College Basketball "Way Too Early Top 25" for 2023-2024 - VERSION II
We are less than a week 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.
So, for the first time this off-season - it's time to update our "Way Too Early Top 25" for 2023-2024.
Here is our original Top 25, and before we get to the update, a few quick reminders on how this works.
First, 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 began the off-season as my No. 3 team in the country, but with Tuesday's monumental news that leading scorer and rebounder Kyle Filipowski will return for another season, it bumps them to No. 1.
And really, the Blue Devils might be at the forefront of a new trend in college hoops. Last year, we saw players with no NBA futures (Hunter Dickinson, Drew Timme, Oscar Tshiebwe) return for another year thanks to NIL. But this year it feels like even guys who are projected second round picks are re-thinking their stance, and that's especially the case at Duke. Had this even been a few years ago, Filipowski, Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell all would've declared and never looked back.
Now, thanks to NIL all three will return.
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, Adama Sanogo, Alex Karaban, Donovan Clingan, Hasan Diarra
Key Departures: Jordan Hawkins, Tristen Newton, Nahiem Alleyne, Joey Calcaterra,
Key Additions: Stephon Castle, Solomon Ball, Jaylin Stewart, Jayden Ross, Youssouf Singare
This year's national champion opened up the postseason at No. 1, and safe to say it's been a busy few days since last Monday's title. Star freshman Donovan Clingan announced his return, and star wing Jordan Hawkins announced his departure. Both were expected.
What now must be monitored is the futures of Andre Jackson and Tournament Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo. Jackson gave the cursory "looking at all my options" following UConn's post title parade, but as of right now, it feels more likely that he comes back. As for Sanogo, the assumption is that he'll test the NBA Draft waters. As a projected second round pick, he could have a tough decision to make, whether to declare, or come back to college with NIL money helping his cause. The fact that he's an international student further complicates that.
Finally, it'll be interesting to see what the rest of this group does. Starting point guard Tristen Newton and key reserve Nahiem Alleyne both have an extra year of eligibility, but each went through senior day festivities, so right now we have them projected as gone. It helps though that the Huskies will be buoyed by a five-man high school class led by McDonald's All-American Stephon Castle.
Point being, there are a lot of moving parts for these Huskies. All we really know right now is that Clingan and starting forward Alex Karaban will be back, and that a top three recruiting class joins them.
Whether UConn can stay in the top three going forward largely depends on the decisions of Jackson and Sanogo.
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 UConn, 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. Miami Hurricanes
Key Returnees: Isaiah Wong, Nijel Pack, Wooga Poplar, Norchad Omier, Bensley Joseph, Anthony Walker
Key Departures: Jordan Miller, Harlond Beverly (transfer)
Key Additions: Michael Nwoko
After a season that culminated in a Final Four run this season, the Hurricanes could return just about everyone next year. And if they did, there's no reason they can't get back to the final weekend of the season.
Elite Eight hero Jordan Miller is the one who we know is gone, but ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong could return, as could big man Norchad Omier. We publicly know that Nijel Pack signed a two-year NIL deal with John Ruiz prior to last season, so it seems like the assumption has always been that he'd be a Hurricane for 2023-2024.
Add it up, and this looks like another excellent team on paper.
Remember, the Hurricanes were the ACC regular season co-champs before their Final Four run. There was nothing fluky about what they did in March.
5. 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.
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.
6. Kentucky Wildcats
Key Returnees: Antonio Reeves, Daimion Collins, Chris Livingston, Adou Theiro
Key Departures: Oscar Tshiebwe, Cason Wallace, CJ Fredrick, Sahvir Wheeler (transfer), Ugonna Onyenso (transfer)
Key Newcomers: DJ Wagner, Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw, Rob Dillingham, Reed Sheppard
It feels like 80 percent of this season was spent trying to talk Kentucky fans off the ledge, but never forget, this was a team that swept Tennessee twice, won at Bud Walton, and had a lead at the under four-minute mark against Kansas State before a questionable (aka, bad) shooting foul was called allowing Markquis Nowell free throws, that opened the floodgates for K-State.
Point being, it wasn't as good of a season as it should've been at Kentucky, but it was never as bad either. The question, like so many teams, is what the roster will look like by the start of next season.
Cason Wallace and Jacob Toppin have declared, and early reports are that Oscar Tshiebwe will move on, and that CJ Fredrick may as well. Chris Livingston has a legit NBA Draft decision to make, and Daimion Collins has a legit transfer decision to make as well. Also, Ugonna Onyenso is in the transfer portal, but there's already buzz that he could come back.
The good news is, the foundation is already there of a Top 10 team, with the No. 1 recruiting class in the country - featuring four Top 10 prospects - coming to Lexington. DJ Wagner and Justin Edwards will both be Top 10 picks at this time next year, and Aaron Bradshaw is the kind of rim protector this team lacked this season.
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. Arkansas Razorbacks
Key Returnees: Devo Davis, Jordan Walsh, Trevon Brazile, Jalen Graham, Mahki Mitchell, Barry Dunning, Joseph Pinion, Derrian Ford
Key Losses: Nick Smith Jr., Anthony Black, Ricky Council, Kimani Johnson, Mekhel Mitchell (transfer)
Key Additions: Keyon Menefield (transfer), Tramon Mark (transfer), Baye Fall, Layden Blocker
Like it is every off-season, it's already been a busy April at Arkansas. Nick Smith and Ricky Council have already declared for the NBA Draft, with Anthony Black soon expected to join them.
Meanwhile, Devo Davis is testing the waters, but is expected to return, and Jordan Walsh remains up in the air as well. Mekhel Mitchell has also entered the transfer portal.
But, unlike last off-season - where the Hogs returned just two players from their Elite Eight run - Arkansas has actually got some good "stay or go" news. Most notably, Trevon Brazile will return for another year. Remember him? He was playing like an All-SEC player and doing stuff like this pre-injury, and will return for another year.
So too will forward Jalen Graham, and three former Top 100 freshmen - Joseph Pinnion, Barry Dunning and Derrian Ford. And they'll be joined by two high level high school recruits - 6'11 Baye Fall and guard Layden Blocker.
Oh, and Eric Musselman is already getting busy in the portal, adding dynamic guard Keyon Menefield from Washington and two-way wing Tramon Mark from Houston.
This will again be a loaded squad: And make no mistake, there are still more moves to come for the Hogs.
8. 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.
9. 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.
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.
It's also interesting that Kansas seems to be more active in the portal than years past, contacting and connecting with recruits.
But still, this is all about Self. We're not really betting against this guy of having a team that's good enough to win it all at this point, right?
11. 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), Josiah Dotzler
Creighton's roster was dealt a crushing blow when sophomore point guard Ryan Nembhard decided to enter the transfer portal. It's big news, but as long as the Jays don't lose anyone else of significance, they should remain towards the top of the sport.
Ryan Kalkbrenner is an All-American type center and as of right now is expected to return, and maybe most importantly, rumors are that starting wing Baylor Scheierman could return as well. He came to Omaha last fall to be a "one-and-done" transfer, expected to leave after this year. But NIL opportunities may keep him around for his extra Covid yaer. Arthur Kaluma and Trey Alexander are two other starters who could be back.
Again, we'll see if there's any more movement. But for right now, we'll keep the Jays in the Top 10.
12. 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.
13. 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 are also expected back, 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.
14. Arizona Wildcats
Key Returnees: Azuolas Tubelis, Oumar Ballo, Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell
Key Departures: Kerr Kriisa (transfer), Adama Bal (transfer), Courtney Ramey, Cedric Henderson
Key Additions: KJ Lewis
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.
The big thing is, what happens next.
The Wildcats seem to be the expected landing spot for former Creighton guard Ryan Nembhard, and Tennessee wing Olivier Nkamhoua has been linked to Tucson as well.
Add those two, and you're talking about a legit Top 10 team and national title contender.
15. San Diego State Aztecs
Key Returnees: Lamont Butler, Darrion Trammell, Micah Parrish, Jaedon Ledee, Keshod Johnson, Demarshay Johnson Jr.
Key Departures: Matt Bradley, Nathan Mensah, Ageuk Arop, Adam Seiko
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 on Monday night, 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. Keshod Johnson is a fourth-year senior who is expected to use his extra year and no school has been better finding role players that fit in the portal than the Aztecs the last few years.
Oh, and on Tuesday Brian Dutcher's squad did it again in the portal adding Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year Reese Dixon-Waters, a talented wing from USC.
Brian Dutcher's squad isn't going anywhere, any time soon.
16. 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, Silas Demery Jr.
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.
17. 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.
18. UCLA Bruins Key Returnees: Jaylen Clark, Amari Bailey, Adem Bona, Mac Etienne, Kenneth Nwaba Key Departures: Jamie Jacquez, Tyger Campbell, David Singleton Key Additions: Sebastian Mack, Devin Williams, Brandon Williams
Add UCLA to the laundry list of teams that could be fundamentally shaped in a positive or negative way by the draft decision process and extra year of Covid eligibility, adding about as margin to move up or down of any team in the country.
Incredibly, the only UCLA player who is totally out of eligibility is sixth man David Singleton, although after four years on campus, Pac-12 Player of the Year Jamie Jacquez has also announced that he will go pro. Tyger Campbell could come back for a sixth year of eligibility as well, but has hinted he's done in Westwood.
Yet even under the assumption both those guys are gone, it still leaves for wild roster fluctuation for the Bruins. Star wing Jaylen Clark was trending as a first round pick, but after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury, could he come back and try to get healthy for one more run? Also, Amari Bailey and Adem Bona were five-star players deemed to be one and dones in the preseason, but neither is currently projected to go in Round 1 in most mock drafts. Will that convince them to come back for another season?
There's also rumors about UCLA adding 7'3 international star Aday Mara, a projected lottery pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. What a move that could be.
It all creates wild roster fluctuation, so right now we'll wait and see.
19. 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 guard Nick Timberlake (Towson) and 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.
20. Kansas State Wildcats
Key Returnees: Keyontae Johnson, Nae'Kwon Tomlin, Cam Carter, David N'Guessan
Key Departures: Markquis Nowell, Desi Sills, Ish Massoud (transfer)
Key Additions: DaeDae Ames, RJ Jones, Macaleb Rich
The Wildcats were one of the feel good stories in Year 1 of the Jerome Tang era, and it's hard to see a reason that they will slow down significantly in Year 2.
Yes, K-State must replace tournament breakout star Markquis Nowell and rugged guard Desi Sills, but most everyone could be back. After missing two seasons, Keyontae Johnson could choose to play more in college and get himself in better shape for the pros and Nae'Kwon Tomlin will only get better in Year 2 of Tang's system.
Plus, Tang proved that he's among the best in college hoops at identifying portal pieces that fit, putting last year's roster together on the fly. With a few more bedrocks and a year of success, it'll be curious to see what he can come up with this off-season.
21. Baylor Bears
Key Returnees: Adam Flagler, Jalen Bridges, Langston Love, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, Caleb Lohner
Key Departures: Keyonte George, LJ Cryer (transfer), Flo Thamba
Key Additions: Ja'Kobe Walter, Miro Little
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.
The good news is, not all is lost for Baylor, especially if leading scorer Adam Flagler comes back for a fifth-year. He'll be joined by wing Jalen Bridges and big man Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, who will be back at full strength after a devastating knee injury. And they'll be buoyed by two elite high school guards: McDonald's All-American JaKobe Walter and highly-touted international Miro Little.
22. Texas Longhorns
Key Returnees: Tyrese Hunter, Dylan Disu, Brock Cunningham
Key Departures: Marcus Carr, Sir'Jabari Rice, Timmy Allen, Christian Bishop, Dillon Mitchell, Arterio Morris (transfer)
Key Additions: Ron Holland, AJ Johnson
If I had to make an educated guess it's that, over the next few weeks, no team moves up more in these rankings than Texas.
Right now, Tyrese Hunter is testing the NBA waters but should be back, and he'll be buoyed by five-stars Ron Holland and AJ Johnson. Assuming he's healthy Dylan Disu could come back, and Brock Cunningham will be nice role player.
Still, with Rodney Terry officially set as head coach, an attractive brand, and no shortage of NIL money, I expect Texas to be one of the big winners in the portal this off-season.
23. 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.
24. Maryland Terrapins
Key Returnees: Jahmir Young, Julian Reese, Donta Scott, Ian Martinez
Key Departures: Don Carey, Hakim Hart
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.
25. 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.
Follow Aaron on Twitter - @Aaron_Torres