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College Basketball – On the Rebound

Matthew Horan, Staff Writer

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   After what seems like a long six months without, we are within a month of the return of the college basketball season. In the off-season, there have been many high school basketball prospects who have made their college decisions and now have been practicing with the team for several months. It will be interesting to see where these freshmen fall into the lineup of their new teams and how they adjust to the new level of competition. There have also been many college players from last season who have since been drafted into the NBA this past June. Some of the top teams are going to need to replace the position once played by these standouts in the previous year. Overall, between roster changes and scheduling, who knows what’s in store for the beginning of the college basketball season this year. By analyzing who each team lost and how they were replenished players in their freshman class, here are the predicted preseason ranking, agreed upon most college basketball analysts.

   Kansas: The Jayhawks ended their season last year with a promising 31-8 record. Although giving up cornerstone players from last year like Devonte’ Graham and Malik Newman, they have a promising freshmen class coming in to pick up the extra slack. Some standout players from high school now joining the Jayhawks include Quintin Grimes, Devon Dotson, and David McCormack; all three players participated in the McDonald’s All American Game last year. Returning from last year, Udoka Azubuike is expected to dominate in the post and is expected to be a possible first drowned draft pick in in 2019.  

  Duke: The main blue blood school is expected to have another prosperous season this year due to the tremendous amount of five star prospects gained in the freshman class. Coach Mike Krzyzewski produced a stunning four first-round picks in the NBA draft last year, all of which have played large roles on the team last year. To fill their spots, Coach K. has brought in four five-star prospects who were seen as top of their 2018 class in high school. The one weakness seen in this team seems to be in the post, hoping junior Marques Bolden can be a powerful rim protector in the paint. However, the front court for the Blue Devils offense seems to be deadly with incoming skilled small forwards R. J. Barrett and Cam Reddish.  

   Kentucky: Another blue blood school, on the same elite recruiting scale as Duke, the Kentucky Wildcats are expected for perform better than their 26-11 record last year. Just like most years for the Wildcats, Kentucky gave up major components of last year’s team due to last year’s NBA draft. Some of these foundational players include Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Hamidou Diallo. Reinforcements for this young Kentucky team include Immanuel Quickly, Ashton Hagans, and E. J. Montgomery. Ashton Hagans is supposed to be in his last year of high school this year; however, Hagans felt as if he was ready to get college basketball experience this year, foregoing his  senior year of high school.

    Villanova: Coming off their second National Championship in two years, Villanova had a rare three first-round picks. The Wildcats are known for having a structured team of players who play out all four years of college, but it seems as if times are changing. Mikal Bridges, Omari Spellman, Donte DiVincenzo, and Jalen Brunson, all players from last year’s team, have now moved on and signed NBA contracts. Incoming freshmen expected to be in the starting lineup consist of Jahvon Quinerly and Cole Swider. Most of the team’s footing grounded in the 2018 draft class, Villanova is going to have to build a strong bond between freshmen to returning players if they want to compete with the top programs in the country this year. Returning players Eric Paschall and Phil Booth are expected to show strong leadership on this young team.

   Virginia: The Cavaliers are not included in the top five due to their freshman class, but maintain strong returning players from last year’s team. Some of these veteran players returning from last year’s squad include Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, and Deandre Hunter. Deandre Hunter, the Philadelphia native, is expected to have a breakout season this year and is regarded as one of the most skillful returning players to college basketball. Much is expected this year for the experienced Cavaliers team competing in the competitive ACC conference.

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College Basketball – On the Rebound