NBA Live Mock Draft Podcast Results

With the NBA Draft less than 48 hours away, Kevin and Brad invited special guest Patrick Wong on to do a live mock draft. The guys went through all 60 picks switching off pick-by-pick to project what many have called the best draft class in more than a decade. Picks were made based on what WE would have done, NOT what we think the teams will necessarily do.

Here are our picks: (K = Kevin, P = Patrick, B = Brad)

Round 1:

  1. Phoenix (K)– DeAndre Ayton (Arizona)
  2. Sacramento (P)– Luka Doncic (Real Madrid)
  3. Atlanta (B)– Jaren Jackson Jr (Michigan State)
  4. Memphis (K)– Marvin Bagley (Duke)
  5. Dallas (P)– Mo Bamba (Texas)
  6. Orlando (B)– Trae Young (Oklahoma)
  7. Chicago (K)– Michael Porter Jr (Missouri)
  8. Cleveland (P)– Wendell Carter Jr (Duke)
  9. New York (B)– Mikal Bridges (Villanova)
  10. Philadelphia (K)– Miles Bridges (Michigan State)
  11. Charlotte (P)– Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky)
  12. LA Clippers (B)– Robert Williams (Texas A&M)
  13. LA Clippers (K)– Collin Sexton (Alabama)
  14. Denver (P)– Kevin Knox (Kentucky)
  15. Washington (B)– Lonnie Walker (Miami)
  16. Phoenix (K)– Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech)
  17. Milwaukee (P)– Aaron Holiday (UCLA)
  18. San Antonio (B)– Khyri Thomas (Creighton)
  19. Atlanta (K)– Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova)
  20. Minnesota (P)– Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State)
  21. Utah (B)– Kevin Huerter (Maryland)
  22. Chicago (K)– Mitchell Robinson (Western Kentucky)
  23. Indiana (P)– Elie Okobo (Pau-Lacq-Orthez)
  24. Portland (B)– Jacob Evans (Cincinnati)
  25. LA Lakers (K)– Chandler Hutchison (Boise State)
  26. Philadelphia (P)– Moritz Wagner (Michigan)
  27. Boston (B)– Jevon Carter (West Virginia)
  28. Golden State (K)– Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech)
  29. Brooklyn (P)– Grayson Allen (Duke)
  30. Atlanta (B)– Melvin Frazier (Tulane)

Round 2:

  1. Phoenix (K)– Jalen Brunson (Villanova)
  2. Memphis (P)– Troy Brown (Oregon)
  3. Dallas (B)– Gary Trent Jr (Duke)
  4. Atlanta (K)– Issuf Sanon (Petrol Olimpija)
  5. Orlando (P)– Dzanan Musa (Cedevita)
  6. New York (B)– Omari Spellman (Villanova)
  7. Sacramento (K)– Jarred Vanderbilt (Kentucky)
  8. Philadelphia (P)– Bruce Brown (Miami)
  9. Philadelphia (B)– Anfernee Simons (IMG Academy)
  10. Brooklyn (K)– Kevin Hervey (UT-Arlington)
  11. Orlando (P)– Chimezie Metu (USC)
  12. Detroit (B)– Vincent Edwards (Purdue)
  13. Denver (K)– Shake Milton (SMU)
  14. Washington (P)– De’Anthony Melton (USC)
  15. Brooklyn (B)– Jerome Robinson (Boston College)
  16. Houston (K)– Kenrich Williams (TCU)
  17. LA Lakers (P)– Justin Jackson (Maryland)
  18. Minnesota (B)– Rawle Alkins (Arizona)
  19. San Antonio (K)– Isaac Bonga (Frankfurt Skyliners)
  20. Indiana (P)– Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky)
  21. New Orleans (B)– Wenyen Gabriel (Kentucky)
  22. Utah (K)– Landry Shamet (Wichita State)
  23. Oklahoma City (P)– Alonzo Trier (Arizona)
  24. Dallas (B)– Alize Johnson (Missouri State)
  25. Charlotte (K)– Kostas Antetokounmpo (Dayton)
  26. Philadelphia (P)– Rodions Kurucs (FC Barcelona)
  27. Oklahoma City (B)– Cyrille Eliezer-Vanerot (Levallois Metropolitans)
  28. Denver (K)– Arnoldas Kulboka (Brose Bamberg)
  29. Phoenix (P)– Trevon Duval (Duke)
  30. Philadelphia (B)– Donte Grantham (Clemson)

Notable Players Undrafted: Devonte Graham (Kansas), Tony Carr (Penn State), Devon Hall (Virginia), Malik Newman (Kansas), Svi Mykhailiuk (Kansas), Theo Pinson (North Carolina), Billy Preston (Kansas), Ray Spalding (Louisville), Brandon McCoy (UNLV), Angel Delgado (Seton Hall)

With Hot Recruiting Start, Rodney Terry Positioning UTEP for Long-Term Success

By Kevin Sweeney

In the days following UTEP’s hire of Rodney Terry to replace Tim Floyd as head basketball coach, I graded the hire a B+.

I’m already regretting not going much higher.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a first-year coach with more early momentum than Terry. Since departing Fresno State this March in a move that surprised many, Terry has laid a groundwork for winning for years to come while reinvigorating a fanbase that had long been frustrated with Floyd’s inability to bring the consistent success they had come to expect during the Don Haskins era.

Terry entered a near-impossible position from a roster standpoint. 3 key senior talents graduating, younger players transferring, and the rest of the old staff’s recruiting class departing for other collegiate homes. In front of him was 9 open scholarships late in the 2018 recruiting process, with the team in need of a talent injection for both the coming season and beyond.

Yet Terry has managed the roster masterfully, with the help of a strong staff with a rolodex of recruiting contacts throughout not just Texas but the entire country (and beyond). Former San Diego head coach Lamont Smith is the biggest name on staff, a experienced recruiter who had begun a big turnaround with the Toreros before off-court trouble led to his departure this Spring. Terry also brought over assistants Nick Matson and Brian Burton with him from Fresno State, with Burton bringing strong Texas recruiting connections and Matson providing experience from his work across the country. That staff has allowed the Miners to hit the ground running on the recruiting trail.

The first domino to fall was physical big man Efe Odigie, a Houston native who elected to follow Terry from Fresno State, where he had signed originally. Next was Nigel Hawkins, a scoring guard with multiple high-major offers who committed shortly after visiting in late April. Terry then landed Deon Stroud, a former 2019 prospect with several Mountain West offers who elected to reclassify to 2018 and #JoinTheMovement a year early. The most recent prep prospect to pop for Terry and company was high-upside Canadian big man Kaosi Ezeagu, who held offers from Butler and South Carolina but chose the Miners instead. The only miss by Terry’s new staff was Rivals top 150 recruit Isaac Likekele, a former Fresno State commit who elected to head to Oklahoma State instead.

And while Terry’s ability to put together a strong freshman class in such a short amount of time deserves credit, the work he has put in on the transfer market is even more impressive. He’s earned a pair of pledges in NJIT transfer wing Anthony Tarke (15 points, 6 rebounds per game) and former San Francisco guard Souley Boum (10 points per game, WCC All-Freshman selection), and had Fresno State transfer big man Bryson Williams (13 points, 6 rebounds per game) on campus for a visit this weekend. With 3 scholarships still available, Terry still has plenty of room to add talent to the roster for this year and beyond.

One key reason for Terry’s early success and momentum has been his ability to excite and connect with the strong UTEP fanbase, one that averaged well over 6,000 fans per game in the 2016-17 season (most recent NCAA Attendance Report available). The Miners have used Twitter as their friend, with Miners fans and coaches constantly tweeting with hashtags like #BlueCollarMentality, #JoinTheMovement, and #NewEraUTEP.

Social media is a huge area that more teams need to focus on exploiting, and UTEP is the perfect example of this. Twitter is a great way to connect fans and get them excited about the upcoming season, and I expect to see a lot of massive crowds filling the Don Haskins Center for years to come. If the recruiting momentum continues, it won’t be long before UTEP establishes itself as a perennial contender for Conference USA titles and NCAA Tournament berths.

Sorry about the lack of content on the site recently, I’ve been super busy. Will be ramping things up for the summer soon!

Nevada Showing Top-To-Bottom Effort Necessary to Become Elite

By Kevin Sweeney

When UT-Arlington fired head coach Scott Cross in stunning fashion earlier this Spring, I went on a rant (to put it kindly) blasting their decision. UTA Athletic Director Jim Baker reportedly had clashed with Cross on multiple occasions about Cross’s inability to turn the Maverick program into “The Next Gonzaga”. My criticism was simple– becoming the next Gonzaga, Xavier, Butler, or Wichita State takes more than simply an elite coach. Obviously, those programs needed their Mark Few, Pete Gillen, Brad Stevens (or Barry Collier) or Gregg Marshall to ascend to the level that they are at now, but it takes a top-to-bottom effort, from the president of the school all the way down to the fans, to build a program and a culture with staying power at the elite level of college basketball.

Nevada has found their elite coach. Now, can they establish themselves as the next elite mid-major program? Yesterday, in the aftermath of the Jordan Brown commitment, I saw yet another reason why I believe they will.

The hashtag #RiseAndShinePack was all over my Twitter feed yesterday morning, as coaches and their wives shared videos of themselves celebrating landing the McDonald’s All-American Brown.

It was a fun, humorous way to celebrate the news, while also engaging the entire fanbase to tweet out how they celebrated the news. It was the latest great marketing play by the Wolf Pack as they become the new “sexy” name in college basketball.

From the embrace of Twitter to their wide variety of jerseys to the big raise and contract extension Musselman received after last season, Nevada is doing everything right on the path to continued success. Between the fun brand of basketball that the Wolf Pack play and the variety of efforts to connect with the fanbase, ticket sales have spiked, as have donations to the program. Those increases in revenue without a doubt play a big role in Nevada’s ability to pay Musselman, who received a raise from his $400k salary to over $1 million after winning the Mountain West title in 2017.

Obviously, Musselman’s time in Reno may not last forever. UCLA head coach Steve Alford has struggled to live up to the program’s lofty expectations, and a program with the facilities, money, and pedigree like UCLA may prove enough to draw Musselman away from Reno should that job open up. Without a doubt, his name will be mentioned in connection with every major job opening for as long as he remains the Pack’s head coach. However, Nevada is positioned to capitalize on this run of success in a way that other programs that have flirted with national prominence (including this very same Nevada program just 10 years ago).

The biggest factor in college basketball remains money, and Nevada still needs work in that area. Not only do they lag far behind the powers I mentioned before, but they lag behind much of the Mountain West in basketball spending as well (though that number doesn’t factor in the significant raise for Musselman).



All data in the chart is per ESPN college basketball analyst Mark Adams’ Facebook post (data from 2016–17 year. 

That said, with ticket sales rising drastically and potential for significant NCAA Tournament revenue coming down the road, the time seems right for the Wolf Pack administration to ramp up spending. They’ve already invested in a brand-new practice facility, thanks in no small part to a $1 million gift from Pack alum Ramon Sessions. Still, that top-to-bottom commitment from everyone from the biggest figures atop the university to boosters to even the Wolf Pack fans who follow me on Twitter.

Potentially replacing Musselman is possible– Nevada AD Doug Knuth has made strong hires in football, women’s basketball, and men’s basketball all in his relatively short tenure in Reno. Butler and Xavier have consistently lost their coaches to bigger programs but have a culture of hiring great coaches and not missing a beat.

The one hurdle that can’t be overcome long-term is money. If Nevada hopes to be the next Gonzaga, they must avoid the same mistakes that countless other programs have made.

Breaking: Siena to Hire Jamion Christian?

By Kevin Sweeney

The biggest remaining domino in the 2018 coaching carousel has fallen, maybe?

Siena has hired Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian to be their next head coach, per Rodger Wyland of WNYT in Albany. Wyland reports that a press conference is hoped for on Friday.

UPDATE: Jon Rothstein now is reporting that the hire has yet to be finalized, but that Christian is a leading candidate. A spokesperson for Siena says no offer has been made.

UPDATE 5/1: Marisa Jacques of Spectrum News in Albany is reporting that Siena will name Christian their next head coach after all.

Christian replaces Jimmy Patsos, who resigned earlier this month amidst allegations of verbal abuse against players and managers following an 8-24 season.

The 36-year-old Christian, a Shaka Smart disciple, heads to Loudonville after an impressive 6-year run at Mount St. Mary’s, where he took the Mountaineers to 2 NCAA Tournaments and never finished below .500 in conference play. Christian consistently recruited extremely well to “The Mount”, bringing in talents like Elijah Long and Miles Wilson into the program. However, just like most of the NEC, his rosters were consistently set back by transfers, as Long headed to Texas, Wilson to Miami, and Mawdo Sallah to Kansas State after last season’s NCAA Tournament berth. At Siena, with much better facilities and a bigger conference, Christian has a chance to keep those types of talents for 4 years, something Siena fans should be excited about.

However, Christian inherits a difficult situation at Siena, as the Saints are coming off a brutal season and have seen several key players announce their intent to transfer. Freshmen Prince Oduro, Roman Penn, and Jordan Horn have all requested releases to transfer, and Nico Clareth, who left the program midseason, is currently on the market as a sit 1, play 1 transfer. Penn and Horn look like decent bets to return, but Oduro appears to be gone, with multiple high-major programs already expressing interest. Clareth has received interest from several mid- and high-major programs, but would be a sit 1, play 1 transfer. Christian’s first job will be to re-recruit those 4 players, and from there, he’ll have to get to work recruiting late in the cycle to add talent.

To me, this is about as good a hire as Siena could have realistically made. The brief flirtations with Rick Pitino were quite fun to watch, but it would have been an extremely risky hire with all the negative publicity and potential show-cause penalty to come. Getting an up-and-coming coach who plays a fun style and recruits well will indubitably be welcomed by Siena fans, as they look to get back to the heights of the Fran McCaffery era.

As for Mount St. Mary’s, the program is left in a bit of a lurch. Making a hire in May is very difficult, and it doesn’t seem likely that the Mountaineers will be able to hire from within, as the staff there is inexperienced. The new coach will inherit a talented young core, but will face roster balance issues (no rising juniors or seniors on the current roster) as well as could set into motion a mass transfer exodus from the program– something that is all too familiar for their NEC foes.

“Testing The Waters” Has Gone Too Far

By Kevin Sweeney

Scroll through the Twitter feeds of any national college basketball media source, and you’ll see tweet after tweet of players declaring for the NBA Draft. Most of those will come with the caveat that the player won’t sign with an agent.

As of 3pm today, there were 140 players who had entered the draft, with 80 not having hired an agent (those numbers are per Some of the names on that list, like Marvin Bagley, Trae Young, and DeAndre Ayton, are recognizable to even the most common of college basketball fan: collegiate superstars at big-time programs who were long expected to be NBA lottery picks. Others, however, are much less well-known.

How much Matt Morgan tape did you watch this season? What about Fred Sims or Takal Molson? Did you scout Tramaine Isabell or Elijah Minnie?

These are 5 excellent college basketball players. Isabell (Drexel), and Morgan (Cornell) all averaged more than 20 points per game for their respective teams, while Molson won Freshman of the Year in the MAAC and Minnie was 3rd-team all-conference in the MAC this season. They will all make money playing professional basketball, and if they are lucky, a lot of it.

Their chances of being drafted by an NBA team this year? About the same as my odds of winning the lottery.

The rule change in 2016 to allow players to work out with NBA teams and get better feedback about their draft prospects was almost universally well-regarded. Players get more flexibility and feedback during a process that is cloudy at best. Colleges get to keep players who may have otherwise made ill-advised decisions. And NBA teams get to evaluate more players for both the current draft but potentially for future ones as well.

Yet in just 3 draft classes, things have gotten out of hand. The punchline “you might as well tweet out the list of players that AREN’T declaring for the draft” gets thrown around a lot.

To be clear, I’m not advocating revoking the rule. This freedom is without a doubt a good thing and an improvement from the previous system.

What I’m advocating for is an even more wide-open system: one in which every player who is draft-eligible may be contacted by college and professional scouts, coaches, and front office personnel? Remember John Calipari’s publicity stunt in the first year of the current system of having every single player (including walk-ons) enter the draft without an agent? Well, just like that.

Take our earlier example. Molson is just a freshman and far from a professional basketball player at this point. I’d bet anything he’s on a collegiate roster next season, whether that be at Canisius or at a different school. With the current rules in place, Molson is using one of his two opportunities to “test the waters” before being forced to leave school on his 3rd time declaring for the draft. Why not simply allow him to reach out to NBA teams and other pro clubs (let’s be honest, the odds of a 6-5 shooting guard from the MAAC making an NBA roster are slim to non) and hear what he needs to work on each year. If teams want to work him out, go ahead and work out. If teams want to guarantee they will draft him or sign him if he goes pro, let them do that. Give the players all the freedom in the world, without all the media attention that really tells us nothing.

The benefit of the current system is that it gets players’ names out there via the national media. The thought process is that if nothing else, just being on the list might get a few extra NBA eyes. While this line of thinking is valid, the vast majority of college coaches (even at low-major schools) have contacts in the NBA world, and would have no issue helping players connect with teams and get their names out there. AAU and high school coaches also may have useful contacts at their disposal. Besides, NBA scouts are a presence at high school and AAU events and do extensive college scouting, having info on all the players that are even conceivably draft material. Of course, the NCAA could also just allow players to have agents while still in college, but we all know that’s unlikely.

Let’s just simplify the process. Let every player get contacted by pro teams. 10 days after the NBA Draft Combine, players would have to either sign with an agent or officially return to school.

If the NCAA is dead set against letting any agent interaction into the college game, at least cut out the completely unnecessary middle step in the NBA Draft process.


Column: Just Pay Your Coaches if You Don’t Want Them Anymore

By Kevin Sweeney

Last night’s big story in college basketball came out of Loudonville, NY, when reports of verbal abuse against embattled Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos surfaced. Among the allegations are Patsos calling a student manager with OCD “the next Unabomber”, along with kicking managers off the team bus and making them walk to a game.

This allegations… suck. They suck bad. As someone who grew up a fan and season ticket holder for Siena basketball, my heart dropped when I read these allegations. There’s simply no place in college basketball for this type of stuff.

All that said, there’s a reason this came out now, and it’s the latest example of a growing trend in college basketball that no one should like.

When things go south on the court, athletic directors and other administrators begin looking for dirt.

We saw this earlier this offseason with both UConn and Pitt firing their coaches for cause (Stallings later accepted a settlement). Before that, Larry Eustachy’s name was ramrodded in the media for verbally abusing players before he took a settlement (about 25% of his buyout). The timing of all 3 (and the seemingly impending 4th) line up with when a team’s on-court performance went downhill.

Eustachy, coming off winning Coach of the Year in the Mountain West and a 24-win campaign, got off to a slow start this season. Most believed he wasn’t the guy at Colorado State long-term, but a $3 million buyout stood in the way. In February, verbal abuse allegations surfaced, and Eustachy was placed on administrative leave and eventually resigned with a settlement of $750,000.

With Patsos, it’s hard not to see the connection between when this comes out and Siena’s recent struggles. After an underwhelming 17-17 mark in 2016-17, the Saints fell flat on their face with an 8-24 mark in 2017-18. Fans of the program were ready for a change, but a hefty buyout reportedly between $750k and $1.2 million stood in the way, especially for a school in not the best shape financially.

And now, a month after the season ended and days after rumors around the college basketball landscape of Pat Beilein being next in line at Siena began to surface, this report is released. Something smell fishy to you?

Siena and everyone who knows college basketball knew who they were hiring when they did this search. After all, they played against him for several years. Patsos is certainly old-school, a guy who was known to yell at kids. In short, if Siena was worried about a guy who would yell and scream at players because he might cross a line, Patsos was never the right candidate for the job. That’s not to say he wasn’t hireable, as he had done admirably at Loyola (MD) and is also known for the most part as a good guy who was well-liked by his players. But Siena clearly had no problem with taking on a guy who they knew would bring some antics along with him.

Yet now, when the school desperately wants out of a contract that they extended twice in Patsos’ first 3 seasons, this info leaks?

Siena made its own bed with this contract, as did UConn, Pitt, and Colorado State before them with big buyouts they couldn’t afford. If you didn’t want him there any more, pay him his buyout and go get Pat Beilein or whoever else you choose to hire. Don’t spend a month bargaining with him while you gather evidence of something that had been going on far before this season, then destroy his reputation and make him virtually unemployable by any Division 1 program.

Ask yourself this: would this story be out there if Siena went 24-8 this season? Or would there have been a quiet, behind-the-scenes reprimand, maybe a fine, and a story kept out of the spotlight?

Siena is better than this, and college basketball is better than this. In all 4 circumstances, the only cause these coaches are being fired for is not winning enough games.

Sean Bock’s Way-Too-Early Top 25

By Sean Bock

I realize we just wrapped up this year’s college basketball season, but why not start looking ahead a few months down the road to next year?

I’m going to give you guys my preseason top 25 based on what next year’s rosters look like if the season started today. So, take into account there will be some transfers, players keeping their names in the NBA Draft, and a handful of highly-regarded recruits who are still in the decision making process.

I know I’m going to be flat out wrong by the time the AP preseason poll comes out next October, but let’s just go ahead and run with it.

1. Duke

This is a no-brainer. The incoming recruiting class is the first in history to have the top three recruits (R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish) since the class rankings were established in college basketball a few years back. Marvin Bagley Jr. is a tough loss from a talent and productivity standpoint along with Grayson Allen, the most experienced player from this year’s bunch, but there’s plenty of talent coming back to put Duke into the national title conversation right away. While Barrett, Williamson, and Reddish headline this group, arguably the most critical player for the Blue Devils next year will be freshman point guard Tre Jones, the No. 9 player in the class and younger brother of former Duke PG Tyus Jones. Trevon Duval handled the point guard position well for a freshman, but Jones takes the mantra of “true point guard” to a whole other level as he does just about everything well on the floor. If this team can stay healthy, there’s no doubt and my mind they can make a run at the title.

2. Kansas

If Bill Self can make a Final Four run with this year’s team, it’s national championship or bust next year. The losses of Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk are significant, but the Jayhawks had three transfers on the bench this year who were the top players for their previous respective high-major rosters. Brothers Dedric Lawson and K.J. Lawson (Memphis) and guard Charlie Moore (Cal) practiced all year against a club who won its 14th straight Big 12 Championship and made it all the way to San Antonio. All three averaged 12 points or more in their seasons before making their way to Lawrence. Udoka Azubuike, who has NBA potential written all over him, will be a force after another offseason of workouts and will continue to be a problem down low if he can stay healthy. Also, the Jayhawks bring in a top-five recruiting class with three McDonald’s All-Americans: five-star guards Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson and four-star big man David McCormack. Another possible prospect to add to the fold is five-star recruit Romeo Langford, who is deciding between Indiana, Vanderbilt, and Kansas.

3. Kentucky

John Calipari had his youngest team ever this year, and his team will be pretty young in 2018-’19, but a lot of talent will be coming back. Plus, a pretty solid recruiting class is also making its way to Lexington. If I had to guess, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be on their way to making a good amount of money in the NBA after one season in school. That said, Jarred Vanderbilt, PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel, Nick Richards, and Sacha Killeya-Jones will come back for another crack at the title, and the Wildcats will possess one of the most intimidating frontcourts in the nation. Quade Green will be handed the point guard duties unless Ashton Hagans, the top-ranked point guard in the 2019 class, reclassifies to 2018 and takes his talents to Lexington, which seems like a strong possibility at this point. The newcomers are McDonald’s All-Americans Keldon Johnson, a 6-foot-6 combo guard who is considered the best all-around player in the 2018 class, and Immanuel Quickley, another combo guard who could play a role similar to Devin Booker. Tyler Herro, a four-star shooting guard who was committed to Wisconsin at one point, is one of the best pure scorers in the 2018 class and will provide a much-needed outside shooting boost along with sophomore Jemarl Baker, who sat out this season recovering from knee surgery.

4. Villanova

Fresh off its second national title in three years, Villanova is in prime position to go back-to-back, the first since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Even with Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson likely declaring for the NBA Draft, the Wildcats bring back plenty of firepower and have one of the best coaches in the game in Jay Wright. Omari Spellman will likely be back along with Donte DiVincenzo, who is poised to have a breakout junior year. Eric Paschall, Phil Booth, and Collin Gillespie will have a year under their belts and will play larger roles this time around. To replace Brunson, Wright brings in internet sensation and five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly along with sharpshooting stretch four Cole Swider. Brandon Slater is the lowest ranked of the three freshmen but is the type of wing player that fits in nicely to Wright’s system.

5. Gonzaga

Mark Few has had some of his best teams at Gonzaga the past two years and was only a couple of buckets away from hanging a national championship banner in 2016. One of the best long-term prospects to come through the program, Rui Hachimura has improved year by year and has all the pieces around him to be dominant. Josh Perkins and Zach Norvell are the perfect couple in the backcourt and can hurt you in a multitude of ways. Corey Kispert chipped in quality minutes as a freshman and will only improve with consistent playing time. Forward Brandon Clarke, who sat out this season after averaging 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds at San Jose State, is a beast in the frontcourt and fits into the system perfectly. To round out the frontcourt, freshman big man Filip Petrusev was a force this year for the Geico National Champs Montverde Academy (FL) and will only get better once he gets accustomed to the college game.

6. North Carolina

The Tar Heels lose the veteran leadership of Joel Berry and Theo Pinson, but Roy Williams has one of his best-recruiting classes in recent memory. Burger Boys Nassir Little and Coby White will make an impact from day one, and Rechon “Leaky” Black will play a limited but vital role. Luke Maye will look to build on his 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds he averaged this season. Kenny Williams and Cam Johnson are reliable threats from deep and will space the floor. Size will be an issue, but there are six or seven guys who can score 15+ points on any given night.

7. Auburn

Auburn was the surprise team this year winning the SEC regular-season crown after being projected by many experts to end up in the back half of the league. The Tigers welcome back nearly everyone from that team and bring in three uber-talented players who were unable to suit up last season. Austin Wiley – a former five-star recruit – started 22 games as a freshman and posted solid numbers, but could not play this season due to a connection in the FBI investigation. Danjel Purifoy missed games as well for his involvement in the ongoing scandal. The most promising addition on the roster is VCU transfer Samir Doughty, who scored 9 points as a freshman. Bryce Brown, Mustapha Heron, and Jared Harper, All-SEC type guards, round out the backcourt for Bruce Pearl and are poised for another big year. Chuma Okeke, Anfernee McLemore, and Horace Spencer did an excellent job of manning the paint area this year and will only be more intimidating with the addition of Wiley, Purifoy, and Doughty.

8. Michigan State

The Spartans will miss the services of Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. – two projected lottery picks – but there’s plenty of balance on this Michigan State team for a possible Big Ten title. Cassius Winston will have even more weight on his shoulders now that it’s his team and he’ll do much of the heavy lifting from the point guard position. Josh Langford showed flashes of greatness during his sophomore season, and Nick Ward will benefit immensely after an offseason of workouts and testing the NBA Draft waters. Sparty’s recruiting class is not the most eye-opening, but it consists of guys who likely won’t be one or two year players and are in it for the long haul. It’ll be a difficult beginning without two All-Big Ten level players, but Tom Izzo will find a way to mold his team into contenders.

9. Nevada

The Wolfpack found themselves in the Sweet 16 this year and were one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country. With Caleb and Cody Martin’s future still in question, it’s a bit of a stretch to put Nevada in the top-10, but Eric Musselman’s use of the transfer market will pay off once again. Nisre Zouzoua (Bryant), Jazz Johnson (Portland), Tre’Shawn Thurman (Omaha), Corey Henson (Wagner) all were double-figure scorers at their previous schools and will play a big part from day one. Jordan Caroline, Lindsey Drew, and Josh Hall also return to round out a veteran-laden group that has a real chance to be the best mid-major squad in the country when it’s all said and done.

10. Tennessee

Like Auburn, the Volunteers weren’t expected to do anything in the SEC this year. Instead, Rick Barnes’ group shared the conference title with Auburn and return a good chunk of primary role players from 2017-’18 including SEC Player of the Year, Grant Williams. Admiral Schofield has a chance to be a special player after averaging 13.9 points and 6.4 rebounds his junior season. Jordan Bowden, Jordan Bone, and Kyle Alexander will likely round out the starting lineup and were steady contributors this year when the season starts up in November. Yves Pons, a sophomore from France, will be a name to watch as he’s a raw prospect but is one of the top athletes in the country according to many experts.

11. Louisville

In what was considered a wasted year with the sudden firing of Rick Pitino three weeks before the season and the hiring of assistant David Padgett, things seem to be looking upward for Cardinal fans with the addition of head coach Chris Mack. Ray Spalding will enter the NBA Draft and hire an agent while Deng Adel is testing the waters. V.J. King and Darius Perry are solid perimeter scorers who will get a lot of run. The loss of Anas Mahmoud down low stings, but former top-25 recruit and sophomore Malik Williams will take over the reigns and can become a more potent offensive threat than Mahmoud was. Steven Enoch, a UConn transfer, will provide a defensive boost in Mahmoud’s absence, which will make up for Williams’ lack of defensive talent. Louisville got its guy in Mack, and he has a lot of toys to play around with in his first season at the program.

12. Virginia Tech

Buzz Williams is going into year five at Virginia Tech and has maybe his most complete roster during his time in Blacksburg. The Hokies were a No. 8 seed in this year’s tournament but haven’t been labeled a ‘contender’ in the ACC because of the dominance of Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, etc. A player who I think has all-conference potential is sophomore guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who could become the man for this team. Justin Robinson returns to handle the point guard duties and Ahmed Hill is about as good as it gets from 3-point land. Chris Clarke can do just about anything you ask him to do and will play big minutes this year. Four-star shooting guard Landers Nolley is another deadly weapon from distance and has a ton of upside offensively. P.J. Horne and Wabissa Bede will see increased roles and consistent minutes in their sophomore season.

13. Virginia

Yes, Virginia will always be remembered as the first No. 1 seed to fall to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament (S/O UMBC). But, Tony Bennett and company are ready to move on and should once again compete for an ACC title. Devon Hall, Isaiah Wilkins, Nigel Johnson are all leaving Charlottesville, but there are plenty of returners who can take this team a long way, including America’s favorite backcourt duo in Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy. A big question will be if De’Andre Hunter, the conference 6th man of the year who notoriously injured his wrist days before the NCAA Tournament, will come back for another go-around. Mamadi Diakite, Jack Salt, and Jay Huff will be responsible for manning the middle. Once again, Virginia will be a slow-paced team who relies on its defense a little too much. But, the Cavaliers have the personnel to make some noise, not necessarily a fabulous season like this one, but one where they are in the running for a conference championship and a top three seed in the NCAA Tournament.

14. West Virginia

Huggy Bear loses his favorite toy in Jevon Carter, who had one of the most illustrious careers in West Virginia history. Daxter Miles Jr. is another significant loss, but Bob Huggins is ready for the next challenge and the Mountaineers will be another tough team to beat this year. Sagaba Konate, America’s favorite shot blocker, Wesley Harris, and Lamont West are all 6-foot-8 forwards who are gracious rim protectors and can move very well for their size which causes a lot of issues for Press Virginia’s opponents. Esa Ahmad should be eligible for the whole season after being suspended for the first half of 2017-’18. He won’t make the same impact right away as Carter, but a kid I’m ecstatic to watch is four-star point guard Jordan McCabe. Known for his majestic ball-handling skills as a youngster, McCabe is one of the sleepers and the hardest working players in the 2018 class and is a superb do it all point guard who will do whatever it takes right away to crack the starting rotation. This kid will be special.

15. Kansas State

Bruce Weber has nobody leaving after his team made a surprising Elite Eight run and it’s insane to think a Weber coached team could compete at the top of the Big-12 with Kansas. Barry Brown and Dean Wade, the conference’s second and third-leading returning scorers, will form one of the highest-scoring duos in the country and give opponents nightmares. Xavier Sneed and Kamau Stokes are other guys who had solid seasons and will be a key part of next year’s roster. Cartier Diarra and Mike McGuirl are athletic specimens in the paint. Weber has a VERY real shot at making it back to the Regional Final.

16. Maryland

The ‘Terps had their worst year since joining the Big Ten and the losses of Justin Jackson and Dion Wiley don’t bode well for Mark Turgeon and company. But, Kevin Huerter is a special four-year player along with Bruno Fernando, who quietly was one of the best freshmen in America this season. Anthony Cowan could be considered one of the top point guards in the Big Ten next year and could see time alongside Darryl Morsell, who played the third most minutes on the team as a freshman. What Maryland fans should be excited about is the incoming recruiting class. McDonald’s All-American forward Jalen Smith is a 6-foot-9 athletic and versatile prospect who can replace Jackson. Aaron Wiggins is a guy who can provide an offensive boost of the bench whether it be knocking shots down from the perimeter or taking his man off the bounce. Eric Ayala is a solid all-around combo guard who can go get a bucket or find his teammates for open looks. Turgeon’s seat is getting a little warmer in College Park and this team could save his spot on the throne, for now.

17. Oregon

This was a really disappointing year in Eugene following a Final Four run in 2017. Bol Bol and Louis King are the big names, and potential one-and-done’s in Dana Altman’s most talented recruiting class during his time at Oregon. Payton Pritchard will be running the show at the point but will have to fight for minutes against top-50 recruit Will Richardson, an athletic point guard out of Oak Hill (VA). Miles Norris, a lanky 6-foot-8 forward, is a potent scorer with a smooth jumper and solid face-up game. He’s a project for the coaching staff as he needs to add some muscle and improve his motor, so it’ll be interesting to see how he comes along. Bol and defensive-minded Kenny Wooten will be a tough combination to score against and will alter a lot of shots with their length and shot-blocking ability. While this team does look exceptional on paper, they’ll need to find ways to mesh with all the talent on the roster.

18. UCLA

The Bruins have an absolutely loaded roster, and expectations are high in Westwood which means it could be a make or break season for Steve Alford. Kris Wilkes is expected to return for his sophomore year and should be one of UCLA’s leading scorers. Former top-20 recruit Jaylen Hands will carry a much larger role at the point due to Aaron Holiday declaring for the NBA Draft. If Hands struggles, four-star point guard Tyger Campbell can step in and provide instant offense. Jalen Hill and Cody Riley, the two other Bruins who were suspended with LiAngelo Ball in the China Shoplifting incident, are ready to get back on the court and contribute. 7-foot sophomore Chris Smith had his moments in his first year but should get more consistent minutes his second year at the helm. Moses Brown and Shareef O’Neal, the two highest regarded members of the incoming class, are polished big men who can do a lot of damage. Other freshmen Jules Bernard and David Singleton can put the ball in the basket with the best of them. There’s no question Alford has a talented bunch at his disposal, but can he break through with them and keep his job?

19. LSU

The Tigers do lose a lot from this year’s team, Will Wade brings in an elite recruiting class which is rare for a football school like LSU. Naz Reid has NBA-ready talent and size for a big man, Emmitt Williams gets after it every possession and is just a tad less talent than Reid. and JaVonte Smart is a bulldog at the point and make a difference on both ends of the floor. Take into account Tremont Waters, who averaged 16 points and six assists as a freshman, also returns and is poised to have an even better sophomore campaign. Darius Days is another guy to be excited about at 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot wingspan and the ability to defend, rebound, and shoot the rock. He’s still developing, but he’ll only get better as the season progresses. If Will Wade’s team doesn’t find its way into the Big Dance, I’d be shocked.

20. Florida State

I’m still trying to wrap my head around how the Seminoles made the Elite Eight. Leonard Hamilton was expecting to get C.J. Walker back to run the point, but he will transfer and explore other options. Two names I’m keeping an eye on are sophomore M.J. Walker and Terence Mann. Walker, a former McDonald’s All-American, didn’t seem comfortable his first year in Tallahassee but another summer under his belt will do him good and have him prepared for Round 2. Mann, the team’s second-leading scorer this year, very well could be ACC Player of the Year he performs like he did at the beginning of the 2017 and various parts of conference play. Phil Cofer was the leading scorer this year for the Seminoles and is still waiting to hear back if he is granted a medical redshirt for 2018-’19. Mfiondu Kabengele is another name to watch as he started to find his grove toward the latter half of the season.

21. Michigan

There are still a lot of question marks concerning the national runner-ups. Mo Wagner’s stock is high as its ever been so he’s likely to leave and Charles Matthews also could enter his name in the draft although I think he should stay another year. With Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Zavier Simpson will be the go-to-guy at the point and play around 35 minutes per game. Jordan Poole will be an important piece as well. We all know he can shoot the three ball, but he’ll have to keep improving other facets of his game such as attacking off the dribble and defense. Jon Teske will offer size without Wagner, and Eli Brooks will give the Wolverines depth at the one. The 6-foot-8 freshman forward Ignas Bradzeikis is a knockdown shooter along with classmate and versatile forward Brandon Johns. Being a John Beilenber, I have faith he’ll figure something out whatever comes his way. It’ll be interesting to see how this team adjusts (likely) without Wagner.

22. TCU

Jamie Dixon has done a spectacular job at his alma mater and has all his puppies in order to make it to the Big Dance for the second straight year. Jaylen Fisher and Alex Robinson are an experienced backcourt and could be regarded to as one of the best in the country. Desmond Bane is one of the elite shooters in the country and will stretch the floor. I’m very fond of four-star small forward Kaden Archie. At 6-foot-6, Archie has all the physical tools to go head to head with the nation’s best and has one of the better all-around games in the incoming freshman class.

23. Purdue

The most decorated senior class in the Matt Painter era is over and done with, but there are still some leftovers. Carsen Edwards is already in the conversation for national player of the year after a breakout sophomore season. Matt Haarms will have to improve his offensive abilities a little more with the departure of Isaac Haas, but the addition of Dartmouth transfer Evan Boudreaux will take a little weight off his shoulders. The Boilermakers will compete at the top of the Big Ten, but in no way, shay perform am I expecting a season like this year. My main concern is the lack of production behind these Edwards, Haarms, and Bourdreaux.

24. Florida

Jalen Hudson is still deciding whether or not he will take his talents to the next level, so that is a big factor for where I placed the Gators. That said, I like the returning group of Jalen Hudson, Kevaughn Allen, Keith Stone, and Kevarrius Hayes, but I’m infatuated with Mike White’s incoming recruiting class. Andrew Nembhard will take over in Chiozza’s place, and Noah Locke is a smooth shooting guard who can shoot from just about anywhere. Keyontae Johnson is a physically gifted wing who can defend multiple positions at 6-foot-6.

25. Vanderbilt

I was feeling bold and needed another team to put in here, so I decided Vanderbilt would be my best bet. The Commodores will lose 1,000 point scorers Jeff Roberson and Riley LaChance, but there is plenty of talent coming in. Darius Garland, the top point guard in the 2018 class, and five-star power forward Simi Shittu were both McDonald’s All-Americans and will have the ball in their hands from day one. Aaron Nesmith is another freshman who can make an impact as he’s a pure scorer and is deadly from three-point land. While this group may already seem special, Romeo Langford has Vanderbilt in his top three with Indiana and Kansas. If Bryce Drew can sway Langford away from his hometown Hoosiers, a special season is on the horizon.