Ashton Hagans says he felt like he let the team down
Those way-too-early college basketball top-25 lists for next season are silly, senseless and a total waste of time. And, oh yeah, fun.
With that in mind, here’s mine:
1. Michigan State: Losing to Texas Tech left Tom Izzo 3-7 in Final Four weekend games. He could be 5-7 next April, especially if point guard Cassius Winston returns.
2. Virginia: A title repeat will be tough should De’Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome depart. Still, Tony Bennett’s style works and center Mamadi Diakite is poised to be a 2019-20 breakout star.
3. Kentucky: John Calipari mixes returnees with his annual cluster of star freshmen. Add grad transfer Nate Sestina. Bank on the Cats being a March factor. Of course.
4. Villanova: Jay Wright will be right back in the thick of things thanks to a top-five recruiting class, led by Bryan Antoine and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.
5. Duke: Durham won’t be as electric without Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish. That might not be all bad. Getting Tre Jones back is big.
6. Auburn: Love him or loathe him, Bruce Pearl can coach. March closed that case. And he has another rookie class that fits his frantic style of play.
7. Michigan: There are Ann Arbor rumblings several Wolverines will test the NBA Draft waters. Still, John Beilein has the makings of another national contender.
8. Kansas: If Udoka Azubuike stays healthy, Bill Self is set for a comeback. Banking on the health of the oft-injured Azubuike is no sure thing, however.
9. Florida: Mike White squeezed plenty out of this year’s Gators. Now he welcomes a top-10 class to go with sophomores-to-be Andrew Nembhard and Keyontae Johnson.
10. Louisville: A surprising success his first season, Chris Mack has a top-10 recruiting class to go with a holdover group. Jordan Nwora withdrawing from the draft would be huge.
11. Gonzaga: Another injection of foreign talent should soften the Zags’ disappointment of falling short of the Final Four as a No. 1 seed.
12. Oregon: Dana Altman’s Ducks played their best basketball before meeting Virginia in the Sweet 16. That confidence should carry over into next season.
13. Seton Hall: There’s a reason Kevin Willard turned down Virginia Tech. He should return a veteran roster, led by super-scorer Myles Powell.
14. Maryland: Up-and-down as a rookie, Jalen Smith is the key to the Terps’ fortunes in 2019-20. Mark Turgeon’s team was the nation’s fifth-youngest this past season.
15. Florida State: Leonard Hamilton is 71 years old in August. Doesn’t matter. Playing his Seminoles is a sure headache. If Mfiondu Kabengele returns, look out.
16. Arizona: The Wildcats are tough to predict. Sean Miller owns the nation’s top recruiting class, according to 247Sports. But an NCAA investigation looms large over Tucson.
17. Marquette: If volume scorer Markus Howard returns, Steve Wojciechowski gets beyond this season’s first-round NCAA knockout.
18. Memphis: After going 22-14 his first season, Penny Hardaway has a crowded stable of reinforcements, led by No. 1 recruit James Wiseman.
19. Saint Mary’s: The Gaels’ upset of Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament finals was a sign of things to come from one of the nation’s youngest teams.
20. North Carolina: The Tar Heels are staring at a major rebuilding effort after losing Cam Johnson, Luke Maye, Coby White, Nassir Little and Kenny Williams.
21. Houston: A no-go to Arkansas, Kelvin Sampson stuck with the Cougars, who should benefit from this year’s tournament experience.
22. Tennessee: For an encore, Rick Barnes must earn the money in his new contract. Grant Williams and Jordan Bone are likely to join Admiral Schofield on the exit ramp.
23. Cincinnati: Head coach Mike Cronin is off to UCLA. If Jarron Cumberland returns, however, the next UC coach should have the Bearcats back in the Top 25.
24. Southern Cal: Andy Enfield has assembled a ridiculous recruiting class, led by a pair of top-25 recruits in Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu.
25. Iowa: I was going to leave Iowa out of this Top 25, but I was afraid Fran McCaffery might lose his temper. Seriously, the Hawkeyes are a Big Ten contender.