It’s now July. Contrary to the day after UConn cut down the nets, we have an idea of what the rosters will look like. While there are a few big fish in the portal in Jahvon Quinerly and Paul Mulcahy, rosters are essentially set.
With that being said, I’ve decided to redo my top 25, and rank the teams based on their roster right now.
Kansas entered the offseason with some uncertainty, but they’ve erased all doubts. They secured the commitment of perhaps the best transfer in portal history, Hunter Dickinson. Getting Kevin McCullar back in Lawrence was huge, and somewhat of a suprising move. Combined with one of the best pure point guards in the country, Dajuan Harris, the Jayhawks will likely enter the season as the national favorite.
Despite the Fairleigh Dickinson loss, Purdue was one of the best teams in the country last year and return almost everyone. No return being more important than Zach Edey, who was the consensus national player of the year and looking to repeat. Freshman guards Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer struggled at times down the stretch, but we should be in for a sophomore leap from them.
Duke got some huge pieces to return to Durham for their sophomore season, in Kyle Filipowski and Tyrese Proctor. Both have All-American potential. In addition, Mark Mitchell and Jeremy Roach also decided to stay another year. The Jon Scheyer era got off to a good start, and if Duke continues the level they were playing at late last season Scheyer could be contending for a national title in his second year.
Creighton was a big draft deadline winner, getting stars Ryan Kalkbrenner and Trey Alexander back. They lost some pieces to the portal, but getting arguably the best shooter in the country in Steven Ashworth was significant. Baylor Scheierman is returning for his 5th year, and Isaac Traudt might be the most overlooked transfer in the country. The Bluejays will look to build off their Elite Eight run and go even further this year.
Marquette lost Olivier-Maxence Prosper to the draft, but besides that they’ve had a quiet offseason. That’s not a bad thing when you have a backcourt of Tyler Kolek and Kam Jones. Oso Ighodaro, a skilled an versatile big is back in Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles have some breakout bench pieces as well, such as Chase Ross and Ben Gold.
Tennessee got some big pieces to stay in Knoxville, in 5th year players Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James. They also worked in the portal, adding some much needed offense with Dalton Knecht and a skilled forward in Chris Ledlum. Tobe Awaka is one player to keep an eye on with breakout potential, as he’s been putting together some good games at the U19 FIBA World Cup.
7. Michigan State
The Spartans bring back many impactful pieces from their Sweet 16 team, especially in the backcourt with AJ Hoggard, Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins all returning to East Lansing. Malik Hall could be in for a big season with the departure of Joey Hauser. Michigan State brings in a top of the line recruiting class as well. This roster coached by Tom Izzo will be a scary sight for opposing teams.
Gonzaga was one of the main winners of the transfer portal. Mark Few and company got Creighton point guard Ryan Nembhard, Wyoming big man Graham Ike and Eastern Washington guard Steele Venters to Spokane. The Drew Timme era is over, but Gonzaga isn’t going anywhere. Returning pieces with experience Anton Watson and Nolan Hickman have a chance to see a leap in production.
The Huskies won the national championship, but lost their stars Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins to the NBA. However, UConn brings Donovan Clingan back into the fold, who should have a Sanogo-type year. UConn was looking questionable for a little bit, but got a huge late portal grab in Cam Spencer, who fits perfectly next to Tristen Newton in the Huskies backcourt.
Houston lost a lot to the draft and Tramon Mark to the portal, but Kelvin Sampson teams aren’t known to fall off when the stars leave. Stepping up will be Jamal Shead, and Baylor transfer LJ Cryer will help Shead form a dangerous backcourt. The Cougars are now in the Big 12, so we’ll get to see them play top end competition night in and night out.
Arizona brought in some intriguing transfers this offseason, none more than Caleb Love. Regardless of whether that experiment works or not, they have a dominant big man inside, Oumar Ballo. Pelle Larsson is one of the best role players in the country, and point guard Kylan Boswell is on the top of everyone’s breakout list.
12. Florida Atlantic
The Owls are nearly all back from a final four run. Alijah Martin and Johnell Davis flirted with the NBA Draft, but decided to run it back in Boca Raton. Florida Atlantic’s run to the final four last year was far from a fluke; they had the most wins in college basketball. Another team moving conferences, we can look forward to rematches with Memphis in a new look AAC.
Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller got drafted last week, but the ‘Canes still bring significant pieces back. Nijel Pack should see more scoring opportunites, while Norchad Omier is a beast on the boards. Wooga Poplar is a guy that could see an increase in production, and Miami also got Matthew Cleveland to make the trip downstate. It won’t be easy, but Jim Larranaga and company are looking to return to the Final Four.
The spotlight will be on Bronny James, but he’s far from all the Trojans have. 5th year guard Boogie Ellis can really score the ball, and Isaiah Collier is ranked as the best freshman in the country. Combined with much more young talent potential of breaking out, the Trojans should be contending for a Pac 12 championship.
Florida is one team I’m higher on than most, and I love the roster Todd Golden has constructed this offseason. Walter Clayton Jr. and Zyon Pullin is one of the best backcourts in the SEC. Riley Kugel is a player that has lottery pick potential next year. Golden also got solid big men from the portal, Tyrese Samuel, Micah Handlogten and EJ Jarvis. Year two of the Golden era will look vastly different from year one.
Another team I like more than others is the Xavier Musketeers. Dayvion McKnight and Quincy Olivari form a high-level backcourt. Zach Freemantle will have his time to shine with Jack Nunge no longer holding him from reaching his potential. Desmond Claude is another breakout candidate, and freshman Trey Green may be the future of Sean Miller’s Xavier squads.
17. Saint Mary’s
Saint Mary’s is riding the momentum from last season, where they had the highest Kenpom finish in the Randy Bennett era. Aidan Mahaney will go from a very good freshman to a sophomore star, and his big man Mitchell Saxen is staying in Moraga. Alex Ducas coming back was a big boost, and the Gaels also bring 4-star point guard Jordan Ross into the mix.
18. Texas A&M
Texas A&M is nearly running it back from a team that went 15-3 in SEC play. Wade Taylor has emerged as a star, and Tyrece Radford is a good second option to have. An under the radar pickup they made this offseason was Middle Tennessee’s Eli Lawrence, who was All-Conference in Conference USA.
Baylor lost their star backcourt, but got some reinforcements, including Rayj Dennis, the MAC player of the year. Jalen Bridges came back and could be in for an expanded role. Scott Drew is starting to do some major damage in high school recruiting and is bringing some big time prospects to Waco, in Jakobe Walter, Miro Little and Yves Missi.
Arkansas is a team I’m lower on than most, and that’s because I don’t love all of their portal pickups like some do. However, if there’s one coach in the country that owns the portal and elevates players in it, that’s Eric Musselman. One thing I do love about the Razorbacks is Trevon Brazile. After an ACL injury ended last season for him, he should be one of the best players in the SEC as long as he remains healthy.
Villanova had a great offseason, but I still need to see more from Kyle Neptune to rank them as high as the talent suggests. Richmond transfer Tyler Burton combined with returners Justin Moore and Eric Dixon have lots of experience, and are very impactful high major starters. Mark Armstrong is the breakout candidate in the backcourt, and could ultimately decide the ceiling of this team.
Illinois had an up and down season last year, in part to some locker room cancers who are no longer on the team. Terrence Shannon Jr. and Coleman Hawkins both withdrew at the draft deadline, and the Illini have a strong transfer class headlined by versatile forward Marcus Domask. Their bench is another one filled with young talent capable of breaking out.
23. North Carolina
North Carolina will have less pressure on them as they won’t be the #1 team in the country, but Hubert Davis and company have pressure to make the tournament. Fortunately for them, I don’t think they’ll be in danger of missing again. Armando Bacot and RJ Davis form one of the best returning duos in the country, and are surrounded by players capable of playing their role.
24. New Mexico
The Lobos had a disappointing end to last season, but make no mistake. They’re back and even better. The star backcourt of Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr. is back in Albuquerque. Richard Pitino filled the space around them with transfers such as Jemarl Baker, Nelly Junior Joseph, Mustapha Amzil and Isaac Mushila. This is their year to do damage, and they have the right pieces to make it happen.
At one point Kentucky was looking hopeless, but never count out John Calipari. In the last few weeks, he got Antonio Reeves back and got a huge snag from the portal in Tre Mitchell. It still remains to be seen how Kentucky’s 5-star freshmen will impact winning, but now the Wildcats have some experience to lean on.
Unfortunately, I can only rank 25 teams in the top 25. Some teams that I wanted to include, and might regret not putting later on, but just didn’t have the space for:
- St. John’s
- San Diego State
- Kansas State