The college basketball season is right around the corner. There has been a lot of anticipation for the season in particular with some star-studded recruiting classes and a lot of good players returning. The question before every season is: Who are the best teams in the country? These articles will help clear that up heading into the season. Here is College Basketball Preseason Top 25: 25-21.
25. Clemson Tigers
Clemson has three returning starters from a team that went 25-10 last season. They will have to deal with the losses of guard Gabe DeVoe and forward Mark Donnal, but head coach Brad Brownell has the pieces to make the tournament and perhaps win a game.
The Tigers are a senior-led team. They have Marcquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell starting at the guard spots, who both scored in double figures last year. Reed poured in 15.8 points per game and was versatile, doing a little bit of everything. Mitchell will need to stretch the floor with his shooting to help this team win games. Forward Elijah Thomas is a threat for a double-double every game after averaging 10.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season.
How the pieces fit in around these three seniors will determine how good Clemson can be. They don’t need any stars, just players who can come in and fill their roles. Anthony Oliver II, Hunter Tyson, John Newman and Clyde Trapp will need to provide good depth and a scoring punch off the bench from the guard and wing spots. On the interior Javan White, an Oral Roberts transfer, will fill in next to Thomas. Aamir Sims got some playing time last season and is a solid interior player as well.
The seniors provide a good start to the team, but the fate of the team will fall on the role players and newcomers stepping up.
24. UCLA Bruins
UCLA lost two key players and leaders in Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh, which means it will take some time for them to find their new identity. They do have some returning talent to pair with some good recruits and will hope that is good enough to compete in the Pac-12.
Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes will provide a great backcourt with both players having NBA potential. Both sophomores got their feet wet as freshmen and are ready to take on bigger roles this season after Wilkes earned All-Pac-12 freshman honors and Hands tested the NBA draft waters. They will be joined by returning starter Prince Ali, who averaged just under 10 points per game last season. Chris Smith is a sophomore who got experience off the bench last season, while Jules Bernard and David Singleton are talented players who give the Bruins great depth at guard.
Moses Brown is a 7-foot-1 center from New York that will dominate the paint in his freshman season for the Bruins. Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, the two players not named LiAngelo Ball who got caught shoplifting in China, both return to provide some talent. While Shareef O’Neal will miss the season with a heart ailment, Alex Olesinski got playing time last season and is an efficient player.
Steve Alford should be able to have a solid season and make the NCAA Tournament with this squad at the least. At their best, they can do some damage once they are there.
23. Purdue Boilermakers
Matt Painter’s team lost four really good players in Isaac Haas, Vincent Edwards, P.J. Thompson and Dakota Mathias. They do, however, have one of the best players in the country returning to the team, which should help them find success again.
Carsen Edwards returns for his junior season after averaging 18.5 points per game last year. He has a legitimate shot to win some big awards at the end of the season. He is the lone returning starter, but there are other players who will help him cope with the loss of his teammates. Ryan Cline will stretch the floor with his deep range. Nojel Eastern is expected to take a step up this season to really help give Purdue solid perimeter play. Eric Hunter and Sasha Stefanovic will get minutes off of the bench.
Purdue always seemingly has a 7-footer and this year is no different. Matt Haarms is a good rebounder and shot blocker and is now a starter without Haas on the roster. Aaron Wheeler, Grady Eifert, Trevion Williams and Evan Boudreaux all will fight for minutes alongside Haarms and will figure to be key role players.
The question for Purdue becomes, if Edwards is shut down, can they still put the ball in the hoop?
22. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
The Cinderellas of last year’s NCAA Tournament have a team that is fully capable of making some noise for a second straight season. WIth head coach Porter Moser and star Clayton Custer back, the Ramblers should feel good about the 2018-2019 season.
Custer won MVC Player of the Year after averaging 13.2 points and 4.1 assists per game last season. He will have to take on more of a scoring role this year with the losses of Donte Ingram, Ben Richardson and Audree Jackson. Marques Townes will rejoin him in the backcourt after averaging 11.1 points per game in 2017-2018. Lucas Williamson, Bruno Skokna, Isaiah Bujdoso and Cooper Kaifes will provide depth.
Cameron Krutwig will be a sophomore this season after providing a good inside presence for the Ramblers. He averaged 10.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Franklin Agunanne is a four-star recruit that will help in the frontcourt immediately. Aher Uguak and Christian Negron will likely come off the bench for Loyola.
The Ramblers will roll through the MVC schedule and should put themselves in position to make the dance again.
21. Washington Huskies
Mike Hopkins did better than anyone expected in year one with a 21-13 record. In year two, the Huskies have already made some noise by beating Nevada, who is ranked in the top 10, in an exhibition. In a weak Pac-12, Washington will be one of the stronger teams.
Point guard David Crisp has experience with 1,000 career points and the expertise to lead the team. The Huskies also return leading scorer Jaylen Nowell at the guard position. Matisse Thybulle is the best perimeter defender in the conference and has a Washington record 205 career steals. Depth at the guard spot could be an issue as the only other one on their roster is Elijah Hardy.
The inside play will be led by forward Noah Dickerson, who averaged 15.8 points per game last season. He’ll be joined by returning starter Sam Timmins. Nahziah Carter and Hameir Wright played a little as freshmen and will now provide great backup play. Recruit Jamal Bey will get some minutes on the wing. At center, the Huskies have two seven-foot freshmen. Bryan Penn-Johnson will be a shot-blocking presence.
The Huskies might have lost out on Michael Porter Jr. and the NCAA Tournament last season, but are in a good position to change things going forward.
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