- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Assuming that Florida's Corey Brewer, Taurean Green, Al Horford and Joakim Noah, Georgetown's Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert, Kansas's Brandon Rush, North Carolina's Brandan Wright, Ohio State's Greg Oden, Texas's Kevin Durant, UCLA's Arron Afflalo and USC's Nick Young all jump to the NBA, this is how next season's rankings shape up.
1. NORTH CAROLINA Provided Tyler Hansbrough passes on the draft to work on his offensive repertoire, he'll be back with a vengeance for his junior season. After coming within a Georgetown three-pointer of the Final Four in '07, the Tar Heels' backcourt of sophomores Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington has matured enough to help Psycho T take Carolina all the way.
2. UCLA Junior point guard Darren Collison, who was snubbed for All-America honors in '07, will emerge from Afflalo's shadow and become a household name. With five-star freshman power forward Kevin Love adding an offensive dimension inside, a third straight Final Four and coach Ben Howland's first national title are well within reach.
3. KANSAS For the second straight season the Jayhawks will be the best team on paper--but can they get it done in March? Ballhawks Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers will ensure that the D remains fierce, but bullish guard Sherron Collins and elastic forward Julian Wright need to become scoring stars.
4. MEMPHIS Chicago phenom Derrick Rose, Rivals.com's top-ranked point guard, joins one of the nation's deepest, most athletic rosters and should form a devastating duo in the backcourt with slasher Chris Douglas-Roberts. Look for another undefeated Conference USA run.
5. OHIO STATE As long as ultrasteady point guard Mike Conley Jr. returns, the Buckeyes will survive without their bearded baron of the paint. Incoming 7-foot freshman Kosta Koufos will try to fill Oden's shoes, while guards Jamar Butler and Daequan Cook, who played auxiliary roles in '06-07, will shoulder more of the scoring load.
6. LOUISVILLE Rick Pitino's collection of blue-chip youngsters--particularly breakout NCAA tournament star Edgar Sosa, who dropped 31 on Texas A&M--looks ready to outduel Marquette and Notre Dame for the Big East title.
7. WASHINGTON STATE Tony Bennett--ball was no one-hit wonder. The coach signed a seven-year extension, and the Cougars will lose only forward Ivory Clark from their starting lineup. Led by its Island-Dairyland backcourt blend of Derrick Low ( Honolulu) and Kyle Weaver (Beloit, Wis.), Wazzu will be in the thick of a tight Pac-10 race.
8. USC The national spotlight will follow superrecruit O.J. Mayo to Troy, where the Trojans are already loaded. He'll join Daniel Hackett and Gabe Pruitt in a three-headed backcourt, and as long as the chemistry clicks--and it doesn't become the O.J.-only show-- USC will be a force.
9. TENNESSEE Sweet-shooting Chris Lofton, a likely Wooden Award front-runner, should have a fine swan song in Knoxville after nearly bouncing Ohio State from the bracket in '07. Look for point guard Ramar Smith, one of four freshmen who played major minutes, to have a big sophomore season.