Sometimes do I exaggerate? Maybe a little. Am I exaggerating the following statement? Not a bit:
The 2006-07 college basketball season could be the best we've had in many, many years.
|North Carolina's Reyshawn Terry should have a lot to yuck it up about. (Getty Images)|
Here's CBS SportsLine.com's first Preseason Top 25, which will be updated later this spring after the NBA Draft pool is set.
1. North Carolina: Other than David Noel, everyone of importance returns from a team that earned a No. 3 seed in the 2006 NCAA Tournament -- and the freshman class is considered by some analysts to be the best in college basketball history. The analysts could be right. Power forward Brandan Wright, shooting guard Wayne Ellington and point guard Tywon Lawson are at least as good as the exalted ex-UNC trio of Sean May, Rashad McCants and Raymond Felton. It would take something extraordinary to unseat defending national champion Florida if every Gator returns. UNC will be extraordinary.
2. Florida: Call me naïve, but I've got all four UF sophomore stars -- Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green -- coming back. Lee Humphrey also is back. That's the starting five from the reigning NCAA champion. A solid recruiting class is coming in, too. If it's possible to be underrated at No. 2, here it is.
3. UCLA: NBA scouts say sophomore PG Jordan Farmar would be a late-first round pick in 2006, but wouldn't play much as a rookie. By returning for his junior season and building up his body, Farmar would play his way into the 2007 lottery ... and lead UCLA back to the Final Four.
4. Ohio State: With a straight face, basketball insiders say freshman C Greg Oden could be the 2007 national player of the year. They say he could average 15 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots. Imagine that. And imagine him being surrounded by Jamar Butler, Ron Lewis, two more McDonald's All-Americans (PG Greg Conley and SG Daequan Cook) and two more ready-to-play recruits in SF David Lighty and PF Othello Hunter.
5. Texas: Even if sophomore PF LaMarcus Aldridge turns pro, the Longhorns will be loaded. Freshman Kevin Durant was the best player in the McDonald's All-American game, and guess what? He plays Aldridge's position. We're assuming junior P.J. Tucker and sophomore Daniel Gibson will return rather than become second-round NBA Draft picks. Throw in McDonald's All-American PG D.J. Augustin, plus returning contributors A.J. Abrams and Mike Williams, and Texas is the best-looking preseason No. 5 team I've ever seen.
6. Kansas: And the No. 6 team doesn't look bad, either. Holy cow, all those freshmen are going to become sophomores. Brandon Rush already has said he's coming back. We're guessing one of the following underclassmen will turn pro -- Mario Chalmers, C.J. Giles, Julian Wright or Sasha Kaun -- but if so ... so what? There's still plenty coming back, and Sherron Collins will be the country's best freshman PG.
7. Wisconsin: Awfully high for Wisconsin, right? Nah. If junior Alando Tucker doesn't get a yen for Portuguese basketball, every Badger returns but PF Ray Nixon. We're guessing C Brian Butch will be an All-Big Ten player. We know the Big Ten will be easier. And Wisconsin will get another scorer in freshman SG Jason Bohannon.
8. Georgetown: Lots of senior losses for the Hoyas -- Brandon Bowman, Ashanti Cook and Darrel Owens -- but their best players should be back (Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert) along with veteran G Jonathan Wallace and a fabulous foursome influx of Indiana transfer Pat Ewing Jr. and freshmen DaJuan Summers, Vernon Macklin and Jeremiah Rivers.
9. Memphis: Even if Shawne Williams and Darius Washington turn pro -- we're guessing Williams will, Washington won't -- the Tigers are loaded with young talent, and another deep recruiting class is on the way. Stop us if you've heard this before.