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Revised College Basketball Early Top 25 for 2013-14


The NBA’s early entry draft deadline has come and gone, creating enough movement to make us re-evaluate our early rankings for 2013-14.

Chief among them, we re-visited Oklahoma State after the Cowboys returned point guard Marcus Smart. Originally, we did not rank Oklahoma State under the assumption Smart, projected to be a top-three pick, would leave for the draft. His return makes Oklahoma State the early Big 12 favorite.

We also bumped Louisville up one spot to No. 2, giving the Bluegrass State the top two teams heading into the season. Russ Smith elected to return to school, boosting Louisville’s chances of repeating. As long as Kentucky doesn’t stand in the way.

A handful of key moves could still impact the rankings for 2013-14, chief among them an announcement by freshman Andrew Wiggins. The top prospect in the 2013 class is considering Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.

Tarik Black, who announced his intention to transfer from Memphis, has become a highly coveted commodity despite meager output last season (8.1 points, 4.8 rebounds). But teams like Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, Oregon and others badly need a big man.

And aside from transfers, most of the rosters are set for 2013-14. Here’s how things shake out right.



Key players gone: Archie Goodwin, Julius Mays, Nerlens Noel

Top returners: Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer

New faces: Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Julius Randle, James Young (all freshmen)
The loss to Robert Morris in the NIT is a distant memory for Kentucky, mainly because most of the key players for 2013-14 didn’t play in the game. The Wildcats will be back in national title contention thanks to a recruiting class that includes six of the top 15 prospects in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. If Kentucky lands top-ranked recruit Andrew Wiggins, Kentucky would have four of the top five prospects. Even if last season went awry, John Calipari has proven he can win a title with freshmen of this caliber.

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Key players gone: Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva

Top returners: Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell, Russ Smith, Kevin Ware
New faces: Anton Gill (Hargrave Military Academy), Chris Jones (junior college), Terry Rozier (Hargrave)

Smith’s father said after the Cardinals’ title that his son would head to the NBA Draft, but Smith instead returned to school for more development. His return gives Louisville an even better opportunity to defend its title (Athlon had Louisville ranked third in its first swipe at 2013-14). With Siva gone, the junior college transfer Jones takes over the point, and now Gill and Rozier give the Cards an enviable rotation in the backcourt. The returning cast of Hancock and Harrell were at their best late in the season, and Behanan had one of his best games of the year in the title game.

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Key players gone: Derrick Nix

Top returners: Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Denzel Valentine, Travis Trice

Nix is the only one of the top seven scorers gone from a team that went 27-9. Harris considered the draft, but the smooth-shooting guard returned after averaging 12.9 points per game and 45.6 shooting from the field. Payne took his decision down to the wire, but his return gives Tom Izzo a veteran team with Final Four potential.

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Key players gone: Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee

Top returners: Quinn Cook, Andre Dawkins, Amile Jefferson, Marshall Plumlee, Rasheed Sulaimon, Tyler Thornton

New faces: Rodney Hood (Mississippi State transfer), Matt Jones (freshman), Semi Ojeleye (freshman), Jabari Parker (freshman)

The losses of Curry, Kelly and Plumlee are huge, but this is Duke. Sulaimon is the top returner. He stood out on the defensive end last season and proved he could carry the scoring load. Cook was a pleasant surprise at point guard for a team that spent most of the season in the top three. Of the newcomers, Parker could fill Kelly’s versatility and Jones could fill Curry’s role as a shooter. Dawkins, who averaged better than eight points per game in each of his last two seasons, returns after he sat out in 2012-13.

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Key players gone: Solomon Hill, Grant Jerrett, Mark Lyons, Keith Parrom

Top returners: Brandon Ashley, Nick Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski

New faces: Aaron Gordon (freshman), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (freshman), T.J. McConnell (Duquesne transfer)
Arizona will miss Hill’s leadership and Lyons’ scoring, but Sean Miller can restock a roster. The Wildcats got a major boost for the upcoming season when they landed McDonald’s All-American power forward Aaron Gordon. Hopes are high for Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell to become a floor general at point guard. Jerrett, who averaged 5.2 points per game and 3.6 rebounds, made a surprising decision to leave for the draft

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Key players gone: Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy, Mike Rosario

Top returners: Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguette, Patric Young

New faces: Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech transfer), Damontre Harris (South Carolina transfer), Kasey Hill (freshman), Chris Walker (freshman)
The Gators’ season looks a bit better with Young electing to return to school, but he still needs to become a more dominant player befitting his size. Wilbekin and Yeguette, who anchored the Gators’ in the defensive end, also return. Much will depend on the newcomers. Hill is one of the top point guard recruits to come to Florida under Billy Donovan. Finney-Smith, a McDonald’s All-American in 2011, was one of the top freshmen in the ACC at Virginia Tech, averaging 6.3 points and seven rebounds. With Chris Walker, Florida will have one of the top front lines in the country.

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Key players gone: Philip Jurick

Top returners: Markel Brown, Michael Cobbins, Phil Forte, Kamari Murphy, Le’Bryan Nash, Marcus Smart

New faces: Stevie Clark, Detrick Mostella (freshmen)
Smart’s return was a shocker. It also may be the first threat to Kansas’ dominance in the Big 12 in a few years. The Cowboys return four scorers who averaged double figures last season and went 13-5 in the Big 12 before running into under-seeded Oregon in the NCAA Tournament.

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Key players gone: Deshaun Thomas, Evan Ravenel

Top returners: Aaron Craft, LaQuinton Ross, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Sam Thompson, Amir Williams

New faces: Marc Loving, Kameron Williams (freshmen)
Much of Ohio State’s season will depend on how the Buckeyes’ replace Thomas’ prolific scoring. LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. started to show they were capable of carrying the load near the end of the season, but they need to be ready for bigger roles.

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Key players gone: Reggie Bullock, Dexter Strickland

Top returners: P.J. Hairston, James Michael McAdoo, Leslie McDonald, Marcus Paige

New faces: Nate Britt, Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks (freshmen)
James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston both elected to return to school after North Carolina struggled to live up to expectations last season. The Tar Heels didn’t find their groove until going to a four-guard lineup so it will be interesting to see how incoming freshman big men Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks impact the rotation.

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Key players gone: Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr.

Top returners: Spike Albrecht, Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas

New faces: Zak Irvin (freshman)
Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. didn’t shock anyone by going to the draft. Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III returned for their sophomore seasons to give the Wolverines a chance on building on last season, though a return to the Final four may be tough. The pressure will be on McGary to prove he carry his tournament momentum into a full season.

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Key players gone: Michael Carter-Williams, James Southerland, Brandon Triche

Top returners: Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney, C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant, Baye Keita

New faces: Tyler Ennis, Ron Patterson, Tyler Roberson (freshmen)
Replacing the starting backcourt of Carter-Williams and Triche will be challenging as the Orange move to the ACC. Syracuse is counting on incoming point guard Ennis and shooting guard Patterson, who signed with Indiana before going to prep school, to take those roles. Fair is the only returning player who averaged more than 5.1 points last season.

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Key players gone: Malcolm Armstead, Carl Hall, Demetric Williams

Top returners: Ron Baker, Tekele Cotton, Cleanthony Early, Fred VanVleet, Jake White

New faces: D.J. Bowles (freshman), Kadeem Coleby (Louisiana-Lafayette transfer), Earl Watson (junior college), Evan Wessel (redshirt)
The Shockers will miss Armstead and Hall from the Final Four run, but don’t forget Wichita State played most of the season without the redshirt freshman Baker. With Early, Baker and Cotton, there’s enough returning to win the Missouri Valley this season. The Shockers should fill their void with two players who redshirted last season -- 6-foot-9 Louisiana-Lafayette transfer Coleby and local 6-5 guard Wessel.

13. VCU

Key players gone: Darius Theus, Troy Daniels

Top returners: Rob Brandenburg, Treveon Graham, Juvonte Reddic, Melvin Thomas, Briante Weber

New faces: Jordan Burgess (redshirt)
Five of the top seven players return to VCU, including three who averaged double-figure scoring. Theus’ 2.4 steals per game will be missed in the defensive end, but there’s a lot to like about a VCU team that went 12-5 in its first season in the Atlantic 10.


Key players gone: Jared Beggren, Mike Bruesewitz, Ryan Evans

Top returners: Ben Brust, Sam Dekker, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson

Players come and go, but Wisconsin is pretty much automatic to contend in the Big Ten and reach the NCAA Tournament under Bo Ryan. In 2013-14, the Badgers return one of the Big Ten’s most underrated freshmen in Sam Dekker plus a healthy Josh Gasser.

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Key players gone: Kenny Hall, Skyler McBee

Top returners: Trae Golden, Jeronne Maymon, Jordan McRae, Josh Richardson, Jarnell Stokes

New faces: Robert Hubbs (freshman)
The Volunteers came together late in the season, but it wasn’t enough to get in the NCAA Tournament. With the core of Golden, McRae and Stokes, plus a healthy Maymon, this should be the year for Cuonzo Martin. Stokes considered the draft but elected to return to school.

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Key players gone: Juan Anderson, Vander Blue, Junior Cadougan, Trent Lockett
Top returners: Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, Jamil Wilson

New faces: Deonte Burton (freshman), JaJuan Johnson (freshman), Jameel McKay (junior college), Duane Wilson (freshman)

Vander Blue’s departure hurts and knocks Marquette out of the preseason top 10. Gardner (11.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Jamil Wilson (9.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg) still give Buzz Williams veterans to work with in 2013-14. In addition to the returners, Marquette may have a new point guard (Wilson) and two major freshmen in Johnson and Burton.


Key players gone: None

Top returners: Ryan Boatright, Omar Calhoun, DeAndre Daniels, Niels Giffey, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander

At 20-10 overall and 10-8 in the Big East, Connecticut had the look of an NCAA Tournament team despite the postseason ban. With nearly everyone returning after Napier’s decision to return to school, the Huskies should be able to realize that goal.

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Key players gone: Tarik Black, D.J. Stephens, Adonis Thomas

Top returners: Chris Crawford, Shaq Goodwin, Joe Jackson, Geron Johnson

New faces: Markel Crawford, Kuron Iverson, Nick King, Austin Nichols, RaShawn Powell (all freshmen)
After winning a Tournament game, going 16-0 in Conference USA and adding another top recruiting class, Memphis has the most momentum it’s had under Josh Pastner. Now, the Tigers head to the American Athletic Conference.

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Key players gone: Elias Harris, Guy Landry-Edi, Kelly Olynyk

Top returning players: Gary Bell Jr, Sam Dower, Przemek Karnowski, Kevin Pangos, David Stockton

New faces: Gerald Coleman (Providence transfer), Angel Nunez (Louisville transfer)
The front line takes a hit without Olynyk and Harris, but Mark Few’s backcourt should be solid.

Related: Winners and losers from the NBA Draft early entry deadline


Key players gone: Sabatino Chen
, Andre Roberson
Top returners: Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie, Xavier Johnson, Josh Scott, Andre Roberson

Led by Dinwiddie and Booker, Colorado’s roster returns mostly intact after the program’s second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Buffaloes struggled down the stretch, but a handful of freshmen played key minutes. This should be Colorado’s breakout season under Tad Boyle if the Buffs can find away to replace Roberson's prowess on the glass.

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Key players gone: Tony Snell, Demetrius Walker
Top returning players: Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk, Hugh Greenwood, Kendall Williams

New faces: Cullen Neal (freshman)
Craig Neal was promoted to coach a 29-6 team that returns virtually intact. The Lobos may be the preseason pick to win the Mountain West, but that Tournament loss to Harvard will be tough to forget.

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Key players gone: Remy Abell, Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Cody Zeller

Top returning players: Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey

New faces: Luke Fischer, Stanford Robinson, Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams (all freshmen)
Indiana can’t help but take a step back with all those losses, but the Hoosiers have recruited well enough to stay in the mix in the Big Ten. The pressure will be on the point guard Ferrell.

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23. UCLA

Key players gone: Shabazz Muhammad, Larry Drew II

Top returners: Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, David Wear, Travis Wear

New faces: Zach LaVine (freshman)
Steve Alford is set up nicely in his first season at UCLA with Adams and Anderson returning.

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Key players gone: Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Kevin Young

Top returning players: Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe

New faces: Joel Embiid (freshman), Conner Frankamp (freshman), Brannen Green (freshman), Landen Lucas (redshirt), Wayne Selden (freshman)
Kansas loses its starting five, but it’s risky to bet against the Jayhawks in the Big 12. They’ll find a way.

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Key players gone: Kwamain Mitchell, Cody Ellis

Top returners: Dwayne Evans, Jordair Jett, Rob Loe, Mike McCall

Jim Crews has the job full-time and a chance to repeat in the Atlantic 10. Replacing Kwamain Mitchell’s 30 minutes per game will be tough.

Also considered: Alabama, Baylor, Cal, Creighton, Harvard, Iowa, Notre Dame, Virginia, Villanova