Waaaaaay too early picks for next years #1 seeds from ESPN, I like it though.
As the speculation draws closer about who will join Kentucky as a No. 1 seed when the NCAA men’s tournament bracket is unveiled Sunday evening, it’s never too early to start looking to the future – and who will be fighting for top seeds in 2016.
It’s not quite so easy with the uncertainty of who is leaving for the NBA draft, and also because eight of the top dozen recruits still haven’t announced their intentions on where they will play.
However, here’s our best stab at who winds up getting the No. 1 seeds, and also who earns Nos. 2-4, a year from now.
No. 1s Kentucky Wildcats
It doesn’t matter who stays and leaves anymore. John Calipari just flat-out reloads and has more talent than everyone else. Look for Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns to leave for the NBA draft. Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Dakari Johnson and the Harrison twins all could join them. But my guess is that a couple of those guys (i.e., Johnson and Andrew and Aaron Harrison) will come back, and stay with Tyler Ulis, Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee.
Calipari has three guys signed for next season in skilled forward Skal Labissiere, point guard Isaiah Briscoe and wing Charles Matthews. And they are in the mix for several remaining uncommitted high-level guys who could be immediate difference-makers. UK as a No. 1 seed shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Tony Bennett could well bring back everyone except for senior Darion Atkins, who was a key piece, but not one that can’t be replaced. There’s also a chance that junior wing Justin Anderson leaves for the NBA draft, but that’s up in the air after his broken finger and then an appendectomy in the second half of the season. If Anderson does return, the Cavaliers will have everyone of note back except for Atkins from a team that has lost just twice this season.
Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill will be fifth-year seniors while Anderson, Mike Tobey and Evan Nolte will be true seniors. London Perrantes will be an upperclassman, and freshmen Marial Shayok, Devon Hall and Isaiah Wilkins all received experience this season. Virginia has been the cream of the crop the past two years, and it might stretch into a third season.
Bill Self won his 11th consecutive Big 12 title this season, and he did it without getting a ton from his heralded freshman class. Kelly Oubre is likely a one-and-done, and Cliff Alexander also could be history after one ho-hum campaign. However, as long as Perry Ellis returns, which is a flip of the coin, the Jayhawks will be better next season.
Ellis and Jamari Traylor will be seniors; Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason and Brannen Greene will be juniors; and Devonte Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk have a year under their belts. Hunter Mickelson and Landen Lucas will provide depth up front. The Jayhawks also already have skilled forward Carlton Bragg coming in, but it will be interesting to see his impact, especially if Ellis returns. I would also expect Self and Co. to add another impact freshman or two. The top candidates are big men Stephen Zimmerman, Cheick Diallo and Ivan Rabb, or scorers Malik Newman, Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram.
Iowa State Cyclones
This one probably hinges as much on whether Fred Hoiberg sticks around as coach and doesn’t take an NBA gig as anything. The Cyclones will lose Bryce Dejean-Jones and Dustin Hogue, but will bring back their best player in Georges Niang, one of the nation’s top point guards in Monte Morris and athletic big man Jameel McKay.
Iowa State will also return shooter Naz Long and Abdel Nader and add Oregon State transfer Hallice Cooke and Marquette transfer Deonte Burton. Also, don’t be surprised if Hoiberg and his staff add a fifth-year transfer who is eligible immediately.
No. 2s North Carolina Tar Heels
The Tar Heels don’t add much, but may not lose anything, either. Marcus Paige should be healthy and will be a senior, and coach Roy Williams should bring back all of his top big men in Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Joel James. J.P. Tokoto will be a senior, and guys like Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry all have a year under their belts. I’m not sure this team can cut down the nets, but the Tar Heels should still be a top-10 team.
Duke Blue Devils
The Blue Devils will lose Jahlil Okafor and maybe Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones. My gut says that Jones will return, and then coach Mike Krzyzewski likely will go small with a bunch of quality wings on the team. He’ll bring back Matt Jones and Grayson Allen, and will add a talented, versatile freshman in Luke Kennard. Amile Jefferson will be a senior, but the key will be whether Marshall Plumlee and freshman Chase Jeter can hold it down up front. There’s also a chance that Duke adds uncommitted big man Caleb Swanigan, a strong, physical guy who could help right away.
The Terps will lose Dez Wells, but coach Mark Turgeon will likely have a returning core that includes Melo Trimble and Jake Layman. He’ll also have a quality big man in Robert Carter, who averaged 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds a year ago at Georgia Tech. Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens likely will see expanded roles, and Michal Cekovsky should see a jump in performance into his sophomore campaign. The Big Ten won’t be overpowering, either, so the Terps have a chance to win the league.
This may depend on whether Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey return, but neither is a lock to go in the first round of the draft. The Tigers will add the top-rated freshman in the country in Aussie Ben Simmons, so the front line could wind up being insane with Simmons, Martin and Mickey. The backcourt will also receive a jolt with the addition of scoring guard Antonio Blakeney, who will push Keith Hornsby. The key, however, will come at the point, where Josh Gray has been inconsistent this season after coming from the junior college ranks.
No. 3s Gonzaga Bulldogs
The ‘Zags will have a tough time replacing the senior backcourt of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., but Josh Perkins and Silas Melson are talented and Eric McClellan is a veteran who has produced on the floor at Tulsa and Vandy. The frontcourt is as good as just about any with Przemek Karnowski, Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer, and they also have veteran Kyle Dranginis back.
I know, this one is somewhat surprising. However, Chris McCullough will return healthy and the ‘Cuse could have oft-injured DaJuan Coleman back as well. Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije will be seniors, and Kaleb Joseph should be better after an up-and-down freshman campaign. The Orange also bring back Tyler Roberson and add four top-100 recruits in wing Malachi Richardson, who has size and can really shoot it, combo guard Franklin Howard, big man Moustapha Diagne and shooter Tyler Lydon.
The Wildcats will lose JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard, but will have leader/point guard Ryan Arcidiacono back as well as Daniel Ochefu, Dylan Ennis, Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and Phil Booth. ‘Nova will again be the class of the Big East. Coach Jay Wright also adds arguably the best point guard in the country in Jalen Brunson.
Wichita State Shockers
Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet are back, which means that the Shockers again will be the team to beat in the Missouri Valley. Coach Gregg Marshall will need to find a big man to replace Darius Carter, but he does add Kansas transfer Connor Frankamp and also top-100 recruit Markis McDuffie.
No. 4s Michigan Wolverines
This one hinges on whether Caris LeVert returns to Ann Arbor. After he suffered a broken bone in his foot, I’m going to take a stab that he comes back for his senior year. With LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr. healthy, and Zak Irvin and Spike Albrecht in the fold as veterans, coach John Beilein should have the Wolverines nationally relevant again. Big men Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle should be much further along after a year of playing time.
The Wildcats will lose a ton – likely their entire starting unit – but coach Sean Miller still will have guys like Dusan Ristic, Gabe York, Elliott Pitts and Parker Jackson-Cartwright, and he also is bringing in a talented freshman class, led by scoring wing Allonzo Trier, Justin Simon and Ray Smith. Arizona may also add big man Ivan Rabb, will have BC transfer Ryan Anderson and scoring guard Kadeem Allen eligible. The ‘Cats will take a dip, but still can compete for the Pac-12 crown.
Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies are a fringe tourney team this season, but will return Danuel House, Alex Caruso and Jalen Jones – all of whom have been in college for at least three years. Coach Billy Kennedy also brings in a talented recruiting class that includes big men Tyler Davis and Elijah Thomas, along with wings D.J. Hogg and Admon Gilder. All four players are ranked in the top 75.
The Cardinals likely will lose Montrezl Harrell, but don’t be shocked if Rick Pitino gets Terry Rozier back. He’s a fringe first-rounder. They also will add talented wing Donovan Mitchell and have Quentin Snider returning. Then the key will be whether the Cards can find a big man to step up. Pitino can coach, so I think he’ll find a way to keep this team among the nation’s top 15 or so.
I personally think that we are at least 1 or 2 recruits away from saying we will be a #1 seed next year. Heck we don’t even know how this season is going to finish but if I had to say right now if I though KU would be a #1 seed in the tourney next year I’d say no.
In my opinion we are a Malik Newman or a Jaylen Brown, or if you think we still need another big we are a Stephen Zimmerman or Diallo away from being possibly a great team.
We should be better, we will have Seniors, up to 9 guys who have multiple years in the system. The summer games should give some guys an edge in development and in the fall practices should go smoother because there won’t (hopefully) be a roster full of kids who haven’t played in the system.
Don’t get me wrong I think we will be a top team like every year but for this team to truly be one of the best will require some Self recruiting magic. With Oubre all but gone, you have to think getting Jaylen Brown jumps right up the list. I also think a prolific scorer such as Newman could be just as good. Selden could slide over to the 3 and Self could play Mason, Newman, Selden at the same time. If you get Brown, you have another plug in athletic freak who can score and use the same way Wiggins & Oubre did. I don’t buy giving Greene the keys to start yet and Svi might be another year away from the impact we all expect.
Any big other than Zimm won’t fix our 5 issue. Maybe Lucas will really turn the corner. Diallo will play bigger than his size and id be happy to get him.
@BeddieKU23 Plus their toughness quotient will be even bigger next season. I hate to look forward already with this season not over yet but I cant help it. Im curious.
JayHawkFanToo last edited by
Good summary, but I have a few comments:
UK- Cauley-Stein, Towns and Booker are all gone since they are all projected lottery picks and maybe others will also leave.
UVA - don’t really follow them much.
KU - Oubre is a projected lottery pick so he is gone. Cliff is likely done with KU and how good the team is will heavily depend on getting a big. With UK bigs leaving the chances of KU getting a quality big decrease. I personally think that Thon never plays college and goes to China for one year. Zimmerman or Diallo would be excellent pickups but they might end up at UK.
ISU- Hoiberg has a heart condition and that is why he left the NBA; he is not going back there as coach. Niang might tests the waters and he could be gone; he is a really good player that has far exceeded expectation and would do well in the NBA.
UNC - I don’t believe they have any player that is sure to leave so they will have a returning group with experience plus whoever they have coming in.
Duke - They will loose Okafor and a couple of other players so how well they do will depend on who stays and who they have coming in. Perhaps the team with the most question marks.
Gonzaga -The will be loaded next year and should be considered a contender. Few has quietly done a great job recruiting and coaching.
Syracuse - Aren’t they on probation?
Villanova - Should continue to be good.
WSU - I believe that Baker and VanVleet will leave if they are projected to be drafted in the first round. If this is the case, Marshall might be looking for other top coaching positions as WSU will not be quite the same.
Michigan- About the same as this year, irrelevant.
Arizona - They lose a lot but they have a talented group coming in. Miller will be tested but they play in a weak PAC 12 so they will still dominate.
Texas A&M - They will continue to get spanked by Kentucky.
Louisville - About the same as this year, high expectations but under performing.
Those 3 players from UK is big thing to lose. Your basically talking about their 3 best players. They will have a deep backcourt if the Twins return, Briscoe is good enough to start, Matthews will be good in time and Ullis should be back. Front court you can expect they will have Lee, Poythress, Labissiere. I think either of Johnson or Lyles returns which would be a huge benefit to them and to anyone recruiting players UK is. Regardless when you lose 3 and maybe more pro’s maybe all lotto picks your not going to be as good.
UVA- they will still be a great team. Everyone comes back if Anderson doesn’t test the waters now that he was hurt. Honestly if he does return they should be #1 to start the season.
ISU- Niang will be back and they could have 4 senior starters with Niang, Mckay, Long, Nader. Morris is only going to be a Jr. They have 2 transfers and maybe more after this season ends.
UNC- Kind of like KU, they could have nobody leave or maybe 1 player but for the most part a huge part of their nucleus figures to be back.
Duke- Actually think this could be one of their down years. Think about it they already play with just 8 players. Okafor, Winslow = pro’s & Cook is a Sr. Tyus Jones has the hardest decision because he’s a pro but he could run the team as a Sophomore. If he leaves Duke they don’t have a single point guard on the team. They are trying to reclassify Derrick Thornton if Jones goes pro that’s how bad it could go for them. You can’t replace any of the 3 or potentially 4 players. They have Kennard & Jeter plus transfer big man Obi but the barrel is thin otherwise. Just Matt Jones & Grayson Allen are back with Jefferson & the worst Plumlee of the 3.
Gonzaga- They do lose a bunch. Pangos & Bell have held down the backcourt for years. Wesley is gone, Sabonis is getting some looks in the first round. They could have only 3-4 rotation players back if that happens.
Syracuse- Can play in the tourney next year for all I’ve read. Bring in 4 top 100 guys and could have 4 starters back. Should have depth to play with for one year.
Nova- Will still be good and adding Brunson is huge for them. Will have to replace scoring of Pinkston & Hilliard but they have guys who can step up.
WSU- Baker & VanVleet aren’t first round guys. They will finish their career and win many more games. Frankamp joins the frey to give them 3 shooters.
Zona- Likely to lose a lot to the draft. I think maybe 1 or 2 will stay behind. They bring in a great recruiting class Trier will score the ball in bunches. McConell will be very hard to replace. Zeus should be back for a Sr year.
A&M- Dynamic recruiting class with a bunch of players back puts them right up there for battling if the team has good chemistry.
Louisville- A lot depends on if Rozier goes pro. If he does I don’t see how they are even a Top 25 team. Harrell will go, Jones is gone, Blackshear is gone… Rozier would cripple them.
@BeddieKU23 You could be right. But, I think we will be in contention for a #1 seed as long as Perry comes back. Continued improvement from Mason and Greene and more experience for Graham will make a difference, I think. But, if Cliff is indeed done and if KO leaves as expected, I think our chances of getting either Brown, Newman or one of the big guys become pretty decent.
I don’t see ISU being good enough to contend for a#1 seed…I can see them being about like this year…but maybe that is wishful thinking,
wissoxfan83 last edited by
Apparently hasn’t heard of the grand old wizard in Madison and Wisconsin who will have to replace Kaminsky and Trae Jackson, but if Sam Decker sticks around, he Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, who Kansas recruited, will form an experienced core that will continue to win a lot of games.
Michigan? Not that excited about them.
exCUSE me? The orange? LOL!
Texas AM? I’ll believe it when I see it.
Since I can attend games pretty easily at LSU, I’m actually kind of excited to see that team next year. I hope Mickey and Martin stick around.
@wissoxfan83 well don’t get to excited!
wissoxfan83 last edited by
@Crimsonorblue22 Forreal, KU fanatic, Wisconsin fan, I have nothing left for any other team. My son does go to LSU however, so in support of him however, I can cheer them on a bit.
@wissoxfan83 you know I’m kidding?
The preparation and the games in South Korea may give us a very good start next season. With such preparation and experience, I think we will beat everyone in line at the non conference. With a traditionally great non conference SOS, our stock will be very high.
I assume Oubre and Cliff to be gone. I expect 2 great signings to come. Ellis, Seldon, Jamari, Mason, Devonte, Lucas, Hunter are likely to stay. Greene, I am not sure.
So, Yes. 1 Seed for sure!
Wisconsin is losing way too much especially if Dekker jumps. If he stays they probably will stay a top 25 team. They certainly won’t be as talented as the last few years have been. The value of Kaminsky, Jackson, Gasser, Dukan can’t be replaced. They only play 2 other guys who will be back next year in Showalter & Brown but they get less than 8 minutes a game.
On LSU I’m thinking one of the Mickey/Martin combo goes pro because of Simmons. Somebody is losing minutes to him and I’m not sure either of them will want that. I could be wrong, they could both want to play with him and Blakeney & possibly Newman. They would seriously challenge Kentucky with those guys.
@Shanghai_RCJH Dont forget about Svi, He will be better next season. I also think Brannen is back next year. Why would he go? Unless we get a super stud on the wing like Wigs or Oubre or Ben.
@Lulufulu Thanks. I forgot Svi. As for Greene, HCBS has a track record of pushing “wild horses” out of the stable if the horse remained wild after a few warning. Greene may just be that horse. I am thinking that he will transfer.
@Shanghai_RCJH he would be really stupid to do that! Sometimes I think he is! It is all on him though. His choices are his own.
HawksWin last edited by
@Shanghai_RCJH Agree about Greene given Self is implementing Bad Ball which isnt about dropping 3s, and Greene is all about 3s. So how he does in March may be indicative of whats to come with BG next year.
@HawksWin as much as I hate to say it, BG is all about BG! I’ve seen him stomp off and not get in huddles, or sit on bench and not support his teammates. I think we have to recruit over him. I’ve never seen a wing have as poor of handles as he does. I wish it wasn’t so.
HawksWin last edited by
@Crimsonorblue22 Thanks for the validation. I love his 3s but questioned his commitment & attitude to hard work. What you said makes a lot of sense. Hope he grows & matures in March - perhaps realizing he ain’t all that until he learns how to dribble, defend, follow&obey coach’s directions.
@HawksWin and make a commitment to his teammates!
@Crimsonorblue22 BG is too skinny to have handles. Sorry I guess you meant the ability to dribble the ball without causing most of the Jayhawk fan base to have heart attacks. His rebounding has gotten better but he can’t drive a car let alone the basketball.
@sfbahawk ha ha good one!!!
HawksWin last edited by HawksWin
@sfbahawk My thoughts exactly. Other players have added muscle on their upper body after a year at KU, but Greene’s body hasn’t changed much. That said, based on Greene’s comment, I wonder if he is hurt playing against big muscle all season.
“They (coaches) made a tape for me (Greene) and Wayne (Selden, Jr., 0-1 vs. TCU) this past week. I was looking at my shot from how I’m missing and when I was making them. I don’t feel my body is moving the same into the shot. Other than that, I’m shooting well in practice. It just hasn’t fallen in the game. I don’t feel as fluid. I know how my shot feels. I don’t feel my legs are getting into it. No excuses. I’ve got to make shots. It’ll turn around.” Gary Bedore @ kusports.com
I love the kid (gotta remember he’s a kid, my nephew is 20 & still a goofy kid) & hope he is not playing with injured ankle or something
@HawksWin perhaps he’s still missing workouts?