Before the stands had emptied at the Alamodome on
Monday night, SI's Luke Winn was already looking ahead to next season
Assuming Memphis's Derrick Rose and Chris
Douglas-Roberts, Kansas State's Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, UCLA's Kevin
Love and Darren Collison, Kansas's Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur, USC's O.J.
Mayo, and Texas's D.J. Augustin all turn pro ...
1. NORTH CAROLINA
Will leaving San Antonio empty-handed inspire key Tar Heels to stay? Tyler
Hansbrough could become the first back-to-back Naismith Award winner since
Ralph Sampson's three-peat (1981--83)—and with Ty Lawson make another run at
The 87-inch question in Storrs is, Will Big East defensive player of the year
Hasheem Thabeet (147 blocks) return and make the Huskies a title contender?
Point guard A.J. Price (torn left ACL) is expected back for the '08 opener.
The next wave of Bruins backcourt stars—led by polished combo guard Jrue
Holiday—arrives as part of Rivals.com's No. 2--ranked recruiting class. The
pairing of Holiday with Russell Westbrook should keep UCLA atop the Pac-10.
Big Ten hegemony could begin here for coach Matt Painter, whose precocious band
of underclassmen—led by freshman guards E'Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel—came
within one win of a conference title in '08.
Senior All-Americas are a dying breed, but KU should have one in point guard
Mario Chalmers—plus a breakout star in Sherron Collins, who finished an
injury-riddled season with a superb performance off the bench in the title
The Horns have nearly every piece of the championship puzzle: a three-point
marksman ( A.J. Abrams), a glue guy ( Justin Mason), two versatile forwards
( Damion James and Connor Atchley) ... but no tested point guard if Augustin
7. WEST VIRGINIA
If late-season sensation Joe Alexander, a 6'8" forward, sticks around for
his senior year and teams up with top recruit Kevin Jones, a 6'7" forward,
the Mountaineers will have a potent one-two punch in the frontcourt.
Greg Monroe is no Greg Oden, but the 6'10" forward from Harvey, La., is the
No. 1 recruit in the class of 2008 and will help fill the void left by center
Roy Hibbert's graduation. Look for unsung point guard Jessie Sapp to emerge as
the Hoyas' MVP.