1. Kentucky (Formerly No. 1)
Players leaving: Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow, Julius Mays, Nerlens Noel
Players returning: Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer
Incomers: Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Julius Randle, Derek Willis
Well, as you can see, nothing has changed here at the top. Although John Calipari’s crew will not be seeing Andrew Wiggins in Lexington next year, the Wildcats still have arguably the greatest recruiting class ever.
2. Michigan State (Formerly No. 2)
Players leaving: Derrick Nix
Players returning: Keith Appling, Russell Byrd, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris (likely to come back, possibly will leave to draft), Kenny Kaminski, Adreian Payne (likely to come back, possibly will leave to draft), Travis Trice, Denzel Valentine
Incomers: Gavin Schilling
Due to the fact that Derrick Nix was the only senior on the Spartan’s roster last year, they come back almost completely reloaded from a successful season. The Big Ten will once again be one of the best conferences in the nation.
3. Louisville (Formerly No.4)
Players leaving: Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva,
Players returning: Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell, Russ Smith, Stephan Van Treese, Kevin Ware
Incomers: Akoy Agau, Anton Gill, Chris Jones, Terry Rozier
Rick Pitino has had an extremely busy last couple of months. Won the National Championship, got a tattoo, had a horse in the Kentucky Derby, and received the news that one of his best players from Louisville’s 2012-13 campaign was returning to school for his senior season. With Russ Smith, Chane Behanan, Final Four MOP Luke Hancock, and Wayne Blackshear all coming back to school, the Cardinals are going to be a tough bunch to beat.
4. Kansas (Formerly outside the top 10)
Players leaving: Rio Adams, Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Kevin Young
Players returning: Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas, Evan Manning, Naadir Tharpe, Jamari Traylor, Andrew White III
Incomers: Joel Embiid, Conner Frankamp, Brannen Greene, Frank Mason, Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins
Kansas found out this week that they were the winners of the Andrew-Wiggins-Sweepsteaks. Congratulations to Bill Self and Jayhawk nation. Can a team really lose it’s five starters and still be ranked in the top five the following year? When you have a recruiting class this loaded, that includes one of the top high school recruits in the past decade, and arguably the greatest coach in college basketball, yes. Look for Kansas and Oklahoma State to battle it out for the Big XII Title.
5. Duke (Formerly No. 4)
Players leaving: Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee
Players returning: Quinn Cook, Amile Jefferson, Josh Hairston, Alex Murphy, Rasheed Sulaimon, Tyler Thornton
Incomers: Rodney Hood (via Mississippi State), Matt Jones, Semi Ojeleye, Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker, the number two recruit in the nation, will be key for the Blue Devils this year. If Rasheed Sulaimon can continue to grow and flourish off his freshman year, Coach K is going to have a very competitive squad come November.
6. North Carolina (Formerly No. 6)
Players leaving: Reggie Bullock, Dexter Strickland
Players returning: P.J. Hairston, Desmond Hubert, Joel James, Brice Johnson, James Michael McAdoo, Leslie McDonald, Marcus Paige, J.P. Tokoto
Incomers: Nate Britt, Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks
With James Michael McAdoo returning to North Carolina for his junior season, the Tar Heels will definitely be a team to keep an eye on next year. They are losing Reggie Bullock in addition to Dexter Strickland but Marcus Paige and P.J. Hairston are more than worthy to extend their roles and score more in Roy Williams’ offense.
7. Ohio State (Formerly No. 5)
Players leaving: Deshaun Thomas, Even Ravenel
Players returning: Aaron Craft, LaQuinton Ross, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith, Sam Thompson, Amir Williams
Incomers: Marc Loving, Kameron Williams
With Aaron Craft returning to school, the Buckeyes will continue to be at the top of the Big Ten and the nation. Although they are losing Deshaun Thomas to the NBA Draft, Ohio State returns significant players from last season in LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith. The Big Ten sure is going to be entertaining…(again).
8. Arizona (Formerly No. 7)
Players leaving: Angelo Chol, Solomon Hill, Mark Lyons, Kevin Parrom
Players returning: Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett, Nick Johnson, Jordin Mayes, Gabe York
Incomers: Aaron Gordon, Rondae Jefferson, Elliott Pitts, T.J. McConnell (via Duquesne)
Arizona does lose key players in Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill, but they do also return many vital players from a Sweet 16 season a year ago. Remember the name Aaron Gordon, a freshman power forward from San Jose that will be in contention for numerous awards by season’s end. Expect the Wildcats to win the Pac 12, unless Colorado gives them issues.
9. Michigan (Formerly No. 9)
Players leaving: Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr.
Players returning: Spike Albrecht, Jon Horford, Caris LeVert, Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas
Incomers: Mark Donnal, Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton
The Wolverines are losing their National Player of the Year in Trey Burke. In addition, they are losing Tim Hardaway Jr. So, why are they still ranked in the top 10 for next year? The answer to that question is simple: Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas, and Spike Albrecht. All four of those players proved they are more than capable of leading Michigan to victory.
10. Oklahoma State (Formerly outside the top 10)
Players Leaving: Mason Cox, Phillip Jurick
Players returning: Markel Brown, Michael Cobbins, Phil Forte, Kirby Gardner, Kamari Murphy, Le’Bryan Nash, Marcus Smart, Marek Soucek
Incomers: Jeff Carroll, Stevie Clark, Leyton Hammonds, Detrick Mostella
I think it is safe to say we were all shocked when we found out Marcus Smart would be coming back for his sophomore year at Oklahoma State. This immediately put the Cowboys into contention to win the Big 12 Title. In additon to Smart, Markel Brown, Le’Bryan Nash, and Phil Forte will be key players for Travis Ford’s squad in the 2013-14 season.
Just outside the top 10: Florida, Wichita State, Marquette, Indiana, Colorado, Gonzaga, Memphis