While the end if the 2016-17 season is only a few weeks in the rear view mirror, it’s never too early for a look at the top 10 for next year. There are still dominoes to fall in reference to top commits, but we are in for a treat next year. More freshman talent is heading to top schools, along with a couple of veteran teams that will stay in the top 10.
10. Villanova Wildcats
The Cats will continue their Big East dominance and field another great team. Jay Wright is loaded with talent and will soften the losses of stars Josh Hard and Kris Jenkins. Tournament breakout star, Donte DiVicenzo, and Mikal Bridges will lead Nova to another Big East championship and score a top 3 seed in the bracket.
9. Wichita State Shockers
The Shockers won 31 games last season while losing two NBA players in Fred Van Fleet and Ron Baker. Leading scorer Markis McDuffie and the rest of their team who almost upset Kentucky last year will be back. Watch out for Wichita.
8. North Carolina Tar Heels
UNC is losing Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson, but they’re keeping Joel Berry, who carried the Tar Heels last year at some points. As long as UNC has a reliable point guard, they will always be in contention. Roy Williams is still in on top recruit Kevin Knox, who still hasn’t chosen between UNC, Mizzou, Kentucky, Duke, and Florida.
7. Florida Gators
The Gators surprised everyone in the SEC playing their wa
y into the Elite 8. They will return key players KeVaughn Allen, Chris Chiozza, and John Egbunu. They could be the lone threat to upset that other SEC team in Kentucky.
6. Kentucky Wildcats
Speaking of that school in Kentucky, John Calipari, the featured subject in ESPN’s latest 30 for 30, is loaded up once again. If I haven’t already seen the 30 for 30, I’d hate him for taking what seems like half of the top prospects, but now I respect it. Go watch the documentary. To make this short, Coach Cal reeled in these 5-star prospects for this year: Hamidou Diallo, Quade Green, Nick Richards, PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt. To make matters even more ridiculous, Cal is still in on undecided players Kevin Knox and Mohamed Bomba. My god.
5. Michigan State Spartans
It’s finally time for the Spartans to live up to expectations this year. Projected lottery pick Miles Bridges will indeed come back for his sophomore season and will lead Izzo’s team. Izzo kept their entire roster from last year and brought in Jaren Jackson Jr., who will play a major role for the Spartans next year.
4. Louisville Cardinals
Louisville will finally be REALLY good this year despite Rick Pitino failing to bring in a true top prospect. But there’s a catch. Louisville’s top player, Donovan
Mitchell declared for the draft, but hasn’t received much traction, and could return. Their ranking depends on this and could slip a bunch if he decides to go down the path of the draft.
3. Kansas Jayhawks
Many fans think Kansas will have a falling out after last year, losing Wooden Award Player of the Year Frank Mason III and top 5 pick Josh Jackson. This is certainly not the case for Bill Self’s squad. The Jayhawks will return Devonte Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, who were key players in their run last year. 5-star big man Udoka Azubuike was injured the entire season last year, and will return next year. Transfer Malik Newman (5-star recruit two years ago) will provide superior athleticism and shooting to the squad, and Billy Preston, a top 20 high school player in the country will join Azubuike in the frontcourt. Kansas will be sneaky good next year.
2. Duke Blue Devils
Duke lost stars Jayson Tatum, Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, and Harry Giles, but Coach K has added enough talent to land them a top 2 spot for next year. The Blue Devils will add top 10 prospects Gary Trent Jr. and Wendell Carter, while returning Frank Jackson and Marques Bolden. Also, it’s looking more clear that top high school point guard Trevon Duval will be joining Duke, adding to their new talent. There are also whispers that Duke may get Allen and Kennard to return, but I don’t see that happening.
1. Arizona Wildcats
And the number one team in the nation will be the Arizona Wildcats. Zona added the best high school basketball player of the year, 7’0″ DeAndre Ayton, who is already being compared to Kevin Garnett. Key players like Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins, and Kobi Simmons will most likely return. The Wildcats will be a safe pick for starting out the year number one in the rankings.