2011-12 Post Draft Deadline Top 25

Posted by zhayes9 on May 9th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

Now that the results are in and we know who’s returning to the collegiate hardwood next November, time to compile a brand spanking new top 25 complete with projected starting lineups:

1. North Carolina

Starters: Kendall Marshall, Dexter Strickland, Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson

The day Barnes opted to return to Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels clinched a spot atop the preseason 2011-12 rankings. The entire core is back from last year’s Elite 8 team that was buoyed midseason by Marshall’s entrance into the starting lineup. The frontcourt is clearly tops in the nation with three potential lottery picks backed up by five-star recruit James McAdoo. Barnes is primed to be one of the best all-around players in the country, Zeller is a supremely skilled big and Henson brings outstanding length and athleticism. Expect P.J. Hairston and a fully healthy Reggie Bullock to cure any outside shooting woes.

Roy Williams will be leading the projected #1 team in the nation next year

2. Kentucky

Starters: Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, Michael Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Anthony Davis

Another year, another heralded freshman point guard for John Calipari. Teague’s quickness and court vision will allow Cal to employ his patented dribble-drive motion offense and spread the floor for capable outside gunners Lamb, Darius Miller and Kyle Wiltjer. Gilchrist is the most complete player of the incoming class and the frontcourt duo of Jones and Davis will be nearly impossible to guard. Circle your calendars for early December when Kentucky meets UNC in Lexington.

3. Ohio State

Starters: Aaron Craft, William Buford, DeShaun Thomas, Jared Sullinger, Amir Williams

The Columbus-bred Sullinger displayed his true dedication to the school by returning for his sophomore season to complete some unfinished business. He’ll be flanked by scoring wings William Buford and DeShaun Thomas, the latter a prime candidate to break out in 2011-12. Any team with the heady Craft running the show will win games. Matta also lured in another high-flying recruiting class led by the 6’10 Williams and Craft’s new backup, Georgia native Shannon Scott.

4. Syracuse

Starters: Brandon Triche, Scoop Jardine, C.J. Fair, Kris Joseph, Baye Moussa Keita

Jim Boeheim’s squad returns everyone but double-double machine Rick Jackson, but his production can be replaced by a frontcourt committee of Keita, Fab Melo and incoming freshman Rakeem Christmas. Triche and Jardine anchor an experienced backcourt duo. The wild card is Kris Joseph, who has to play with more consistency as a senior. Depth won’t be an issue for Boeheim as big-time scorers Michael Carter-Williams, Trevor Cooney and (potentially) Dion Waiters can all fill it up off the pine.

5. Louisville

Starters: Peyton Siva, Chris Smith, Kyle Kuric, Rakeem Buckles, Gorgei Dieng

The Cardinals lose senior leader Preston Knowles and paint enforcer Terrence Jennings, but there’s enough production and upside returning to form a Big East contender. Siva is a future star at the point and Kuric will be one of the best outside shooters in the sport. Buckles should be fully recovered from a torn ACL and Jared Swopshire also returns from a groin injury. The recruiting class, led by big time scorer Wayne Blackshear and versatile power forward Chane Behanan, provides a boost.

6. Vanderbilt

Starters: Brad Tinsley, John Jenkins, Lance Goulborne, Jeff Taylor, Festus Ezeli

The Commodores entire core returns and anything less than contending for an SEC championship and a #2 seed won’t suffice. Vandy should avoid a first-round loss with that lofty seed. The roster has nearly every component from a defensive ace in Taylor to a lights out three-point shooter in Jenkins to a smart floor leader in Tinsley and a double-double man in Ezeli. The bench can also provide aid in the form of Steve Tchiengang, Rod Odom and heralded shooting guard Dai’Jon Parker.

7. Pittsburgh

Starters: Travon Woodall, Ashton Gibbs, Nasir Robinson, Dante Taylor, Khem Birch

As they do seemingly every season, Pitt will continue to contend despite personnel losses, this time in the form of Wanamaker, McGhee and Brown. Woodall steps in full-time at the point while Robinson has breakout potential at the small forward slot. The real difference maker is Gibbs last-second reroute to campus where he could be handed preseason All-American status. The losses to key components are tough to swallow but there’s enough returning to dream of a Final Four yet again.

Ashton Gibbs return to Pitt boosted the Panthers into the top 10

8. Connecticut

Starters: Shabazz Napier, Jeremy Lamb, Roscoe Smith, Tyler Olander, Alex Oriakhi

Next year will answer the question to what degree the defending national champions relied on Kemba Walker. It’ll probably take 20 or so games to learn how to play without their departed mega-star, but when the light switch flips on the Huskies will once again be a dangerous foe in March. Lamb is a superstar in the making and Napier is a playmaker at the point. Look for Alex Oriakhi to make the leap to an assertive, double-double machine on a nightly basis as a junior.

9. Duke

Starters: Tyler Thornton, Austin Rivers, Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee

There are more questions than answers for this Duke roster heading into 2011-12, but the pure talent level is there to compete at a high level. There isn’t a clear heir apparent to the Irving/Smith duo at point guard; I suspect Thornton will get the nod early only to be usurped by the freshman Quinn Cook as the season progresses. As we saw when Irving went down, the production of Mason Plumlee tends to suffer sans established point guard. Rivers is the real deal, one of the best freshman scorers in recent memory that can absolutely average 18-20 PPG in his rookie campaign.

10. Florida

Starters: Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, Brad Beal, Erik Murphy, Patric Young

Although erratic at times, the backcourt is loaded with Walker, Boynton, freshman extraordinaire Beal and talented Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario all receiving ample minutes. Beal may even be more multi-faceted than Gilchrist because he’s equipped with a pinpoint outside jumper to go with defense, scoring ability and leadership. The question for Donovan’s team is frontcourt production. They’ll need Young to make a giant leap offensively and Murphy to quit breaking into cars.

11. Arizona

Starters: Lamont Jones, Kyle Fogg, Kevin Parrom, Solomon Hill, Kyryl Natayazhko

Losing the most efficient player in the country and a soon-to-be #1 or #2 overall pick isn’t an easy task, but Sean Miller’s has a highly ranked four man freshman class joining five returning players that averaged at least 6.5 PPG and excelled under the bright lights last March. The enigmatic Jones is back at the point but he’ll be challenged by five-star point Josiah Turner. Miller can run his bench 10-deep with the likes of  Jordin Mayes, Jesse Perry, Brendon Lavender and three more star rookies.

12. Memphis

Starters: Joe Jackson, Will Barton, Adonis Thomas, Wesley Witherspoon, Tarik Black

The talent is plainly evident for Josh Pastner, but can he get them to develop some sort of consistent chemistry and mold as a unit on the floor? Jackson will look to make that freshman-to-sophomore leap at point guard while Will Barton provides serious scoring pop as his backcourt partner. Memphis native Thomas is an instant impact starter with his strength and athleticism. The bench is also deep, bolstered by the likes of scorers Chris Crawford, Charles Carmouche and Antonio Barton.

13. Gonzaga

Starters: David Stockton, Marquise Carter, Elias Harris, Sam Dower, Robert Sacre

Gonzaga really emerged down the stretch in WCC play when Stockton received the bulk of the minutes at the point. He’ll receive that full-time gig out of the gate in 2011-12. Both Marquise Carter and Sam Dower showed glimpses late in the campaign, as well, and will be looked on to play bigger roles. Harris dipped a bit as a sophomore but is still insanely skilled and Sacre is the likely preseason conference player of the year.

14. Baylor

Starters: A.J. Walton, Stargell Love, Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller, Perry Jones III

Consistent guard play is the lingering question surrounding a Baylor team loaded with talent. The frontcourt is athletic, long and supremely skilled, led by future lottery pick Perry Jones, who may break out in a big way next season. Miller is a 6’9 matchup nightmare with tremendous inside-outside ability. Depth also won’t be an issue for Scott Drew. Baylor’s fate lies in the hands of Walton, who needs to cut down on the turnovers and shoot higher than 40% for the Bears to avoid another letdown campaign.

15. Xavier

Starters: Mark Lyons, Tu Holloway, Dezmine Wells, Jeff Robinson, Kenny Frease

Chris Mack received the best news of any coach last weekend when Holloway opted to return for his senior season at Xavier. Holloway is a legitimate 20 PPG scorer looking to avenge the Musketeers disappointing postseason finish. Holloway and Lyons complete a terrific backcourt tandem for Mack, who will also have sharpshooter Brad Redford back from his torn ACL. Frease and his 7-foot, bulky frame is a matchup problem for most A-10 opponents.

Next year's likely starting backcourt in Lawrence: Taylor and Johnson

16. Kansas

Starters: Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey

Next year’s Jayhawks won’t boast quite the talent of the last handful of teams in Lawrence, but who’s to doubt that Bill Self can’t coach them into contention after seven straight conference regular season titles? Not only was KU gutted by the losses of the Morris twins, Josh Selby and contributing veterans, but the incoming recruiting class isn’t lined with five-star instant impact players. If Taylor can give Self consistent point guard play from November to March (big if), I’d still anticipate a solid seed for Kansas.

17. Missouri

Starters: Phil Pressey, Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Laurence Bowers, Ricardo Ratliffe

Missouri may have the best overall team in the Big 12, but integrating a new coach/style and last year’s 1-7 road mark in Big 12 play leave questions to be answered. The undersized Pressey/Dixon/Denmon trio is tough as nails and can really fill it up. English has to improve upon a disappointing season in which he shot 36% from the floor. Ratliffe is the type of rugged rebounder every team needs. The Big 12 is extremely winnable next season and Missouri has the roster to capture the title.

18. Texas A&M

Starters: Jamal Branch, Dash Harris, Khris Middleton, David Loubeau, Kourtney Roberson

It’s a lot to ask a true freshman to handle point guard duties, but Branch is the best possible man for the job.  He has an outstanding feel for the game, good size and can make open shots off the dribble, providing some scoring capability alongside the offensively challenged Harris. Middleton is in line for a monster junior campaign and Loubeau’s decision to pull out of the draft provides a major boost to the frontcourt. Mark Turgeon will coach this team up to top 25 caliber once again.

19.  Cincinnati

Starters: Cashmere Wright, Dion Dixon, Sean Kilpatrick, Shaquille Thomas, Yancy Gates

The Bearcats proved the doubters wrong by compiling 11 Big East wins and trouncing Missouri in the first round to save Mick Cronin’s job. Cincy returns mostly everyone from a squad that finished near the top of the nation in defensive efficiency, including an all-Big East caliber big man in Gates and their point guard Wright. The return of Dixon and Kilpatrick provides Cronin two solid, dependable role players to fill out a solid starting five.

20. Temple

Starters: Juan Fernandez, Khalif Wyatt, Ramone Moore, Scootie Randall, Michael Eric

The Owls finally broke through for Fran Dunphy in the NCAA Tournament last March. Everyone is back from that team with the exception of Lavoy Allen. Fernandez should improve upon a poor shooting year with a fully healthy senior campaign and Moore has the scoring ability to contend for A-10 POY. Temple will always defend under Dunphy and the comeback of Eric from a season-ending injury gives the Owls rebounding and shot blocking down low.

21. Marquette

Starters: Junior Cadougan, Vander Blue, Darius Johnson-Odom, Jae Crowder, Chris Otule

Jimmy Butler will be tough to replace, but Johnson-Odom and Crowder are both fully capable of springing for 25 points on any given night. Crowder is a matchup nightmare with his versatility and the streaky DJO can be unstoppable from three. Cadougan may not possess blazing speed or a killer jump shot, but he’s crafty, strong and intelligent at the point. Buzz Williams needs dramatic improvement on the offensive end from Blue.

22. Purdue

Starters: Lewis Jackson, Ryne Smith, D.J. Byrd, Robbie Hummel, Travis Carroll

Assuming Hummel finally finds his way on the court, Purdue should be competitive in the Big 10 once again with Jackson at the point, Smith providing range and Hummel as the centerpiece of the offense. Three things we know for sure with Purdue under Painter: they’ll play extremely hard, they’ll defend and they’ll protect their home floor. The improvement of role players like Byrd, Carroll, John Hart, Terone Johnson and Patrick Bade will go a long way towards determining the Boilermakers success in 2011-12.

23. Alabama

Starters: Trevor Releford, Charles Hankerson, Levi Randolph, Tony Mitchell, JaMychal Green

The Crimson Tide probably deserved a shot in the Big Dance last season and confirmed that notion with a deep NIT run. Releford, Mitchell and Green is an underrated trio and the Tide really defend under Anthony Grant. Randolph and power forward Nick Jacobs are instant impact freshmen.

24. Florida State

Starters: Ian Miller, Michael Snaer, Deividas Dulkys, Okaro White, Bernard James

The loss of Chris Singleton (and Derwin Kitchen) will be difficult to overcome, but the Seminoles play in March without their leading scorer and top defender gives me enough confidence they can recover. Miller and White both possess major upside as the future inside-outside tandem in Tallahassee and James will only improve with more collegiate experience. Snaer is a legitimate scorer who can create his own shot. Defense is never in question with Hamilton’s teams.

Jordan Taylor and Jared Sullinger will battle it out for B10 POY

25.  Wisconsin

Starters: Jordan Taylor, Josh Gasser, Ryan Evans, Mike Bruesewitz, Jared Berggren

I considered both George Mason and Wichita State for the final spot, but as an ode to the remarkable consistency and dependability of Bo Ryan, I’ll give the nod to Wisconsin. The Badgers also have a potential NPOY in Jordan Taylor. Unless Berggren or Bruesewitz makes a big leap, it’s going to be a struggle to score points on more than one occasion this season. Taylor is too special and the Badgers are much too efficient to leave off these rankings, though.

Also considered: George Mason, Wichita State, UCLA, California, West Virginia, Michigan, Michigan State, Villanova, Notre Dame, Belmont.

First Team All-American

G- Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin, SR

G- Tu Holloway, Xavier, SR

G- Austin Rivers, Duke, FR

F- Harrison Barnes, North Carolina, SO

F- Jared Sullinger, Ohio State, SO

Second Team All-American

G- Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh, SR

G- Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, SO

F- Michael Gilchrist, Kentucky, FR

F- Robbie Hummel, Purdue, SR

F- Tyler Zeller, North Carolina, SR

Third Team All-American

G- William Buford, Ohio State, SR

G- John Jenkins, Vanderbilt, JR

F- Khris Middleton, Texas A&M, JR

F- Perry Jones III, Baylor, SO

F- Thomas Robinson, Kansas, JR

zhayes9 (301 Posts)

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4 responses to “2011-12 Post Draft Deadline Top 25”

  1. BOtskey says:

    Interesting take. Your top 10 is on the money for the most part but I think Gonzaga and Xavier are rated too high.

    I’d go with Notre Dame and UCLA over Marquette and Florida State. Could also see Michigan in there but the Morris decision hurts so much.

  2. BOtskey says:

    I could also include Memphis with Gonzaga and Xavier. I need to see that team peform at a high level before giving them such a lofty ranking. Remember, they were preseason top ten last year. An extra year of experience will help but they need to show me first.

  3. zhayes9 says:

    I was hesitant to rank Memphis so high too but I think a lot of those guys make a big leap freshman to sophomore years. Notre Dame would have been in there with Scott, UCLA with Lee and/or Honeycutt.

  4. John C says:

    Xavier is not rated too high you are only saying that because they are a Non-BCS school. They lose Dante Jackson and Jamel McClean but will be much better then last year. They replace Dante Jackson with two players who are much better then him with Dezmine Wells and Justin Martin. They will have a lot more depth and with continued improvement of Kenny Frease, Tu Holloway, and Mark Lyons plus adding one of the best shooters in the country in the mix with Brad Redford Xavier will be an extremely scary team next year with the potential to make a deep run in the tourney. Also they add a transfer in Travis Taylor who averaged over 17 points a game at Monmouth. You may scoff at him being from Monmouth but still 17 points is 17 points and he will come immediately and help offset the loss of McClean.

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