College Basketball: 10 Deepest Teams in 2012-13
Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE
Depth isn't always utilized, and it isn't always needed. The 2012 national champions, the Kentucky Wildcats, had a paltry rotation of six, sometimes seven, players. The runner-up Kansas Jayhawks were in the same boat.
With that being said, having eight or more players capable of contributing is hardly a bad thing. An injury to one of the Wildcats' core six would have been devastating.
Michigan State, on the other hand, was one of the deepest teams in the 2011-12 season. The Spartans still made the Sweet 16 despite losing freshman phenom Branden Dawson late in the year.
Fast forward to the 2012-13 season, and you should not be surprised to see Michigan State in and Kentucky out of this list. Here's a look at the 10 deepest teams in college basketball for next season.
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Arizona may have slim pickings in their backcourt, but their frontcourt is the deepest in the country.
Seniors Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom are joined by three tantalizing freshmen big men down low: Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski. Throw in the late-blooming Angelo Chol and you get one of the best set of big men in college basketball.
And as for "slim pickings" at guard, head coach Sean Miller isn't short on options. Mark Lyons, a transfer senior, figures to play significant minutes. Returning sophomore Nick Johnson and junior Jordin Mayes will play into the backcourt rotation along with freshman Gabe York.
Miller will have a tough task integrating these 10 players into a cohesive roster by March. What a great problem to have.
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Doug McDermott gets all the press, but Creighton is not a one-man team.
Eight players averaged double-digit minutes for the Bluejays last season. Antoine Young is the only player not returning to Omaha from those eight. If we look at players that played at least seven minutes per game for Creighton last year, you'll see 10 players reach that average.
Include sharpshooting freshman Isaiah Zierden to that rotation for next season, and Creighton has the depth to make a push in March.
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Why is Duke ranked so low?
ESPN's revised top 25 has Duke ranked 15th, even though the Blue Devils were ranked in the top 10 for the majority of last season. The loss of Austin Rivers might turn out to be addition by subtraction, making this Duke team more of a "team" than last year.
Mike Krzyzewski has another deep, experienced team in 2012-13. Seniors include Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee, all of whom will play major minutes for Coach K. Returning guards Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton will also play a key role in the backcourt for Duke. Don't sleep on incoming freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, either.
As for the frontcourt, Kelly and Plumlee will join with Alex Murphy and incoming freshman Amile Jefferson to make a great rotation of big men.
That's eight rotation players. Veteran Josh Hairston and the newest Plumlee, Marshall, should see the floor as well. Coach K has plenty of talent to work with next season.
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Indiana is one of the most hyped teams for next year, and they have (had) a problem:
Their 2012-13 roster was too good. Matt Roth had a fifth year of eligibility but will not be playing for Indiana next year. Roth played over 11 minutes per game last year for the upstart Hoosiers and was an outside shooting specialist: he made 54.5 percent of his three's last year.
While the timing of Roth's departure is a bit peculiar, it had to be done. Tom Crean did a great job of bringing in talent this year, so much so that he had to remove a great shooter from his roster.
You know the names for next season—Cody Zeller, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls all return. Freshmen like Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell are ready to make a name for themselves as well.
It is an unfortunate situation for Roth, but the Indiana roster stays stacked for next year.
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Tom Izzo loves depth.
Michigan State always seems to have a deep team, much like Duke. This year, it's more of the same.
Draymond Green is out, but the Spartans return Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne, Travis Trice and Brandan Kearney—all of whom played over nine minutes per game last year.
Add returners Alex Gauna and Russell Byrd to the mix, and you have a core of nine players that expect to see the floor next year.
When you insert freshmen Gary Harris, Denzel Valentine, Kenny Kaminski and Matt Costello into the conversation, you can understand how the Spartans make this list.
Chances are the freshman class will have a smaller impact than the aforementioned nine. Gary Harris will play a large role beside Appling in the backcourt, and Costello may see minutes down low, but that's about it for the freshmen.
Izzo has an abundance of roster options to tinker with before conference play begins.
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The depth of North Carolina lies on the recovery of two players: Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald.
Their leadership is critical for this youthful North Carolina team, one that is not short on talent.
Both will be joined by freshman Marcus Paige in the backcourt, along with two returners that will play primarily on the wing: Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston.
Down low, Roy Williams has breakout candidate James Michael McAdoo and freshmen Joel James and Brice Johnson. J.P. Tokoto, the lowest-ranked player in another great recruiting class, may see time as well.
Together, these players will lead Williams' dynamic offense in 2012-13.
North Carolina State
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Like their North Carolina counterparts, NC State has depth. Injuries and an NCAA investigation leave two players questioning their status for the 2012-13 season, one that is full of promise.
Rodney Purvis, a top prospect in the 2012 class, has been cleared for classes, but no basketball just yet.
Lorenzo Brown had knee surgery earlier this summer. He should be ready to go by the season's start.
If both players are cleared to play at the start of the season, NC State has one of the best teams in the nation. Freshmen T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis joined Purvis in the McDonald's All-American game, and all three will (hopefully) play this fall.
Brown returns with star C.J. Leslie and virtually every other key contributor from last season. The ACC is up for grabs, and NC State may have the best shot at winning it.
San Diego State
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San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher had nine players average double digit minutes for him last season.
Two of them were seniors.
The rest are back, along with talented freshmen Winston Shepard and Matt Shrigley. Three transfers (James Johnson, J.J. O'Brien and Dwayne Johnson) will also play for the Aztecs next season.
San Diego State is built to run the break, and they have the depth to make it happen. Fisher should have another rotation of at least nine players this year.
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A stout recruiting class is getting all the publicity for the UCLA Bruins. However, the returnees are what make UCLA a deep team.
Shabazz Muhammad's eligibility is a concern, but if he's ready to go, the Bruins are a top 10 team. Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker and Jordan Adams make up one of the top two recruiting classes in 2012.
The freshmen will play a large role, but the key will be how Ben Howland integrates their play with returnees like Travis and David Wear, Joshua Smith and Tyler Lamb.
Throw in Larry Drew II and you have nine players that are all more than capable of playing Pac-12 basketball.
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Transfers, returning stars and freshmen.
The melting pot that Dave Rice has created in Las Vegas bodes well for the upcoming season.
Justin Hawkins, Carlos Lopez, Anthony Marshall, Mike Moser and Quintrell Thomas all return for the Rebels.
Transfers Khem Birch and Bryce Dejean-Jones should all see the court as well.
Freshmen Anthony Bennett, Katin Reinhardt and Savon Goodman headline a strong five-player recruiting class.
If we're counting, that's a tremendous 11 players that could (potentially) see double-digit minutes next season for Coach Rice.
The Running Rebels will earn their nickname next season.