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An Early College Basketball Top 25 for 2014-15

John Calipari

John Calipari

The NBA draft early entry deadline has come and gone for college players. The last major recruit has picked his school. Transfers are starting to settle.

In other words, teams are starting to have a better idea of their rosters for 2014-15.

We last posted a top 25 after the national championship game, a top 25 that operated under a few assumptions regarding the draft. Not least of which, we assumed Kentucky would lose far more to the draft than the Wildcats did. The Harrison twins, Willie Cauley-Stein and others said they’d return to Lexington to compete for a national title.

That vaulted Kentucky to the No. 1 spot in our early rankings. We made a few other adjustments, including a boost to a Texas team that landed five-star prospect Myles Turner on Wednesday. Certainly, we’ll make a few more before we arrive at our final conclusion in the Athlon Sports preseason annual in the fall.

For now, here’s how teams stack up at the start of May.

1. Kentucky (29-11, 12-6 SEC, national runner up)
Gone: F Julius Randle, G James Young
Top returning players: C Willie Cauley-Stein, G Aaron Harrison, G Andrew Harrison, F Dakari Johnson, F Marcus Lee, F Alex Poythress
New arrivals: G Devin Booker, F Trey Lyles, C Karl Towns, G Tyler Ulis (freshmen)
The Harrison twins announced last week they will return to school, giving Kentucky nine total McDonald’s All-Americans and a veteran core (by Kentucky’s standards) that reached the national title game.

2. Arizona (33-5, 15-3 Pac-12, Elite Eight)
Gone: F Aaron Gordon, G Nick Johnson
Top players returning: F Brandon Ashley, F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, G T.J. McConnell, C Kaleb Tarczewski, G Gabe York
New arrivals: G Kadeem Allen (junior college transfer), G Parker Jackson-Cartwright, F Stanley Johnson, F Craig Victor (freshmen)
Returning Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is huge as is a full healthy season from Brandon Ashley. Nick Johnson leaves a major backcourt void that won’t be filled easily.

3. Duke (26-9, 13-5 ACC, Round of 64)
Gone: G Andre Dawkins, F Rodney Hood, F Jabari Parker, G Tyler Thornton
Top players returning: G Quinn Cook, F Amile Jefferson, G Matt Jones, F Semi Ojeleye, C Marshall Plumlee, G Rasheed Sulaimon
New arrivals: G Grayson Allen, G Tyus Jones, C Jahil Okafor, F Justise Winslow (freshmen)
Duke matches Kentucky with nine McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster, including four in the nation’s No. 1 signing class.

4. Wisconsin (30-8, 12-6 Big Ten, Final Four)
Gone: G Ben Brust
Top players returning: F Sam Dekker, G Josh Gasser, F Nigel Hayes, G Traevon Jackson, F Frank Kaminsky, G Bronson Koenig
As we saw in the Final Four, Bronson Koenig could slip right into the role vacated by Ben Brust, the only major departure.

5. Kansas (25-10, 14-4 Big 12, Round of 32)
Gone: F Tarik Black, C Joel Embiid, G Naadir Tharpe, F Andrew Wiggins
Top players returning: F Perry Ellis, G Conner Frankamp, G Brannen Greene, G Frank Mason, G Wayne Selden
New arrivals: F Cliff Alexander, G Deveonte Graham, G Kelly Oubre (freshmen), F Hunter Mickelson (Arkansas transfer)
Kansas missed out on Myles Turner, but the Jayhawks still have two 247Sports Composite top-five players arriving on campus. Kansas announced Thursday Naadir Tharpe would transfer, leaving the point guard job to Frank Mason or Devonte Graham, who committed to KU on May 2

6. Louisville (31-6, 15-3 American, Sweet 16)
Gone: F Luke Hancock, G Russ Smith, F Kevin Ware
Top players returning: G Wayne Blackshear, F Montrezl Harrell, G Chris Jones, G Terry Rozier
New arrivals: F Shaqquan Aaron, G Quentin Snider (freshmen)
Montrezl Harrell’s return was one of the most significant decisions leading up to the draft deadline. With Chris Jones and Terry Rozier at guard, Louisville will have a standout inside-out game.

7. Wichita State (35-1, 18-0 Missouri Valley, Round of 32)
Gone: C Kadeem Coleby, F Cleanthony Early, G Nick Wiggins
Top players returning: G Ron Baker, F Darius Carter, G Tekele Cotton, F Tevin Glass G Fred VanVleet
Leading scorer Cleanthony Early is a big loss, but the Shockers return one of the top backcourts in the country in Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton.

8. Florida (36-3, 18-0 SEC, Final Four)
Gone: F Casey Prather, G Scottie Wilbekin, F Will Yeguete, C Patric Young
Top players returning: G Eli Carter, G Michael Frazier II, G Kasey Hill, F Dorian Finney-Smith, F Chris Walker
New arrivals: G Chris Chiozza (freshman), G Brandon Francis (freshman), F Jon Horford (Michigan transfer) Alex Murphy (Duke transfer), F Devin Robinson (freshman)
The core of seniors is gone, but the Gators have two of the top 2013 prospects (Kasey Hill and Chris Walker) ready for full-time roles along with a slew of transfers from the last two seasons.

9. North Carolina (24-10, 13-5 ACC, Round of 32)
Gone: F James Michael McAdoo, G Leslie McDonald
Top players returning: G Isaiah Hicks, G Brice Johnson, F Kennedy Meeks, G Marcus Paige, F J.P. Tokoto
New arrivals: G Joel Berry, F Justin Jackson, G Theo Pinson (freshmen)
The return of guard Marcus Paige and forward Brice Johnson give North Carolina a veteran core heading into 2014-15.

10. Texas (24-11, 11-7 Big 12, Round of 32)
Gone: None
Top players returning: G Javan Felix, G Demarcus Holland, F Jonathan Holmes, F Connor Lammert, C Cameron Ridley, G Isaiah Taylor
New arrivals: C Myles Turner (freshman)
Myles Turner was the last major recruit to pick a school, picking Texas over Kansas and SMU. He’ll be an immediate help in the defensive end as the Longhorns return to form in the Big 12.

11. Virginia (30-7, 16-2 ACC, Sweet 16)
Gone: G Joe Harris, F Akil Mitchell
Top players returning: G Justin Anderson, G Malcolm Brogdon, F Anthony Gill, G London Perrantes, F Mike Tobey
New arrivals: G Devon Hall (redshirt), G B.J. Stith (freshman)
Top scorer Malcolm Brogdon and point guard London Perrantes are back for the ACC regular season and tournament champions.

12. Villanova (29-5, 16-2 Big East, Round of 32)
Gone: G James Bell
Top players returning: G Ryan Arcidiacono, G Dylan Ennis, G Josh Hart, G Darrun Hilliard, F Daniel Ochefu, F JayVaughn Pinkston
Big East champion Villanova loses its leading scorer, albeit from a balanced group.

13. SMU (27-10, 12-6 American, NIT runner up)
Gone: G Nick Russell
Top players returning: G Keith Frazier, F Markus Kennedy, G Ben Moore, G Nic Moore, C Yanick Moreira
New arrivals: G Emmanuel Mudiay
Emmanuel Mudiay is the No. 1 prospect in the 247Sports Composite, making Larry Brown’s team one of the most interesting upstarts in college basketball next season.

14. Iowa State (28-8, 11-7 Big 12, Sweet 16)
Gone: F Melvin Ejim, G DeAndre Kane
Top players returning: F Dustin Hogue, G Naz Long, G Monte Morris, F Georges Niang, G Matt Thomas
New arrivals: G Bryce Dejean-Jones (UNLV transfer), F Jameel McKay (Marquette transfer), F Abdell Nader (Northern Illinois)
Another season and more impact transfers in Ames. UNLV graduate transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones will join point guard Monte Morris in the backcourt.

15. Michigan (28-9, 15-3 Big Ten, Elite Eight)
Gone: F Jon Horford, F Mitch McGary, F Jordan Morgan, F Glenn Robinson III, G Nik Stauskas
Top players returning: G Spike Albrecht, G Zak Irvin, G Caris LeVert, G Derrick Walton
New arrivals: F Kameron Chatman (freshman)
John Beilein will figure out something, but the positive drug test that forced Mitch McGary’s hand into the NBA draft leaves Michigan thin in the frontcourt.

16. UConn (32-8, 12-6 American, national champion)
Gone: F DeAndre Daniels , G Niels Giffey, G Lasan Kromah, G Shabazz Napier, F Tyler Olander
Top players returning: G Ryan Boatright, C Amida Brimah, G Omar Calhoun, F Phillip Nolan, G Terrence Samuel
New arrivals: G Daniel Hamilton (freshman), G Rodney Purvis (NC State transfer)
DeAndre Daniels capitalized on his NCAA run to go to the draft. UConn will have a solid backcourt with Ryan Boatright and Rodney Purvis, but repeating will be tough.

17. San Diego State (31-5, 16-2 Mountain West, Sweet 16)
Gone: F Josh Davis, G Xavier Thames
Top players returning: F J.J. O’Brien, F Dwayne Polee, G Aqeel Quinn, F Winston Shepard, F Matt Shrigley, F Skyler Spencer
Xavier Thames and Josh Davis are major losses, but the Aztecs return plenty of seniors plus rising star junior Winston Shepard.

18. Michigan State (29-9, 12-6 Big Ten, Elite Eight)
Gone: G Keith Appling, G Gary Harris, C Adreian Payne
Top players returning: F Matt Costello, F Branden Dawson, F Kenny Kaminski, G Travis Trice, G Denzel Valentine
Branden Dawson’s return was key. He’ll be the star player on a team looking to turn role players into starters.

19. Oklahoma (23-10, 12-6 Big 12, Round of 64)
Gone: G Cameron Clark
Top players returning: G Isaiah Cousins, G Buddy Hield, F Ryan Spangler, G Jordan Woodard
New arrivals: F Khadeem Lattin (freshman)
Even without Cameron Clark, this will be a veteran team with rising juniors Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler leading the way. OU went 12-6 in the rugged Big 12 behind a freshman point guard, Jordan Woodard, who will have a year of experience.

20. VCU (26-9, 12-4 Atlantic 10, Round of 64)
Gone: G Rob Brandenburg, F Juvonte Reddic
Top players returning: G Jordan Burgess, G Treveon Graham, G Melvin Johnson, G JeQuan Lewis, G Briante Weber
New arrivals: F Michael Gilmore, F Terry Larrier, F Justin Tillman, G Jonathan Williams (freshmen)
What little bulk VCU had is gone with the departure of 6-9 forward Juvonte Reddic. The Rams will try to make up for it with three freshman 6-7 or taller, all ranked in the top 100.

21. Kansas State (20-13, 10-8 Big 12, Round of 64)
Gone: G/F Shane Southwell, G Will Spradling
Top players returning: G Marcus Foster, F Thomas Gipson, F Wesley Iwundu, F D.J. Johnson, F Nino Williams
New arrivals: G Justin Edwards (Maine transfer), C Stephen Hurt (junior college transfer)
Losing those two seniors will hurt. Kansas State, though, will have one of the top point guards in the Big 12 in sophomore Marcus Foster. The Wildcats will need to prove something in a hurry. K-State lost its last four and six of its last nine.

22. Ohio State (25-10, 10-8 Big Ten, Round of 64)
Gone: G Aaron Craft, G LaQuinton Ross, G Lenzelle Smith
Top returning players: G Shannon Scott, F Sam Thompson, C Amir Williams
New arrivals: G Keita Bates-Diop (freshman), F Anthony Lee (Temple transfer), G D’Angelo Russell (freshman), G Kam Williams (redshirt)
Shannon Scott takes over at point guard, but double-double threat Anthony Lee was a major addition from Temple.

23. Nebraska (19-13, 11-7 Big Ten, Round of 32)
Gone: G Ray Gallegos
Top players returning: G Terran Petteway, F Walter Pitchford, G Shavon Shields
Nebraska returns almost anyone from a fringe NCAA Tournament team. Did the Cornhuskers’ late-season wins over Michigan State and Wisconsin signal a team ready for more?

24. UCLA (28-9, 12-6 Pac-12, Sweet 16)
Gone: G Kyle Anderson, G Jordan Adams, G Zach LaVine, F David Wear, F Travis Wear
Top players returning: G Bryce Alford, F Wanaah Bail, F Tony Parker, G Norman Powell
New arrivals: G Isaac Hamilton (ineligible last season), F Kevon Looney (freshman)
The Bruins were hit hard an unexpectedly by the NBA Draft, but they will add a McDonald’s All-American in Isaac Hamilton, who was ineligible last season after backing out of his letter of intent to UTEP. Norman Powell and Tony Parker will need to take lead roles.

25. Syracuse (28-6, 14-4 ACC, Round of 32)
Gone: G Tyler Ennis, F C.J. Fair, F Jerami Grant
Top players returning: F Rakeem Christmas, F DaJuan Coleman, G Trevor Cooney, F Tyler Roberson
New arrivals: F Chris McCullough (freshman)
Point guard will be an issue for Syracuse as Jim Boeheim’s last two floor generals, Tyler Ennis and Michael Carter-Williams, left earlier than anticipated.

Others of Note

Gonzaga (29-7, 16-3 West Coast, Round of 32)
G Drew Barham, C Sam Dower, G David Stockton
Top returning players: G Gary Bell Jr., G Gerard Coleman, G Kyle Dranginis, C Przemek Karnowski, G Kevin Pangos
Newcomers: F Kyle Wiltjer (Kentucky transfer)

Harvard (27-5, 13-1 Ivy, Round of 32)
F Kyle Casey, G Brandyn Curry, G Laurent Rivard
Top returning players: G Siyani Chambers, F Steve Moundou-Miss, G Wesley Saunders

Colorado (23-12, 10-8 Pac-12, Round of 64)
G Spencer Dinwiddie
Top players returning: G Askia Booker, F Wesley Gordon, F Xavier Johnson, F Josh Scott, G Xavier Talton

Dayton (26-11, 10-6 Atlantic 10, Elite Eight)
F Matt Kavanaugh, F Devin Oliver, G Vee Sanford
Top returning players: F Dyshawn Pierre, G Khari Price, F Jalen Robinson, G Jordan Sibert, G Scoochie Smith

Memphis (24-10, 12-6 American, Round of 32)
G Chris Crawford, G Michael Dixon, G Joe Jackson, G Geron Johnson, F David Pellom
Top returning players: F Shaq Goodwin, F Kuran Iverson, F Austin Nichols, G Nick King

Minnesota (24-13, 8-10 Big Ten, NIT champion)
G Austin Hollins, G Malik Smith
Top returning players: G Andre Hollins, F Joey King G Deandre Mathieu, F Maurice Walker

Utah (21-12, 9-9 Pac-12, NIT first round)
G Ahmad Fields, F Renan Lenz, G Princeton Onwas
Top returning players: C Dallin Bachynski, F Jordan Loveridge, C Jeremy Olsen, G Brandon Taylor, G Dakarai Tucker, G Delon Wright

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