top of page

College Basketball "Way Too Early Top 25" for 2023-2024 - VERSION 3.0

We are less than two weeks into college basketball's off-season - and between the portal and NBA Draft stay or go decisions, things have already been shaken up atop the sport.

Because of it, we'll once again - update our "Way Too Early Top 25" for 2023-2024 - this time to Version 3.0.

Here is our original Top 25 and last week's Version 2.0, and before we get to Version 3.0, a few quick reminders on how this works:

Putting together a "Way Too Early Top 25" has never been harder, because of:

* Stay or go NBA Draft decisions

* A crazy portal that's only going to get crazier

* And the extra year of Covid eligibility, giving a ton of really good seniors an extra year. Some will choose to use it, but some won't as well.

Therefore, these projections are all over the place, and because of it, these are my parameters for trying to figure out who will stay and go.

Unless a player is:

* A surefire NBA first rounder

* Has publicly declared that he won't be back

We're going to work under the assumption that every player will return, until something official gets done.

All of that is a VERY long-winded intro: Now, to our Top 25 for 2023-2024.

1. Duke Blue Devils Key Returnees: Kyle Filipowski, Tyrese Proctor, Mark Mitchell, Jeremy Roach (currently testing NBA Draft waters)

Key Losses: Dariq Whitehead, Dereck Lively II, Ryan Young, Jacob Grandison Key Newcomers: Sean Stewart, Jared McCain, Caleb Foster, TJ Power

Duke took over the top spot in the "Way Too Early Top 25" in last week's Version 2.0 - and nothing has changed since.

The key news was the monumental decision of leading scorer and rebounder Kyle Filipowski to return for another season, alongside fellow freshmen Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell. All three could've conceivably been drafted this season, but instead will return for another year.

They will make an all-of-a-sudden pseudo-veteran core, alongside another strong recruiting class. It took a dip on Tuesday when five-star Mackenzie Mgbako - possibly because of Filipowski's return - decided to re-open his recruitment, but this freshman group should still add plenty of depth to the 2023-2024 squad.

As long as Jeremy Roach - currently testing the draft waters - decides to come back for one more year, this should be your preseason No. 1 in 2023-2024.

2. UConn Huskies

Key Returnees: Andre Jackson, Tristen Newton, Alex Karaban, Donovan Clingan, Hasan Diarra

Key Departures: Jordan Hawkins, Adama Sanogo, Nahiem Alleyne, Joey Calcaterra,

Key Additions: Stephon Castle, Solomon Ball, Jaylin Stewart, Jayden Ross, Youssouf Singare

There have been a few big pieces of movement since the last update here - most notably NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo officially declaring for the draft. At this point, it feels like we have to assume that he'll stay in. Also, key reserve Nahiem Alleyne announced a transfer, and has already committed to St. John's.

Andre Jackson also declared on Tuesday, although right now this feels more like "testing the draft waters" more than "he's gone for sure."

Beyond that, there's starting to be buzz that starting point guard Tristen Newton could return for another year. Previously we had him projected to leave, after he went through "Senior Day" festivities in March.

If Newton and Jackson both return, it would give the Huskies three starters back off this year's title team, with key reserve Donovan Clingan taking on a bigger role.

The Huskies also have a five-man recruiting class set to enroll, headlined by five-star Stephon Castle, with Towson transfer Nick Timberlake expected to commit in the coming days.

Add it up, and 2023-2024 has a chance to be another special season in Storrs, with a squad good enough to bring home title No. 6.

3. Marquette Golden Eagles

Key returnees: Tyler Kolek, Stevie Mitchell, Kam Jones, Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Oso Ighodaro, David Joplin, Sean Jones, Ben Gold

Key Departures: N/A

Key Additions: Tre Norman, Al Amadou, Zaide Lowery

Some might scoff at the idea at having Marquette at No. 3 in this preseason poll - but remember, it was the Golden Eagles, not UConn, who won the Big East regular season and conference tournament titles, beating the Huskies twice along the way.

And they literally can bring back every single player from that run for this year's team. That includes Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek and Kam Jones in the backcourt, as well as versatile frontcourt pieces O-Max Prosper and Oso Ighodaro.

And unlike most schools on this list, they really don't have that many guys who genuinely project as NBA prospects, meaning it's very likely that this group does come back intact.

If they do, it's a group that'll be good enough to make its first Final Four since the D-Wade days, and maybe, just maybe, secure the school's second national title.

4. Purdue Boilermakers

Key Returnees: Zach Edey, Fletcher Loyer, Braden Smith, Trey Kauffman-Wrenn, Mason Gillis, Brandon Newman, Caleb Furst, Ethan Morton

Key Departures: David Jenkins

Key Additions: Myles Colvin, Lance Jones (transfer)

As a noted Purdue critic, it pains me to do this, but I can't really justify putting the Boilermakers any lower than this. David Jenkins is the only player out of eligibility, and with no real NBA future, it seems like National Player of the Year Zac Edey will be back too. He is testing right now, but I still expect him to be back.

That essentially means that Purdue could run it back in 2023-2024 like they never left. They also added high-scoring Missouri Valley guard Lance Jones over the weekend, to hopefully add some scoring pop on the perimeter.

Now, will they be a team good enough in March to win it all? I don't know.

But this was the Big Ten regular season and tournament champion that could basically return its team intact.

It feels hard to put them much lower.

5. Arkansas Razorbacks

Key Returnees: Jordan Walsh, Trevon Brazile, Jalen Graham, Mahki Mitchell, Joseph Pinion, Derrian Ford

Key Losses: Nick Smith Jr., Anthony Black, Ricky Council, Devo Davis, Kimani Johnson, Mekhel Mitchell (transfer), Barry Dunning (transfer)

Key Additions: Keyon Menefield (transfer), Khalif Battle (transfer), El Ellis (transfer), Tramon Mark (transfer), Jeremiah Davenport (transfer), Baye Fall, Layden Blocker

Eric Musselman might just be the portal God, and he has put together - assuming he's done - maybe the best portal class in his time at Arkansas.

On Monday, the Hogs added Louisville leading scorer El Ellis (who averaged 17.7 points per game this season). He will join former Washington guard Keyon Menefield (an All-Pac-12 freshman team member), Khalif Battle (Temple's leading scorer) and Tramon Mark (a two-way monster from Houston) to form maybe the deepest and most athletic backcourt in college basketball. Jeremiah Davenport (Cincinnati) adds shooting depth behind them.

Add in two five-star recruits (big man Baye Fall and guard Layden Blocker), and the return of a pair of front court pieces (Trevon Brazile and Jalen Graham) and this very well might be Arkansas' best squad since Musselman got to Fayetteville.

It could get even better if Jordan Walsh officially decides to return to school for another year, as he hinted on Monday.

6. Kentucky Wildcats

Key Returnees: Antonio Reeves, Daimion Collins, Chris Livingston, Adou Theiro, Ugonna Onyenso (transfer)

Key Departures: Oscar Tshiebwe, Cason Wallace, CJ Fredrick, Sahvir Wheeler (transfer)

Key Newcomers: DJ Wagner, Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw, Rob Dillingham, Reed Sheppard

Right now, I'm still working under the assumption that former National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe will stay in the draft, although of late, it feels more and more like it's possible he may return. If it does, it adds an entirely new dimension to this team, with the physicality and experience Tshiebwe would bring back to Lexington.

But even if Tshiebwe doesn't return, I like this group for one simple reason: it features the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in college basketball, featuring four of the Top 10 players in the country.

In the past we've seen that John Calipari's best teams are ones featuring high-upside NBA talent, and his best teams were led by NBA caliber point guards. That's exactly what Calipari will have next year with DJ Wagner running the point, and unlike this year, there will be no veteran (in this case, Sahvir Wheeler) standing in the way of his minutes and production. Justin Edwards is an elite two-way player on the wing, and Aaron Bradshaw a high-upside big.

If the hot-shooting Antonio Reeves returns, and John Calipari makes a few moves in the portal, he will again have a roster good enough to make the school's first Final Four since 2015.

7. Michigan State Spartans

Key Returnees: Tyson Walker, Jaden Akins, AJ Hoggard, Maddy Sissoko, Jaxon Kohler, Tre Holloman, Malik Hall

Key Departures: Joey Hauser, Pierre Brooks (transfer)

Key Additions: Xavier Booker, Jeremy Fears, Coen Carr, Gehrig Normand

Michigan State is the one Big Ten team that seems to continue to actually achieve in March, and entering 2023-2024 they should have their best team on paper in years.

Joey Hauser has already announced he won't use his extra year, but - in major news - star guard Tyson Walker announced he'll use his extra year of eligibility in 2023-2024. He'll be joined by AJ Hoggard and Jaden Akins to form one of the best backcourts in the country. The Spartans also will add one of the top freshmen in the country in forward Xavier Booker, a five-star, Top 10 prospect.

Put simply, if everyone who is expected to return does, this should be Tom Izzo's best team since the 2019-2020 squad that featured Cassius Winston and spent a good chunk of the season at No. 1 in the country.

8. Houston Cougars

Key Returnees: Jamal Shead, Emanuel Sharp, Ramon Walker, Terrance Arceneaux, J’Wan Roberts, Ja'Vier Francis

Key Departures: Marcus Sasser, Jarace Walker, Tramon Mark (transfer)

Key Additions: LJ Cryer (transfer), Damian Dunn (transfer), Joseph Tugler, Jacob McFarland

Of every team in our first "Way Too Early Top 25" it seemed like we got the most pushback on Houston - with many wondering why they weren't higher. Well, after a busy week in the portal, we now have the Cougars as a Top 10 team.

Most notably, Houston added guard LJ Cryer from Baylor, a sharpshooter who averaged 15 points per game on over 41 percent three-point shooting as well. They also added Damian Dunn who averaged 14 points a game at Temple this year, giving the Cougars an all-of-a-sudden explosive backcourt.

Terrence Arceneaux is already back and Jamal Shead should be back after testing the NBA Draft waters as well. If so, that's a group that will be good enough to win the Big 12 in their first year in the league next season.

9. Creighton Bluejays

Key Returnees: Ryan Kalkbrenner, Arthur Kaluma, Baylor Scheierman, Trey Alexander, Fredric King, Francisco Farabello

Key Departures: Ryan Nembhard (transfer)

Key Additions: Isaac Traudt (transfer), Steve Ashworth (transfer), Josiah Dotzler

As the great philosopher Socrates once said, "The portal giveth, and the portal taketh away."

Ok, not sure if it was Socrates, but it doesn't change the fact that a week after losing starting point guard Ryan Nembhard to transfer, the Jays struck in the portal, replacing him with Utah State guard Steve Ashworth. Ashworth is a versatile, two-way guard who averaged 16 points and 4.5 assists in helping Utah State to an NCAA Tournament bid this season.

Ashworth is a plug-and-play guy, and it wasn't the only good news Creighton received this week, after wing Baylor Scheierman decided to use his extra year of eligibility to return to Omaha for another season.

Now, the questions are about the rest of the roster: Will center Ryan Kalkbrenner or guard Trey Alexander test the NBA Draft waters. With rumors floating around about forward Arthur Kaluma, what's his future?

It remains to be seen, but right now, the Jays remain in the Top 10.

10. Kansas Jayhawks

Key Returnees: DaJuan Harris, KJ Adams, Kevin McCullar, Joseph Yesufu, Ernest Udeh Jr.,

Key Departures: Jalen Wilson, Gradey Dick, Bobby Pettiford, MJ Rice (transfer) Key Additions: Elmarko Jackson, Chris Johnson, Jamari McDowell

It's been an interesting spring so far in Lawrence, where Bill Self was lost for the postseason due to health issues, and then we've seen a lot of Kansas's back-ups hit the portal looking for more playing time. That's in addition to the expected departures of Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick.

And as of right now, Kansas hasn't made any big moves to supplement the losses this spring.

But as long as Bill Self is ready to coach come November, are we really betting against him at this point? Assuming Kevin McCullar uses his extra year of eligibility - he's currently projected as a late second rounder at best - that means the Jayhawks will return three starters off this year's team. Ernest Udeh and Joseph Yesufu came on strong late as well, adding crucial depth pieces.

Plus, as we said, it still feels like Kansas is in the process of "big game hunting" in the portal. They'll get a visit from Stanford forward Harrison Ingram in the coming days, and seem to be one of the favorites to land Michigan's Hunter Dickinson.

Big moves haven't been made, but at this point, you're not really betting against Bill Self are you?

11. Florida Atlantic Owls

Key Returnees: Alijah Martin, Vladislav Goldin, Johnell Davis, Nicholas Boyd, Bryan Greenlee, Giancarlo Rosado

Key Departures: Michael Forrest

Key Additions: N/A

The dream run for the Owls ended in painful fashion in the Final Four, but here's the wild part: A team that just won 34 games and finished the regular season ranked in the Top 25, could largely run it back in 2023-2024.

Veteran guard Michael Forrest will be gone, but otherwise, the rest of the core should return, headlined by guards Johnell Davis, Alijah Martin and big man Vlad Goldin.

Admittedly, in the transfer portal/NIL world you know that there will be overtures from larger schools for these guys, something that Dusty May talked about openly at Final Four media availability this week. And Martin and Davis have both announced they'll test the NBA Draft waters, although right now neither seems like a high-end NBA prospect.

If everyone returns as expected, this ranking might actually end up being too low.

12. Alabama Crimson Tide

Key Returnees: Jahvon Quinerly, Mark Sears, Nick Pringle, Rylan Griffen, Charles Bediako,

Key Departures: Brandon Miller, Noah Clowney, Dom Welch, Nimari Burnett (transfer), Jaden Bradley (transfer)

Key Additions: Jaykwon Walton (transfer) Sam Walters, Mouhamed Dioubate, Kris Parker

So, Tide All-American Brandon Miller has already declared for the draft and back-up guards Nimari Burnett and Jaden Bradley both announced they will transfer.

But other than that, this entire group could be back.

Jahvon Quinerly is currently testing the NBA Draft waters, but with real NIL money in college could return for a sixth - yes, sixth year. Same with steady vets Mark Sears and Charles Bediako, who are also both testing the draft waters but expected back.

Alabama has already hit the portal for wing Jaykwon Walton, and might add another piece or two.

But this is a team that will be yet again good enough to win the SEC... and maybe more.

13. Miami Hurricanes

Key Returnees: Nijel Pack, Wooga Poplar, Norchad Omier, Bensley Joseph, Anthony Walker

Key Departures: Jordan Miller, Isaiah Wong, Harlond Beverly (transfer)

Key Additions: Michael Nwoko

The Hurricanes got disappointing, albeit not that surprising news, when on Monday, ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong announced he'd go pro. The ACC Player of the Year had another season of eligibility, but instead will begin his pro career.

Again, the move is disappointing yet not that surprising, and the Hurricanes still bring back plenty from last year's Final Four team. Guard Nijel Pack will return for a second year, as will rugged forward Norchad Omier, and do-it-all Woogla Poplar.

The ceiling of the 2023-2024 Hurricanes won't be as high, but they're still a solid, Top 15 team.

14. San Diego State Aztecs

Key Returnees: Lamont Butler, Darrion Trammell, Micah Parrish, Jaedon Ledee, Demarshay Johnson Jr.

Key Departures: Matt Bradley, Nathan Mensah, Ageuk Arop, Adam Seiko, Keshod Johnson (transfer)

Key Additions: Reese Dixon-Waters (transfer) Miles Heide, BJ Davis

While the dream run for San Diego State ended one game short of a title, the good news is, enough of the team comes back where they should again be in the upper-echelon of college basketball next season.

Tourney hero Lamont Butler and big man Jaedon LeDee will both test the NBA Draft waters but are expected back, and will be joined by guards Darrion Tramell and Micah Parrish. And in recent days the Aztecs also added Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year Reese Dixon-Waters, a talented wing from USC who should help replace veteran Keshod Johnson, who recently hit the portal.

Brian Dutcher's squad isn't going anywhere, any time soon.

15. USC Trojans

Key Returnees: Boogie Ellis, Vincent Iwuchukwu, Joshua Morgan, Kobe Johnson, Harrison Hornery

Key Departures: Drew Peterson, Reese Dixon-Waters (transfer), Malik Thomas (transfer)

Key Additions: Isaiah Collier, Arrinten Page,

The Trojans were the "first team out" of our "Way Too Early Top 25" a few days ago, but find their way in, with the news this week that guard Boogie Ellis will return for another season.

Ellis led the Trojans with 17.7 points per game last season, and will join the No. 1 high school player in America Isaiah Collier to form one of the most explosive backcourts in the country. Center Vincent Iwuchukwu - a former McDonald's All-American - should also be back to full strength, after a scary heart condition limited him last season.

Add it up and the Trojans might be one of the more underrated teams in all of college hoops next season.

Oh, and there might be one more piece of help on the way - as they are believed to be the favorite to land Bronny James' services for his (likely) only season in college.

16. Texas A&M Aggies

Key Returnees: Wade Taylor IV, Tyrece Radford, Henry Coleman, Julius Marble, Andre Gordon, Manny Obasecki, Andersson Garcia

Key Additions: Bryce Lindsey

Key Departures: Dexter Dennis

It took a while to get going in 2022-2023, but once January hit Texas A&M was one of the most consistent teams in all of college hoops.

Key wing Dexter Dennis departs, but other than that, the entire roster should return intact. Wade Taylor IV was one of the SEC's breakout stars this season and should be back for another go-around in Aggieland, and his backcourt mate Tyrece Radford has hinted that he'll be returning as well. Same with Julius Marble in the frontcourt, where he'll be reunited with the versatile Henry Coleman and Andersson Garcia.

Decisions remain, but the 2023-2024 Aggies have a chance to go even higher after an impressive second place finish in the SEC this year.

17. North Carolina Tar Heels

Key Returnees: Armando Bacot, RJ Davis

Key Departures: Pete Nance, Leaky Black, Caleb Love (transfer), Tyler Nickel (transfer), Justin McKoy (transfer), Dontrez Styles (transfer), Puff Johnson (transfer), Will Shaver (transfer)

Key Additions: Jaelyn Withers (transfer), Paxson Wojcik (transfer), Simeon Wilcher, Zayden High

Ok, I know I'll probably get clowned for this, but I'm going to zig where everyone else is zagging and buy high on the Tar Heels in 2023-2024.

Yes, I know last year was an unmitigated disaster, but publicly it feels pretty clear that North Carolina is trying to paint the picture that it was a Caleb Love problem, more than anything else. And that's the way it certainly appears as Love is gone, but both RJ Davis and Armando Bacot are coming back.

They'll be helped by five-star guard Simeon Wilcher, and there's increasing buzz that five-star 2024 guard Ian Jackson could reclassify and play next season. Plus, Hubert Davis has been very active adding wing play out of the portal, adding Brown's Paxson Wojcik and prioritizing versatile wings Dalton Knect (Northern Colorado) and Harrison Ingram (Stanford). They could also be in the mix for former Duke five-star commit Mackenzie Mgbako.

Add him, and this might be a preseason Top 10 team.

18. Xavier Musketeers

Key Returnees: Zach Freemantle, Jerome Hunter, Desmond Claude

Key Departures: Souley Boum, Adam Kunkel, Colby Jones, Jake Nunge, Cesar Edwards

Key Additions: Dayvion McKnight (transfer), Quincy Olivari (transfer), Logan Duncomb (transfer), Abou Ousmane (transfer), Trey Green, Dailyn Swain, Reid Ducharme, Kachi Nzeh

Say what you want about Sean Miller, but he will never go into a season-undermanned. And despite losing four starters off this year's Sweet 16 team, the Musketeers have a squad that's again good enough to compete at the top of the Big East.

First, the good news, as big men Zach Freemantle and Jerome Hunter are back, alongside freshman guard Desmond Claude, who played a key role as a reserve in 2023. They'll be supplemented by a Top 15 recruiting class nationally, that includes a trio of Top 100 recruits.

Really though, it's the portal where Miller has revamped this roster. He's added dynamic guards Dayvion McKnight (Western Kentucky's leading scorer) and Rice's Quincy Olivari, and filled up his front court with Indiana transfer Logan Dumcomb and North Texas' Abou Ousmane.

19. Baylor Bears

Key Returnees: Jalen Bridges, Langston Love, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, Caleb Lohner

Key Departures: Adam Flagler, Keyonte George, Flo Thamba, LJ Cryer (transfer), Dale Bonner (transfer)

Key Additions: Ja'Kobe Walter, Miro Little, Jayden Nunn (transfer)

The Bears were hit with some crushing news during Final Four weekend, as 15-point per game scorer LJ Cryer entered the transfer portal, leaving a gaping hole in the backcourt for the Bears. Then, earlier this week, leading scorer Adam Flagler officially announced that he won't use his extra year of eligibility and

The good news is, not all is lost for Baylor. With Flagler's departure, Baylor added a much needed veteran guard in former VCU Ram Jayden Nunn, and he will play alongside two of the best guards in high school basketball this season: McDonald's All-American JaKobe Walter and highly-touted international Miro Little.

Wing Jalen Bridges will be back, as will rugged big man Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua. Expect the Bears to add another piece or two for depth throughout the spring as well.

20. Tennessee Volunteers

Key Returnees: Josiah-Jordan James, Uros Plavsic, Santiago Vescovi, Zakai Zeigler, Jahmai Mashack, Tobe Awaka, Jonas Aidoo Key Departures: Olivier Nkamhoua (transfer), Tyreke Key, Julian Phillips Key Additions: JP Estrella, Cameron Carr, Cade Phillips

Tennessee might be the single most interesting team on this list, from this perspective: They could return just about everyone.

Yet I'm not sure that anyone, most of all Tennessee fans, actually want it to happen.

What we know now is this: Olivier Nkamhoua has both hit the portal and is testing NBA Draft waters and won't be back, and Tyreke Key is out of eligibility.

But everyone else? Besides Julian Phillips (who's almost certain to test the draft waters), Santiago Vescovi, Uros Plavsic and Josiah Jordan-James both have eligibility remaining and none have announced their plans, while Zakai Zeigler will be back from injury at some point and Jahmai Mashack and Jonas Aidoo will be part of a loaded frontcourt.

Again, we've seen this Tennessee team and their limitations (especially offensively) and I do wonder if for everyone's good a few guys move on.

But right now, this is still a Top 25 team, even if they could be very limited offensively again in 2023-2024.

21. Arizona Wildcats

Key Returnees: Oumar Ballo, Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell, Henri Veesar, Filip Borovicanin

Key Departures: Azuolas Tubelis, Kerr Kriisa (transfer), Adama Bal (transfer), Courtney Ramey, Cedric Henderson

Key Additions: KJ Lewis

I'm putting the Wildcats here for two simple reasons: One, I trust Tommy Lloyd. And two, because they are linked to a couple prominent portal kids.

But right now, there just isn't that much to this roster.

Last week Azuolas Tubelis decided to go pro, which is on the heels of Kerr Kriisa announcing a transfer to West Virginia. Courtney Ramey

In our original "Way Too Early Top 25" we probably had Arizona a little bit too low. So we're adjusting here, while also acknowledging that Tommy Lloyd still needs to make some moves in the portal to fill out this roster.

The good news is that - as of now - the two-headed monster of Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo are both expected to be back, although there is increasing buzz that Tubelis could try to find a pro contract overseas. But for now we have him back and he'll be joined by Ballo and versatile Pelle Larsson. Oh, and after two up-and-down years with Kerr Kriisa at the point, the keys have officially been handed to former five-star Kylan Boswell, who performed well last year as a 17-year-old freshman coming off major injury.

22. Maryland Terrapins

Key Returnees: Jahmir Young, Julian Reese, Donta Scott, Ian Martinez

Key Departures: Don Carey, Hakim Hart (transfer)

Key Additions: DeShawn Harris-Smith, Jamie Kaiser, Jahnathan Lamothe, Braden Pierce

It was a largely successful Year 1 for Kevin Willard in 2023 and there's no reason to think it'll slow down next winter.

The Terps got their biggest recruiting win imaginable with star guard Jahmir Young returning, and Julian Reese will be back too off a breakout season. A strong group of freshmen, mostly all from the DMV area (a must in recruiting for the Terps) should balance out the roster.

Oh, and this feels like the Terps could be another team very active in the portal this winter.

Especially after adding assistant coach Mike Jones on Monday, one of the most plugged in recruiters in America.

23. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Key Returnees: Nolan Hickman, Malachi Smith, Anton Watson, Ben Gregg, Efton Reid Key Departures: Drew Timme, Rasir Bolton, Julian Strawther, Hunter Sallis (transfer) Key Returnees: Steele Venters (transfer), Dusty Stromer, Alex Toohey

So, a couple of thoughts here.

One, like Texas, I expect Gonzaga to move in these rankings once the portal cycle is done.

And they need to hit the portal hard because, to be blunt, there's just not that much here.

Which leads to a bigger fundamental question: Is this the end of an era at Gonzaga? It's clear now, three recruiting cycles removed from Tommy Lloyd's departure that the Zags talent level isn't what it used to be, and unlike the old days, there aren't any foreign born players ready in the wings to break out. In previous years you could count on the Zags to have a guy ready for a breakout year - Rui Hachimura, Joel Ayayi, whoever - but that guy doesn't appear to exist on this roster.

Again, the Zags will be good.

And they'll have the talent to run through the WCC and get back to the tournament.

But are their days as a year-in, year out title contender over?

We'll start to find out this off-season.

24. Auburn Tigers

Key Returnees: Johni Broome, KD Johnson, Jaylin Williams, Allen Flanigan, Tre Donaldson

Key Departures: Zep Jasper, Wendell Green, Yohan Traore (transfer), Chance Westry (transfer)

Key Additions: Denver Jones (transfer), Aden Holloway

For the first time this off-season, Auburn joins the "Way Too Early Top 25" party in the final spot.

The Tigers do lose undersized guards Wendell Green Jr. and Zep Jasper, but should be set in the backcourt. Tre Donaldson saw increased minutes as the season went on (including 11 points in an NCAA Tournament win over Iowa) and freshman Aden Holloway is a Top 30 prospect. Oh, and Denver Jones is one of the best bucket getters to come out of the portal, after averaging close to 20 points per contest at Florida International.

Johni Broome returns in the frontcourt alongside Jaylin Williams, and right now we have Allen Flanigan slated to come back for his final season - although for now that remains up in the year.

In the end, this was a tournament team a year ago, and the pieces seem like they'll fit better in 2023-2024 than they did a season ago.

We quietly like this group.

25. Saint Mary's Gaels

Key Returnees: Aidan Mahaney, Alex Dukas, Mitchell Saxson, Augustus Marciulionis, Kyle Bowen

Key Departures: Logan Johnson

Key Additions: N/A

Coming off a 27-win season, there is no real reason to think the Gaels will slow down.

Leading scorer Aidan Mahaney returns, and assuming a couple of seniors with real overseas options (most notably Alex Dukas) return, the Gaels should again be a factor in the Top 25 all season.

New to the Top 25: Xavier, Auburn, Saint Mary's

Dropped out from last week: UCLA, Kansas State, Texas

Follow Aaron on Twitter - @Aaron_Torres


bottom of page