The NBA draft early-entry withdrawal deadline provided plenty of positive vibes for next season as headliners Johnny Juzang of UCLA, Max Abmas of Oral Roberts and Geo Baker of Rutgers all made late Wednesday decisions to return to college basketball.
There are still a few outliers in Kofi Cockburn (Illinois) and Kevin Obanor (Oral Roberts) who aren’t staying in the draft but haven’t picked a destination. That means rosters still aren’t set.
Still, the timing was right after the withdrawal deadline for our latest Power 36. And the top team heading into the summer is…………..
1. UCLA: Johnny Juzang’s decision put UCLA at No. 1 and in position to be a Final Four favorite.
2. Gonzaga: Chet Holmgren is dazzling for Team USA and will form a tremendous tandem with Drew Timme.
3. Texas: Chris Beard has the Longhorns loaded with high-level transfers and ready for a deep run.
4. Kansas: Experience is back and the addition of Remy Martin makes the Jayhawks a contender.
5. Villanova: A healthy Collin Gillespie gives the Wildcats a chance for a Final Four berth.
6. Kentucky: John Calipari loaded up with stud transfers at nearly every position.
7. Purdue: Jaden Ivey and Zach Edey have been stars of the summer for Team USA and Canada, respectively. Trevion Williams comes back as the anchor.
8. Oregon: The Ducks reloaded with transfers and the sleeper addition could be Rutgers’ Jacob Young.
9. Michigan: Hunter Dickinson will be one of the best big men in the country. Oh, and the Wolverines added a top recruiting class.
10. Baylor: The James Akinjo decision allows the Bears to have another stellar backcourt. The champs are going nowhere. They are here to stay.
11. Ohio State: EJ Liddell’s decision means the Buckeyes will be in the hunt for a Big Ten title.
12. Houston: Kelvin Sampson has the Cougars now as the dominant team in the American and a threat for a deep run every season.
13. North Carolina: Hubert Davis’ first team will have experience and the hunger to continue the expected success.
14. Duke: Coach K’s last season will be filled with the Blue Devils rocking Cameron once again.
COACH K’S FINAL SEASON: What Coach K means to Duke basketball
15. LSU: The Tigers have quietly assembled a potential SEC title challenger.
16. Maryland: Transfers Fatts Russell and Qudus Wahab will immediately keep the Terps in the contending category in the Big Ten.
17. Memphis: Penny Hardaway stayed instead of heading to the NBA. That means the Tigers will be an NCAA tournament team not another NIT run.
18. Virginia: The Cavaliers will blend experience, transfers and Tony Bennett’s coaching to ensure a top three ACC finish.
19. Arkansas: Eric Musselman reloads at every stop. The Hogs will repeat as an SEC threat.
20. Wichita State: Tyson Etienne is back and that means the Shockers will be near the top of the AAC.
21. Syracuse: Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim should have a season to remember playing for their Hall of Fame father.
22. Indiana: Trayce Jackson-Davis should flourish under Mike Woodson. IU is my sleeper pick for a deep run.
23. Florida State: I don’t care who Leonard Hamilton ends up with on his roster. The Seminoles will be dangerous in March.
24. Michigan State: The Spartans will be quicker, smaller and hungrier than last season.
25. Auburn: Bruce Pearl’s Tigers are off the one-year postseason ban. And they will have the goods, led by North Carolina transfer Walker Kessler, to make the tournament.
26. VCU: The Rams never got the chance to play in the NCAA tournament due to COVID protocols. They will in 2022.
27. West Virginia: Miles McBride is gone. But the Mountaineers won’t disappear from relevance in the Big 12.
28. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys won’t have Cade Cunningham but will have the same desire they had last season to make the field.
29. Oklahoma: Porter Moser will pick up where Lon Kruger left off with a disciplined squad that will be a tough out every game.
30. Mississippi State: Ben Howland has loaded up on transfers, led by North Carolina’s Garrison Brooks. They will/should be in the NCAA tournament.
31. UConn: The Huskies won’t have James Bouknight but Dan Hurley has established a consistency that will mean another NCAA bid.
32. St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies have the core back and are primed for another NCAA tournament berth.
33. Alabama: The Tide roster was a bit of an upset, but Nate Oats will surely have them in the mix come March.
34. Richmond: The Spiders could end up being one of the most experienced teams in college basketball. There will be no excuse if they don’t end up in the NCAA tournament.
35. Tennessee: The Vols will be young again at key spots but John Fulkerson will lead this squad back to the NCAAs.
36. Xavier: The Musketeers will be second to Nova in experience in the Big East and an NCAA tournament team come March.
San Diego State