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Sport Way-too-early top 25 for the 2020-21 season: Gonzaga is No. 1

22:28  08 april  2020
22:28  08 april  2020 Source:   thescore.com

The 12 most influential stay-or-go NBA draft decisions

  The 12 most influential stay-or-go NBA draft decisions These 12 players will shape college basketball in 2020-21.There is no guarantee that there will be a combine. No one knows if teams are going to be able to fly prospects in for workouts or for interviews. Hell, we don’t even know when (or if) the NBA is going to finish the season.

The college basketball offseason is typically fluid. With players able to test the NBA draft waters and the ever-growing number of transfers, a team's outlook can change drastically over the spring and summer.

a man holding a basketball © Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Add in the fact that this year's NCAA Tournament wasn't played and it becomes even more difficult to project which teams will enter 2020-21 with the best chance to win a national championship.

We're going to try anyway. Players will still be making draft decisions in the coming weeks, but here's theScore's early top 25 for next season.

1. Gonzaga (last season's record: 31-2)

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The Bulldogs will miss Killian Tillie, Ryan Woolridge, and Admon Gilder, but could return three starters in Filip Petrusev, Corey Kispert, and Joel Ayayi if they all forgo the draft. Drew Timme, a 6-foot-10 big, should make a jump as a sophomore, and Mark Few signed a five-star combo guard in Jalen Suggs.

2. Creighton (24-7)

The Bluejays shared the Big East title in 2020 with only one senior in the rotation. Five starters could return. Ty-Shon Alexander, Marcus Zegarowski, and Mitch Ballock will lead a team with championship aspirations.

3. Baylor (26-4)

Scott Drew's team was a legitimate title contender in 2019-20 and should be in the conversation next year, too. If MaCio Teague and Jared Butler both return, the Bears will have four starters back - and they add Presbyterian transfer Adam Flagler (15.9 points per game).

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Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images Sport / Getty © Provided by theScore Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images Sport / Getty

4. San Diego State (30-2)

This spot is contingent on the return of All-American Malachi Flynn (17.6 points, 5.1 assists per game). If he's back, the Aztecs will be stacked again with Matt Mitchell, Jordan Schakel, and Trey Pulliam returning, plus the addition of Cal State Northridge shooter Terrell Gomez (44.2% from 3-point range).

5. Villanova (24-7)

The Wildcats had no seniors this season, but sophomore Saddiq Bey's draft stock has skyrocketed and he could depart. Still, Jay Wright should bring back a solid core led by Collin Gillespie, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, and Justin Moore.

6. Virginia (23-7)

Tony Bennett's Cavaliers ended the season as one of the best teams in the country, winning 11 of their final 12. They lose their anchor in Mamadi Diakite, as well as Braxton Key, but Marquette transfer Sam Hauser is a major addition.

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7. Kansas (28-3)

Between Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike, Kansas will have plenty of production to replace. But Bill Self's teams find a way. Marcus Garrett and Ochai Agbaji offer a ton of experience, Christian Braun and Tristan Enaruna will try to make a sophomore leap, and five-star recruit Bryce Thompson could make an immediate impression.

a basketball player with a football ball: Wesley Hitt / Getty Images © Provided by theScore Wesley Hitt / Getty Images

8. Kentucky (25-6)

As always, the Wildcats' roster is fluid. What we know: Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans are NBA-bound. Immanuel Quickley and Nick Richards could both follow. That leaves EJ Montgomery, Keion Brooks, and perhaps the nation's top freshman class - a group led by five-stars Terrence Clarke, BJ Boston, and Devin Askew.

9. Michigan State (22-9)

Like Kansas, the Spartans (likely) have to replace two important players in Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman. Like Virginia, Michigan State will get the boost of a Marquette transfer in Joey Hauser. Tom Izzo will need Rocket Watts and Aaron Henry to play important roles.

10. Houston (23-8)

Kelvin Sampson's teams have ended the season ranked in the top 20 of KenPom for three consecutive years. Next year's Cougars could be his most experienced group yet. Nate Hinton, Quentin Grimes, Marcus Sasser, and Caleb Mills lead a stacked roster of veterans.

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11. Wisconsin (21-10)

The Badgers ended 2019-20 by winning their last eight games and finishing first in the Big Ten. They only lose one senior (Brevin Pritzl). Nate Reuvers, D'Mitrik Trice, and Brad Davison lead a team that could repeat atop the conference.

Mike Krzyzewski wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Streeter Lecka / Getty Images © Provided by theScore Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

12. Duke (25-6)

The Blue Devils are well prepared for the departures of Tre Jones, Cassius Stanley, and Vernon Carey (Carey has yet to declare). On the current roster, senior Jordan Goldwire and sophomores Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore offer experience. The freshman class includes three five-star recruits (Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, and DJ Steward) and ranks second nationally, per ESPN.

13. Iowa (20-11)

Does Luka Garza return? If so, the Hawkeyes are a top-15 team entering the season. They'll be more than just Garza, too; a supporting cast of Joe Wieskamp, Joe Toussaint, Connor McCaffery, and (potentially) Jordan Bohannon gives Iowa the makeup of a Big Ten contender.

14. West Virginia (21-10)

It's hard not to like the Mountaineers' chances of being even better in 2019-20 with the return of post players Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe. The development of guard Miles McBride could help WVU challenge for the Big 12.

15. Texas Tech (18-13)

Chris Beard's teams always defend well enough to be tough to beat. The Red Raiders could be ranked even higher if wunderkind guard Jahmi'us Ramsey, a potential first-round pick, decides to return to school for a second season. Without him? Davide Moretti, Kyler Edwards, and UNLV transfer Joel Ntambwe lead an experienced group.

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Chris Lofton holding a basketball: Mark Brown / Getty Images © Provided by theScore Mark Brown / Getty Images

16. Florida (19-12)

The Gators had top-10 hype last season but never won more than four consecutive games. While they're losing post presence Kerry Blackshear, everyone else should return, including talented freshman Scottie Lewis. Louisiana Tech transfer Anthony Duruji averaged 12.2 points per game in 2018-19.

17. North Carolina (14-19)

After a nightmarish season, the Tar Heels will regroup with the No. 3 freshman class in the nation. Point guard Caleb Love and centers Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler are all five-star prospects. UNC also has some quality players returning, including Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot.

18. Oregon (24-7)

Payton Pritchard leaves big shoes to fill, but the Ducks are a stable program, having made three Sweet 16s in four years before 2020. Many pieces return, including Chris Duarte (12.9 points per game) and Will Richardson (11 ppg). Oregon adds Rutgers transfer Eugene Omoruyi and top-100 recruit Jalen Terry.

19. Tennessee (17-14)

The Volunteers had a down season, but they reload with five-star guards Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson. John Fulkerson, Yves Pons, and Josiah Jordan-James return to a team that should get back to the NCAA Tournament.

a basketball player jumping up in the air: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images © Provided by theScore Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

20. Indiana (20-12)

Trayce Jackson-Davis was one of the best freshmen in the country this season, averaging 13.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. He's a sleeper All-American candidate in 2020-21, and the rest of Archie Miller's roster is full of upperclassmen (Justin Smith, Aljami Durham, Rob Phinisee).

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21. Ohio State (21-10)

The Buckeyes' roster is fluid, but Chris Holtmann should still have a top-25-caliber team in 2020-21. While losing a couple transfers and (potentially) Kaleb Wesson to the NBA draft, Ohio State adds former California forward Justice Sueing (14.3 points per game in 2018-19) and Harvard transfer Seth Towns.

22. Richmond (24-7)

Few teams ended the season with as much momentum as the Spiders, who won nine of their final 10 games. Chris Mooney's team might have been a year ahead of schedule, too; its five starters were juniors, while the bench was made up of sophomores and a freshman. Saint Louis and Davidson might want a word, but Richmond is the Atlantic 10 favorite.

23. Rutgers (20-11)

The Scarlet Knights' hopes to end their long NCAA Tournament drought must be sustained for another year. The good news? Seven of the nine players in their rotation are set to return, including Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker. Head coach Steve Pikiell also landed a top-50 recruit in New Jersey native Cliff Omoruyi.

Leonard Hamilton wearing a uniform: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images © Provided by theScore Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

24. Florida State (26-5)

Leonard Hamilton's teams are 104-34 over the last four seasons. He likely loses Trent Forrest, Devin Vassell, and Patrick Williams, but brings in five-star forward Scottie Barnes.

25. Texas (19-12)

Shaka Smart returns his entire roster in 2020-21, giving the Longhorns a chance to build off a strong finish to this season. With Matt Coleman, Andrew Jones, and Courtney Ramey, Texas has a set of good, experienced guards. But it needs to figure out its offense after ranking 153rd in efficiency.

On the edge

Michigan: The Wolverines add a top-10 recruiting class led by five-star forward Isaiah Todd.

LSU: Will Wade's team lost six of 10 to end last season but could contend for the SEC if Javonte Smart and Trendon Watford both return.

UCLA: Don't forget how much the Bruins improved over the course of Mick Cronin's first season.

Arkansas: If Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe both return, the Razorbacks might deserve to be in the top 25.

Colorado: McKinley Wright and Tyler Bey are entering the NBA draft process, but both could return and try to take the Buffaloes to their first NCAA Tournament since 2016.

Saint Louis: Seniors Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French lead the top challenger to Richmond in the A-10.

Illinois: Do Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn return? If so, the Fighting Illini climb back into the top 20. If not, Illinois has a ton of production to replace.

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