games for the Lakers during 2017-18, averaging 12.6 minutes per game, he opted to sign a contract to play in Turkey for next season.

23. DeAndre Bembry (UR)

A former Atlantic 10 Player of the Year at Temple, Bembry was a first-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in 2016. The G League is where Bembry spent most of his first pro season, and last season, Bembry was limited by injury. During two pro seasons, Bembry has only played in 64 NBA games. But he should have a chance to earn much more playing time on an Atlanta team that is currently in the midst of a rebuild.

24. Christian Wood (40)

The former UNLV product spent two productive seasons in Sin City before turning pro, as he went undrafted in 2015 after receiving first-round buzz during the season. Bouncing between the G League and the last spot of NBA rosters, Wood played in 30 NBA games with the 76ers and Hornets between 2015 and 2017. But, after spending all of last season in the G League, Wood might have finally figured things out. A monster Summer League led to the Milwaukee Bucks signing Wood to a contract for the 2018-19 season as he’s expected to make the roster.

25. Wes Iwundu (UR)

One of six three-star prospects to enter Kansas State in the same recruiting class, Iwundu became one of the Big 12’s best players during his final two years on campus — earning third-team All-Big 12 honors. Selected in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, Iwundu played in 62 games and started 12 last season. Remarkably, Iwundu was considered by some to be the fifth-best prospect on his own Houston Defenders AAU team coming out of high school as he played with the Harrison twins, Johnathan Motley (Baylor) and Derrick Griffin (Texas Southern).

(Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

FIVE NOTABLES THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE TOP 25

Chris Walker (6)

The 6-foot-10 Walker never lived up to his immense hype as NCAA eligibility issues affected his freshman season at Florida. Even as a sophomore, Walker never found his footing with the Gators, as he left the program after two pedestrian seasons in the SEC. Going undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, Walker spent some time in the G League before eventually signing a deal to play in a Puerto Rican professional league in 2018. At one point in time, Joel Embiid, the No. 1 player in this class re-rank, was coming off of the bench in favor of Walker when the duo played together on the Florida Rams on the grassroots circuit.

Aaron Harrison (7)

While twin brother Andrew has been able to stick in the NBA the past few seasons, Aaron has had to grind in the G League. Playing in 35 career NBA games to this point, Harrison finished last season with the Dallas Mavericks after they opted to extend his 10-day contract for the rest of the season. The former McDonald’s All-American and Kentucky star is still looking for a spot for next season.

Kasey Hill (10)

Although Hill never made the NBA’s radar, he ended up as a solid four-year presence at Florida. Making a Final Four appearance as a freshman backup, Hill eventually became an All-SEC defender during his senior season as he was one of the league’s better guards. After his college career finished out at Florida, Hill went on to sign pro deals in Hungary and Greece. Hill was also grassroots teammates with Joel Embiid and Chris Walker on the Florida Rams.

Isaac Hamilton (14)

The middle brother of the three Hamiltons (Jordan Hamilton is oldest, Daniel Hamilton is youngest), Isaac had a very successful three-year run at UCLA as one of the Pac-12’s better scoring guards. Earning All-Pac-12 second-team honors in 2016, Hamilton went undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft. Hamilton played with the Indiana Pacers during Summer League last year as he spent 2017-18 in the G League.

Nigel Hayes (UR)

From unranked to one of college basketball’s best players, Hayes made two Final Fours and three all-Big Ten teams during his four seasons in Madison. Helping the Badgers to at least the Sweet 16 in all four of his seasons, Hayes is one of college basketball’s most accomplished players of the past decade. Last season, Hayes spent most of his year in the G League, but he did appear in nine NBA games — playing for the Lakers, Raptors and Kings. Hayes is expected to play for Galatasaray in the Turkish league this upcoming season.

Four-star forward verbally commits to Ole Miss

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Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis has landed his second verbal commit in the Class of 2019, as four-star forward Antavion Collum made his pledge Tuesday afternoon.

The 6-foot-8 Collum, who chose Ole Miss over Florida State, Georgetown, Missouri and UNLV, joins 6-foot-9 power forward/center Rodney Howard in the Rebels’ 2019 class to date. A Memphis native who played both forward positions for the Team CP3 program on the Nike EYBL circuit, Collum made his pledge to Ole Miss less than two weeks after his official visit to the school.

Ole Miss will lose at least one scholarship player from its front court after the 2018-19 season, as Bruce Stevens is entering his senior season. Junior college transfers Brian Halums and Zach Naylor, redshirt junior Dominic Olejniczak and freshmen K.J. Buffen and Carlos Curry will all have eligibility remaining when Collum and Howard arrive on campus next summer.

Penn State, West Virginia set up hurricane relief exhibition

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Tuesday afternoon it was announced by Penn State and West Virginia that the two programs will meet in an exhibition that will benefit Hurricane Florence relief efforts. The exhibition will be played November 3 in Morgantown, with all proceeds being donated to the American Red Cross.

While the game won’t impact either team’s record, it is the first meeting between the Nittany Lions and Mountaineers since January 1991. At the time both schools were members of the Atlantic 10, with Penn State leaving to join the Big Ten that summer.

Ahead of the 2017-18 season there were numerous exhibitions matching Division I teams, a move that requires NCAA approval, in the name of charity. That’s certainly the most important aspect of these exhibitions, but it also gives coaches the chance to evaluate their players against similar competition as opposed to the standard preseason game against a Division II, III or NAIA opponent.

Teams also have the option of setting up scrimmages before the season begins, and those affairs cannot be viewed by the general public.

CBT Podcast: Breaking down our top 25, preseason All-Americans

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As the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk podcast returns, Rob Dauster was joined by Raphielle Johnson to breakdown the NBC Sports preseason top 25 and the preseason All-American teams that were released this week.

Here is a full rundown of today’s podcast:

OPEN: Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and Gonzaga are the clear-cut preseason top four.

19:30: Which top ten team is the most likely to be a bust?

22:30: What should we do with Loyola-Chicago heading into 2018-19?

25:15: Washington vs. Oregon as the Pac-12’s best.

30:00: Which team outside the top 25 will get to the Final Four?

32:05: R.J. Barrett vs. Carsen Edwards for Preseason Player of the Year and Zion Williamson vs. Tyus Battle for 1st team All-America.

39:40: Kentucky is No. 2 but doesn’t have a player on our 1st, 2nd or 3rd team All-America.

43:30: Who are the National Player of the Year sleepers?

No. 24 N.C. State Wolfpack: Can Kevin Keatts win without frontcourt?

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Beginning in September and running up until November 6th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2018-2019 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Every day at Noon ET, we will be releasing an in-depth preview of one member of our Preseason Top 25.

Today we dive into No. 24 N.C. State.


Kevin Keatts is in just his second season as the head coach of the Wolfpack but he’s already managed to more or less completely turn over a roster that had developed a reputation for completely underachieving.

Just two of N.C. State’s scholarship players were at N.C. State when Keatts was hired — point guard Markell Johnson and wing Torin Dorn. Of the 11 players that Keatts has landed, eight of them came via the transfer market, and Johnson is the only non-freshman on the roster that began his collegiate career in Raleigh.

Normally it takes three or four seasons before a new head coach is able to turn a roster over and get “his guys” into the program

With Keatts, it took him all of 18 months, and he already is coming off of a surprise trip to the 2018 NCAA tournament to boot.

The question that needs to be answered is this: Did Keatts simply find a way to get it done with the talent that Mark Gottfried let waste away on his roster last season?

Or is he just getting started?

MOREPreseason Top 25 | NBC Sports All-Americans | Preview Schedule

N.C. STATE WILL BE GOOD BECAUSE …

This team looks so much like the juggernauts that Keatts built at UNC Wilmington.

Prior to his move to Raleigh, Keatts spent three seasons with the Seahawks. He won at least a share of the CAA regular season title all three years, getting to the NCAA tournament twice where he lost by single-digits to ACC powerhouses Virginia and Duke.

Those UNCW teams were built around a certain style of play that isn’t all that dissimilar from what Shaka Smart did during his VCU days. UNCW wasn’t playing an all-out, gambling defense like Havoc, but they did defend full court and they did gamble for steals quite a bit and, most importantly, they were built around the idea that Keatts could play four guards at once, forcing enough turnovers with his pressure and creating enough mismatches on the offensive end that his team would win despite being outsized every time they stepped on the court.

Reading the tea leaves, it’s not hard to envision the Wolfpack doing something very similar this season. Of the 11 players that are eligible to play this year after it was announced that freshman Immanuel Bates will redshirt following shoulder surgery, seven of them are guards and two of their forwards are decidedly perimeter-oriented.

And that depth on the perimeter isn’t just bodies. They’re talented. Let’s start with Torin Dorn, the redshirt senior transfer from Charlotte that averaged 13.9 points last season. At 6-foot-5, I would not be surprised to see Dorn get quite a few minutes playing as a four for the Wolfpack; Keatts’ best teams at UNCW used Chris Flemmings, a 6-foot-5, 175-pound Division II transfer as their de-facto power forward, and he won himself a CAA Player of the Year award in the process.

Torin Dorn (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Along those same lines, I can see C.J. Bryce getting plenty of minutes alongside Dorn. Bryce, who also stands 6-foot-5, was a first-team all-CAA player as a sophomore at UNCW when he averaged 17.4 points. He followed Keatts to N.C. State and sat last season out as a redshirt.

Markell Johnson is in line for the starting point guard gig after leading the ACC in assists a season ago, and I would not be shocked to see him partnered with Braxton Beverly in the backcourt once again. Beverly started 26 games and averaged 9.5 points and 3.9 assists as a freshman after transferring into the program from Ohio State.

The reason I don’t think it is a guarantee that Beverly starts is due to the pieces that Keatts is bringing in around him. Eric Lockett is a graduate transfer from FIU that averaged 14.3 points and 6.5 boards last season. Devon Daniels is a redshirt sophomore that sat out last season after averaging 9.9 points as a freshman at Utah. Blake Harris, a former top 100 recruit, will be eligible immediately after transferring into N.C. State from Missouri, where he averaged 3.8 points before leaving the team in January.

Beverly has the inside track to a starting spot, but he is going to have to earn it, and that’s unequivocally a good thing if you are an N.C. State fan, because Beverly is a good player.

And that’s really what this comes down to for the Wolfpack.

Their guards are really good, there are a lot of them and if Keatts has proven anything during his coaching career, it’s that he can win with teams that have good guards.

RELATED: Expert Picks | CBT Podcast | Best non-conference games
Markell Johnson (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

BUT N.C. STATE IS GOING TO STRUGGLE BECAUSE …

There really is no frontcourt depth to speak of.

And while the guards are the players that have gotten all of the attention for Keatts’ best UNCW teams, the truth is that those teams had big men that were really good at doing what they needed to do to anchor that defense.

Neither C.J. Gettys nor Davontae Cacok put up stat lines that would ‘wow’ you, but they were really good at two things: Rebounding the ball and defending the rim.

I don’t know if there is a guy on this roster that can do those things. Wyatt Walker averaged 12.9 points and 9.7 boards for Samford back in 2016-17, but he dealt with a knee injury last season that limited him to just two games, and even then, he’s 6-foot-9 and had just 56 blocks in two-plus years. D.J. Funderburk is 6-foot-10, but he weighs just 210 pounds and is much more of a wing than he is a post. Put another way, he averaged just 4.4 boards in Junior College last season. Ian Steere is a good player but he’s not exactly a game-changing recruit; you don’t want him anchoring the frontcourt as a freshman.

The cruel irony is that Immanuel Bates might have been the guy that could help fill that void, but he’s going to redshirt to recover from his shoulder surgery, and even when healthy, he, like Steere, is not necessarily someone you want to rely on for more than some minutes off the bench.

This is an issue for a couple of reasons:

  1. When you play a gambling style of defense, having someone that can erase shots at the rim is so important. The offense is far more likely to be able to get to the rim, and making it just that much more difficult for those layups to be scored makes all the difference.
  2. N.C. State is already going to be playing small, which inherently hinders them on the glass. Having a big man on the floor that can vacuum up caroms on the defensive end helps to end possessions. As the saying goes, forcing a miss only matters if you get rebound.

This is likely going to be an issue for this team all season long. The answer is less solving the problem and more finding a way to work around it.

Braxton Beverly (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

THE X-FACTOR

It really is incredible just how many new faces there are going to be on this roster.

Dorn and Johnson are the only players that have been in Raleigh for more than two years. Just five of the 13 players on scholarship have been on campus for one year, and three of those five transferred into the program and sat out last season as redshirts.

Put another way, there is a ton of experience on this roster, but they have very little experience actually playing with each other.

I’d love to be able to analyze this deeper, but it’s really simple: We don’t know how teams are going to come together until we see them, you know, come together.

Role allocation, role acceptance, understanding the plays, learning defensive assignments. These are the things that are going to determine if the Wolfpack hit their ceiling.

2018-19 OUTLOOK

And frankly, I think that ceiling is pretty high.

I am a believer in Kevin Keatts. I think he’s a terrific basketball coach and a guy that will find a way to get the most out of the talent that is on his roster, and there is plenty of talent on this roster. It is also the kind of roster makeup that Keatts has had success with in the past.

That’s enough to look at this team and see a group that should make a return trip to the NCAA tournament and make a run at finishing fourth — behind Duke, Virginia and North Carolina — in the ACC.

But it’s hardly a guarantee.

Beyond the simple fact that we have no idea how this group is going to come together and the issues they have in the frontcourt, there are questions to be asked about whether or not this team has a go-to guy, or if the players that transferred into the program are anything more than role playing cast-offs from another program, or if the style that Keatts had success with in the CAA will work as well in the ACC.

N.C. State is going to be fun to follow this year precisely because of that fact.

We don’t really know what they are going to do this season. Hell, we don’t even really know what the starting lineup is going to be.

All we really know is they have talent on paper and one of the best young coaches in the league.

That’s a good combination of things to have.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

No. 25 Marquette

NBC Sports Preseason All-Americans

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Beginning in September and running up until November 6th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2018-2019 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are unveiling the NBC Sports Preseason All-American teams.

We went with four teams this year, and at the bottom we listed every player that received at least one vote for one team.

Unlike past seasons, there is no shortage of options for Preseason National Player of the Year.

Three different players received at least one vote for us, and I would not be surprised to see two or three others pick up the title from someone on the internet between now and the start of the season.

Without further ado, here are our All-America teams.


R.J. Barrett, Reagan Lunn/@DukeMBB

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: R.J. Barrett, Duke

Barrett got the nod as the NBC Sports Preseason National Player of the Year as he seems to be the safest pick this season even if he’s not the only potential Player of the Year on his own roster.

He is a bonafide star, a player that has proven the ability to be a game-changer against elite competition despite the fact that he is just a freshman. Remember, two summers ago, Barrett — just three weeks after his 17th birthday — was the star of Canada’s U19 national team that won the FIBA U19 World Cup. In a game against Team USA in the semifinals of the event, Barrett had 38 points, 13 boards and six assists. That team featured first round picks Kevin Huerter and Josh Okogie as well as current All-Americans Carsen Edwards and P.J. Washington, among others.

A 6-foot-8 point guard, Barrett — along with Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish — will be the latest face of the small-ball movement at Duke. Williamson is going to get all the hype and be the one to go viral and there are those that believe that Reddish actually has a higher ceiling should he put it all together, but this is going to be Barrett’s team in 2018-19. I fully expect him to have the kind of season that will justify being taken as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Carsen Edwards (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICA

CARSEN EDWARDS, Purdue

Edwards is going to put up massive numbers this season if the Boilermakers are going to be as good as some project them to be. A borderline top 25 team that should make it back to the NCAA tournament, Purdue is losing four senior starters off of last year’s roster. Edwards — who averaged a team-high 18.5 points this past season — is going to be thrust into a role where he is asked to carry this group while showcasing more point guard ability than he has in the past. I don’t think averaging 24 points is out of the question, although I think he’s more likely to put together a junior season that looks something like the year Aaron Holiday had for UCLA in 2017-18 — averaging 20 points and six assists for a team that gets into the tournament as a double-digit seed.

RUI HACHIMURA, Gonzaga

The Japanese forward only recently arrived back on campus after taking part in FIBA World Cup qualifiers with his national team. Hachimura is exactly the kind of big, athletic and versatile forward that dominates basketball in today’s day and age. He’ll need to be a more consistent perimeter shooter, and there are still times where he seems to get lost defensively, but 6-foot-8 combo-forwards with his physical tools do not come around often. He scored 24 points in an upset win over a very good Australian national team this summer in a World Cup qualifier.

DEDRIC LAWSON, Kansas

The Memphis transfer is in line to be the focal point of a loaded Kansas attack that will enter the year as the No. 1 team in the country in the NBC Sports Top 25. Lawson is precisely the kind of player that Bill Self has thrived with in the past: A face-up four that can make shots on the perimeter but is at his best from 15 feet and in. As a sophomore with Memphis in 2016-17, Lawson averaged 19.2 points, 9.9 boards, 3.3 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.3 steals. He is not going to put up those numbers at Kansas while playing in the Big 12, but he might not be all that far off.

LUKE MAYE, North Carolina

Maye might just be the best returning player in all of college basketball, which is not something that I ever envisioned myself saying. After hitting the game-winning jumper to send North Carolina past Kentucky and into the Final Four in 2017, the year the Tar Heels won the national title, Maye ended up having an All-American season as a junior, averaging 16.9 points and 10.1 boards while shooting 43.1 percent from three.

Tyus Battle (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICA

MARKUS HOWARD, Marquette

Quite possibly the best shooter in all of college basketball. As a freshman, he shot 54.7 percent from three on 4.8 attempts per game. As a sophomore, he shot 40.4 percent from three while shooting more than eight threes per game while spending more time on the ball. He’s missed 14 free throws in two seasons. And, coming off of a year where he averaged 20.4 points while ceding lead guard duties to Andrew Rowsey, Howard will now be the centerpiece of what Marquette does offensively. He, and Marquette as a team, might just score enough points to overcome the fact that they can’t guard a team of out-of-shape dads.

TYUS BATTLE, Syracuse

Battle’s efficiency numbers went in the tank as a sophomore thanks to the fact that he played on a team with no floor spacing and even less help for him in halfcourt offensive settings. But the Orange, who finished as one of the nation’s top five defenses and add some offensive weapons to a team that returns everyone, including Oshae Brissett, Battle should be more effective this year. He could average 20 points on a top 15 team.

CALEB MARTIN, Nevada

Martin averaged 18.9 points and shot 40.3 percent from three as a junior at Nevada while leading the Wolf Pack to the Sweet 16 despite the fact that he played the second half of the season with a foot injury that was initially thought to be season-ending. He’s in line for a massive season on one of the best teams in the country.

GRANT WILLIAMS, Tennessee

Did you know that Tennessee is the reigning SEC regular season champion? Did you know that Williams is the reigning SEC Player of the Year? If you did, then you shouldn’t be surprised to see the 6-foot-7 junior listed here. He averaged 15.2 points and 6.0 boards as a sophomore.

ZION WILLIAMSON, Duke

Williamson is an absolute freak of nature athletically. We all already knew that. The reason Williamson is slotted this high on our All-American teams is that he is far more skilled than he gets credit for. While Duke was in Canada playing their exhibition games in August, Williamson was unstoppable. I am much more bullish on him now than I was at the start of the summer.

Eric Paschall (Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICA

TREMONT WATERS, LSU

Waters is in line to be this year’s Trae Young. He averaged 15.9 points and 6.0 assists as a freshman for an LSU team that wasn’t overloaded with talent.

SHAMORIE PONDS, St. John’s

Ponds had some monstrous performances for the Johnnies in big games last season — including a stretch where he averaged 31.5 points an 5.0 assists during a four-game winning streak against Duke, at Villanova, Marquette and at DePaul. Can the Johnies be better this season than they were last?

ERIC PASCHALL, Villanova

With everything that the Wildcats lost this past offseason, Paschall is going to have a chance to showcase what he can do offensively. People forget he scored a ton of points as a freshman. Paschall is going to be a first round pick.

DE’ANDRE HUNTER, Virginia

For my money, Hunter is Virginia’s best and most important player, but I am concerned that his production can get stymied by A) playing in Virginia’s system and B) being forced to play out of position. He’s at his best if he can be a mismatch four. Depth issues might force Virginia to play him at the three.

ETHAN HAPP, Wisconsin

Happ was an All-American after his sophomore year and a preseason All-American heading into his junior season. And now, as a senior, his Wisconsin team looks primed to have a bounceback year.

De’Andre Hunter (Eric Espada/Getty Images)

FOURTH TEAM ALL-AMERICA

KYLE GUY, Virginia

Guy will play the role that was populated by Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon. He would probably be higher on this list if he was a better defender.

KELLAN GRADY, Davidson

Grady is the next superstar at Davidson, although he ceiling looks closer to that of Jack Gibbs than that of Stephen Curry.

NASSIR LITTLE, North Carolina

Little is a tremendous athlete that is going to give the Tar Heels some lineup flexibility, but he may still actually be a better prospect than player at this point.

P.J. WASHINGTON, Kentucky

Picking a player from Kentucky for this is difficult, as the Wildcats have a handful of options, a ton of depth and no real clarity on what their starting lineup and rotation will be. But after the week he had in the Bahamas, Washington is a pretty good bet to be Kentucky’s best player this season.

DEAN WADE, Kansas State

Wade, a 6-foot-10 perimeter forward, was Kansas State’s best player last season, and he didn’t even play in their NCAA tournament Elite 8 run.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

KY BOWMAN, Boston College
MIKE DAUM, South Dakota State
ASHTON HAGANS, Kentucky
SAGABA KONATE, West Virginia
CHARLES MATTHEWS, Michigan
CAM REDDISH, Duke
KILLIAN TILLIE, Gonzaga
REID TRAVIS, Kentucky
NICK WARD, Michigan State