If They Hadn't Left: 2012-2013 College Basketball Top Ten

Cory McCuneContributor IIISeptember 26, 2012

If They Hadn't Left: 2012-2013 College Basketball Top Ten

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    Ever wonder what the college basketball world would look like if the players had to stay for four years?

    Well wonder no more. (Hint: Look at the picture above and blink a few times while pretending every time it's new, because the team on the stage likely wouldn't change for at least the next four years.)

    The NBA no longer lets high schoolers jump straight to the league and most of them decide to spend that one season in the NCAA, which is like a tease to many fans who remember college basketball players actually sticking around for four years.

    (I myself am not old enough to remember that ancient history, but I have heard stories.)

    But here is how the college basketball world would look if every player in the 2009-2012 high school classes* were still in the college game.


    *There may be a couple fifth year guys still hanging around as well.

Outside Looking in

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    Florida—The Gators would return Bradley Beal for his sophomore season to bolster their top 25 team.

    Memphis—Will Barton's return would add talent and depth to a long athletic team that has struggled to live up to expectations.

    Arizona—Sean Miller has brought in a solid freshman class; put them with a senior forward named Derrick Williams and the Pac-12 title would go through Tucson.

    Michigan State—I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the Spartans when talking about basketball's top teams, even if Izzo's team hasn't been affected by NBA defections.

    UCLA—Reeves Nelson is the only player to leave, but he wouldn't be back anyway. Nonetheless, the Bruins will begin their climb back to national prominence in 2012-2013. 

10. Michigan

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    John Beilein would only gain back one player who left early for the NBA—Darius Morris. Morris would be back for his fourth season and, along with sophomore guard Trey Burke, would form the best backcourt in the Big Ten and one of the best in the nation. The Wolverines would still be inexperienced in the frontcourt, but Beilein relies way more on his guards than he does his big men anyway.

    • Starters:
    • PG—Trey Burk—Soph.
    • SG—Darius MorrisSr.
    • SG—Tim Hardaway, Jr.—Jr.
    • SF—Glenn Robinson, Jr.—Fr.
    • C—Mitch McGary—Fr.
    • Bench:
    • C—Jordan Morgan—Sr.
    • G—Matt Vogrich—Jr. 
    • SF—Nick Stauskas—Fr.

9. Syracuse

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    Jim Boeheim would be able to welcome back two first-round draft picks from last season with Dion Waiters and Fab Melo—minus academic issues—returning to bolster an already solid roster. The Orange would only lose point guard Scoop Jardine from their 2011-2012 team, who was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

    • Starters:
    • G—Brandon Triche—Sr.
    • G—Dion WaitersJr.
    • F—C.J. Fair—Jr.
    • F—Rakeem Christmas—Soph.
    • C—Fab MeloJr.

    • Bench: 
    • G—Michael Carter-Williams—Soph.
    • C—DaJuan Coleman—Fr.
    • F—James Southerland—Sr.

8. Baylor

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    Baylor would basically have an NBA frountcourt if Perry Jones III were back in Waco this season. That, along with the shooting of Brady Heslip and the point guard play of Pierre Jackson, would once again have Baylor competing for a Big 12 crown with Kansas and Texas. 

     

    • Starters:
    • G—Pierre Jackson—Sr.
    • G—Brady Heslip—Jr.
    • F—Perry Jones IIIJr.
    • F—Quincy Miller—Soph.
    • C—Isaiah Austin—Fr.
    • Bench: 
    • F—Deuce Bello—Jr.
    • G—A.J. Walton—Sr.
    • F—Ricardo Gathers—Fr.

7. Indiana

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    Tom Crean is bringing Indiana back and has them in the top 10—in the real world he had them ranked No. 1 during the preseason by several publications. They also didn't lose any players early to the NBA, so the Hoosiers are the only team in the top 10 that will be the team that actually takes the floor 2012-2013.

    • Starters:
    • PG—Jordan Hulls—Sr.
    • SG—Victor Oladipo—Jr.
    • SF—Jeremy Hollowell—Fr.
    • PF—Christian Watford—Sr.
    • C—Cody Zeller—Soph.
    • Bench: 
    • G—Will Sheehey—Jr.
    • G—Yogi Ferrell—Fr.
    • F—Hanner Perea—Fr.

6. Ohio State

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    Thad Matta would welcome back two-time All-American Jared Sullinger for his junior season with hopes of leading the Buckeyes back to the Final Four. The rest of the team would be the same as last season, with the exception of William Buford, but his loss should easily be offset by the increased production of the sophomore class.

    • Starters:
    • PG—Aaron Craft—Jr.
    • SG—Lenzelle Smith, Jr.—Jr.
    • SF—Sam Thompson—Soph.
    • PF—Deshaun Thomas—Jr.
    • PF—Jared SullingerJr.
    • Bench: 
    • C—Amir Williams—Soph. 
    • F—LaQuinton Ross—Soph.
    • PG—Shannon Scott—Soph.

5. Duke

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    Coach K hasn't had many one-and-done players during his time at Duke, but he has had two stellar guards the last two seasons. The combination of Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers was something the Blue Devils fans dreamed of; well now they'd get to see it. Duke would have one of—if not the—best backcourts in the country, but the lack of muscle inside would be their downfall.

    • Starters:
    • PG—Kyrie IrvingJr.
    • SG—Austin RiversSoph.
    • SG—Rasheed Sulaimon—Fr.
    • PF—Ryan Kelley—Sr.
    • PF—Mason Plumlee—Sr.
    • Bench:
    • G—Andre Dawkins—Sr.
    • G—Seth Curry—Sr.
    • F—Amile Jefferson—Fr.

4. Kansas

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    Bill Self and the Jayhawks would gain one the biggest boosts in the entire country. He would regain the services of Josh Selby, Xavier Henry and Thomas Robinson. Although Selby and Henry haven't had much success in the NBA, they would still be better than anyone the Jayhawks have now. Throw in 7-foot, shot blocker Jeff Withey and a return to the Final Four looks almost automatic. 

    • Starters:
    • PG—Josh SelbyJr.
    • SG—Elijah Johnson—Sr.
    • SF—Xavier HenrySr.
    • PF—Thomas RobinsonSr.
    • C—Jeff Withey—Sr.
    • Bench: 
    • G—Ben McLemore—Soph. 
    • F—Travis Releford—Sr.
    • F—Perry Ellis—Fr.

3. North Carolina

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    The boys up on Chapel Hill would return three first-round draft picks from last season's team. Kendall Marshall and John Henson would be healthy and freshman point guard Marcus Paige would give Marshall a much-needed running-mate in the backcourt, while McAdoo fills in for graduated Tyler Zeller.

    • Starters:
    • PG—Kendall MarshallJr.
    • SG—Reggie Bullock—Jr.
    • SF—Harrison BarnesJr.
    • PF—John HensonSr.
    • PF—James Michael McAdoo—Soph.
    • Bench:
    • G—Dexter Strickland—Sr.
    • G—P.J. Hairston—Soph.
    • G—Marcus Paige—Fr.

2. Texas

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    There isn't a coach in the country that wishes his players had to stay in school more than Rich Barnes. Texas would return four—yes, four—NBA players. Unfortunately for them, Kevin Durant wouldn't be one of them. The return of Cory Joseph, Avery Bradley, Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson—the third Cavalier to return—would immediately thrust Texas into title contention.

    • Starters:
    • PG—Cory JosephJr.
    • SG—Avery BradleySr.
    • SF—Jordan HamiltonSr.
    • PF—Tristan ThompsonJr.
    • PF—Cameron Ridley—Fr.
    • Bench:
    • PG—Myck Kabongo—Soph.
    • F—Johnathon Holmes—Soph.
    • G—Sheldon McClellan—Soph.

1. Kentucky

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    Daniel Orton and Marquis Teague were first-round draft picks in the NBA; Doron Lamb was the 42nd pick in last year's draft and they didn't make the eight-man rotation. Not to mention highly touted sophomores Kyle Wiltjer, Ryan Harrow and two of the top 20 high school prospects Archie Goodwin and Alec Poythress.

    To make a long story short, John Calipari is a recruiting juggernaut. In their eight-man rotation, seven were first-round draft picks, including two No. 1 overall draft picks, with the lowest picks being Bledsoe and Jones at 18th overall in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The only one that hasn't been drafted in the first round—Nerlens Noel—has reached the required age minimum, but was tabbed as the No. 2 player in the 2012 high school class.

    • Starters:
    • PG—John WallSr.
    • SG—Brandon KnightJr.
    • SF—Michael Kidd-GilchristSoph.
    • PF—Anthony DavisSoph.
    • C—DeMarcus CousinsSr.
    • Bench: 
    • G—Eric BledsoeSr. 
    • F—Terrence JonesJr.
    • C—Nerlens Noel—Fr.