Yes, the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NBA Draft is still many weeks away. There will be players who change their minds and go back to school, and there will be some surprises and questionable decisions.
Sure, the Tar Heels were only crowned champs less than a month to go.
Hell, the late signing period just began last week, and there are still dozens of unsigned recruits including some program-changers, like John Wall, Xavier Henry, and Lance Stephenson, still available, if only for a year.
The point is that a lot can still happen between now and the tip off of the 2009-2010 season. However, for us obsessed, 365-days-a-year college basketball fans, it is never too early to take a look ahead, especially if it is just a little peek.
In the age of the one-and-done, there is much more of an onus on the coach than ever before. A coach used to be able to recruit a player, let him sit the bench, learn the system, and then develop in time into a starter.
Now, with the best players attending college only because they have to, a coach’s ability is put to the test.
He now needs to identify more “diamonds in the rough:” the players who are talented enough to be premier players but not quite at the level that college is only a place to increase earning potential.
Those unpolished gems will be the ones that stick around, providing the necessary stability and becoming the true heart of the program.
That is why the usual powerhouses will find themselves sitting at the top again going into this season. Though most of them welcome the flash-in-the-pan players, the teams that you will find at the top of this list are the ones with experience and upperclassman know-how.
Sure, North Carolina boasts one of the greatest recruiting classes of all time with six top 100 recruits, but it is senior-to-be Deon Thompson that will anchor the Heels.
Villanova is bringing in a haul of blue chip signees, but it is still rising junior Scottie Reynolds that will make things happen in Philly.
Purdue might be the best example of all, with their three juniors-to-be that have played with each other before even setting foot on campus.
The young guns will undoubtedly help, as recent memories of studs like Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Kevin Love spring to mind, but the old axiom still holds true: experience wins championships, and this list conveys it.