College Basketball "Way Too Early Top 25" VERSION 6.0 - A Week Away From the Draft Deadline Edition
We are now roughly six weeks into the college basketball off-season, and to say quite a bit has changed since UConn cut down the nets in Houston would be an understatement.
Thanks to the portal and stay-or-go decisions, the sport has been flipped on its head.
Because of it, we'll once again - update our "Way Too Early Top 25" for 2023-2024 - this time to Version 6.0.
Here is our original Top 25, followed by Version 2.0, before we hit 3.0, 4.0 and then, after Hunter Dickinson committed to Kansas, Version 5.0.
Since the last time we updated our Top 25 (in what we deemed a lot has changed, with Duke getting great NBA Draft news and Arizona adding through the portal, with some schools like Alabama receiving bad news.
Anyway, here is Version 6.0 - which also marks our final version before the NBA Draft Deadline next week.
1. Duke Blue Devils Key Returnees: Kyle Filipowski, Tyrese Proctor, Mark Mitchell, Jeremy Roach
Key Losses: Dariq Whitehead, Dereck Lively II, Ryan Young, Jacob Grandison Key Newcomers: Sean Stewart, Jared McCain, Caleb Foster, TJ Power
Duke finally got the news they've been waiting weeks for, when starting point guard Jeremy Roach withdrew his name from the draft last week. While it was expected, this news item should officially - barring something shocking - cement Duke as college basketball's No. 1 team heading into next season.
With Roach's return, the Blue Devils now return their top four scorers (and four starters) off a team that won 10 of its final 11 games last season, including the ACC Tournament championship. That includes leading scorer and rebounder Kyle Filipowski, as well as fellow sophomores-to-be Tyrese Proctor (9.4 ppg) and Mark Mitchell (9.1 ppg)
They will make an all-of-a-sudden pseudo-veteran core, alongside another strong recruiting class. It took a dip a few weeks ago when five-star Mackenzie Mgbako - likely 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.
Oh, and the Blue Devils might not be done - as they recently hosted Kansas transfer Ernest Udeh Jr. for a visit last week. He would add depth, and one final piece to a title contender.
2. Kansas Jayhawks
Key Returnees: DaJuan Harris, KJ Adams, Ernest Udeh Jr.,
Key Departures: Jalen Wilson, Gradey Dick, Kevin McCullar, Bobby Pettiford (transfer), MJ Rice (transfer), Joseph Yesufu (transfer), Ernest Udeh Jr. (transfer) Key Additions: Hunter Dickinson (transfer), Nick Timberlake (transfer), Arterio Morris (transfer), Elmarko Jackson, Chris Johnson, Jamari McDowell
It was a slow start to the spring for Bill Self, but the man finished with a bang - adding a slew of transfers late.
The headliner of course was Hunter Dickinson, the most coveted player in the portal, and two-time All-American who averaged 18.5 points per game this season and nine rebounds. He's a legitimate All-American, who fits perfectly in the Kansas frontcourt.
He'll be joined by veteran point guard DaJuan Harris Jr. and sharp-shooting transfer Nick Timberlake, with former McDonald's All-American Arterio Morris transferring in from Texas as well.
Oh, and Kansas might not be done either.
Even though the Jayhawks missed on five-star Mackenzie Mgbako, they are reportedly in the hunt for Creighton transfer Arthur Kaluma. Kaluma is currently testing the NBA Draft waters, but if he decides to return to school, he would be the perfect fit in Lawrence, as a legit, play-making wing.
3. 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, and seemed to genuinely take the process seriously last week in Chicago. But as a player who isn't projected in the first round of any credible mock draft, and with real NIL money at stake by returning to college (assuming Purdue can figure things out logistically since Edey is a grad student) it probably makes sense for him to return.
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, 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.
4. 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
For the first time in these rankings, we're projecting "life without Andre Jackson" for the UConn Huskies. The emotional leader of this season's title team had a great week in Chicago, and is now projected as a late first rounder in NBA mock drafts.
While Jackson has talked openly in the past about playing four (or maybe even five) years in Storrs, it doesn't feel like his stock will be much higher than it is now. And it seems unlikely that he will return at this point.
So, assuming Jackson leaves, that means the Huskies three most important players - Jackson, wing Jordan Hawkins and center Adama Sanogo are gone - but the good news is, they could still return two starters and key reserve Donovan Clingan. Point guard Tristen Newton is still testing the waters but should be back, and Alex Karaban (9.3 points per game last year) will be joined by Clingan, who could have a breakout sophomore year.
The Huskies also have a five-man recruiting class set to enroll, headlined by five-star Stephon Castle.
Again, this is all under the assumption that Jackson stays in the draft, and if he does come back we'll adjust accordingly. But for now we have him out in Storrs, with the Huskies still having a team to compete at the highest levels going into next season.
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
I currently have the Hogs as a Top 5 team entering 2023-2024 - but here's the crazy part: They still probably have more moves to make than anyone left in college hoops.
First, what we know about the 2023-2024 Arkansas squad: They have added five impact transfers, headlined by 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.
Now, to what could still happen from here.
The Hogs still have two players currently testing the draft waters Devo Davis and Jordan Walsh. Walsh seems likely to leave, but Davis should be back as a fourth-year veteran who's been through the wars of the SEC with Eric Musselman.
Arkansas is also a possible landing spot for five-star Ron Holland now that Texas ha officially released him from his scholarship and could be in the mix for North Dakota State transfer Grant Nelson, if he decides to skip the NBA Draft and return to school.
6. 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 announced he won't use his extra year, but - in major news - star guard Tyson Walker announced he'll return and 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.
Barring something shocking between now and the season starting, 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.
7. 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
We had Marquette in our Top 3 since the season ended, but like UConn we are - for the first time - projecting them to lose a key piece to the NBA Draft.
That'd be forward O-Max Prosper who tested off the charts in Chicago at the NBA Draft Combine a week ago. After testing for weeks the speculation seems to be that he will announce that he's officially keeping his name in the draft in the coming days.
And if he does, it's definitely a ding for a Marquette squad that was projected to return everyone off last year's Big East regular season and tournament championship teams.
Yet even without Prosper, the Golden Eagles still have enough to make the school's first Final Four since the Dwyane Wade era.
Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek will return, alongside leading scorer Kam Jones (15.1 points per game) and versatile forward Oso Ighodaro. Sixth man Stevie Mitchell should help replace the production of Prosper as well.
Like UConn, if Prosper shocks everyone and decides to come back to school we'll adjust accordingly. But even without him, Shaka Smart has himself a Top 10 team.
8. Kentucky Wildcats
Key Returnees: Antonio Reeves, Adou Theiro, Ugonna Onyenso
Key Departures: Oscar Tshiebwe, Cason Wallace, Chris Livingston, CJ Fredrick (transfer), Daimion Collins (transfer), Sahvir Wheeler (transfer)
Key Newcomers: DJ Wagner, Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw, Rob Dillingham, Reed Sheppard
So Kentucky lost out on the Hunter Dickinson sweepstakes, and then last week also lost on San Diego State transfer Keshad Johnson. It leaves a still-thin roster that all of a sudden needs to hope that a few players - most notably Oscar Tshiebwe and sharp-shooting Antonio Reeves - return for another season.
Even then, John Calipari will still need to pull a late-spring rabbit out of his hat in the transfer portal to fill out his roster.
But there are two reasons I like this team. One, Tshiebwe could come back for a fifth year, something that seems more likely now than it was a few weeks ago.
And two, this team 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. Rob Dillingham was officially declared eligible this week, after questions surfaced this spring if he'd be cleared by the NCAA or not.
Again, this team still needs to hope Tshiebwe is back. And even then needs to close things out in the portal with a body or two. But I'm not nearly as down on the core as a lot of people seem to be.
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 spring 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. Tennessee Volunteers
Key Returnees: Santiago Vescovi, Zakai Zeigler, Jahmai Mashack, Tobe Awaka, Jonas Aidoo Key Departures: Josiah Jordan-James, Uros Plavsic, Olivier Nkamhoua (transfer), Tyreke Key, Julian Phillips Key Additions: Dalton Knecht (transfer), Chris Ledlum (transfer), Jordan Gainey (transfer), JP Estrella, Cameron Carr, Cade Phillips
There is no bigger mover in recent weeks than the Tennessee Volunteers, who added three impact transfers since our last update.
The biggest key will be Dalton Knecht, a wing who averaged 20.2 points at Northern Colorado, and immediately adds offensive pop to a team that desperately needs it. Chris Ledlum is a 6'6 bowling ball who has shades of Grant Williams to his game and Jordan Gainey is a hot-shooting guard whose father is on the staff.
Add that in with the return of veteran Santiago Vescovi for a fifth season and program stalwart Zakai Zeigler (currently recovering from knee surgery), and the Vols have another squad that will be in the mix for an SEC title.
11. Creighton Bluejays
Key Returnees: Ryan Kalkbrenner, Baylor Scheierman, Trey Alexander, Fredric King, Francisco Farabello
Key Departures: Ryan Nembhard (transfer), Arthur Kaluma
Key Additions: Isaac Traudt (transfer), Steve Ashworth (transfer), Josiah Dotzler
Like so many teams on this list, Creighton had a few key players at last week's NBA Draft Combine.
At least for now we're projecting them - starting guard Trey Alexander and center Ryan Kalkbrenner - to return. And if they do, the Jays have another team good enough to win the Big East.
That's because one, Creighton learned a few weeks ago that Baylor Scheierman, a player who transferred in a year ago, will use his extra year of eligibility. It comes a season after he averaged 12.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists, all while shooting 36 percent from three. Expect those numbers to jump in a second year at the Power 5 level. The Jays also added a pair of transfers in Steve Ashworth and Isaac Tradut, with Ashworth - the star of Utah State's NCAA Tournament squad - a key piece needed to replace Nembhard.
The key now is getting the players mentioned above back.
Kalkbrenner is a 7'1 All-Conference big man and Alexander a versatile guard, who averaged 13.6 points on 41 percent three-point shooting a season ago.
For Greg McDermott the calculus here is simple: Get Alexander and Kalkbrenner back, you've got a Final Four caliber team. Don't, and it's going to be a long, cold winter in Omaha.
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. 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. 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: Matthew Cleveland (transfer), Michael Nwoko
It's been an up-and-down spring for the Hurricanes, who started these rankings in the Top 5, then dipped outside the Top 20 after ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong declared for the draft, but now find themselves back in the Top 15.
Why is that?
Well, besides the return of several key pieces off the school's first ever Final Four team this year, the Hurricanes have gotten quite a bit of good news the last few weeks. One, stars Nijel Pack and Norchad Omier both announced they'd withdraw from the draft and return for another season, and the Hurricanes also added Florida State leading scorer Matthew Cleveland on the wing.
With it, the Hurricanes have another team good enough to win the ACC and advance deep into the NCAA Tournament for a third year in a row.
14. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Key Returnees: Nolan Hickman, Malachi Smith, Anton Watson, Ben Gregg Key Departures: Drew Timme, Rasir Bolton, Julian Strawther, Hunter Sallis (transfer), Efton Reid (transfer) Key Returnees: Ryan Nembhard (transfer), Graham Ike (transfer), Steele Venters (transfer), Dusty Stromer, Alex Toohey
Few teams have reshaped their roster in the last few weeks quite like the Zags have.
The biggest and most important piece came a week ago when Ryan Nembhard (mentioned above), announced his decision to transfer to Spokane. He immediately gives the Zags the lead guard that they needed a season ago, and also gives them a big head-to-head recruiting win over former assistant coach Tommy Lloyd, now at Arizona.
That same day, they also added Graham Ike, the former Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year down low. He missed all of last season with injury, but averaged 19 points and nine rebounds, helping Wyoming to the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
Add those two to a core that includes veterans Nolan Hickman, Ben Gregg and Malachi Smith (currently the NBA Draft waters) and the Zags are again back in the mix in the Top 15 in college basketball.
15. 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 returns 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 recently announced he'd be back 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.
16. USC Trojans
Key Returnees: Boogie Ellis, Vincent Iwuchukwu, Joshua Morgan, Kobe Johnson, Harrison Hornery
Key Departures: Drew Peterson, Reese Dixon-Waters (transfer), Tre White (transfer), Malik Thomas (transfer)
Key Additions: Isaiah Collier, Bronny James, Arrinten Page
While we can't say that the Trojans have made the most important addition since our last update, what we can say is that they've made the most notable: That's right, USC added Bronny James to the 2023-2024 roster.
While the younger James isn't a once-in-a-lifetime talent like his dad (who is these days?) he is a very nice piece, who should fit nicely alongside veteran guard Boogie Ellis and the No. 1 player in high school basketball, Isaiah Collier. Remember, James has played alongside elite talent all throughout his high school career, so fitting in alongside Ellis and Collier in the backcourt should be no problem.
In the frontcourt, 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. And they should be the favorites in their final season in the Pac-12.
17. 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: Jaden Bradley (transfer), Keshad Johnson (transfer), KJ Lewis, Motiejus Krivas, Paulius Murauskas
After a very slow start to the spring, Arizona has been arguably college basketball's most active team the last two weeks or so.
First, they added former McDonald's All-American Jaden Bradley in the backcourt, and in back-to-back days added a pair of forwards from Lithuania Motiejus Krivas and Paulius Murauskas. But the big news came on Saturday, where they beat out a number of notable teams (including Kentucky) for San Diego State transfer Keshad Johnson.
Johnson immediately toughness and defensively versatility to a team that desperately needed both. He also adds another experienced player to a frontcourt that will feature fifth-year center Oumar Ballo and fourth-year forward Pelle Larsson.
With Kylan Boswell taking over at point guard for Kerr Kriisa, these Wildcats should be a bigger, more athletic version of the group that has earned a Top-2 seed in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments.
They might have a higher upside than either of those groups as well.
18. 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: Harrison Ingram (transfer), Cormac Ryan (transfer), 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.
Most importantly, Hubert Davis has done just about all anyone could've asked in the portal. North Carolina added Harrison Ingram, an instant plug-and-play wing, with guards Cormac Ryan and Paxson Wojcik providing shooting. Four-star guard Simeon Wilcher should contribute, with buzz that five-star 2024 commit Elliot Cadeau may reclassify this summer.
Yes, it's fair to criticize Hubert Davis for what happened on the court this season. But he's filled out his roster nicely this off-season. And he might not be done.
19. 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.
Freemantle's decision to officially return last week should cement this group as a preseason Top 25 team.
20. Indiana Hoosiers
Key Returnees: Xavier Johnson, Trey Galloway, Malik Reneau, Anthony Leal, Kaleb Banks, CJ Gunn
Key Departures: Trayce-Jackson Davis, Jalen Hood-Schifino, Race Thompson, Tamar Bates, Jordan Geronimo,
Key Newcomers: Kel'El Ware (transfer), Payton Sparks (transfer), Anthony Walker (transfer), Mackenzie Mgbako, JaKai Newton, Gabe Kupps
For the first time this off-season, welcome to the Top 25 Indiana! And credit to Mike Woodson, who, after losing his two most important players - Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino - reshaped his roster like a seasoned pro this off-season.
The most important piece might be a returnee, and that is guard Xavier Johnson. Remember, it was Johnson who started last year as Indiana's point guard and who was the team's second-leading scorer, prior to a season-ending foot injury in December. He was granted an extra year of eligibility and now returns for a final season.
It's what's around him that's been so wild, as you can argue that no one has had a better off-season than Woodson and the Hoosiers. They added former McDonald's All-American Kel'El Ware out of the portal from Oregon, a school that just about everyone in college basketball wanted. And more recently, they also added five-star Mackenzie Mgbako, a one-time Duke commit, who they had to go head-to-head with Kansas to beat. It isn't an exaggeration to say that Mgbako is one of the Hoosiers biggest recruiting wins in years.
Add them in with the return of hot-shooting Trey Galloway and other portal additions Anthony Walker and Payton Sparks, and the Hoosiers, have a big, athletic team capable of lining up with anyone in the sport.
It's worth noting Indiana has one scholarship left and could still add some scoring depth to their backcourt.
How about Mike F***ing Woodson, y'all!!!
21. West Virginia Mountaineers
Key Returnees: Joe Touissant, Tre Mitchell,
Key Departures: Erik Stevenson, Kedrian Johnson, Emmitt Matthews Jr., Jimmy Bell Jr.
Key Additions: Kerr Kriisa (transfer), Jesse Edwards (transfer), RaeQuan Battle (transfer), Jose Perez (transfer)
While Bob Huggins certainly had a forgettable early May (and will be punished with an early season suspension), he's got a roster on the court good enough to compete at the top of the Big 12 next year.
Really, you could argue no program has had a more impressive portal run this off-season than the Mountaineers.
They started early adding guard Kerr Kriisa from Arizona. While Kriisa seemed to largely wear out his welcome in Tucson, he is a player who has been part of two elite college basketball teams and averaged over five assists per game at the point guard spot this year. West Virginia also added Syracuse forward Jesse Edwards this spring, an elite forward who averaged over 14 points, 10 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game at Syracuse. And guards RaeQuan Battle (Montana State) and Jose Perez (Manhattan) should add scoring pop in the backcourt as well.
Add them in with a pair of returnees (Joe Touissant and Tre Mitchell) and the Mountaineers could be the surprise of the Big 12 next year.
22. Alabama Crimson Tide
Key Returnees: Jahvon Quinerly, Mark Sears, Nick Pringle, Rylan Griffen,
Key Departures: Brandon Miller, Noah Clowney, Charles Bediako, Dom Welch, Nimari Burnett (transfer), Jaden Bradley (transfer)
Key Additions: Aaron Estrada (transfer), Latrell Wrightsell (transfer), Sam Walters, Mouhamed Dioubate, Kris Parker
After winning a second dual-SEC title in a three-year period, it's been a long, hard off-season for Nate Oats.
Alabama expected to lose forwards Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney to the draft so that wasn't really a surprise. But Oats also lost all three of his assistant coaches to heading coaching jobs and had top transfer commit Jaykwon Walton arrested with a gun (and subsequently have his scholarship offer revoked.
Then, earlier this week, starting center Charles Bediako - who no one had projected leaving - announced he'd be staying in the draft after a Monday night workout. With it, it leaves big gaping holes on the wing (where Walton was expected to replace Miller) and at center, where Nick Pringle will now have to step up for Bediako.
The good news is, assuming both Jahvon Quinerly and Mark Sears return, the guard play will still be elite, with those veterans joining transfers Aaron Estrada (Hofstra) and Latrell Wrightsell (Cal State-Fullerton) in the backcourt. Rylan Griffen could be do for a breakout as well.
But again, late in the portal cycle, the Crimson Tide have big holes to fill. And not a lot of time to fill them.
23. 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 are both testing the draft waters. Butler has picked up NBA buzz, but right now we still have both back and 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.
This team won't be as big, deep or talented as last year's squad. But they should probably still be considered the favorites in the Mountain West.
24. 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.
25. Maryland Terrapins
Key Returnees: Jahmir Young, Julian Reese, Donta Scott
Key Departures: Don Carey, Hakim Hart (transfer), Ian Martinez (transfer)
Key Additions: Chance Stephens (transfer), Jordan Geronimo (transfer), Mady Traore (transfer), 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 a mega-offseason win 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, and Willard has added some nice pieces in the portal as well.
This team doesn't quite have the upside of Purdue, Michigan State or Indiana in the Big Ten, but is talented enough to contend for a top four finish in the league.
New to the Top 25: Indiana, West Virginia
Dropped out: Baylor, Auburn
26. St. John's
29. Mississippi State