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A Very Early College Basketball Top 25 for 2014-15

Sean Miller

Sean Miller

The 2014 national champion has been crowned, so now it's time to take a quick look ahead at next season.

Consider this a quick snapshot of the 2014-15 season. A handful of developments still need to happen before there’s a clearer picture of the season ahead.

McDonald’s All-American Myles Turner has yet to commit, and he’s down to a handful of power players — Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, SMU and Duke.

NBA Draft early entries also have a deadline coming up before may. Prospects can enter the draft any time before April 27, but those who declare and do not hire an agent must withdraw by April 15 to retain their eligibility.

1. Arizona (33-5, 15-3 Pac-12, Elite Eight)
Gone: None
Undecided: F Aaron Gordon, F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, G Nick Johnson
Top players returning: F Brandon Ashley, 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)
The best case is that Gordon is the only player to leave for the Draft. Hollis-Jefferson is Arizona’s next best prospect, and he’s a fringe lottery possibility. If Johnson returns to team with McConnell and York in the backcourt. Stanley Johnson, the No. 3 prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings, could step into Gordon’s shoes. He’ll be a more well-rounded offensive threat.

2. Wisconsin (30-8, 12-6 Big Ten, Elite Eight)
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
The Badgers stand to lose only the sharpshooting Brust from a team that was one possession from playing for the national title. The Badgers always seem to have players waiting in the wings, so more minutes from rising sophomores Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig could make this an improved team from one that won 30 games in 2013-14.

3. Kansas (25-10, 14-4 Big 12, Round of 32)
Gone: F Tarik Black, C Joel Embiid, F Andrew Wiggins
Top players returning: F Perry Ellis, G Conner Frankamp, G Brannen Greene, G Frank Mason, G Wayne Selden, G Naadir Tharpe
New arrivals: F Cliff Alexander, G Kelly Oubre (freshmen), F Hunter Mickelson (Arkansas transfer)
Most teams would have trouble recovering from the departures of talent like Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. Kansas has a knack of grooming the next group while, of course, recruiting at a high level. Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden could become stars. The freshman class has only two players (for now), but both are top-five prospects in the 247Sports Composite. The Jayhawks also are in the running for top-five prospect Myles Turner.

4. Kentucky (29-11, 12-6 SEC, national runner up)
Gone: None yet
Undecided: C Willie Cauley-Stein, G Aaron Harrison, G Andrew Harrison, F Dakari Johnson, F Alex Poythress, F Julius Randle, G James Young
Top returning players: F Marcus Lee
New arrivals: G Devin Booker, F Trey Lyles, C Karl Towns, G Tyler Ulis (freshmen)
The outlook will be more complete when John Calipari’s group sorts out who will — in his words — succeed and proceed to the NBA Draft. Expect major losses after a run to the title game, but if any of the veterans from this year’s team return, Calipari may have fewer the headaches he had during the season. This freshman group isn’t the historic group that singed a year ago, but Trey Lyles and Karl Towns are impressive big men. Tyler Ulis should be a solid point guard.

5. Duke (26-9, 13-5 ACC, Round of 64)
Gone: G Andre Dawkins, G Tyler Thornton
Undecided: F Rodney Hood, F Jabari Parker, F Rasheed Sulaimon
Top players returning: G Quinn Cook, F Amile Jefferson, F Semi Ojeleye, C Marshall Plumlee
New arrivals: G Tyus Jones, C Jahil Okafor, F Justise Winslow (freshmen)
Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood have not declared, but either returning would be a surprise. The Blue Devils return their point guard and best offensive rebounder to go with the No. 1 freshman class. Center Jahlil Okafor is the nation’s No. 1 prospect in the 247Sports Composite while Jones is the No. 2 point guard.

6. Michigan (28-9, 15-3 Big Ten, Elite Eight)
Gone: F Jordan Morgan
Undecided: F Mitch McGary, F Glenn Robinson III, G Nik Stauskas
Top players returning: G Spike Albrecht, F Jon Horford, G Zak Irvin, G Caris LeVert, G Derrick Walton
New arrivals: F Kameron Chatman (freshman)
Michigan has three key players pondering a jump to the draft with Nik Stauskas the closest to being a lottery pick. Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton emerged late in the season, so they could be breakout candidates in 2014-15.

7. Wichita State (35-1, 18-0 Missouri Valley, Round of 32)
Gone: F Cleanthony Early, G Nick Wiggins
Top players returning: G Ron Baker, F Darius Carter, C Kadeem Coleby, G Tekele Cotton, 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. 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 foundation of the Tar Heels will be juniors Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson and J.P Tokoto, but the Tar Heels have standout sophomore and freshman classes to fill out a team that will challenge for an ACC title.

9. UConn (32-8, 12-6 American, national champion)
Gone: G Niels Giffey, G Lasan Kromah, G Shabazz Napier, F Tyler Olander
Undecided: F DeAndre Daniels
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)
UConn is understandably curious what life will be like post-Shabazz Napier. If DeAndre Daniels returns, this is a team that will challenge for the AAC title. Adding Rodney Purvis, a decorated recruit who averaged only 8.3 points at NC State, may keep the Huskies in the mix.

10. 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 Michael Frazier II, G Kasey Hill, F Dorian Finney-Smith, F Chris Walker
New arrivals: G Eli Carter (Rutgers transfer), G Chris Chiozza (freshman), G Brandon Francis (freshman), F Devin Robinson (freshman)
For a team that lost a group of seniors that played in four consecutive Elite Eights, Florida is well-positioned to stay competitive. Kasey Hill and Chris Walker, who didn’t become eligible until midseason, were five-star recruits. Michael Frazier II can still shoot lights out. The Gators will need more from Dorian Finney-Smith.

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)
The Cavaliers lose their second-leading scorer and top rebounder, but they may be built to last under Tony Bennett. Malcolm Brogdon emerged as the Cavs’ MVP, and London Perrantes was an underappreciated point guard. Virginia also redshirted its top recruit, Devon Hall, last season.

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
Leading scorer James Bell is gone, but the Wildcats have two other scorers who topped 14 points per game, plus point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who was on the fringe of double figures. Nova will miss his 6.1 rebounds, but the good news is that Doug McDermott is gone from Creighton, one of four teams to beat the Wildcats last season.

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
SMU responded to its Selection Sunday snub by reaching the NIT title game. The Mustangs have a chance to get into the NCAA Tournament next season with little drama. SMU adds the No. 2 recruit and No. 1 point guard, Emmanuel Mudiay, to a team that loses only one significant contributor. That gives SMU two five-star guards in Mudiay and Keith Frazier.

14. Louisville (31-6, 15-3 American, Sweet 16)
Gone: F Luke Hancock, G Russ Smith, F Kevin Ware
Undecided: F Montrezl Harrell
Top players returning: G Wayne Blackshear, G Chris Jones, G Terry Rozier
New arrivals: F Shaqquan Aaron, G Quentin Snider (freshmen)
Like a few other teams, Louisville is in rankings limbo. If Montrezl Harrell returns, the Cardinals could be a top-10 team. A major question will be how Chris Jones and Terry Rozier fill the shoes of Russ Smith in Louisville’s first season in the ACC.

15. Michigan State (29-9, 12-6 Big Ten, Elite Eight)
Gone: G Keith Appling, G Gary Harris, C Adreian Payne
Undecided: F Branden Dawson
Top players returning: F Matt Costello, F Kenny Kaminski, G Travis Trice, G Denzel Valentine
The losses of Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne are major, but Michigan State has enough returning to be competitive in the Big Ten, especially if Branden Dawson returns to school. Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine thrived in their roles, but they’ll need to be the No. 1 or No. 2 option next season.

16. 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
The Longhorns were one of the surprise teams of 2013-14, turning Rick Barnes from a hot seat coach to Big 12 Coach of the Year. With no seniors on the 2013-14 rotation, Texas will be expected to contend for the Big 12 title in 2014-15.

17. 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: F Jameel McKay (Marquette transfer), F Abdell Nader (Northern Illinois)
Losing Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane will hurt, but Georges Niang’s value was clear in the Elite Eight loss to UConn. Monte Morris was a sure-handed point guard as a freshman, but he’ll have the ball in his hands more with Kane gone. As usual, transfers will play a key role for coach Fred Hoiberg.

18. 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.

19. 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.
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.

20. 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.

21. Syracuse (28-6, 14-4 ACC, Round of 32)
Gone: G Tyler Ennis, F C.J. Fair
Undecided: 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. The return of Jerami Grant may be the difference between Syracuse contending for the ACC or the NCAA Tournament bubble.

22. UCLA (28-9, 12-6 Pac-12, Sweet 16)
Gone: G Kyle Anderson, G Zach LaVine, F David Wear, F Travis Wear
Undecided: G Jordan Adams
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 will be hit hard 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.

23. 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)
Despite a leadership void without Aaron Craft, Ohio State will have the roster to contend in the Big Ten. Anthony Lee will be eligible immediately after transferring from Temple, where he averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds. A solid freshman class plus two guard Kam Williams returning from a redshirt year will keep Ohio State interesting.

24. 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?

25. Colorado (23-12, 10-8 Pac-12, Round of 64)
Gone: None
Undecided: G Spencer Dinwiddie
Top players returning: G Askia Booker, F Wesley Gordon, F Xavier Johnson, F Josh Scott, G Xavier Talton
The Buffaloes’ ranking depends almost entirely on the return of Spencer Dinwiddie. Colorado is a top-15 team with him, a Pac-12 also-ran without him.

Also considered: Dayton, Gonzaga, Harvard, Memphis, Minnesota, Oregon

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