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Early preseason Top 25 for 2011-12

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Jeff Goodman

Jeff Goodman is a senior college basketball writer for FOXSports.com. Check out his Yardbarker blog. MORE>>
 
   
 

Now that the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft has passed, it’s time for a revamped — yet still early — preseason Top 25 for 2011-12.

It still involves some guesswork, because we're still awaiting final decisions from guys like Terrence Jones, Shelvin Mack and Ashton Gibbs, among others.

GOING PRO

Find out which players are planning to leave college early for a shot at the NBA.

We’ll have another version after the NCAA's May 8 withdrawal deadline.

FOXSports.com's 2011-12 early preseason Top 25

1. NORTH CAROLINA
Key returnees: Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Kendall Marshall, Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald, Reggie Bullock.
Newcomers: James McAdoo, P.J. Hairston.
With the return of Barnes, Henson and Zeller — and everyone else off an Elite Eight team — and the addition of McAdoo and Hairston, the Tar Heels move into the No. 1 spot.

2. KENTUCKY
Potential early departures: Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, DeAndre Liggins.
Lose: Josh Harrellson.
Key returnees: Doron Lamb, Darius Miller.
Newcomers: Anthony Davis, Michael Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Kyle Wiltjer.
This ranking can change depending on the fate of Knight, Jones and Liggins — who all declared for the NBA draft.

3. OHIO STATE
Lose: David Lighty, Jon Diebler, Dallas Lauderdale.
Key returnees: Jared Sullinger, William Buford, Deshaun Thomas, Aaron Craft.
Newcomers: Amir Williams, LaQuinton Ross, Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, Trey McDonald, Evan Ravenel.
Sullinger and Buford maintain they will return to school, which makes the Buckeyes a legitimate Final Four threat again.

4. SYRACUSE
Lose: Rick Jackson.
Key returnees: Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, Brandon Triche, Dion Waiters, C.J. Fair, James Southerland, Mookie Jones, Fab Melo, Baye Moussa Keita, DaShonte Riley.
Newcomers: Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney, Michael Carter-Williams.
The lone departure of Jackson — and the maturation of Melo and addition of Christmas — should make up for the loss.

Coaching carousel

With the season over, keep track of all the coaching firings and hirings.

5. LOUISVILLE
Potential early departure: Terrence Jennings.
Lose: Preston Knowles.
Key returnees: Kyle Kuric, Peyton Siva, Chris Smith, Rakeem Buckles, Jared Swopshire, Mike Marra, Gorgui Dieng.
Newcomers: Wayne Blackshear, Chane Behanan, Zach Price, Angel Nunez.
The loss of Knowles will hurt, but Rick Pitino brings back a bunch of quality veterans and adds a strong freshman class.

6. DUKE
Early departure: Kyrie Irving.
Lose: Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler.
Key returnees: Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, Ryan Kelly, Miles Plumlee.
Newcomers: Austin Rivers, Quinn Cook, Marshall Plumlee, Michael Gbinije, Alex Murphy.
With Irving gone, the Blue Devils will need someone to step up at point guard. But Coach K still has plenty of talent, especially with the arrival of Rivers.

7. CONNECTICUT
Early departure: Kemba Walker.
Lose: Charles Okwandu, Donnell Beverly.
Key returnees: Jeremy Lamb, Alex Oriakhi, Shabazz Napier, Roscoe Smith, Niels Giffey, Tyler Olander.
Newcomers: Ryan Boatright.
Walker is almost certainty gone, but look for Napier to step up. And the other young guys will get a chance to expand their roles.

8. VANDERBILT
Lose: Andre Walker.
Key returnees: John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor, Festus Ezeli, Brad Tinsley, Lance Goulbourne, Rod Odom, Steve Tchiengang.
Newcomers: Dai’Jon Parker, Shelby Moats, Kedren Johnson.
The Commodores have everyone back except for Walker, which means they are a legitimate top-10 club.

9. MEMPHIS
Lose: Will Coleman.
Key returnees: Will Barton, Joe Jackson Tarik Black, Wesley Witherspoon, Antonio Barton, Charles Carmouche, Chris Crawford.
Newcomers: Adonis Thomas, Ferrakohn Hall (Seton Hall transfer).
The Tigers will have some experience this season, and coach Josh Pastner also adds a stud in freshman Thomas.

10. XAVIER
Lose: Jamel McLean, Dante Jackson, Andrew Taylor.
Key returnees: Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons, Kenny Frease, Jeff Robinson, Brad Redford (injured).
Newcomers: Dezmine Wells, Travis Taylor (Monmouth transfer), Justin Martin (sat out), Jalen Reynolds, Dee Davis.
The Musketeers were short on numbers this past season, but Chris Mack has his starting backcourt and big man back — and now he has some depth.

STAY OR GO?

The murky NBA labor situation complicates the decision for college basketball's potential early draft entrants. Jeff Goodman offers sage advice.

11. BAYLOR
Lose: LacDarius Dunn.
Key returnees: Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy, Anthony Jones, A.J. Walton, Fred Ellis, J’Mison Morgan, Stargell Love.
Newcomers: Quincy Miller, Deuce Bello, Brady Heslip, Pierre Jackson.
Chemistry — and leadership — will be the key since there will be no shortage of talent on this roster.

12. PITTSBURGH
Potential early departure: Ashton Gibbs.
Lose: Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown, Gary McGhee.
Key returnees: Nasir Robinson, Dante Taylor, Travon Woodall, Talib Zanna, J.J. Moore, Lamar Patterson, J.J. Richardson, Isaiah Epps.
Newcomers: Khem Birch, Malcolm Gilbert, Durand Johnson, Jaylen Bond, John Johnson.
Coach Jamie Dixon loses three seniors, but the key to whether the Panthers are a legitimate top-15 team is whether Gibbs returns to school.

13. TEXAS A&M
Lose: B.J. Holmes, Nathan Walkup.
Key returnees: Khris Middleton, David Loubeau, Kourtney Roberson, Naji Hibbert, Dash Harris, Ray Turner.
Newcomers: Jamal Branch, Elston Turner (Washington transfer), Jordan Green.
Mark Turgeon is as underrated as it gets in the coaching ranks, and he’ll add a talented guard in Branch, who should come right in and make an impact, along with big-time transfer Turner.

14. FLORIDA
Lose: Chandler Parsons, Vernon Macklin, Alex Tyus.
Key returnees: Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker, Erik Murphy, Patric Young, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguete, Casey Prather, Cody Larson (redshirt).
Newcomers: Bradley Beal, Mike Rosario (Rutgers transfer), Walter Pitchford.
The Gators have talent, but it will be interesting to see how Billy Donovan’s team will fare with a bunch of guards who all love to score.

15. KANSAS
Early departures: Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Josh Selby.
Lose: Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar, Mario Little.
Key returnees: Tyshawn Taylor, Thomas Robinson, Travis Releford, Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey.
Newcomers: Ben McLemore, Naadir Tharpe.
The Jayhawks will lose a lot as the Morris twins and Selby all head to the NBA.

16. BUTLER
Potential early departure: Shelvin Mack.
Lose: Matt Howard, Shawn Vanzant, Zach Hahn.
Key returnees: Andrew Smith, Khyle Marshall, Ronald Nored, Chase Stigall, Chrishawn Hopkins, Garrett Butcher.
Newcomers: Cameron Woods, Jackson Aldridge, Roosevelt Jones, Andrew Smithers.
The loss of Howard is critical, but if Mack returns, the Bulldogs should remain a Top 25 team.

CHEERS TO YOU

They're part of the magic every season. Enjoy our photo-gallery tribute to college basketball cheerleaders.

17. MICHIGAN
Key returnees: Darius Morris, Tim Hardaway Jr., Jordan Morgan, Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, Evan Smotrycz, Matt Vogrich, Jon Horford, Blake McLimans.
Newcomers: Carlton Brundidge, Trey Burke, Max Bielfeldt.
As long as Morris returns, the Wolverines won’t lose anyone — and they add a couple of quality freshmen.

18. MICHIGAN STATE
Lose: Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, Garrick Sherman, Mike Kebler.
Key returnees: Draymond Green, Delvon Roe, Keith Appling, Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne, Russell Byrd (injured).
Newcomers: Branden Dawson, Travis Trice, Dwaun Anderson, Brandan Kearney.
The key here is who will replace Lucas and run the team. Coach Tom Izzo will have plenty up front.

19. MISSOURI
Potential early departures: Kim English, Laurence Bowers.
Lose: Justin Safford.
Key returnees: Marcus Denmon, Phil Pressey, Ricardo Ratliffe, Michael Dixon, Matt Pressey, Ricky Kreklow.
I would expect English and Bowers to return to school. And if everyone else comes back, look for new coach Frank Haith to inherit a deep and talented team.

20. GONZAGA
Lose: Steven Gray.
Key returnees: Elias Harris, Robert Sacre, Sam Dower, Kelly Olynyk, Demetri Goodson, Marquise Carter, David Stockton.
Newcomers: Gary Bell, Kevin Pangos, Ryan Spangler, Kyle Dranginis.
The Zags lose Gray but still have a couple of studs up front in Harris and Sacre. The key again will be point guard play.

21. WISCONSIN
Lose: Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil, Tim Jarmusz.
Key returnees: Jordan Taylor, Josh Gasser, Mike Bruesewitz, Ryan Evans, Jared Berggren.
Newcomers: Jarrod Uthoff, Traevon Jackson, Frank Kaminsky, George Marshall.
Bo Ryan lost Leuer, and he’ll be tough to replace, but Taylor is the key — and the Badgers have enough around him to remain near the top of the Big Ten.

22. GEORGE MASON
Lose: Cam Long, Isaiah Tate.
Key returnees: Ryan Pearson, Luke Hancock, Andre Cornelius, Mike Morrison, Vertrail Vaughns.
Newcomers: Vaughn Gray, Corey Edwards, Sherrod Wright (injured last year).
The Patriots lose their leading scorer, Long, and their coach, Jim Larranaga. But they return four of their top five scorers and are the clear favorite to win the Colonial Athletic Association.

23. ALABAMA
Lose: Senario Hillman, Chris Hines, Charvez Davis.
Key returnees: JaMychal Green, Tony Mitchell, Trevor Releford, Andrew Steele, Charles Hankerson.
Newcomers: Levi Randolph, Nick Jacobs, Moussa Gueye, Rodney Cooper.
Anthony Grant returns his top three players from last year’s team, which barely missed out on an NCAA tournament bid.

24. MARQUETTE
Lose: Jimmy Butler, Dwight Buycks, Joseph Fulce.
Key returnees: Darius Johnson-Odom, Vander Blue, Jae Crowder, Chris Otule, Junior Cadougan, Davante Gardner.
Newcomers: Jamil Wilson (Oregon transfer), Todd Mayo, Derrick Wilson, Juan Anderson.
Buzz Williams loses Butler, who was a terrific player. But Marquette's big men should take a step forward in their development, and Wilson could become an impact guy after sitting out.

T25. UCLA
Early departures: Tyler Honeycutt, Malcolm Lee.
Key returnees: Reeves Nelson, Josh Smith, Lazeric Jones, Jerime Anderson, Anthony Stover, Brendan Lane, Tyler Lamb.
Newcomers: David Wear, Travis Wear, Norman Powell, De’End Parker.
The Bruins should still be able to contend for the Pac-12 title even after losing Honeycutt and Lee.

T25. ARIZONA
Early departure: Derrick Williams.
Key returnees: Lamont Jones, Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, Jesse Perry, Jordin Mayes, Brendon Lavender.
Newcomers: Josiah Turner, Nick Johnson, Angelo Chol, Sidiki Johnson.
The Wildcats have a terrific freshman class coming in — especially in the backcourt — but the loss of Williams will be difficult to sustain.

OTHERS TO WATCH
Cincinnati, Villanova, Temple, Florida State, Purdue, Illinois, Creighton, Washington, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Texas, Fairfield.

Tagged: Marquette, Memphis, Louisville, Arizona, UCLA, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, New Orleans, North Carolina, Duke, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Kentucky, Florida, George Mason, Butler, Xavier, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Connecticut, Seton Hall, Baylor, Texas A&M, Missouri, Kansas, Gonzaga, Shelvin Mack, Elijah Johnson, Andre Dawkins, Charles Carmouche, Andre Cornelius, Lamont Jones, Thomas Robinson, Tyler Honeycutt, Elias Harris, Mike Morrison, Ryan Pearson, John Henson, David Wear, Travis Wear, Mike Bruesewitz, Travis Taylor, Derrick Williams, Jamil Wilson, Anthony Stover, Alex Oriakhi, Laurence Bowers, Kim English, Jimmy Butler, Chris Otule, Ryan Evans, Jordan Taylor, Jared Berggren, Brad Tinsley, Miles Plumlee, Stu Douglass, William Buford, Terrence Jennings, Kyle Kuric, Jared Swopshire, Draymond Green, Tyshawn Taylor, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, Travis Releford, Anthony Jones, Shelvin Mack, Shawn Vanzant, Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons, Brad Redford, Darius Miller, Josh Harrellson, Mike Rosario, JaMychal Green, Andrew Steele, Erving Walker, Evan Ravenel, Tyler Zeller, Kemba Walker, Ashton Gibbs, Nasir Robinson, Mookie Jones, Jeffery Taylor, Mike Kebler, Jeff Withey, Kyle Fogg, Malcolm Lee, Jerime Anderson, Andrew Taylor, David Lighty, Jeff Robinson, Charles Okwandu, Brad Wanamaker, Rick Jackson, Cam Long, Isaiah Tate, Jon Diebler, Tim Jarmusz, Jon Leuer, Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Jeff Robinson, Andre Walker, Alex Tyus, Steven Gray, Robert Sacre, Matt Howard, Kalin Lucas, Dante Jackson, Darius Johnson-Odom, Dante Taylor, Ferrakohn Hall, Michael Dixon Jr., Will Coleman, Derrick Nix, David Stockton, John Jenkins, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, Mike Marra, Jordan Morgan, Darius Morris, Matt Vogrich, Charvez Davis, Chris Hines, Andrew Smith, Chris Smith, Perry Jones III, Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford, Will Barton, Kyrie Irving, Tim Hardaway Jr., Jon Horford, Evan Smotrycz, Tyler Lamb, Lazeric Jones, Josh Gasser, Rod Odom, Will Yeguete, Baye-Moussa Keita, Matt Pressey, Kendall Marshall, Vander Blue, Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, Jeremy Lamb, Tyler Olander, Roscoe Smith, Josh Selby, Khyle Marshall, Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb, Trevor Releford

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