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Aaron's "Way Too Early College Basketball Top 25" for the 2022-2023 season - Version 6.0

Updated: Apr 24, 2022

Credit: Kansas Athletics

Well, the season is over and Kansas is your national champion - and you know what that means: It's time to release our "Way Too Early Top 25" for 2022-2023.

That's right, it's a post-title game tradition, and with the confetti just now getting swept up, it's never too early to look ahead to next season.

Below are our way, WAY too early rankings on the season ahead, and before we get into them let's just make one thing clear: A LOT will change between now and the start of next season.

NBA Draft decisions are coming, and the transfer portal will reshape all these teams (in good and bad ways) over the next few months. Oh, and with senior still having an extra year because of Covid, it's essentially impossible to know which seniors will move on and which won't. Not to mention that there are a few uncommitted high school players who can make an impact next season, and also, with NIL now a factor, it could convince fringe draft picks to return for another year.

Point being, we have a long, LONG way until the season tips off in November - but here is our first look at our Top 25.

As you can guess, we will constantly be updating this throughout the off-season:

1. North Carolina Tar Heels

Key Returnees: Caleb Love, Armando Bacot, RJ Davis, Leaky Black, Kerwin Walton, Puff Johnson, Dontrez Styles, Justin McKoy, D'Marco Dunn

Key Departures: Brady Manek, Dawson Garcia (transfer)

Key Additions: Seth Trimble, Jalen Washington, Tyler Nickel

On Sunday it became official, as Caleb Love announced that he will return to college hoops for the 2022-2023 season. He follows in the footsteps of Armando Bacot, Leaky Black and RJ Davis, who all bypassed professional riches for one more run at a national title.

And with it, we have a new No. 1 team in the country as well.

Yes, some will argue that this is an overreaction to the NCAA Tournament - since North Carolina did start out as an eight-seed. But at the end of the day, they were really one of the best teams in college hoops over the final two months of the season. They went 13-3 in their final 16 games overall, which included two wins over Duke (at Cameron and in the Final Four), as well as victories over the defending national champion Baylor and a UCLA team gunning for a second straight Final Four.

Now, four starters and six of the top eight scorers overall are back for a team that was one game short in 2022.

The bottom line: The Tar Heels are the team to beat heading into the 2023 season.

2. Arkansas Razorbacks

Key Returnees: Jaylin Williams, Devo Davis, Jaxson Robinson, Kimani Johnson

Key Departures: JD Notae, Stanley Umude, Chris Lykes, Trey Wade, Au'Diese Toney, Conor Vanover (transfer) KK Robinson (transfer), Chance Moore (transfer)

Key Additions: Nick Smith Jr., Anthony Black, Jordan Walsh, Derrian Ford, Barry Dunning, Joseph Pinion, Trevon Brazile (transfer), Makhel Mitchell (transfer), Makhi Mitchell (transfer), Jalen Graham (transfer)

Had leading scorer and All-SEC guard JD Notae returned, this would have been a no-doubter. But even with him gone, the Hogs have a loaded squad ready to compete for the school's first Final Four berth since 1995.

Right now, we are projecting two major contributors to return from this year's team in Jaylin Williams and Devo Davis - although Williams has actually declared for the draft and will test his options. Still, we have both returning for now, and when you add them with the explosive No. 2 recruiting class in the country, featuring potential Top 5 pick Nick Smith Jr., and these Hogs are loaded.

More importantly, Eric Musselman has done what he always does in the portal, and just days after the season, absolutely cleaned up. Makhel and Makhi Mitchell bring size, length and desperately needed rim protection to this team, and Jalen Graham was All-Pac 12 second team a season ago. They will be nice complimentary pieces for that loaded freshman class.

Can anything stop the Big Pig Invasion? We already know the answer.

3. Kansas Jayhawks

Key Returnees: Christian Braun, DaJuan Harris, Jalen Wilson, Joseph Yesufu, Zach Clemence, Bobby Pettiford, KJ Adams

Key Departures: Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Remy Martin, Mitch Lightfoot, Jalen Coleman-Lands

Key Additions: MJ Rice, Gradey Dick, Ernest Udeh Jr., Zuby Ejiofor

Kansas was your 2022 NCAA champs, and bad news: They aren't slowing down any time soon.

Yes, Ochai Agbaji is headed for the NBA and David McCormack declared as well. Right now Christian Braun is testing the draft waters and we have him back - and if he is back, that means three starters off this year's title team will return to Lawrence. The Jayhawks also add three McDonald's All-Americans to strengthen the bench and depth.

One thing worth keeping an eye on: The NCAA should finally deliver punishment this summer to Kansas following the FBI probe of several years ago. There's at least a possibility the No. 1 team and reigning champ won't be eligible for the 2023 Big Dance.

4. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Key Returnees: Drew Timme, Julian Strawther, Anton Watson, Hunter Sallis, Nolan Hickman, Ben Gregg, Kaden Perry, Dominick Harris (redshirt)

Key Departures: Andrew Nembhard, Chet Holmgren, Rasir Bolton

Key Additions: N/A

Another post-Final Four Top 25, another Gonzaga high ranking, and more outrage inevitably coming from you guys. And sadly, after the Zags' Sweet 16 loss this season, I get it.

Drew Timme declared late last week, but with real NIL money coming in and seemingly limited draft interest it feels like we could get one more year of Timme in Spokane. Julian Strawther is also testing the waters but is expected to return. Hunter Sallis is a former McDonald's All-American who could become a breakout star and point guard Nolan Hickman could take another step towards stardom as well.

Add in the fact that the Zags have struck gold through the years with transfers and you have to assume they'll be active again this spring. Whether that results in the school's first national title next spring remains to be seen.

5. UCLA Bruins

Key Returnees: Tyger Campbell, Jaime Jacquez, Myles Johnson, Jaylen Clark, Will McClendon (redshirt)

Key Departures: Johnny Juzang, Cody Riley, Jules Bernard, David Singleton, Peyton Watson, Jake Kyman (transfer)

Key Additions: Amari Bailey, Adem Bona, Dylan Andrews

The picture on UCLA's 2022-2023 roster is starting to come together. Out are 2021 NCAA Tournament star Johnny Juzang and high-upside freshman Peyton Watson to the pros, while second leading scorer and rebounder Jaime Jacquez announced he will return.

There are still a few decisions to be made, with Jules Bernard testing the draft waters but able to use an extra year of eligibility. Big man Cody Riley and guard David Singleton both have an extra year if they want to use it too.

Yet even without Juzang here is a hot take: The Bruins won't miss a beat, and may in some ways be better. Point guard Tyger Campbell is back and McDonald's All-American Amari Bailey is an attacking guard that should pick up some of the offensive production of Juzang's absence. Down low, Jacquez provides scoring and Myles Johnson and freshman Adem Bona provide bulk.

In a lot of ways, this will look like one of those old-school Mick Cronin teams - only with better players. I like the makeup of this group.

6. Arizona Wildcats

Key Returnees: Kerr Kriisa, Dalen Terry, Pelle Larsson, Oumar Ballo, Azoulas Tubelis, Adama Bal, Shane Nowell

Key Departures: Benn Mathurin, Christian Koloko, Justin Kier

Key Additions: Dylan Anderson

Tommy Lloyd took the college hoops by storm in his first season as a head coach, and there's no reason to think things will slow down next year.

As expected both Benn Mathurin and Christian Koloko have declared and will go pro, with the next marquee decision coming from guard Dalen Terry. He had a great late season surge, and could have a Mathurin-level season next year should he return. He could also cash in on his hot draft stock now.

Right now we have him returning though, with what should be a pretty talented core. Starting point guard Kerr Kriisa will be back, as will big men Azoulas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo down low - and Ballo should do a good job of filling the shoes of the departed Koloko. Also, with a season's worth of film out there, expect the Wildcats to have success in the transfer portal.

The Wildcats will drop a few spots should Terry elect to go pro - but the foundation is there for another successful 2022-2023 season.

7. Houston Cougars

Key Returnees: Marcus Sasser, Tramon Mark, Jamal Shead, Ramon Walker, Reggie Chaney, J'Wan Roberts

Key Departures: Kyler Edwards, Taze Moore, Fabian White Jr., Josh Carlton

Key Additions: Jarace Walker, Terrance Arceneaux

If you follow me, or really anyone who loves college basketball, you know the respect I have for Kelvin Sampson. In the last three tournaments he has made *at least* the Sweet 16, including a Final Four run last year. This year he made the Elite Eight down his two best players.

Well, those two players - Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark - are back, alongside Jamal Shead, who really made big strides during the Cougars' March run. Sasser has declared for the draft, but coming off a major knee injury, the assumption is that he'll be back next season. The Cougars also add McDonald's All-American Jarace Walker, and like so many other teams, will find the right pieces in the transfer portal.

In Kelvin Sampson I trust, and barring injuries, this should be a Top 10 team most of 2022-2023.

8. Kentucky Wildcats

Key Returnees: Oscar Tshiebwe, Sahvir Wheeler, Keion Brooks, Lance Ware, Daimion Collins

Key Departures: Kellan Grady, Davion Mintz, TyTy Washington, Shaedon Sharpe (redshirt), Dontaie Allen (transfer), Bryce Hopkins (transfer)

Key Additions: Chris Livingston, Casen Wallace

In late April, John Calipari got the best news he possibly could've: Oscar Tshiebwe, who literally won every National Player of the Year award in college hoops announced he will return for another season in Lexington. There is no bigger decision, anywhere in college hoops, that will impact the sport next year more than that.

Now to be clear, Kentucky still has work to do this summer. They need to decide if Sahvir Wheeler is really the point guard to lead them in 2022-2023 or if there is a better option out there. Maybe that option is highly-touted redshirt Shaedon Sharpe (who could end up in the draft, and we don't currently have projected on next year's roster) or maybe someone out of the portal. I also believe they need another shooter alongside CJ Fredrick next year. The target here appears to be Illinois State transfer Antonio Reeves.

Still, Oscar Tshiebwe is back, and his return alone puts Kentucky in the conversation as a contender. And right now, that is music to Big Blue Nation's ears.

9. Duke Blue Devils

Key Returnees: Jeremy Roach

Key Departures: Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin, Trevor Keels, Mark Williams, Wendell Moore, Theo John

Key Additions: Dereck Lively II, Kyle Filipowski, Dariq Whitehead, Mark Mitchell, Jaden Schutt, Christian Reeves

A season-ending loss to North Carolina means that for the first time since early 1980, someone other than Mike Krzyzewski is now Duke's head coach.

Step right up Jon Scheyer, and welcome to the preseason Top 10. But hey, no pressure.

With most of the roster likely off to the draft, the good news is, Scheyer has signed plenty of reinforcements to help smooth over the transition. He's bringing in the No. 1 class in the country, with a group that includes four McDonald's All-Americans, including massive 7'1 center Dereck Lively II, stretch four Kyle Filipowski and wing Dariq Whitehead, and the hope is that point guard Jeremy Roach will return for one more year after a strong late season surge.

With a first-year, first-time head coach and a roster full of mostly freshmen, it's tough to put Duke any higher. But they will once again have the talent to win it all in 2022-2023.

10. Creighton Bluejays

Key Returnees: Ryan Kalkbrenner, Arthur Kaluma, Ryan Nembhard, Trey Alexander, Shereef Mitchell, Rati Andronikashvili

Key Departures: Ryan Hawkins, Alex O'Connell, Keyshawn Feazell

Key Additions: Francisco Farabello (transfer)

By the end of the season, Creighton really was one of the best stories in college hoops. They lost their starting point guard Ryan Nembhard and managed to get to the Big East Tournament title game, and then lost center Ryan Kalkbrenner in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament and still pushed Kansas to the brink.

Well, the core of that young, fearless team is back, and poised for a monster 2022-2023.

Kalkbrenner could legit be one of the best big men in college hoops after averaging 13.5 points and nearly three blocks per game, and Nembhard should continue to get comfortable in that point guard role, after averaging 11 points and 4.5 assists per game. A;so, Trey Alexander and Arthur Kaluma turned into legit stars during the Jays' tournament run, with Kaluma putting up an absurd 24 and 12 against Kansas.

Getting the stars back healthy will be key this off-season. But this roster has the talent to make the school's first Final Four in school history.

11. Tennessee Volunteers

Key Returnees: Santiago Vescovi, Josiah Jordan-James, Zakai Zeigler, Uros Plavsic, Olivier Nkamhoua, Jonas Aidoo, Justin Powell

Key Departures: John Fulkerson, Kennedy Chandler, VJ Bailey (transfer), Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (transfer)

Key Additions: BJ Edwards, Tyreke Key (transfer)

I'm sorry to do this to you Tennessee fans, I really am. But after a season in which your squad captured your hearts on a way to an SEC Tournament title (and ultimately NCAA Tournament disappointment) it's hard not to look at this team on paper and not see another Final Four contender.

John Fulkerson is (finally) gone, Kennedy Chandler declared for the draft and center Brandon Huntley-Hatfield made the (semi) surprising decision to transfer, but everyone else is back. Zakai Zeigler should take the reins from Chandler and become the full-time starter at point guard with Santiago Vescovi (who is currently testing the draft waters) and Josiah Jordan-James providing pop on the wing. The Vols also added Indiana State transfer Tyreke Key for depth in the backcourt as well. The frontcourt should again be loaded with Uros Plavsic, Jonas Aidoo, all returning, and Olivier Nkamhoua coming back from injury.

I understand what the reaction will be from both Tennessee fans and their rivals when seeing this ranking. But it is justified.

12. Baylor Bears

Key Returnees: Adam Flagler, LJ Cryer, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, Flo Thamba, Dale Bonner

Key Departures: James Akinjo, Matthew Mayer, Kendall Brown, Jeremy Sochan

Key Additions: Keyonte George, Joshua Ojianwuna, Jalen Bridges (transfer), Caleb Lohner (transfer)

James Akinjo, Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan have all announced their intentions to go pro, but the Bears still have a team capable of competing for a Final Four.

Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer (who missed most of the season with foot injuries) are both back, and assuming they're healthy, can get buckets in the backcourt. Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (who also dealt with a season-ending injury) and Flo Thamba return in the frontcourt, and McDonald's All-American Keyonte George will arrive in the spring as the lead guard this team desperately needs.

More importantly, the Bears needed help on the wing and got it with West Virginia transfer Jalen Bridges. The former Top 100 recruit is a perfect fit to replace the production of Sochan and Brown.

13. Michigan State Spartans

Key Returnees: Tyson Walker, AJ Hoggard, Jaden Akins, Max Christie, Joey Hauser, Malik Hall

Key Departures: Gabe Brown, Marcus Bingham Jr., Julius Marble (transfer)

Key Additions: Jaxon Kohler, Tre Holloman

Like so many other teams on this list, a lot has yet to be determined with the Spartans roster - as both Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham Jr. have an extra year of eligibility if they choose to use it.

Even if they don't though, I like this Spartans team for a very un-Tom Izzo like reason: I love these guards and wings.

Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard quietly got better as the season went on, and Max Christie is giving me big "Benn Mathurin, come back for another year and turn into a lottery pick" vibes this off-season after averaging just under 10 points a season ago.

Julius Marble and Malik Hall are back to add size in the front court, for a team that could sneak up on some people next season. Especially in a Big Ten that doesn't look all too impressive on paper.

14. Alabama Crimson Tide

Key Returnees: Jahvon Quinerly, Noah Gurley, Charles Bediako, Darius Miles, Nimari Burnett (redshirt)

Key Departures: Jaden Shackelford, Keon Ellis, James Rojas, JD Davison, Alex Tchikou (transfer), Keon Ambrose-Hylton (transfer), Jusuan Holt (transfer), Juwan Gary (transfer)

Key Additions: Brandon Miller, Jaden Bradley, Rylan Griffen, Noah Clowney, Nick Pringle, Mark Sears (transfer)

The Crimson Tide started at No. 24 in the initial "Too Early Top 25" but early in the process, they are a big mover.

One, Jahvon Quinerly - who suffered a season-ending injury in an NCAA Tournament loss to Notre Dame - decided to return, rather than go pro. He won't be 100 percent to start the season, but you simply can't express how big the addition of a fifth-year point guard will be for this team. Additionally, Mark Sears a 20-point a game scorer at Ohio has committed as well, adding depth to an already talented backcourt.

So when you add those two with the No. 3 recruiting class in the country - headlined by a pair of McDonald's All-Americans - and the fact that transfer Nimari Burnett (a former McDonald's All-American in his own right) is returning from injury, it only felt right to move this team up. Burnett might could be the missing piece for this program, as he'll provide toughness, experience, and talent in the backcourt next year, after missing all of 2021-2022 with an ACL injury.

15. UConn Huskies

Key Returnees: Andre Jackson, Adama Sanogo, Jordan Hawkins, Samson Johnson, Alex Karaban (redshirt)

Key Departures: RJ Cole, Tyrese Martin, Isaiah Whaley, Tyler Polley, Jalen Gaffney (transfer), Rashool Diggins (transfer), Akok Akok (transfer), Corey Floyd Jr. (transfer)

Key Additions: Tristen Newton (transfer), Nahiem Alleyne (transfer), Donovan Clinglan

Ok, so this may be my UConn bias showing, but I once again really like this UConn squad.

All-Big East guard RJ Cole is gone, as is do everything wing Tyrese Martin, but a core of All-Big East big man Adama Sanogo and wings Andre Jackson and Jordan Hawkins return. Hawkins has the potential to be a breakout star, after showing flashes as a freshman, and Dan Hurley has said that he believes Hawkins has a future in the NBA.

More importantly, UConn is proving the two-way value of the portal. While the fan-base was initially frustrated at losing some back-end bench players and young guys, Dan Hurley immediately sprung into action and replaced them with two experienced college guards. Tristen Newton is a big lead guard who averaged 18 points, five rebounds and five assists at East Carolina, while Nahiem Alleyne is a 38 percent three-point shooter who hit 37 percent from beyond the arc at Virginia Tech last year.

Hurley has vowed that he wants to play smaller, faster and with more pace next year - and now has a roster to do exactly that.

16. Villanova Wildcats

Key Returnees: Brandon Slater, Justin Moore, Eric Dixon, Jordan Longino, Chris Arcidiacono, Bryan Antoine, Nnanna Njoku, Trey Patterson, Angelo Brizzi (redshirt)

Key Departures: Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels, Caleb Daniels, Brandon Slater

Key Additions: Cam Whitmore, Mark Armstrong, Brendan Hausen

Jay Wright is gone, several key pieces left with him, and it really is impossible to know what to make of this team.

Even as long-time assistant Kyle Neptune returns, there are still questions to be answered about this roster. Justin Moore is coming off major injury in the NCAA Tournament, meaning that Eric Dixon and Brandon Slater are really the only marquee players that is guaranteed to return next year, although Caleb Daniels does have an extra year of eligibility if he wants to use it. Soon-to-be sophomore Jordan Longino stepped up late and the hope is that he can improve, and forward Cam Whitmore could be a Day 1 difference-maker (if such a thing exists at Villanova).

Point being, the pieces are there, but it's just impossible to know what to expect from this program next year. Villanova will be one of the more fascinating stories in college hoops in 2022-2023.

17. Auburn Tigers

Key Returnees: KD Johnson, Zep Jasper, Wendell Green, Allen Flannigan, Jaylin Williams, Dylan Cardwell

Key Departures: Jabari Smith, Walker Kessler, Devan Cambridge (transfer)

Key Additions: Yohan Traore, Chance Westry, Tre Donaldson

Obviously, there are frontcourt pieces to fill after the departures of Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler, but most of the rest of the team should be back.

The much-maligned backcourt of Wendell Green, Zep Jasper and KD Johnson all return, and Allen Flannigan should be close to 100 percent after injury recovery slowed him this year.

And to their credit, the Tigers began to address those frontcourt issues by getting a commitment from former LSU signee and McDonald's All-American Yohan Traore over the last few weeks. Keep an eye on fellow former LSU signee and McDonald's All-American Julian Phillips, who is trending to Auburn as well.

18. Texas A&M Aggies

Key Returnees: Henry Coleman, Tyrece Radford, Wade Taylor IV, Andre Gordon, Manny Obaseki, Hayden Hefner, Ethan Henderson

Key Departures: Quenton Jackson, Hasaan Diarra (transfer), Aaron Cash (transfer), Marcus Williams (transfer)

Key Additions: Solomon Washington

Some will say this is a preposterously high ranking for the NIT runner's up, to which I say: Well, show me the teams I should definitively put ahead of them?

Keep in mind that the Aggies weren't just good in the NIT but awesome late in the season, where they won at Alabama and beat Auburn and Arkansas in the SEC Tournament before losing to Tennessee in the title game.

Well, basically every key piece from that team minus Quenton Jackson is back, including guys like Henry Coleman and Tyrese Radford, who turned into stars for this team late.

Frankly, this ranking might actually be too low, and if you're selling Aggie stock I'll buy it all.

The Buzz Williams era has officially arrived in College Station.

19. Xavier Musketeers

Key Returnees: Jack Nunge, Colby Jones, Zach Freemantle, Adam Kunkel, Jerome Hunter

Key Departures: Paul Scruggs, Nate Johnson, Dwon Odom (transfer)

Key Additions: Kam Craft, Desmond Claude

And the team that beat A&M for that NIT title, Xavier? Well, they're right here. New head coach Sean Miller left the cupboard full at Arizona a season ago, and Travis Steele did the same for Miller here.

That includes one of the few consistents from last season in Jack Nunge, wing Colby Jones and three-point shooter Adam Kunkel.

If Miller can keep the core intact and find a piece or two in the portal, this could be a Top 15 team by the start of Miller's return to Cincinnati.

20. Virginia Cavaliers

Key Returnees: Kihei Clark, Reece Beekman, Armaan Franklin, Jayden Garden, Kadin Shedrick, Francisco Caffaro

Key Departures: Kody Stattman

Key Additions: Isaac Traudt, Isaac McKneely, Leon Bond, Ryan Dunn, Ben Vander Plas (transfer)

Virginia returns its entire starting five and top six scorers from last year's NIT team, meaning there's two distinct ways to look at them. You can either argue that, well, if they made the NIT, how good can they be? Or, you can look at them like Texas A&M and Xavier above, and wonder how much better they can get, with the core from last year intact.

We'll choose to do the latter, especially with a coach who has the track record of Tony Bennett, a guy who has won five ACC regular season titles in the last decade. Plus, while 2022 was clearly a disappointing season, did beat Duke at Cameron Indoor, eventual ACC Tournament champ Virginia Tech, as well as Providence, which made the Sweet 16.

The bottom line is, with this core, there might be a ceiling to just how far they can go in the the tournament. But this team can win a ton of regular season games in 2022-2023.

21. Colorado State Rams

Key Returnees: David Roddy, Isaiah Stevens, Kendel Moore, Jon Tonje, James Moors, Isaiah Rivera

Key Departures: Dischon Thomas (transfer), Adam Thislewood (transfer), Chandler Jacobs

Key Additions: N/A

Leading scorer and Mountain West Player of the Year David Roddy is testing the NBA Draft waters. But assuming he comes back, the core of a group that went 25-6 this season should return intact.

In total, the Rams top four scorers are projected to return, with senior point guard Kendel Moore already announcing his return, and sharpshooter Isaiah Stevens (37 percent shooting on a team-high 114 three-point attempts) should be back too.

Depth will have to come via the transfer portal, with several back-ups electing to leave this off-season.

22. Indiana Hoosiers

Key Returnees: Xavier Johnson, Race Thompson, Jordan Geronimo, Trey Galloway, Tamar Bates, Anthony Leal

Key Departures: Trayce Jackson-Davis, Rob Phinisee (transfer), Khristian Lander (transfer), Parker Stewart (transfer)

Key Additions: Jalen Hood-Schifino, Malik Reneau, CJ Gunn

The Hoosiers were on the fringes of the Top 25 conversation at the end of the season, but a few developments have now moved them to the fringes of the Top 20.

First off, veteran forward Race Thompson announced he would return for another season, this after averaging 11 points and 7.5 rebounds this season. He adds toughness and experience to a frontcourt that also added five-star forward Malik Reneau this week. Reneau and Thompson now join a core that returns point guard Xavier Johnson who was excellent down the stretch, alongside rotation players Jordan Geronimo, Trey Galloway and Tamar Bates. Oh by the way, did I mention that all this is in addition to Jalen Hood-Schifino, a McDonald's All-American who should add scoring pop to the backcourt?

The Hoosiers have rightfully found their way into the Top 25, and there is increasing buzz that forward Trayce Jackson-Davis will return for a senior year. If that happens, the Hoosiers aren't just good - they might be the Big Ten favorite.

23. Wyoming Cowboys

Key Returnees: Hunter Maldanado, Graham Ike, Jeremiah Oden, Xavier DuSell, Brendan Wenzel

Key Departures: DJ Jeffers, Hunter Thompson

Key Additions: Ethan Anderson (transfer), Max Agbonkpolo (transfer), Jake Kyman (transfer)

The first new addition this off-season is the Cowboys. An NCAA Tournament at-large team this season (they lost in a play-in game to Indiana), Jeff Linder's club returns two All-Mountain West caliber players in Graham Ike (19 points and nine rebounds per game) to go along with one of the most unique players in the sport in Hunter Maldanado, a 6'7 guard who averaged 18.5 points, six rebounds and six assists per game last season.

That alone was enough to have them on the fringes of the Top 25... and then the Cowboys added three transfers from the Pac-12 to shore up their depth and talent. Ethan Anderson was a starter on USC's 2021 Elite Eight team who fell out of favor this year, while Max Agbonkpolo is a versatile big wing and Jake Kyman a sharp-shooter who spent the last three seasons at UCLA.

This very well could be the Cowboys best team... since?! Well, I'm not totally sure.

24. Marquette Golden Eagles

Key Returnees: Justin Lewis, Kam Jones, Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Tyler Kolek, Oso Ighodaro

Key Departures: Darryl Morsell, Kur Kuath, Greg Elliot (transfer)

Key Additions: Ben Gold

This entire ranking essentially comes down to whether you believe that All-Big East first team wing Justin Lewis returns to Marquette.

If he does, the Golden Eagles return six of their top eight scorers off an NCAA Tournament team, including a bunch of young guards who will use the experience of this year to only get better in 2022-2023.

Without Lewis though this team is lacking star power, and is essentially the same scrappy team of 2021-2022, without star power and with a bunch of role players.

As critical as I was of Shaka Smart during his time at Texas, he was awesome in Year 1 at Marquette. And we'll see if he can keep it rolling next year.

25. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Key Returnees: Kevin McCullar, Kevin Obanor, Davion Warren, Clarence Nadolny, Mylik Wilson, Daniel Batcho, KJ Allen

Key Departures: Bryson Williams, Adonis Arms, Marcus Santos-Silva, TJ Shannon (transfer)

Key Additions: Richard Isaacs, Lamar Washington, Robert Jennings, D'Maurian Williams (transfer)

Year one of the Mark Adams era was a rip-roaring success, and with the return of several key pieces, I don't expect the Red Raiders to miss a beat in 2022-2023.

Guards Kevin McCullar, Davion Warren and Clarence Nadolny are expected back, as is big man Daniel Batcho, who showed flashes after transferring in from Arizona. More than anything though, Adams did a good job of hitting the portal this past off-season and finding pieces that fit, and I expect him to do the same this spring.

The fact that star TJ Shannon has said he will consider returning, while also looking at his options in the portal, only makes me think that the Red Raiders will continue to move up in these rankings all summer long.

Next five:

26. Dayton Flyers

27. San Diego State Aztecs

28. Michigan Wolverines

29. Davidson Wildcats

30. Ohio State Buckeyes

31. Florida State Seminoles


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