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AP College Basketball Poll 2021: Complete Preseason Rankings Released

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVOctober 18, 2021

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Gonzaga lost three starters from last year's Division I men's basketball tournament runner-up team, but the arrival of Chet Holmgren and Hunter Sallis helps put them at the top of the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll.

The Bulldogs are followed by UCLA, Kansas, Villanova and Texas to round out the Top Five.

Here is how the entire Top 25 played out.

1. Gonzaga
2. UCLA
3. Kansas
4. Villanova
5. Texas
6. Michigan
7. Purdue
8. Baylor
9. Duke
10. Kentucky
11. Illinois
12. Memphis
13. Oregon
14. Alabama
15. Houston
16. Arkansas
17. Ohio State
18. Tennessee
19. North Carolina
20. Florida State
21. Maryland
22. Auburn
23. St. Bonaventure
24. UConn
25. Virginia

Holmgren was the consensus top recruit in the 2021 class and the first No. 1 overall prospect to commit to Gonzaga. The 7-footer will combine with returning All-American Drew Timme to give Gonzaga arguably the best one-two big-man punch in the nation.

"There's only one Drew Timme, but I could be his partner in crime," Holmgren told Dana O'Neil of The Athletic.

Whereas Gonzaga will rely on Holmgren and Sallis to replace starters, the same won't be said for UCLA, which returns all five starters from last year's Final Four season. Tournament star Johnny Juzang returns and is an early contender for National Player of the Year, and he'll be joined by backcourt co-star Jaime Jaquez Jr. and a couple of newcomers in Peyton Watson and Myles Johnson.

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"We have a lot more depth. And Myles and Peyton are extremely talented players, so they're gonna help us in so many ways. And it's gonna help us as a team, man, so we're all excited to play together. We couldn't ask for more, you know what I mean?" Juzang told reporters.

Bill Self's Kansas team will be heavily reliant on transfers, with Remy Martin (Arizona State), Joseph Yesufu (Drake), Jalen Coleman-Lands (Iowa State) and Cam Martin (Division II Missouri Southern) all coming to Lawrence. Martin will be expected to step in right away in a starring role and fill the team's biggest hole at point guard.

Texas is Kansas' biggest competition in the Big 12 this season and will likewise need help from transfers. Marcus Carr (Minnesota), Devin Askew (Kentucky), Timmy Allen (Utah), Dylan Disu (Vanderbilt), Tre Mitchell (UMass) and Christian Bishop (Creighton) intend to get the Longhorns into championship contention. 

Defending champion Baylor lags behind following a mass exodus of talent, but Arizona transfer James Akinjo should provide some stability at point guard after Davion Mitchell's departure for the NBA.

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