After a thrilling 2011 NCAA campaign that concluded with the University of Kentucky winning their 8th National Championship over Kansas, what can we look forward as the ’12-’13 collegiate season is rapidly approaching?
Quite honestly, the upcoming season may be one of the most competitive we have seen in years as longtime NCAA powerhouses like UCLA, Indiana, and Michigan have recruited well and have many star players returning to rival perennial Top 25 powers like Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina.
And let’s not forget about the very potent Ohio State, Louisville, NC State, and Pittsburgh who seem poised to make a deep run come March…….
’11-’12 Record: 30-5
Key Losses: G Marcus Denmon, G Kim English, F Ricardo Ratliffe
Key Returnees: F Laurence Bowers, G Michael Dixon Jr, G Phil Pressey, F Tony Criswell
Newcomers: G Keion Bell(Pepperdine), G Jabari Brown(Oregon), F Alex Oriakhi(UConn), G Earnest Ross(Auburn), G Negus Webster-Chan(Freshman)
After a stellar 30 win 2011 campaign behind a senior laden team that ended with a disappointing 1st Round exit in the Big Dance, coach Frank Haith has recruited well and brings in nearly an entirely new roster built around All American guard Phil Pressey. Four impact transfers plus Top 50 rated freshman Webster-Chan will make the Tigers much more than just relevant in their first season of SEC play.
’11-’12 Record: 26-7
Key Losses: C Robert Sacre, G Marquise Carter
Key Returnees: G Kevin Pangos, F Elias Harris, G Gary Bell Jr, G Gerard Coleman, F Sam Dower, G David Stockton
Newcomers: C Przezmek Karnowski
After 13 straight seasons of taking the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament, coach Mark Few may have his most talented squad to date. He returns virtually every key cog except dominating center Sacre, now off with the Lakers. But it is the potential impact of promising 7 foot Euro freshman Karnowski that may help parlay Gonzaga into the National Title picture by seasons end.
’11-’12 Record: 20-14
Key Losses: J’Covan Brown, Alex Wangmene, Clint Chapman
Key Returnees: Myck Kabongo, Julien Lewis, Sheldon McClellen, Jonathan Holmes, Jaylen Bond
Key Newcomers: Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh, Javan Felix, Demarcus Holland
The Longhorns did surprisingly well in a rebuilding year last season making the school’s 14th straight NCAA appearance. Things continue on an upswing as Rick Barnes brings in another great freshman class behind a pair of 7 foot bookends in Ridley and Ibeh. Ridley is a Top 10 HS player expected to be dominating from day one. The above average core of sophomores need to take the next step if Texas is to contend for a Big 12 crown. The administration is holding their breath on the recent eligibility issues surrounding star PG Kabongo, who could be an All American candidate.
’11-’12 Record: 27-8
Key Losses: Darius Johnson-Odom, Jae Crowder
Key Returnees: Davante Gardner, Vander Blue, Todd Mayo, Junior Caudigan, Chris Otule, Juan Anderson, Jamil Wilson
Key Newcomers: Trent Lockett(Transfer), Steve Taylor Jr
After yet another Sweet 16 appearance, Buzz Williams will have his hands full replacing Big East POY Crowder and DJO, both of which are now in the NBA. Luckily he has a talented core of talented players as replacements led by Blue, Mayo, and Caudigan. Injuries derailed both Otule and Anderson last season but both should be back at full strength in 2012. Lockett is one of the best players most of the nation has never seen playing previously at Arizona State.
’11-’12 Record: 29-6
Key Losses: Antoine Young
Key Returnees: Doug McDermott, Greg Echenique, Grant Gibbs, Jahenns Manigat, Ethan Wragge
Key Newcomers: Geoffrey Groselle, Nevin Johnson, Andre Yates, Isaiah Zierden
Led by preseason All American 1st Teamer McDermott, the Blue Jays once again should be the class of the ever improving Missouri Valley Conference. McDermott paired with big man Echenique, a former Rutgers commit, could be one of the better frontcourts in the nation. Wragge and Manigat can fill it up from the perimeter but the key to how far the Jays can go this season will probably come down to how well they defend.
’11-’12 Record: 22-17
Key Losses: Ashton Gibbs, Nasir Robinson
Key Returnees: Travon Woodall, Dante Taylor, Talib Zanna, Lamar Paterson, JJ Moore
Key Newcomers: Trey Ziegler(Transfer), Steven Adams, James Robinson, Chris Durand, Chris Jones
It can’t sit well with coach Jamie Dixon that for the first time since he succeeded Ben Howland back in ’02-’03 that the Panthers failed to make the NCAA Tournament. Winning the CBI Tourney was a small consolation but despite losing veteran leadership from program stalwarts Gibbs and Robinson, Dixon returns a solid core around elite guard Woodall, who was spectacular last season before the injuries. Former McDonald’s All American Taylor as well as shot blocker Zanna have experience protecting the paint while Paterson, Moore, and Central Michigan transfer Ziegler will fill it up from the perimeter. But everyone is really excited about potential one-and-done freshman big man Steven Adams who is already projected as a Top 10 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Hopefully he fares better than last season’s frosh sensation Khem Birch, now at UNLV.
’11-’12 Record: 26-10
Key Losses: Jordan Taylor, Rob Wilson
Key Returnees: Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz, Ben Brust, Ryan Evans, John Gasser, Frank Kaminsky
Key Newcomers: Sam Dekker, Zach Bohannon (Air Force transfer), George Marshall, Zak Showalter
To offset the loss of one of the nation’s best backcourt players when Taylor graduated, coach Bo Ryan hit paydirt on the recruiting trail by nabbing Wisconsin HS legend Dekker, who has the potential to be one of the best freshmen in the nation. Bruesewitz’ unfortunate injury early will hurt but Ryan always gets the most out of his players, as evidence of the Badgers giving the Cuse a run for their money in last year’s Sweet 16. Expect another 25 win season and another deep NCAA run.
’11-’12 Record: 26-9
Key Losses: Chace Stanback, Oscar Bellfield, Brice Massamba
Key Returnees: Anthony Marshall, Mike Moser, Justin Hawkins, Carlos Lopez, Reggie Smith, Quintrell Thomas
Key Newcomers: Khem Birch(Pitt transfer), Anthony Bennett, Savon Goodman, Bryce Dejean-Jones (USC transfer), Demetris Morant, Katin Reinhardt
Coach Dave Rice lost a ton of experience with the departures of Stanback, Bellfield, and Massamaba but returns one of the best players in the nation in Moser, the high scoring Marshall, and talented big men Lopez and former Kansas commit Thomas. He has also reloaded with key transfers like former Top 10 HS star Birch and Jones, along with a star studded recruiting class featuring another Top 10 freshman Bennett, elite SG Reinhardt, uber athletic forwards Morant and Goodman. The Mountain West will be stacked once again with both SD State and UNLV potential Final Four teams.
’11-’12 Record: 26-9
Key Losses: Wesley Witherspoon, Will Barton
Key Returnees: Adonis Thomas, Tarik Black, Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford, Antonio Barton, Hippolyte Tsafack
Key Newcomers: Shaq Goodwin, Geron Johnson, Damien Wilson
Coach Pastner will surely miss leading scorer Will Barton and the leadership from Witherspoon but has the luxury of having one of the most athletic rosters in the nation behind potential Lottery pick Adonis Thomas. The All American has reportedly bulked up to an amazing 250+ lbs and will be, dare I say, could be Lebron-like in his sophomore season. In their last season in Conference USA before joining the Big East, the Tigers could be in for a long run come March.
’11-’12 Record: 32-6
Key Losses: Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Kendall Marshall
Key Returnees: Dexter Strickland, James Michael-McAdoo, Leslie McDonald, PJ Hairston, Reggie Bullock
Key Newcomers: Marcus Paige, JP Tokoto, Brice Johnson, Joel James
Losing 4 starters to the NBA would gut most schools but Carolina has the luxury of returning several former highly touted HS players waiting in the wings as well as a Top 10 recruiting class featuring the Vince Carter-like Tokoto, sharpshooter Johnson, and the nation’s top incoming PG Paige. Of course their will be a steep learning curve but the Heels should round into shape by Tourney time. Hairston is a diamond in the rough while it’s key is how quickly potential Lottery pick McAdoo matures into the go-to-guy.
’11-’12 Record: 23-12
Key Losses: Josiah Turner, Kyle Fogg, Jesse Perry
Key Returnees: Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, Nick Johnson, Angelo Chol, Jordin Mayes
Key Newcomers: Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett, Mark Lyons(Xavier transfer), Gabe York
The Pac-12 should see a resurgence this season in part because the Wildcats have the potential to be very, very good. Coach Sean Miller has recruited well bringing in 4 fabulous freshmen, plus former Xavier star Lyons to run the point, surrounding an experienced group of upperclassmen. Tarczewski, Ashley, and Jerrett are Top 15 instant impact freshmen that form a formidable frontcourt alongside Chol in the paint. With former malcontent Turner gone from the program, hopefully the Cats can realize their immense potential sooner rather than later.
’11-’12 Record: 24-13
Key Losses: CJ Williams, Deshawn Painter, Alex Johnson
Key Returnees: CJ Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Richard Howell, Scotty Wood
Key Newcomers: Rodney Purvis, Tyler Lewis, TJ Warren
For the first time in seemingly forever, the ACC’s best team may not be named Duke or North Carolina, but rather the NC State Wolfpack. Coach Gottfried returns potential All American and future pro Leslie, along with a talented backcourt of Wood and Brown, who should be All Conference performers. He also has flexed his recruiting muscle by bringing in 3 McDonald’s All Americans, most noticeably Purvis, whom many think is the 2nd coming of Dwyane Wade.
’11-’12 Record: 31-8
Key Losses: Jared Sullinger, William Buford
Key Returnees: DeShaun Thomas, Aaron Craft, Evan Ravenel, LaQuinton Ross, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith, Sam Thompson, Amir Williams
Key Newcomers: N/A
Don’t look now, but despite a down year in recruiting, Coach Matta returns everyone despite Sullinger and Buford. While those are big losses to fill, forward Thomas should be one of the nation’s best players and a potential Big Ten POY. The defense and leadership of Craft should exude from this team as they fight off Michigan and Michigan State for conference supremecy.
’11-’12 Record: 24-10
Key Losses: Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, Evan Smotrycz
Key Returnees: Tim Hardaway, Jr., Trey Burke, Jon Horford
Key Newcomers: Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nick Stauskas
Dare I say that fans in Ann Arbor may have their most exciting squad since the Fab Five nearly 20 years ago? The combo of Burke and Hardaway Jr may be one of the best backcourts in the nation while the highly rated freshmen McGary and Robinson III are instant impact players. McGary is known for shattering the backboard at last year’s Elite 24 game while Robinson is the son of former NCAA POY Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson. Is this the year someone besides Michigan State or Ohio State wins the Big Ten?
’11-’12 Record: 30-8
Key Losses: Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller
Key Returnees: Deuce Bello, Gary Franklin, Brady Heslip, J’Mison Morgan, Pierre Jackson, Cory Jefferson
Key Newcomers: Isaiah Austin, Rico Gathers, L.J. Rose
After yet another deep NCAA run, the Bears lost 3 of their Top 4 leading scorers but return arguably the most athletic squad in the nation led by All American candidate at PG Pierre Jackson. Losing Miller to the NBA a tad early was a surprise but the incoming trio of Top 100 rated freshmen should help fill the void nicely. Bello has developed into more than just the nation’s best dunker and Heslip could be the country’s best long range shooter, but it is the amazing potential of incoming 7 foot shot blocker Austin, that has many thinking that Baylor has this year’s Anthony Davis to man the middle.
’11-’12 Record: 27-7
Key Losses: Austin Rivers, Miles Plumlee
Key Returnees: Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, Tyler Thornton, Quin Cook, Josh Hairston
Key Newcomers: Rasheed Suliamon, Amile Jefferson, Alex Murphy, Marshall Plumlee
After losing star freshman Austin Rivers after just one season, Coach K will return a roster built on team success rather than superstar talent. Some feel that this may be a down year for the Blue Devils but I disagree since they bring back a talented and experienced core led by seniors Curry, Kelly, and Mason Plumlee. The real key is the health of Kelly, as the 6’11 stretch PF should be in the running for ACC POY honors. A top 10 rated freshman class led by Jefferson and Suliamon, along with 2011 redshirt frosh Plumlee and Murphy, could be impact players by midseason.
’11-’12 Record: 26-11
Key Losses: Erving Walker, Brad Beal
Key Returnees: Kenny Boynton, Eric Murphy, Mike Rosario, Patric Young, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguete
Key Newcomers: Dillon Graham, Michael Frazier, Braxton Ogbueze
I think that everyone would agree that most considered last season slightly disappointing considering the vast talent on the roster. But even after losing longtime star PG Erving Walker and NBA Lottery pick Brad Beal, Florida once again has a shot at dethroning Kentucky in the SEC and is a potential Final Four squad. Seniors Boynton and Rosario could form one of the nation’s best backcourts while everyone surely hopes junior big man Young develops further into the Dwight Howard clone he was touted as coming out of HS. Murphy, Yeguete and Casey Prather provide excellent depth up front.
’11-’12 Record: 32-7
Key Losses: Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor
Key Returnees: Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey
Key Newcomers: Ben McLemore, Perry Ellis, Anrio Adams, Zach Peters, Jamari Traylor, Andrew White
With 7 new players on the roster for ’12-’13, this year’s Jayhawk roster may look a little different than year’s past but rest assured they are very much in the mix for an amazing 9th straight Big 12 crown. Losing leading assist, scorer, and rebounders Thomas and Taylor will hurt but the trio of experienced upperclassmen led by Johnson, Releford, and Withey should provide veteran leadership. Incoming Kansas HS POY Ellis is poised to replace Robinson’s production in the paint while redshirt guard McLemore has impressed everyone early on, and may be one of the nation’s best freshmen.
’11-’12 Record: 26-8
Key Losses: Garrett Green, Tim Shelton
Key Returnees: Jamaal Franklin, LaBradford Franlin, James Rahon, DeShawn Stephens, Chase Tapley, Xavier Thames
Key Newcomers: James Johnson (Virginia transfer); Dwayne Polee (St. John’s transfer), J.J. O’Brien (Utah transfer), Winston Shepard, Matt Shrigley, Skylar Spencer
Coach Steve Fisher may finally have his most highly touted roster ever and that’s including the Fab Five core from the early 90′s. Blessed with some insane talent and unbelievable athleticism, this year’s Aztec team should be capable of playing with anyone in the country. They return their Top 4 scorers led by All American candidate Franklin, along with a slew of transfers, plus 3 highly touted freshmen, including Top 30 rated Shepard. The battle for the Mountain West between SD State and UNLV should be interesting.
’11-’12 Record: 29-8
Key Losses: Draymond Green, Austin Thornton, Brandon Wood
Key Returnees: Keith Appling, Russell Byrd, Branden Dawson, Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne, Travis Trice
Key Newcomers: Matt Costello, Gary Harris, Kenny Kaminski, Denzel Valentine
The loss of Green, one of the program’s best all-time leaders, will undoubtedly be felt going into next season. Many also would agree that Dawson’s unfortunate ACL tear late last season may have cost the Spartans a shot at winning the National Title. But Coach Izzo returns an experience core at nearly every position led by All Big Ten performers Appling, Payne, Nix, and a 100% healthy Dawson. They did recieve a blow when incoming frosh Kaminski was lost for the season due to a torn labrum but 2 sport star Harris could be one of the nation’s best freshmen. Following in the footsteps of Cleaves, Nietzel, and Lucas before him, this is Appling’s team now and they will go as far as he can lead them.
’11-’12 Record: 19-13
Key Losses: Reeves Nelson, Jerime Anderson, Lazeric Jones
Key Returnees: Tyler Lamb, Norman Powell, Josh Smith, Anthony Stover, David Wear, Travis Wear
Key Newcomers: Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams, Tony Parker, Larry Drew II (North Carolina transfer)
After the Nelson debacle that led to another subpar 2012 campaign, this should be a return to glory season for both Howland and one of the nation’s most storied programs. Behind the top rated recruiting class and a talented core of veteran shooters and big men, the Bruins are the preseason favorites for the Pac-12. Everyone is abuzz about star freshmen Muhammed, the nation’s top offensive player, and Anderson, the HS ranks’ most versatile, but recent eligibility concerns may keep them inactive until midseason. Former UNC big men the Wear brothers along with the 300lb Smith make for a formidable frontcourt while Lamb, Muhammed, Anderson, and Adams, along with UNC transfer Drew III at PG, make them as solid as anyone from the perimeter.
’11-’12 Record: 34-3
Key Losses: Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, Fab Melo, Dion Waiters
Key Returnees: Michael Carter-Williams, Rakeem Christmas, C.J. Fair, Baye Keita, James Southerland, Brandon Triche
Key Newcomers: DaJuan Coleman, Jerami Grant
The Cuse lose their Top 4 scorers but because of Coach Boeheim’s always excellent recruiting, there are plenty of talented players waiting in the wings. The season hinges on the continued development of junior forward Fair, a Big East POY candidate, and highly touted sophomore scorer Carter-Williams, who saw little floor time as a frosh. Christmas, Keita, and star incoming freshman Coleman, a 280lb low post man-child, will control the center of Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 zone. One last Big East title before leaving for the ACC?
’11-’12 Record: 38-2
Key Losses: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Darius Miller, Eloy Vargas
Key Returnees: Kyle Wiltjer, Twany Beckham
Key Newcomers: Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow (N.C. State transfer), Julius Mays (Wright State transfer)
John Calipari proved his doubters wrong winning the 2012 National Title, when they said he couldn’t win with a young group of freshmen. Now he will attempt to repeat history with yet another top ranked incoming class, 2 impact transfers, and a much improved Wiltjer as a sharpshooting stretch forward. Noel and Poytress are potential Top 10 Lottery picks while Goodwin is an elite scorer and defender from the wing. Cauley-Stein is an underrated 7 foot 2 sport star and Mays is a versatile scorer at SG, but the key is how well Harrow, a former highly touted HS player from NC State, conforms to Cal’s dribble-drive type offense that continues to send PG’s NBA bound. Watch closely as is the Cats gel early, they could have an outside shot at a 40-0 season……
’11-’12 Record: 27-9
Key Losses: Verdell Jones, Tom Pritchard, Matt Roth
Key Returnees: Cody Zeller, Maurice Creek, Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey, Christian Watford
Key Newcomers: Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell, Hanner Perea
Coach Tom Crean has done a remarkable job helping to return the Hoosiers to respectability but now is the time to take the next step getting back to NCAA elite. Behind preseason NCAA POY Zeller, Indiana is a unanimous Top 3 pick heading into the season. A vaunted group of veterans led by Hulls, Oladipo, 6th man Sheehey, and Watford, who single-handedly sank Kentucky last season, all return and are helped by a Top 5 ranked recruiting class. Of the frosh, the lightning quick Ferrell is one to watch as one of the nation’s top incoming point guards. Hollowell and Parea are fellow top flight recruits that provide excellent depth on a potential Final Four team.
’11-’12 Record: 30-10
Key Losses: Kyle Kuric, Chris Smith, Jared Swopshire
Key Returnees: Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva, Russ Smith
Key Newcomers: Luke Hancock (George Mason transfer), Montrezl Harrell
By virtually returning every key player from last season’s Final Four squad and adding in Coach Pitino’s coaching moxey, the ‘Ville are poised to make a return trip and potentially win a National Title. Dieng is one of the nation’s best shot-blockers, Siva is a NCAA POY candidate, and Behenan and Blackshear should be All Big East performers. Smith is a diminutive yet enigmatic scorer while George Mason transfer Hancock is yet another 3 point threat from the wing, a staple of Pitino’s offensive identity. Pitino is known for getting the most out of what is given so sky is the limit considering the vast amount of talent on board for 2013……