Smith: It’s time to get excited about college hoops again
Who else is jonesin’ for some college hoops?
I always get excited for the start of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball season and, believe it or not, the season is actually already under way with a handful of games being played the last two days.
Duke played Presbyterian on Monday and UCLA plays Prairie View A&M tonight. Far from must-see matchups, sure, and the first intriguing game of the season doesn’t come until Tuesday when Kentucky plays at North Carolina (8 p.m. on ESPN, Sunflower Broadband Ch. 33), but it still feels good to know it is that time of year again.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the top 25 teams in the nation as far as I’m concerned. True, I’m neither a member of the Associated Press nor a coach voting in either of the sport’s highly regarded polls. Just consider the following for what it is: the opinion of one die-hard college hoops fan.
With each team in my very unofficial top 25, you will find a list of key players each team lost from last year’s squad as well as those who return. Impact freshmen are listed in parentheses and Division I transfers who should be major contributors are indicated with an asterisk.
1. North Carolina — loses: Alex Stephenson; returns: Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Deon Thompson, Marcus Ginyard, (Ed Davis), (Tyler Zeller), (Larry Drew).
2. Gonzaga — loses: David Pendergraft; returns: Matt Bouldin, Jeremy Pargo, Austin Daye, Josh Heytvelt, Steven Gray, Micah Downs, (Grant Gibbs).
3. UCLA — loses: Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute; returns: Darren Collison, Josh Shipp, (Jrue Holiday), (J’Mison Morgan), (Drew Gordon), (Jerime Anderson), (Malcolm Lee).
4. Notre Dame — loses: Rob Kurz; returns: Luke Harangody, Kyle McAlarney, Troy Jackson, Ryan Ayers, Zach Hillesland.
5. Connecticut — loses: Stanley Robinson, Doug Wiggins; returns: Jeff Adrien, A.J. Price, Jerome Dyson, Hasheem Thabeet, Craig Austrie, (Kemba Walker).
6. Louisville — loses: David Padgett, Derrick Caracter; returns: Earl Clark, Terrence Williams, Edgar Sosa, Andre McGee, *Reginald Delk (Samardo Samuels), (Terrence Jennings), (Jared Swopshire).
7. Pittsburgh — loses: Mike Cook, Keith Benjamin, Ronald Ramon; returns: Sam Young, Levance Fields, DeJuan Blair, Gilbert Brown, Tyrell Biggs.
8. Texas — loses: D.J. Augustin; returns: A.J. Abrams, Damion James, Connor Atchley, Justin Mason.
9. Villanova — loses: nobody; returns: Scottie Reynolds, Dante Cunningham, Corey Fisher, Shane Clark, Antonio Pena, Dwayne Anderson, Casiem Drummond, Reggie Redding.
10. Memphis — loses: Chris Douglas-Roberts, Derrick Rose, Joey Dorsey; returns: Robert Dozier, Antonio Anderson, Doneal Mack, (Tyreke Evans), (Wesley Witherspoon), (Angel Garcia), (Matt Simpkins).
11. Oklahoma — loses: Longar Longar, David Godbold; returns: Blake Griffin, Tony Crocker, Austin Johnson, Taylor Griffin, (Willie Warren).
12. Tennessee — loses: Chris Lofton, JeJuan Smith, Ranar Smith; returns: Tyler Smith, Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince, (Scotty Hopson), (Emmanuel Negedu), (Philip Jurick), (Renaldo Woolridge).
13. Michigan State — loses: Drew Neitzel, Drew Naymick; returns: Raymar Morgan, Kalin Lucas, Goran Suton, Travis Walton, (Delvon Roe), (Korie Lucious).
14. Marquette — loses: Ousmane Barro; returns: Jerel McNeal, Dominic James, Wesley Matthews, Lazar Hayward.
15. Duke — loses: DeMarcus Nelson; returns: Kyle Singler, Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer, Greg Paulus, (Elliot Williams).
16. Georgetown — loses: Roy Hibbert, Jonathan Wallace, Patrick Ewing Jr.; returns: DeJuan Summers, Jessie Sapp, Austin Freeman, (Greg Monroe), (Henry Sims), (Jaon Clark).
17. Xavier — loses: Josh Duncan, Drew Lavender, Stanley Burrell; returns: Derrick Brown, C.J. Anderson, B.J. Raymond, Jason Love, (Kenny Frease), (Terrell Holloway).
18. Baylor — loses: Aaron Burce; returns: Curtis Jerrells, LaceDarius Dunn, Kevin Rogers, Henry Dugat, Tweety Carter, (Anthony Jones), (Quincy Acy).
19. Florida — loses: Marreese Speights, Jai Lucas; returns: Nick Calathes, Walter Hodge, Dan Werner, Chandler Parsons, (Eloy Vargas), (Kenny Kadji), (Ray Shipman).
20. Purdue — loses: Scott Martin; returns: E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, Keaton Grant, Chris Kramer.
21. Syracuse — loses: Donte Greene; returns: Eric Devendorf, Jjonny Flynn, Paul Harris, Arinze Onuaku, Scoop Jardine, Kristof Ongenaet, (Mookie Jones).
22. Davidson — loses: Jason Richards, Thomas Sander, Boris Meno; returns: Stephen Curry, Andrew Lovedale, Max Paulhus Gosselin.
23. Wake Forest — loses: nobody; returns: James Johnson, Jeff Teague, L.D. Williams, Ishmael Smith, Chas McFarland, Harvey Hale, (Al-Farouq Aminu), (Ty Walker), (Tony Woods).
24. Kansas — loses: Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun; returns: Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, (Marcus Morris), (Travis Releford), (Markieff Morris), (Tyshawn Taylor).
25. Arizona State — loses: nobody; returns: James Harden, Jeff Pendergraph, Ty Abbott, Derek Glasser, Jerren Shipp.