May 12, 2010

Rivals.com updated Preseason 2010-2011 Top 25

Much has changed since our last top 25 ranking on April 7. Some players declared for the draft. Some returned to school after testing the waters. Others stayed in the draft. Oregon even hired a coach.

That top 25 in April was more a list of "what ifs." Though we assumed John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Evan Turner and others would leave for the draft eventually, they hadn't declared at the time ... meaning we considered them part of college basketball in 2010-11.

Now that the early entry deadline has come and gone, we have a more accurate picture of the players and rosters for 2010-11. At least at the top of the Rivals.com preseason rankings, little has changed since the title game in Indianapolis: Duke remains on top for now.

Here's a look at an early top 25.

1. DUKE
BUZZ: The whole early entry process to the NBA draft lends itself to more disappointing decisions than pleasant surprises. Kyle Singler's was one of the latter. He didn't even declare for the draft. With Singler and Nolan Smith returning, two of the national champion's top three players are set to return. Brian Zoubek is gone, but forwards Mason Plumlee and Miles Plumlee should continue to develop in the frontcourt. Five-star freshman Kyrie Irving and Liberty transfer Seth Curry should team with Smith and Andre Dawkins to form a formidable guard rotation.
2. PURDUE
BUZZ: Matt Painter was one of the lucky coaches when E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson elected to stay in school and bypass the draft. If Robbie Hummel can stay healthy, a solid freshman class develops and the Boilermakers can find role players to replace Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer, Purdue can make a run at the national title.
3. MICHIGAN STATE
BUZZ: Not much separates Purdue and Michigan State at the top of the Big Ten, which is no surprise since the Boilermakers, Spartans and Ohio State tied for the regular-season title last season. The Spartans return every key player except for forward Raymar Morgan, who averaged in double figures all four years.
4. PITTSBURGH
BUZZ: The Panthers went 25-9 overall and 13-5 in the Big East in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season. Guard Ashton Gibbs was a revelation as a sophomore, and he should continue to improve. The Panthers need to beef up the frontcourt to justify their top-five ranking. The Panthers will look to sophomore Dante Taylor, a former McDonald's All-American, to contribute more than 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds.
5. KANSAS STATE
BUZZ: Starters Denis Clemente and Luis Colon are gone, but the Wildcats should continue to be a Big 12 contender thanks to All-America candidate Jacob Pullen. Losing Clemente is big, but three other Wildcats averaged in double figures.
6. VILLANOVA
BUZZ: True, Villanova faded down the stretch, and star guard Scottie Reynolds is gone. Still, Villanova should be at or near the top of a wide open Big East. A big question will be how well guards Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes play in the absence of Reynolds. The return of Antonio Pena and a healthy season from Mouphtaou Yarou could give Villanova a solid frontcourt.
7. KANSAS
BUZZ: Sherron Collins exhausted his eligibility, and Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry left early. The Jayhawks still have the firepower to make a deep tournament run. The Jayhawks will rebuild around juniors Tyshawn Taylor and Marcus Morris and senior role players Brady Morningstar and Tyrell Reed. Add point guard Josh Selby -- the No. 1 player in the class of 2010 -- to the mix, and Kansas could win the Big 12 again.
8. OHIO STATE
BUZZ: Point guard is a legitimate concern without Evan Turner, who played the point last season. Losing Turner is huge, but don't discount how good the Buckeyes can be. David Lighty, William Buford and Jon Diebler also were solid contributors for the Big Ten tournament champions. With five-star center Jared Sullinger coming in, Ohio State shouldn't experience too drastic a drop-off.
9. GONZAGA
BUZZ: After watching conference rival Saint Mary's steal the spotlight this March, Gonzaga should reclaim its status as the West Coast Conference's dominant team next season. Gonzaga must replace standout shooting guard Matt Bouldin, but the Bulldogs return the other four starters from the team that reached the second round of the 2010 NCAA tournament. Gonzaga got a huge boost when Elias Harris decided to remain in school.
10. MISSOURI
BUZZ: Although the Tigers must replace three starters (guards J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor and forward Keith Ramsey), they return their top three scorers in Kim English, Marcus Denmon and Laurence Bowers. Tony Mitchell, a 6-foot-8 forward who is the No. 12 prospect in the nation, headlines a recruiting class that is ranked sixth in the country.
11. TEMPLE
BUZZ: Power forward Lavoy Allen's decision to stay in school means Temple shouldn't suffer any kind of drop-off after going 29-6 this season. Allen, the first Owl since 1970-71 to average a double-double, should team with Juan Fernandez to give Temple one of the nation's top inside-outside duos.
12. KENTUCKY
BUZZ: This is one of the toughest teams in the nation to predict because the Wildcats have undergone such a major roster turnover. It's hard to rank a team this high after it has lost five potential first-round picks, but we're betting on the nation's second-ranked recruiting class to make an instant impact. Kentucky coach John Calipari has proved the past few seasons that he knows how to thrive with freshmen in key roles.
13. BUTLER
BUZZ: The Bulldogs will have a tough time returning to the Final Four now that Gordon Hayward has decided to begin his pro career, but they still should rank among the top teams from outside the six major conferences. Butler returns 2008-09 Horizon League player of the year Matt Howard as well as its starting backcourt of Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored.
14. ILLINOIS
BUZZ: It admittedly is a leap of faith to rank the Illini this high after they failed to reach the 2010 NCAA tournament, but their roster is too talent-laden to ignore. Now that point guard Demetri McCamey and power forward Mike Davis have withdrawn their names from draft consideration, Illinois returns all five starters. Illinois' freshman class includes 7-foot center Meyers Leonard (the No. 31 prospect in the nation), 6-8 forward Jereme Richmond (No. 35) and 6-5 guard Crandall Head (No. 84).
15. BAYLOR
BUZZ: LaceDarius Dunn's decision to return to school gives Baylor a likely preseason All-American in its backcourt. Baylor suffered big losses with the departures of center Ekpe Udoh and point guard Tweety Carter, but incoming freshman Perry Jones could step in immediately for Udoh. Jones, a 6-11 forward from Dallas, is the No. 9 prospect in the 2010 recruiting class.
16. MEMPHIS
BUZZ: The arrival of the nation's top recruiting class should assure that Memphis returns to the NCAA tournament after a one-year absence. Memphis has signed three of the nation's top 18 prospects in 6-6 guard Will Barton (No. 11), 6-6 forward Jelan Kendrick (No. 15) and 5-11 guard Joe Jackson (No. 18). Elliot Williams' decision to enter the draft hurts, but the Tigers remain loaded in the backcourt.
17. UNLV
BUZZ: The Runnin' Rebels return their top eight scorers and add Kansas transfer Quintrell Thomas, a 6-8 forward who will provide needed size. UNLV looks like the best team in what should be a wild Mountain West race.
18. VIRGINIA TECH
BUZZ: Guard Malcolm Delaney made Hokies everywhere happy with his decision to stay in school, meaning Tech has all five starters back. Seth Greenberg's team always seems to be on the bubble, but the Hokies shouldn't have to sweat it out this season. Plus, the field has expanded to 68, so ...
19. NORTH CAROLINA
BUZZ: OK, there's no way the Heels can be that mediocre two seasons in a row, right? Ed Davis' early departure hurts. But there's a big-time recruiting class, including Harrison Barnes, the nation's No. 2 prospect.
20. FLORIDA
BUZZ: The Gators return all five starters plus bring in a solid recruiting class that includes five-star big man Patric Young. The issue, again, will be a lack of depth in the backcourt.
21. TENNESSEE
BUZZ: The Vols hope a good recruiting class, highlighted by five-star forward Tobias Harris, enables them to overcome the loss of three of their top four scorers. Scotty Hopson, the lone "big" scorer returning, needs to step it up.
22. GEORGETOWN
BUZZ: Had center Greg Monroe stayed, the Hoyas might've been the Big East preseason favorites. Now, they're likely to scramble to finish in the top three. Georgetown should have one of the best backcourts in the nation, but depth again could a problem.
23. WASHINGTON
BUZZ: The Pac-10 again looks as if it will be down, and the Huskies should be the top dog in the league. The loss of Quincy Pondexter obviously will be huge, but if five-star prospect Terrence Jones heads to Seattle, the Huskies will be in a good position.
24. BYU
BUZZ: Guard Jimmer Fredette's decision to stay in school was big for the Cougars, who return four starters and five of their top six scorers -- including their top three. And don't forget the Cougars won 30 games last season.
25. SYRACUSE
BUZZ: The Orange are going to miss Wes Johnson, as well as Arinze Onuaku and Andy Rautins, but there will be a good backcourt. Forward Kris Joseph should continue to improve, and there's a good recruiting class. Five-star big man Fab Melo and four-star guard Dion Waiters highlight the class. Waiters' versatility may mean he can make a big impact immediately.
OTHER TEAMS CONSIDERED
Listed in alphabetical order: Arizona, Florida State, N.C. State, Saint Louis, San Diego State, Texas, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Xavier.




 

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