Is there such a thing as “too early” when it comes to compiling your preseason top 25 college basketball rankings for the 2019-20 season?
Not at Stadium, which is why we’ve already asked our College Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman to assemble his first list for next season. Check back as this will constantly be updated as key moves are made with each team.
T25. MARQUETTE: This was considered a Top 10 team prior to the loss of Sam and Joey Hauser — who will transfer elsewhere. Now it’s Markus Howard, Sacar Anim and Theo John — along with the addition of Utah State transfer Koby McEwen. Now it becomes a fringe Top 25 team.
T25. NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels lose a lot: Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson, Coby White, Kenny Williams and Nassir Little. But I would expect them to add the top point guard in the class in Cole Anthony to a group that includes skilled big man Armando Bacot. The question is whether someone such as Leaky Black, Brandon Robinson or Seventh Woods can step up and be more than just a role guy.
24. PURDUE: I understand that Carsen Edwards is gone but this ranking is as much about Matt Painter than anything else. The Boilermakers will return Matt Haarms, Trevion Williams and Aaron Wheeler up front, along with Nojel Eastern at the point. That, along with Painter, is enough.
23. ARIZONA: The key for the Wildcats will be the upcoming federal trial. If they come out of that unscathed, then they will likely add a couple of top-10 freshmen – Nico Mannion and Josh Green – to a team that returns enough solid players from last year.
22. CREIGHTON: Greg McDermott returns the core of his team – Davion Mintz, Ty-Shon Alexander, Mitchell Ballock, Martin Krampelj, Marcus Zegarowski, Jacob Epperson and Damien Jefferson.
21. SAINT MARY’S: Randy Bennett brings back Jordan Ford, Malik Fitts and Tanner Krebs – his top three scorers. His team made huge strides last season and I’d expect some of his young guys to make a jump next year.
20. FLORIDA: The Gators’ freshman class of Noah Locke, Keyontae Johnson and Andrew Nembhard will be back, and Mike White added one of the nation’s best incoming freshmen in Scottie Lewis. He also signed two more top-50 kids: point guard Tre Mann and big man Omar Payne.
19. UTAH STATE: Craig Smith and the Aggies won the Mountain West regular season and tournament titles last year and return their top four scorers. But let’s be honest here: the keys are guard Sam Merrill and athletic big man Neemias Queta, along with Smith coaching them up.
18. TEXAS TECH: Sure, Chris Beard loses a ton – Matt Mooney, Tariq Owens, Brandone Francis, Norense Odiase and almost certainly Jarrett Culver. But the guy lost five of his top seven players after last season and look what happened. I’m just betting on Beard here, even if he has to throw me into the starting lineup. Plus, he does have some talent returning with Davide Moretti, Kyler Edwards and Deshawn Corprew. Top-30 frosh Jahmius Ramsey will also be arriving.
17. HOUSTON: Kelvin Sampson is losing Corey Davis Jr. and Galen Robinson Jr. but he’s got the program at a level where the Cougars can withstand key losses and remain a top-25 team. Houston still has Armoni Brooks, Dejon Jarreau, Nate Hinton and Fabian White all back in the fold.
16. OHIO STATE: It’s the combo of the Chris Holtmann factor and also the influx of talent with a strong freshman class that includes three top-50 players – point guard DJ Carton and forwards Alonzo Gaffney and EJ Liddell – to go along with a solid returning core that has big man Kaleb Wesson.
15. BAYLOR: Scott Drew loses Makai Mason from an NCAA Tournament team but he will get Tristan Clark back and add a couple of transfers in MaCio Teague (UNC Asheville) and Davion Mitchell (Auburn). The Bears also return Jared Butler, Mario Kegler, Devonte Bandoo and Mark Vital.
14. SETON HALL: Kevin Willard brings back just about everything from an NCAA Tournament team. Obviously, Myles Powell is the star, but Myles Cale, Quincy McKnight and Sandro Mamukelashvili are all starters who will be back.
13. MARYLAND: Bruno Fernando is probably gone but the good news is that Jalen Smith will return. The Terps will also bring back Anthony Cowan and Darryl Morsell, as well as a talented sophomore group that includes Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Serrel Smith Jr. and Ricky Lindo.
12. MICHIGAN: There are question marks – all three of Charles Matthews, Iggy Brazdeikis and Jordan Poole could leave Ann Arbor. But if one of the three return, the Wolverines are a top-25 team. If two come back to a team that will have Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske, Isaiah Livers and Eli Brooks – then the Wolverines should be in the mix for a top 5 or 10 spot.
11. ALABAMA: New coach Nate Oats retained Kira Lewis and John Petty, and added West Virginia grad transfer Beetle Bolden. He also brings back Herb Jones and Tevin Mack, and it’ll likely be a big man by committee approach.
10. AUBURN: The loss of Bryce Brown is huge but Bruce Pearl just seems to find a way and he’ll likely have Jared Harper back in the fold. Danjel Purifoy, Samir Doughty, J’Von McCormick, Anfernee McLemore and Austin Wiley are also back, and Chuma Okeke should return from his knee injury sometime around league play.
9. VILLANOVA: Phil Booth and Eric Paschall are history but the Wildcats have enough back with Collin Gillespie, Saddiq Bey, Jermaine Samuels, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and Cole Swider. Jay Wright will also bring in a trio of top-50 freshmen with wings Bryan Antoine and Justin Moore and forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. The key for Wright will be at the point guard spot.
8. KANSAS: There are plenty of question marks here regarding whether Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson, Udoka Azubuike and even Silvio De Sousa (pending an appeal) return. However, Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett, Mitch Lightfoot and David McCormack are all back – and my guess is the Jayhawks will add a few more players whether it’s from the transfer wire or high school kids.
7. LOUISVILLE: Chris Mack will bring in a big-time freshman class that has a handful of top-100 kids, including wing Samuell Williamson and big man Aidan Igiehon. Jordan Nwora will test the NBA waters but should return. The Cards will also have Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon, Malik Williams and (possibly) V.J. King back. They also added a grad transfer in St. Joe’s point guard Lamarr Kimble — who averaged 15.6 points and 2.8 assists last season.
6. OREGON: Dana Altman returns most of his team, and just needs to make sure Louis King doesn’t decide to leave. If King returns, the Ducks would have Payton Pritchard, Kenny Wooten, King, Victor Bailey and Will Richardson back, as well as a strong recruiting class that features three top-100 recruits in CJ Walker, Isaac Johnson and Chandler Lawson.
5. VIRGINIA: De’Andre Hunter is gone, and Ty Jerome is certainly leaning heavily that way. Kyle Guy could also depart early for the NBA Draft. If those guys both return to Charlottesville, they will team with returning starters Mamadi Diakite and Kihei Clark as well as Braxton Key and Jay Huff. If that happens, Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers will be Final Four contenders again.
4. GONZAGA: Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke are almost certain to leave early, and Josh Perkins is graduating. But the ‘Zags should have a nucleus of Zach Norvell, Killian Tillie and Corey Kispert to go along with a strong recruiting class that features big men Drew Timme, Pavel Zakharov and Oumar Ballo and talented wings Anton Watson and Martynas Arlauskas. The question here will be at the point guard spot, where freshman Brock Ravet will likely get the call along with a ‘TBD’ grad transfer.
3. KENTUCKY: The ‘Cats will lose Reid Travis for certain, and expect to lose both P.J. Washington and Keldon Johnson. The question is whether Tyler Herro returns. UK will bring back Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickly and E.J. Montgomery — along with another talented recruiting class that features a trio of top-25 players – Kahlil Whitney, Tyrese Maxey and Keion Brooks.
2. DUKE: Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish are gone but Tre Jones is back for his sophomore season. Duke will bring in a trio of top players, including talented big man Vernon Carey Jr., but the Blue Devils will need to add a grad transfer or maybe highly touted forward Matthew Hurt. The returnees are somewhat underwhelming – Alex O’Connell, Javin DeLaurier, Marques Bolden, Jack White and Joey Baker.
1. MICHIGAN STATE: This one is largely dependent on what happens with Cassius Winston, who will likely return to East Lansing for his senior campaign. Nick Ward is a complete toss-up. Tom Izzo will bring back other pieces – Joshua Langford, Xavier Tillman and Aaron Henry to name a few – and a couple of heralded recruits in Rocket Watts and Malik Hall.