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College Basketball – 2009-2010 – A Brief Preview

March 23, 2009

With the 2008-2009 season winding down, I’ve been thinking about what players are graduating, what players are likely getting drafted, and what players will most likely be returning next season and thinking of what teams are looking to be strong next year.

In no particular order, these teams look like they are going to be beasts next year:

Kansas: Even if Cole Aldrich enters the draft and gets picked, which is very likely, Sherron Collins is probably coming back and so is every other piece of a young team that has played its way into this year’s Sweet 16. Kansas figures to lose no one from what was largely considered the #2 recruiting class this past season and already have a solid class this upcoming season that includes 5-star talent Thomas Robinson and top 30 recruit Elijah Johnson.

Bottom Line: I’m leaning towards Aldrich being gone, but even so, Kansas is going to have to be considered a top 10 team heading into next season. If Aldrich decides to come back, they jump to a top 3-5 team.

Syracuse: Syracuse will graduate three seniors from their 2009 Sweet 16 team, but none of those seniors are vital part of the team. Paul Harris, Eric Devendorf, Arinze Onuaku, Andy Rautins, and Rick Jackson (5 of the top 6 scorers) are all certainly coming back for next season. The question mark here is whether or not Jonny Flynn comes back. He’s easily the most talented player on the team, but he’s appearing on most mock drafts late in the first round, so there’s a solid chance he’ll be gone. ‘Cuse does not have a strong recruiting class next season.

Bottom Line: If Flynn doesn’t come back, a year of growth for everyone else should make Syracuse at least as good as they are now. If Flynn comes back, they have a championship caliber team.

Villanova: Scottie Reynolds hasn’t been appearing on many mocks, so I’m banking on him coming back for his senior season. Losing an immensely improved Dante Cunningham is going to hurt, but Nova is going to be returning both Coreys (Fisher and Stokes) and those kids can play. Despite graduating three seniors that get regular minutes, Nova should still have a good amount of depth next year as they are bringing in a remarkable freshman class that includes three top 25 recruits and another 4-Star power forward.

Bottom Line: Already a Sweet 16 team, Nova will bring back most of its scoring and add one of the best freshman classes in the nation. They should be better next year than Kansas was this year.

Ohio State: This is hard to call. Evan Turner wasn’t on anyone’s radar before the season started, but now I’m seeing his name regularly in the middle of the first round in most NBA mock drafts. I’d hate to see him go pro after this season, but it’s seeming more and more likely, and he was certainly one of the more impressive all-around talents I saw play all year. BJ Mullens has received the opposite treatment; he started the season near the tip top of most mocks, but his stock has dropped drastically after what most people would consider to be a disappointing freshman season that saw him start a mere two games and only show brief moments of brilliance. He is definitely someone that needs another year of seasoning in college, but it’s going to be hard for the pro teams to pass up a future top 5 pick when he slides to them in the mid-to-late first round. The Buckeyes will lose no one important to graduation and return Dallas Lauderdale, Jon Diebler, and William Buford, who was very impressive as a freshman. David Lighty, injured almost all season, will be back and healthy next year. The administration must have confidence in its current roster because no one has signed a letter of intent to play at OSU next year.

Bottom Line: It all depends on Turner and Mullens. If they don’t come back, OSU will still return a solid core of players that should make them competitive next year. If Turner and Mullens return, and the latter develops, this could be a championship caliber team.

Purdue: Another current Sweet 16 team that figures to lose no one important to the draft or graduation. I saw Purdue play twice this year and JaJuan Johnson looked NBA ready in both games (30 points vs Ohio State, 22 points 5 rebounds vs Washington). All indications point to him coming back for his junior season and improving even more. 5.6 rebounds per game from a 6’10” stud is probably the reason he’s not making regular appearances on draft boards. He could be next year’s Dante Cunningham. Robbie Hummel, the Big Ten Preseason Player Of The Year, will be back with something to prove after a year of inconsistency and injuries halted his progress a bit. Hummel’s skill set is pretty similar to Kyle Singler’s, whose name is appearing late in the first round of NBA mocks while Hummel has been completely absent. E’twuan Moore makes up the third part of the triumphant of stud players that Purdue will return next season. Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant, and Lewis Jackson will all be back and add depth next year. Purdue has a modest set of in-state prospects coming to the team next year.

Bottom Line: There’s no question marks here. Everyone from this year’s Sweet 16 team will be back next year and I expect significant growth from both Hummel and Johnson. The recruiting class isn’t very strong, but that won’t matter. Assuming OSU loses Turner and Mullens, Purdue has to be the team to beat in the Big Ten next year and should be considered a top 5-10 team overall.

Washington: The bad news is that Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon will be graduating. The good news is that Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter will return. IT should continue to develop into one of the best guards in the Pac-10 and Q-Pon’s offensive output should increase dramatically. While UW can certainly function without Dentmon, filling the void left by Brockman is going to be tough. Matthew Bryan-Amaning has looked capable of taking on that roll at times, but he looked awful and confused a lot of the time this past season. An off-season focused on improving his skill set and confidence would do wonders for this team. Abdul Gaddy, the #2 high school point guard in the nation, will be a more than competent replacement for Dentmon and should take the table-setting pressure off of Thomas and allow him to focus on scoring. Tyreese Breshers, a 4-Star power forward whose season was lost to injury, could also help replace Brockman if he returns healthy. Elston Turner and Venoy Overton are great options off the bench.

Bottom Line: UW unexpectedly won the Pac-10 and was 3 points shy of making it to the Sweet 16 this year. Even with the loss of Brockman and Dentmon, expectations should be higher next season and their will be a target on this team’s back. Abdul Gaddy is a better prospect than Brockman ever was, but it’s unlikely he’s going to have the same kind of impact that the big guy did. I think the X-Factor here is Bryan-Amaning and how much he can grow as a player next season. Regardless, I like UW’s chances to repeat as Pac-10 champs.

Florida: This team that narrowly missed the NCAA tournament only had two upperclassmen and will only lose one player to graduation. While it boggles my mind that Nick Calathes isn’t on draft boards, it looks likely that he will be returning for his junior season. Calathes is one of the best all-around players and another year of growth should do wonders for his draft stock. Calathes is more likely to go off for a triple-double than anyone else in college basketball. Florida will return everyone else from a team that posted a 25 win season with only one senior.

Bottom Line: With Calathes returning and a solid recruiting class, Florida has to be the favorite in the SEC next year.

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7 comments

  1. In case anyone decides to read the comments, Evan Turner and Jonny Flynn have both announced they will return to college next year. Watch out for Syracuse!


  2. BUTLER??????


  3. As much as it may be painful, I think you have to consider Duke. They’re only losing Greg Paulus, right? That’s got strong addition by subtraction potential.


  4. Meh… Duke is always a contender. I think Henderson is ghost though. Singler might be too, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he came back.


  5. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NOVA!!!!!!
    2009 Final Four + #2 Recruiting Class + JAY WRIGHT =2010 NCAA Basketball CHAMPS in Indy….cant wait to be there again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1


  6. I too thinks Purdue could be a real contender for the National Championship. I also think there will be a strong team from the East and might want to keep an eye on Louisville. Love that College basketball!!


  7. […] no coincidence that Kansas was the first team I listed as a possible 2010 title contender in my preseason post back in March. Not only did the Jayhawks make the Sweet 16 as an incredibly young squad last year, but since my […]



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