Very Early College Basketball Power Rankings for 2014
Louisville players haven't returned to class yet following their 2013 NCAA Championship victory, and they have already been unseated as the best team in their home state.
Putting together a list such as this one is hostile territory, because many players on the top teams have yet to declare their loyalties for next season. Some will return to school and some will declare for the NBA Draft. This makes early predictions difficult, but intriguing.
The other variable in this list is Andrew Wiggins. Widely-regarded as the most polished prep player since LeBron James, the 6'7'' wing player is a physical specimen who averaged 25 points and 13 rebounds per game for Huntington St. Joseph's Prep last season. Wherever he decides to play will tilt these rankings.
Louisville and Michigan are two teams out of many which will lose key contributors. Kansas loses its entire starting lineup. They're suffering from roster turnover, something that bites all the major programs in Division I.
Considering the fall of the giants and the young talent on the up-and-coming teams improving, here are the top five teams entering the 2013-14 season.
The 2013-14 Kentucky Wildcats will have, potentially, eight former or current McDonald's All-Americans, a player drawing comparisons to LeBron James and an average Rivals star rating of 4.71.
Think they'll be any good?
Say what you will about John Calipari, the guy can put a team together. And he may not even be done.
Andrew Wiggins, the nation's No. 1 overall recruit, is considering Kentucky as a possible landing spot. If that happens, Kentucky's recruiting class would land the No. 1, 2, 4 and 5 overall recruits in the Rivals Top 150.
That's unprecedented and would most likely make the Wildcats' 2013-14 class the best in the history of basketball. The way it's looking now, Nerlens Noel will declare for the NBA draft. They may not even miss him.
Willie Cauley-Stein, a 7-footer, will return inside to fill Noel's spot. Kyle Wiltjer, a tall three-point shooter will help spread out the floor for The Harrison Twins and Alex Poythress. And that just breaks the surface of their potential.
If this team was together now, they'd be competing for a playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference. Incredible.
If Calipari can correctly manage a team of superstars like this, Kentucky may run away from the field in 2013-14.
Just for perspective, here are the Rivals Top 150 players who will suit up in Lexington in 2013-14:
No. 16: Kyle Wiltjer
No. 8: Alex Poythress
No. 1: Andrew Wiggins (potentially)
No. 2: Julius Randle
No. 4: Aaron Harrison
No. 5: Andrew Harrison
No. 10: James Young
No. 13: Dakari Johnson
No. 18: Marcus Lee
The Blue Devils are equipped for a deep tournament run next year with an ultra-talented backcourt and a five-star recruit in Jabari Parker.
Replacing Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry will be difficult, but they bring in a stellar backcourt recruit in Matt Jones. The next Plumlee in line, Marshall, will be looked upon to step up into a more advanced role.
The backcourt returns Rasheed Sulaimon (rumors say yes, he will be back in 2013-14) and Quinn Cook, a slippery ball handler with quick defensive hands.
Replacing Mason Plumlee's presence inside will be their most difficult hurdle, but the combination of Marshall Plumlee, a young athletic forward in Amile Jefferson and Jabari Parker will fit the bill. With their talent and coach Mike Krzyzewski managing the team, Duke will be strong once again.
3. Michigan State
Counting Michigan State out of anything when it comes to men's college basketball would be foolish, especially if they return as much talent as they do next year.
Keith Appling, while inconsistent, is a great floor general and will provide vital senior leadership. Inside, bruiser Adreian Payne will be the next Spartan big man to shine in the Big Ten.
And then there's Gary Harris. He's a big time slasher and scorer who can create his own shot and will most likely return after being dominated by Duke's Seth Curry in the NCAA Tournament. He'll have something to prove to fans and NBA scouts.
Larry Izzo, in an article (linked above) by Michigan Live's Diamond Leung, said we "haven't seen the Gary Harris I recruited." There's more to see, folks.
Of course, it would be ignorant to not mention Tom Izzo, a Hall of Fame coach whose team is always in the mix. With the talent on the roster next year, don't count out Sparty.
Billy Donovan reached the Elite Eight for the third year in a row this past season and will have the team to do it again in 2013-14.
The scoring production of Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton will be tough to replace, but between the dominant defense from Patric Young down low, the suffocating perimeter defense of Scottie Wilbekin and the scoring of Michael Frazier, the Gators will be solid.
While Kentucky will have the edge in the SEC, the Gators will look to avenge three straight losses in the Elite Eight next season and just might have the talent to do so.
The Wildcats surged into the Sweet Sixteen last season behind Mark Lyons' shooting and solid interior defense from Solomon Hill and Brandon Ashley.
Unfortunately, Lyons and Hill will graduate. Ashley will be a sophomore, and with him, Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett patrolling the paint, Arizona will be tough to score upon.
With good defense comes good offense, and Lyons' 15.6 points per game will be missed. Of course, that's until you consider who is coming to Tucson next season.
Aaron Gordon, Rivals' sixth overall prospect, brings with him an insane amount of athleticism and is drawing comparisons to Blake Griffin from when he played at Oklahoma. He will fit in nicely in their stellar frontcourt.
Along with Gordon, the Wildcats will add Rivals' 16th-best prospect Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a 6'7'' McDonald's All-American forward with a 7-foot wingspan.
Coach Sean Miller is putting together quite the roster at Arizona. If they can build off the success of 2012-13 and continue the development of the post players, the Wildcats will contend for the Pac-12 championship and possibly much more.