Post-deadline 2013-14 power rankings
The dust has settled — well, most of it anyway. The deadline for entering the NBA Draft has come and gone. The last couple of weeks have been dominated by headlines telling us which college stars are staying and which are leaving. If you love the college game, you celebrate the news that guys like Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State, Russ Smith of Louisville, and Shabazz Napier of Connecticut are staying.
We’ve lost Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo and Ben McLemore to the pros.
And we still await the news from Andrew Wiggins, the top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2013. He is considering Kentucky, Florida State, Kansas and North Carolina. If Wiggins had already selected the Seminoles, you’d probably see them in these rankings.
So, with more information than we had a couple of weeks ago, we offer up a revised edition of the early, early look at 2013-14. But be warned . . . things can still change.
25. Colorado: The Buffaloes were a top 15 team with Andre Roberson but just before the deadline to enter the draft, Roberson threw his hat in the NBA circle. Roberson averaged 11.2 rebounds last season but has been projected as a second-round pick. Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie return to form an outstanding backcourt combo. Tad Boyle’s program remains on the rise, but Colorado will miss Roberson.
24. Creighton: Doug McDermott decided to come back for his senior season. That’s all you really need to know. The chance to play in the new Big East was too much for McDermott to pass on. That’s good news for his dad, who just happens to be his coach at Creighton. Greg McDermott gets one of the most efficient players in the nation back on his roster.
23. Harvard: Tommy Amaker’s team turned some heads last season, getting into the NCAA tournament and then upsetting New Mexico. Point guard Brandyn Curry and forward Kyle Casey return to the Crimson after missing last season as part of a school-wide academic scandal. That should keep Harvard at the top of the Ivy League.
22. Baylor: The Bears didn’t make our first early look at 2013-14, primarily because everyone thought Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin would leave for the NBA. It turns out they decided to stay. Baylor will miss guard Pierre Jackson but if shooting guard Brady Heslip becomes a threat again, the Bears will have high expectations.
21. Gonzaga: It has been a rollercoaster ride for fans of the Bulldogs, who rose to No. 1 in the polls and then lost to Wichita State in the round of 32. Kelly Olynyk, the multi-talented 7-foot center, has entered the NBA Draft and that will hurt. Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and David Stockton are back. Przemek Karnowski is the new 7-footer in town.
20. Virginia: The Cavaliers aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Tony Bennett’s team won 23 games and earned some extra playing time in the NIT when they didn’t make the Big Dance. Joe Harris should be one of the better-known players in the ACC next season. Bennett has a pair of talented guards in his recruiting class too.
19. Memphis: The Tigers fall a bit from our previous poll with the loss of Adonis Thomas to the NBA Draft and the transfer of Tarik Black. It’s funny how Black has gone from a Memphis reserve to one of the most coveted available players. Josh Pastner has recruited well and will still have a good team.
18. Villanova: Jay Wright’s team should be a contender in the newfangled Big East Conference. Point guard Ryan Arcidiacono and forward JayVaughn Pinkston will lead the Wildcats. Freshman Kris Jenkins heads up the recruiting class and could play significant minutes.
17. VCU: Shaka Smart returns as coach of the Rams despite the offer from UCLA. What Smart needs from his team this season is greater consistency. Four of the top five scorers return from last season and incoming point guard JeQuan Lewis is expected to become a star.
16. Tennessee: Cuonzo Martin is emerging as one of the top coaches in the SEC. The Vols showed drastic improvement by the end of last season, return all of their top players and also will have Jeronne Maymon, a medical redshirt last season. Tennessee won’t miss the NCAA Tournament in 2014.
15. Wichita State: The Shockers might be a more consistent team next season than the one that Gregg Marshall led to the Final Four in 2013. Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker got great experience in the NCAA Tournament. Fred VanVleet and Tekele Cotton played well down the stretch as well. And the Shockers get shooter Evan Wessel back after a redshirt season.
14. Connecticut: Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels are all returning to Kevin Ollie’s overlooked team from last season. They’ve got a chip on their shoulder after being banned from postseason play last season. If Daniels works hard over the summer, he might take the nation by storm. Freshman Kentan Facey is expected to help on the boards.
13. Kansas: This might be too high for a team losing all five starters. But Bill Self has been through this process before and never dropped off. Perry Ellis is the next star for the Jayhawks. Freshmen forward Wayne Selden is highest ranked recruit but 7-footer Joel Emblid has been very impressive in high school all-star games. Once again, the biggest concern might be at point guard.
12. Michigan: Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. made the Wolverines click, all the way to the Final Four. Both have packed their bags for the NBA. That hurts but John Beilein has talent and experience back, led by Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary.
11. Marquette: It hurts a little bit that leading scorer Vander Blue made a bad decision and entered the NBA Draft. But the Golden Eagles do have Davante Gardner, Todd Mayo and Jamil Wilson returning. Coach Buzz Williams has the ability to squeeze something extra out of his players.
10. Ohio State: The Buckeyes will give Michigan State a run for its money in the Big Ten. If DeShaun Thomas had returned for his senior season, this team would have Final Four potential. Four starters are back, led by point guard Aaron Craft, the defensive wizard. Lenzelle Smith Jr. and LaQuinton Ross will be asked to score more in Thomas’ absence.
9. Syracuse: The decision by sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams to turn pro was a bit surprising. MCW needed work in many areas. The Orange will miss seniors Brandon Triche and James Southerland as well. But C.J. Fair is returning and coach Jim Boeheim always finds a way to reshuffle the deck.
8. Oklahoma State: Guard Marcus Smart certainly changed things, didn’t he? Everyone assumed the national freshman of the year would head to the NBA. But Cowboy fans were ecstatic when Smart decided to stay in school. That makes OSU the favorite in the Big 12 and moves the Cowboys from out of the Top 25 and into the top 10.
7. Florida: The Gators will have a different look but coach Billy Donovan should be able to keep his team in the top 10 with McDonald’s All-Americans Chris Walker and Kasey Hill joining the roster. Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguete and Patric Young return to provide leadership.
6. North Carolina: Reggie Bullock put his name in the NBA Draft pool but James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston will be back. If recruits Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks can stabilize things inside, Hairston may be able to return to the shooting guard position.
5. Duke: Coach Mike Krzyzewski has the No. 4 recruiting class in the Scout.com rankings, led by small forward Jabari Parker. He joins Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon, both back from last season. Duke still hopes to add Memphis transfer Tarik Black, who would give much-needed help inside.
4. Arizona: Sean Miller loses a lot of scoring punch and Grant Jerrett turned pro. But post players Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley gathered momentum at the end of last season. The Wildcats will rely heavily on freshmen forwards Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. But it is Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell who will elevate Arizona with his play at the point.
3. Louisville: No more photos of Rick Pitino’s tattoo. Please. It’s just wrong. The really disturbing thought is there could be a second national championship tattoo next season. If so, can we just take Pitino at his word? The return of guard Russ Smith makes a third consecutive trip to the Final Four possible. Juco transfer Chris Jones will replace Peyton Siva at the point. Luke Hancock won’t sneak up on anyone, but the Cardinals aren’t flying away.
2. Michigan State: If there is one team that might have what it takes to overcome Kentucky, the Spartans could be that group. When Adreian Payne and Gary Harris decided to stay another season, coach Tom Izzo must have jumped out of his chair in jubilation. Point guard Keith Appling is back with Harris in the backcourt. Branden Dawson is on the verge of stardom.
1. Kentucky: College basketball fans outside the Bluegrass State are upset to see the Wildcats at the top of all the early, early preseason polls. But when you mix sophomores Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein with an incoming recruiting class that may be the best of all time, what else can a prognosticator do? Recruits Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Julius Randle and James Young all rank in the Scout.com Top 10. John Calipari could still add No. 1 prospect Andrew Wiggins. Will they all jell together? That’s what we’re waiting to find out.