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2024-25 Way-too-early Top 25 college basketball rankings 9.0: Projecting starters after NBA Draft decisions

James Fletcher IIIby:James Fletcher III06/04/24


The NBA Draft withdrawal deadline last week is arguably the most important day for college basketball in terms of setting expectations for the 2024-25 season. Several highly-rated players on contending teams opted to return for another season, setting the Top 25 teams up to focus attention on preparing for a March Madness run.

With the deadline in the past and just a handful of transfer decisions left to be made, the focus can shift from the in-and-out nature of roster building to how the rotation itself could look. Added into this week’s edition is a way-too-early projection of each team’s starting five.

Here is a way-too-early look at what the Top 25 rankings could look like in the 2024-25 season.

1. Alabama

Key returns: Mark SearsGrant NelsonLatrell WrightsellJarin Stevenson
Key additions: Derrion ReidAidan SherrellHouston MalletteChris YoungbloodNaas CunninghamAden HollowayLabaron PhilonClifford Omoruyi
Projected starters: Mark Sears, Latrell Wrightsell, Chris Youngblood, Grant Nelson, Clifford Omoruyi

Both key Alabama players with an NBA Draft decision to make — Mark Sears and Jarin Stevenson — decided to return for another season and cement the Crimson Tide as the No. 1 preseason team in 2024-25.

2. Houston

Key returns: LJ CryerJ’Wan RobertsEmanuel SharpJa’Vier FrancisTerrance Arceneaux
Key additions: Milos Uzan
Projected starters: Milos Uzan, LJ Cryer, Emanuel Sharp, Ja’Vier Francis, J’Wan Roberts

Houston was passed by Kansas for the top spot after more additions over recent weeks, but now moved back toward the top after seeing a conference rival lose a commitment in the transfer portal.

3. Kansas

Key returns: Dajuan HarrisKJ AdamsHunter Dickinson
Key additions: Zeke MayoFlory BidungaAJ StorrRakease PassmoreRylan Griffen
Projected starters: Dajuan Harris, AJ Storr, Rylan Griffen, KJ Adams, Hunter Dickinson

Kansas waited until the deadline to find out for sure whether Johnny Furphy would return or enter the NBA Draft, with the decision to go ending up giving the Jayhawks an addition roster spot if they choose to use it.

4. UConn

Key returns: Alex KarabanHassan DiarraSamson Johnson
Key additions: Tarris ReedAhmad NowellLiam McNeeleyAidan Mahaney
Projected starters: Hassan Diarra, Aidan Mahaney, Liam McNeeley, Alex Karaban, Tarris Reed

UConn made a splash in the transfer portal, then again on NBA Draft decision day when Alex Karaban chose to return for another season with a three-peat in mind.

5. Duke

Key returns: Tyrese ProctorCaleb Foster
Key additions: Cooper FlaggKhaman MaluachIsaiah EvansKon KnueppelPatick NgongbaDarren HarrisMaliq BrownMason GillisSion JamesCameron Sheffield
Projected starters: Tyrese Proctor, Sion James, Cooper Flagg, Maliq Brown, Khaman Maluach

The No. 1 recruiting class belongs to Duke and Jon Scheyer. Top-ranked recruit Cooper Flagg is joined by a talented group on the way in, plus a clear transfer portal plan to build out with veterans and potential wing options. Rice transfer Cameron Sheffield is the latest depth piece.

6. Baylor

Key returns: Langston LoveJayden Nunn
Key additions: VJ EdgecombeRob WrightJason AsemotaJeremy RoachNorchad Omier
Projected starters: Jeremy Roach, Jayden Nunn, VJ Edgecombe, Jason Asemota, Norchad Omier

Baylor bounced back up the way-too-early Top 25 this month by adding a commitment from former Miami center Norchad Omier. The talent level and experience will make the Bears a contender pending NBA decisions.

7. Gonzaga

Key returns: Graham IkeRyan NembhardNolan HickmanBen GreggBraden HuffSteele Venters
Key additions: Michael AjayiKhalif Battle, Emmanuel Innocenti
Projected starters: Ryan Nembhard, Nolan Hickman, Michael Ajayi, Ben Gregg, Graham Ike

Gonzaga added to the backcourt multiple times through the transfer portal and helped solidify the defense on the wing as well. Getting Michael Ajayi to withdraw from the NBA Draft helps solidify their spot within the Top 25.

8. Auburn

Key returns: Johni BroomeChad Baker-MazaraDenver JonesDylan Cardwell
Key additions: Tahaad PettifordJP PeguesJa’Heim HudsonMiles Kelly*
Projected starters: JP Pegues, Denver Jones, Miles Kelly, Chad Baker-Mazara, Johni Broome

Auburn got a transfer portal commitment from Miles Kelly this week to sure up the wing scoring and provide help to the backcourt which includes veteran transfer JP Pegues.

9. Iowa State

Key returns: Keshon GilbertTamin LipseyCurtis JonesMilan Momcilovic
Key additions: Nate HeiseDishon JacksonBrandton ChatfieldJoshua Jefferson
Projected starters: Tamin Lipsey, Keshon Gilbert, Milan Momcilovic, Joshua Jefferson, Dishon Jackson

Iowa State added Joshua Jefferson to a group which already promised to enter the season inside the Top 10 of the preseason rankings. The Cyclones looks ready for another year atop the analytic machines.

10. Creighton

Key returns: Steven AshworthRyan KalkbrennerMason Miller
Key additions: Jackson McAndrewJamiya NealPop Isaacs
Projected starters: Pop Isaacs, Steven Ashworth, Jamiya Neal, Mason Miller, Ryan Kalkbrenner

Creighton remains in the Top 10 of the updated way-too-early Top 25 thanks to a pair of backcourt additions. Pop Isaacs and Jamiya Neal promise to keep things moving as the team reloads in the Big East title race.

Ranking 11-25

11. North Carolina
Key returns: RJ DavisElliot CadeauSeth Trimble
Key additions: Ian JacksonDrake PowellCade TysonVen-Allen Lubin
Projected starters: RJ Davis, Elliot Cadeau, Ian Jackson, Drake Powell, Ven-Allen Lubin

12. Texas
Key returns: Kadin ShedrickChendall Weaver
Key additions: Tre JohnsonTramon MarkJulian LarryJayson KentJordan Pope
Projected starters: Jordan Pope, Tre Johnson, Tramon Mark, Chendall Weaver, Kadin Shedrick

13. Marquette
Key returns: Kam JonesDavid JoplinStevie MitchellChase RossSean JonesBen Gold
Key additions: N/A
Projected starters: Stevie Mitchell, Kam Jones, Chase Ross, David Joplin, Ben Gold

14. Providence
Key returns: Bryce HopkinsJayden Pierre
Key additions: Bensley JosephChrist EssandokoJabri Abdur-RahimWesley Cardet
Projected starters: Bensley Joseph, Jayden Pierre, Wesley Cardet, Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Bryce Hopkins

15. Tennessee
Key returns: Zakai ZeiglerJordan Gainey
Key additions: Darlinstone DubarFelix OkparaIgor MilicicChaz Lanier
Projected starters: Zakai Zeigler, Chaz Lanier, Jahmai Mashack, Darlinstone Dubar, Felix Okpara,

16. Arizona
Key returns: Caleb LoveJaden BradleyKJ LewisMotiejus Krivas
Key additions: Carter BryantTrey TownsendTobe AwakaAnthony Dell’Orso
Projected starters: Caleb Love, KJ Lewis, Carter Bryant, Trey Townsend, Motjiejus Krivas

17. UCLA
Key returns: Lazar StefanovicDylan AndrewsSebastian Mack
Key additions: Trent PerryKobe JohnsonSkyy ClarkEric DaileyTyler BilodeauWilliam KyleDominick Harris
Projected starters: Sebastian Mack, Dylan Andrews, Kobe Johnson, Lazar Stefanovic, William Kyle

18. Florida
Key returns: Walter ClaytonWill RichardAlex CondonMicah Handlogten
Key additions: Sam AlexisRueben ChinyeluAlijah Martin
Projected starters: Walter Clayton, Alijah Martin, Will Richard, Alex Condon, Rueben Chinyelu

19. Purdue                                                                              
Key returns: Braden SmithFletcher LoyerTrey Kaufman-Renn
Key additions: Kanon Catchings
Projected starters: Braden Smith, Fletcher Loyer, Kanon Catchings, Trey Kaufman-Renn, Camden Heide

20. Indiana
Key returns: Trey GallowayMalik ReneauMackenzie Mgbako
Key additions: Bryson TuckerMyles RiceOumar BalloKanaan CarlyleLuke GoodeLangdon Hatton
Projected starters: Kanaan Carlyle, Trey Galloway, Mackenzie Mgbako, Malik Reneau, Oumar Ballo

21. USC
Key returns: N/A
Key additions: Clark SlajchertJosh CohenBryce PopeMatt KnowlingSaint ThomasIsaiah ElohimChibuzo AgboRashaun AgeeTerrance WilliamsDesmond ClaudeKevin Patton
Projected starters: Bryce Pope, Saint Thomas, Desmond Claude, Terrance Williams, Josh Cohen

22. Arkansas
Key returns: N/A
Key additions: Karter KnoxBoogie FlandBilly RichmondJonas AidooJohnell Davis*, Zvonimir IvisicAdou ThieroDJ Wagner
Projected starters: DJ Wagner, Johnell Davis, Adou Thiero, Karter Knox, Jonas Aidoo

23. Clemson
Key returns: Chase HunterIan SchieffelinChauncey WigginsJake Heidbreder
Key additions: Viktor LahkinJaeden ZackeryMyles Foster
Projected starters: Chase Hunter: Jaeden Zackery, Jake Heidbreder, Ian Schieffelin, Viktor Lahkin

24. Cincinnati
Key returns: Day Day ThomasSimas LukosiusAziz BandaogoDan SkillingsJizzle JamesCJ Fredrick
Key additions: Tyler BetseyConnor HickmanDillon Mitchell
Projected starters: Day Day Thomas, Dan Skillings, Simas Lukosius, Dillon Mitchell, Aziz Bandaogo

25. Ole Miss
Key returns: Matthew MurrellJaemyn BrakefieldJaylen MurrayTJ Caldwell
Key additions: John BolMikeal Brown-JonesMalik DiaDavon BarnesDre DavisSean Pedulla
Projected starters: Sean Pedulla, Matthew Murrell, Dre Davis, Jaemyn Brakefield, Malik Dia