MJ's early Top 10: Go Sparty!

MJ's early Top 10: Go Sparty!

Beat writer and AP poll voter Marcus Jackson’s way-too-early Top 10 for 2013-14

1. Michigan State
The Spartans were a Top 10 team late and everybody returns except Derrick Nix. Expect Big Ten Freshman of the Year Gary Harris (right) to become a star.

2. North Carolina
Roy Williams will have the Tar Heels in the national conversation again with James Michael McAdoo back and plenty of talent around him.

3. Louisville
Rick Pitino loses Peyton Siva, but freshman point guard Terry Rozier can team up with Russ Smith and the rest of the returnees to keep the Cardinals near the top.

4. Kentucky
The model didn’t work this year, but John Calipari has six of the Top 20 players in this recruiting class, all of whom will play in the NBA.

5. Arizona
Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell takes over for Mark Lyons at the point, and Sean Miller’s got a heralded recruiting class coming.
6. Michigan
Trey Burke will certainly be gone. But Mitch McGary has emerged as a star and — if Glenn Robinson III returns — Wolverines will remain elite.

7. Florida
Patric Young said Monday he’s coming back, and incoming freshman Chris Walker gives the Gators one of the best frontcourts in the country.

8. Duke
Remember, sharpshooter Andre Dawkins is expected to return after redshirting this season, and Jabari Parker will add some versatility as Duke reloads.

9. Marquette
Buzz Williams returns his top three players, including Vander Blue, and a vaunted recruiting class featuring three Top 100 players.

10. Ohio State
Deshaun Thomas declared for the draft, but he and Evan Ravenel are the only players the Buckeyes lose. Aaron Craft is a beast and LaQuinton Ross grew up in NCAAs.

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IlliniMike05 wrote on April 09, 2013 at 10:04 am

Carolina belongs in the Top 10 but No. 2 seems like a reach. I agree with Sparty at No. 1 if everyone comes back. I know it's always tough to gauge Kentucky with a brand-new roster every year but there isn't much historical precedent for how talented they'll be. Their have been entire NBA Draft lotteries with less collective future pro production than these six have by themselves. (Like this year's draft, for example.)

I'll give MSU the nod at No. 1 if everyone is back because they're a proven entity, but it's hard to not put Kentucky there. Experience level aside, this is the most talent one college team will have since...really, I don't know. There are probably eight NBA players on that team. And the thing is, all of his Kentucky teams have lived up to their talent level. Kentucky's model didn't "work" this year because WCS, Goodwin and Poythress were not near the same caliber as their previous classes. Noel was the only true one-and-done they had and they were starting to get on a roll when he got hurt. This is even more talent than Cal had with the Wall/Cousins/Bledsoe/Patterson group in '10 or the MKG/Davis/Jones/Teague/Lamb group last year, and those two teams went a combined 73-5. They're going to be terrifying.

ptevonian wrote on April 09, 2013 at 11:04 am

OSU loses DeShaun and replaces him with who?  LaQuinton played well, but he's not ready to lead the league in scoring.  And Craft improved his offensive game, but he can't be the only guy for them.  Someone will pick up Thomas' scoring, but I don't see them as Top 10 -- at least not early on.

Iowa, on the other hand, brings everyone back from an NIT finals team.  They came on late this season, and Oglesby should have a much better year shooting next season.  Veteran teams generally do well in the Big Ten, and doing well in the Big Ten usually means you'll be ranked.  Not sure they'll be Top 10, but they will challenge the top teams in the league.

And Michigan could well lose Robinson and McGary to the draft as well.  Robinson has been talked about for a while, and with McGary's late season and tournament performances, he seems very draftable, too.  If his family doesn't need it, he'd be well-advised to come back and put up big numbers next year.  With Burke and (likely) Hardaway gone, there will be a lot more shots for him and Stauskus and (maybe) Robinson.


IlliniMike05 wrote on April 09, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I can see Ross picking up a lot of Deshaun's scoring and maybe putting up 16-18 points a game. Not saying he definitely will, but that kid can score. And they also bring back Sam Thompson and Lenzelle Smith for a deep, versatile wing rotation. Much like Nnanna here, Amir Williams will need to come into his own as a scorer. They need 10-12 points a game from him, and they also need their two 4-star freshmen, Kam Williams and Marc Loving, ready to contribute if they're going to be a Top 10 team.

I know McGary has said he's coming back for sure, but if everyone else leaves does it really make much sense for him to come back? He's gonna be a 21-year old sophomore that no longer has the luxury of the best point guard in college hoops feeding him. Zak Irvin's a stud and we saw that Albrecht can play (the ridiculous three-point shooting aside, the really impressive thing was how well he was taking care of the ball while darting in and out of a historically great defense like a mini-Nash)***. So if Robinson and McGary come back while Burke and Hardaway leave, that's still a Top 20 team at least. I have a feeling McGary, especially being as old as some seniors, will have his game picked apart by scouts if he sticks around.

Sure, his per-game numbers will improve if he comes back in a featured role, but his game is what it is: he's a brute force of a rebounder/pick-and-roll finisher, he's likely never going to have any polished post game, and he's a decent enough shooter to be a pick-and-pop guy in the NBA. Teams are a lot smarter with advanced metrics now and even if his per-game numbers improve, the picking apart of his game will intensify if he's significantly less efficient in that featured role.

Plus, this draft is historically weak and next year's is pretty loaded. He could have a great sophomore season and fall 10 spots just because there's that many more draftable guys. I don't see a lot of good reasons for him to not go now.

*** (I didn't see a big chunk of the second half, so I didn't see Albrecht start turning the ball over and chuck bad shots in the second half. I was falling asleep on my couch and when I was awake, I was watching Dolph Ziggler win the World Title on Monday Night Raw. That was way more important. Priorities.)

AlamoIllini wrote on April 09, 2013 at 11:04 pm

The final Coaches Poll was today with the 4th ranked team, Wichita State.  WSU has most of its team back for next year, and many of the national talking heads have said, they are not going to drop out competively, next year. There is no doubt that Marshall can coach and recruit.

I would have had them at 10 instead of OSU to start next season.



IlliniMike05 wrote on April 10, 2013 at 10:04 am

Holy excessive commas, Batman.

Anyway, Wichita State should probably be pretty highly ranked going into next year but I wouldn't overreact to a tiny sample size of one tournament run. That said, they did finish 17th in Kenpom's ratings and with much of its squad back they're certainly a legit team. If they started the season ranked near the Top 10 no one should argue too much.