Preseason Top 25 (As of May 16)
Progress is being made, however so slowly, in the “water-testing” process for the NBA draft.
I have made these rankings on my own assumptions of early departures, and even if a player has signed an agent and has exhausted their college eligibility, they are still listed next to “Assumed Players Leaving Early”.
June 15th is the deadline to withdraw one’s name from the NBA draft early entry list, and that will shake things up again once that time is upon us.
25. Louisville - Assumed Players Leaving Early: Earl Clark
2009-2010 Outlook: This is a team that’s fate cannot be truly determined until the season is underway, as they could thrive with young and talented players now in the lead or they could fall because of inexperience.
Top two leading scorers Terrence Williams and Earl Clark are gone, but they return a backcourt of Preston Knowles, Jerry Smith, and Edgar Sosa, as well as recruit Peyton Siva.
Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings return to the frontcourt with a year of experience under their belt.
24. Siena - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: MAAC Player of the Year Kenny Hasbrouck is gone, but everyone else will return, including Edwin Ubiles, who I think will have a better season next year than Hasbrouck did this past season.
Head coach Fran McCaffrey is now off the market after signing a contract extension, which leaves all the pieces for the upcoming season in place for Siena.
23. Illinois - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: Trent Meacham, Chester Frazier, and Calvin Brock all depart for the Illini, but Demetri McCamey, Mike Davis, and Mike Tisdale return to form a solid core. Bruce Weber brings in possibly his best recruiting class yet at Illinois, and who knows maybe Jeff Jordan will suddenly break out into his father’s form.
•22. Oklahoma - Assumed Players Leaving Early: Blake Griffin
2009-2010 Outlook: Jeff Capel is not going anywhere, but National Player of the Year Blake Griffin is headed to the NBA, but Willie Warren’s decision to return to the Sooners for his sophomore year saved them from a potential rebuilding season. McDonald’s All-Americans Tommy Mason-Griffin and Keith Gallon will instantly make an impact.
21. Michigan - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: Manny Harris will be returning next season for the Wolverines, which is great news for Michigan.
DeShawn Sims also returns down low, and the Wolverines don’t lose any key players from last year’s 21 win team. They also bring in a talented recruiting class, so there will be no lack of depth next season.
20. Ohio State
20. Ohio State - Assumed Players Leaving Early: B. J. Mullens
2009-2010 Outlook: Evan Turner will return for the Buckeyes, and with that so do the Buckeyes chances of competing for the Big Ten title.
Mullens is headed to the NBA, but David Lighty is expected to return from an injury that sidelined him for all but seven games this season. One-and-dones have hurt Ohio State the past few years, with five freshmen declaring for the draft in the past three years.
Luckily stud walk on Mark Titus will not enter the NBA draft and will be a Buckeye again next season.
19. Tennessee - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: Tyler Smith is still undecided about his future, but if he is guaranteed as a first round selection he is gone. The Volunteers will return everyone else, including Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince, and Scotty Hopson.
Tennessee will contend for the SEC title next season and yes just to remind you there are still other teams in the SEC besides Kentucky.
18. Minnesota - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: Tubby Smith did more with less last year and put Minnesota on the map.
Lawrence Westbrook, Ralph Sampson, and the rest of the Golden Gophers all return, and with recruit Royce White added to the mix, Tubby’s crew will be more experienced and talented to start off next season.
17. California - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: California returns every relevant player from the best three point shooting team in the nation, as well as a solid recruiting class.
They also have a year of NCAA tourney experience under head coach Mike Montgomery and will challenge the early favorite Washington for the Pac-10 title.
16. Butler - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: Conference Player of the Year Matt Howard as well as freshmen standouts Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack return along with every other player from a 26 win team.
Head Coach Brad Stevens has signed a new contract, and the Bulldogs will once again continue to dominate the Horizon League.
15. Clemson - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: Clemson fans breathed a sigh of relief when Trevor Booker announced his decision to return to school. Booker became the first player since Tim Duncan to lead the ACC in rebounding and field goal percentage.
K.C. Rivers and Raymond Sykes depart, but three point ace Terrence Oglesby, point guard Demontez Stitt, and recruit Milton Jennings should aid the Tigers in their quest to challenge UNC and Duke for the ACC title.
14. Mississippi State
14. Mississippi State - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: Jarvis Varnado has officially withdrawn his name from NBA draft consideration. This ranking is tentative, but I am assuming recruits Renardo Sidney and John Riek will dress out for the Bulldogs next season as well.
Guards Barry Stewart and Dee Bost give Miss State a dangerous starting five, and the Bulldogs could continue to climb in the rankings.
13. West Virginia
13. West Virginia - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: Sharpshooter Alex Ruoff will be the team’s only loss, but Joe Mazzulla will return from injury after playing in only seven games this season.
Freshmen Devin Ebanks and Darryl Bryant both played well throughout the season and will continue to improve. Leading scorer Da’Sean Butler is a playmaker and should lead this Mountaineers team to contend for the Big East title.
12. Xavier - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: Each year the Musketeers lose players to graduation, and each year they simply reload. This year should be no different.
Derrick Brown is arguably the most talented player in the Atlantic 10. With his return Xavier will reload as usual, also adding Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford to next year’s squad.
Sean Miller taking the Arizona job may shake things up, but I like what I see in Chris Mack and there is no coach more committed to their team than he.
11. Washington - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: Senior leaders Justin Dentmon and Jon Brockman are gone, but Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter return, along with recruit Abdul Gaddy.
Washington has a deep roster, and this is always key towards the end of the season and in the tournament.
The Huskies will look to stay atop the Pac-10 next season.
10. Duke - Assumed Players Leaving Early: Gerald Henderson
2009-2010 Outlook: Duke’s stock drops with the departure of star Gerald Henderson, but they will still be deep and talented.
The backcourt is led by Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith, and Elliot Williams, while Kyle Singler will lead the frontcourt.
The additions of recruits Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee will make for a good competition in practice over who will start in the final spot next season.
9. Connecticut - Assumed Players Leaving Early: Hasheem Thabeet
2009-2010 Outlook: UConn’s Final Four team will lose some fire power, but Stanley Robinson, Kemba Walker, and Jerome Dyson should all return along with recruits Alex Oriakhi and Jamaal Coombs-McDaniel.
If Ater Majok withdraws from the NBA draft and is eligible to play for UConn, they could end up being a very dangerous team.
8. Wake Forest
•8. Wake Forest - Assumed Players Leaving Early: James Johnson
2009-2010 Outlook: Wake Forest was at one point a number one team last season, but they showed their weakness was a lack of experience, losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
James Johnson is gone, but so long as Jeff Teague returns they should be a top ten preseason team.
7. Purdue - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: Super sophomore trio Robbie Hummel, E’Twaun Moore, and JaJuan Johnson return along with every other contributing player from this season.
The Boilermakers finished second in the Big Ten this year and will look to finish second to none in the upcoming season.
6. Texas - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: The Big 12 all time leading three point shooter A.J. Abrams is gone, but Damion James and company should return.
Newcomer Jai Lucas, a transfer from Florida, should start at the point after the first semester, when he will be eligible. The Longhorns have one of the nation’s best recruiting classes with recruits Jordan Hamilton and Avery Bradley.
Texas should look to challenge Kansas at the top of the Big 12.
5. Villanova - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: The Wildcats lose three frontcourt starters in Dante Cunningham, Dwayne Anderson, and Shane Clark, but Antonio Pena and incoming recruits Mouphtaou Yarou and Isaiah Armwood should look to reload down low.
Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, and Reggie Redding all return to the backcourt along with recruits Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns, who will add more depth and talent as well.
4. North Carolina
4. North Carolina - Assumed Players Leaving Early: Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington
2009-2010 Outlook: Even with the losses of Lawson and Ellington to the NBA Draft, UNC remains a legit threat to repeat for back-to-back titles.
Without Hansbrough overshadowing them anymore, Deon Thompson, Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller, and incoming recruit John Henson form arguably the deepest and most talented frontcourt in the nation.
Marcus Ginyard will be a redshirt senior, and Larry Drew is in a position to have a breakout season in the backcourt.
3. Michigan State
•3. Michigan State - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: The Spartans had some young talent last year, and now those players have a Final Four run under their belts.
Michigan State will be centered around Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan, but they will be surrounded by a talented group players capable of playing with poise.
•2. Kentucky - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: Things are starting to come together for Kentucky, and all that is left to be settled is the fate of Jodie Meeks and John Wall.
I am assuming Meeks returns, and even if Wall goes someplace else the Wildcats will most likely stay at number two for the time being, but my guess is that he ends up in Lexington.
1. Kansas - Assumed Players Leaving Early: None
2009-2010 Outlook: The Jayhawks will return everyone from this season’s Sweet Sixteen squad, and they also add an abundant amount of talent.
Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich will be the leaders of the team, but incoming recruits Xavier Henry, Elijah Johnson, and Thomas Robinson will all contribute at some level.