The NCAA has been granting waivers seemingly everyday that will allow transfers to play this season without sitting out a year. It’s nice to see, if only because I do not believe any transfers should ever be forced to sit out. But, that said, most of the waivers have had no impact on the 2020-21 CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 And 1.
A waiver granted Thursday did, though.
It was Landers Nolley’s waiver.
The 6-foot-7 wing who averaged 15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 30.2 minutes per game at Virginia Tech last season received a waiver that will allow him to play this season for Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers. He’ll bring experience and scoring to the roster — and should find himself in the starting lineup alongside Boogie Ellis, Lester Quinones, D.J. Jeffries and five-star freshman Moussa Cisse. Nolley’s addition has Memphis up to No. 22 in Version 26.0 of the Top 25 And 1.
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As has been the case since Version 1.0 of the Top 25 And 1, Gonzaga remains No. 1 based on the idea that the Zags are returning four players who averaged at least 14 minutes per game for a team that finished 31-2 last season, and they’re pairing them with a top-15 recruiting class highlighted by five-star guard Jalen Suggs. Oumar Ballo, a four-star center from the Class of 2019 who redshirted last season, is another quality addition who provides options in the frontcourt. So even though it would’ve been better if Filip Petrusev had withdrawn from the 2020 NBA Draft like teammates Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi, Mark Few remains in a position to guide Gonzaga to its first national title.
Would I listen to arguments for other teams?
It’s reasonable for somebody else to have Baylor, Villanova, Virginia, Iowa, Illinois or Kansas No. 1 for various reasons. In other words, heading into this season, there will be no consensus top-ranked team. Which is fine. And fun. And why the road to the 2021 NCAA Tournament should be entertaining — although, it goes without saying in the middle of a pandemic, it’s currently impossible to know exactly when the season might start, and what it might look like.
So stay tuned.
For the purposes of these rankings, I assume all traditional sit-out transfers will be forced to sit out until they receive a waiver from the NCAA like Nolley just received. (That’s why you don’t see Olivier Sarr on Kentucky’s projected roster.) Whenever rosters need to be adjusted, I’ll adjust just like always — and the rankings could change. But, for now, this is Version 26.0 of the Top 25 And 1. And because people constantly ask about the schools that just missed the cut, I’m compelled to tell you that if this were the Top 35 And 1, the next 10 teams listed would be Florida State (27), Alabama (28), Florida (29), Louisville (30), Arkansas (31), Saint Louis (32), Oklahoma State (33), Stanford (34), Richmond (35) and Purdue (36).
Updated Top 25 And 1 rankings
Gonzaga’s roster took a hit when Filip Petrusev decided to forgo his final two years of eligibility to pursue a professional opportunity overseas. But the Zags are still loaded in the frontcourt and plenty talented enough to win the 2021 NCAA Tournament thanks in part to the return of Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi. Those two, plus sophomore Drew Timme, should serve as a nice nucleus for Gonzaga, which is also adding four top-100 prospects to the roster, most notably five-star guard Jalen Suggs and four-star center Oumar Ballo. So Mark Few has a chance to record at least 30 victories for the fifth consecutive season (provided there are enough games on the schedule).
The top three scorers from a Baylor team that spent multiple weeks ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll are returning – and that doesn’t even include Mark Vital, a finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award. Jared Butler is expected to lead the way. The 6-3 guard averaged a team-high 16.0 points, 3.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game as a sophomore. He’s the main reason Scott Drew’s Bears should be the preseason favorite in the Big 12 and a real contender for the national title.
Saddiq Bey’s decision to remain in the NBA Draft hurts but was not an unexpected development considering he’s a projected first-round pick. So the Wildcats are losing their best player – but the good news is that everybody else is back from a team that went 7-1 in its final eight games and shared the Big East title. What that suggests is that Jay Wright has a talented and experienced roster that’s strong enough to give the future Hall of Fame coach a chance to grab what would be a third national championship in a six-year span.
Virginia is returning three starters from a team that closed the regular season with eight consecutive victories thanks to a defense that ranked first nationally in efficiency. Former Marquette standout Sam Hauser, who averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds two seasons ago, will be eligible after sitting out the 2019-20 campaign. He’ll make an immediate impact and have Tony Bennett in position to compete for what would be a second national championship in a three-year span.
Luka Garza’s decision to withdraw from the NBA Draft makes him the obvious preseason national player of the year after a statistically incredible junior campaign. The other four players who started Iowa’s last game last season are also returning. And don’t forget: Jordan Bohannon is back after a redshirt season. So Fran McCaffery should have the best team he’s ever had in 22 years as a Division I head coach.
Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn both withdrawing from the NBA Draft was a massive development for Illinois and the reason there are four Big Ten schools in the top 11 of the Top 25 And 1. Dosunmu/Cockburn could develop into the best top-two on any team in the country. So Brad Underwood should have the Illini in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 – and a trip trip to the Final Four is a realistic goal.
Devon Dotson’s decision to enter the NBA Draft after two seasons means the Jayhawks will be without the top two scorers from a team that would’ve been the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That’s not ideal. But the arrival of 5-star guard Bryce Thompson, combined with an experienced core of Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett, David McCormack and Christian Braun, should provide Bill Self with enough to compete for yet another Big 12 title.
Vernon Carey, Tre Jones and Cassius Stanley all entered the NBA Draft. So the Blue Devils are losing their top three scorers, and four of the top six, from last season’s team that finished tied for second in the ACC. Still, the return of Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore should give Mike Krzyzewski two experienced and reliable pieces to pair with a top-three recruiting class highlighted by five-star prospects Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, DJ Steward and Mark Williams. So Coach K winning a sixth national title remains very much in the cards.
Ty-Shon Alexander’s decision to enter the NBA Draft was an unfortunate development for Creighton considering the Bluejays’ leading scorer is not a projected first-round pick. But Greg McDermott is still bringing back the other four starters from a team that was the top seed in the Big East Tournament. So Creighton has a chance to repeat as Big East champs and make the Final Four for the first time in school history.
Wisconsin got better after Kobe King quit the team in January, evidence being how the Badgers won eight straight games to close the regular season and shared the Big Ten crown with Maryland and Michigan State. The top five scorers from the final-game roster are returning – most notably Micah Potter, who averaged 10.1 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 52.8% from the field last season. He’s among the reasons Greg Gard’s Badgers will be positioned to secure back-to-back Big Ten titles.
Xavier Tillman deciding to remain in the NBA Draft was totally sensible but still a big blow to what Michigan State’s roster could’ve looked like. It means the Spartans will be without the top two players from a team that shared last season’s Big Ten title with Maryland and Wisconsin. Finding a suitable replacement at point guard for Cassius Winston won’t be easy. But Tom Izzo still has enough to maybe make a run at what would be his ninth Final Four.
Tennessee is adding five-star guards Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson to an experienced core featuring John Fulkerson, Yves Pons, Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James. That’s a strong roster – one that’s likely to result in a nice bounce-back season for UT. It’s why the Vols should be good enough to finish in the top two of the league for the third time in a four-year span, and perhaps great enough to win the fifth conference title of Rick Barnes’ coaching career.
The Mountaineers lost six of their final nine games but still finished 10th at KenPom, which suggests they were better than their record. Now West Virginia is returning the top three players from last season’s team – most notably Oscar Tshiebwe, who averaged 11.2 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 55.2% from the field. So Bob Huggins will enter the season with an accomplished roster good enough to compete for a Big 12 title.
Nate Hinton’s decision to leave school early, combined with Fabian White’s torn ACL, is a blow to Houston’s rotation; it means the Cougars are now losing two of their top four scorers. But four of the top six are still returning – most notably Caleb Mills and former McDonald’s All-American Quentin Grimes. So Kelvin Sampson’s team should be strong again and in position to win the American Athletic Conference for what would be the third consecutive season.
The Wildcats are losing the top six scorers from a team that won the SEC by multiple games – most notably SEC Player of the Year Immanuel Quickley and projected first-round pick Tyrese Maxey. That’s rough. But if any program is built to overcome these departures, it’s the one set to enroll the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class featuring five-star guards Terrence Clarke, BJ Boston and Devin Askew. So UK will look very different, sure. But John Calipari will still have the talent necessary to compete for yet another SEC title.
Roy Williams just endured what he called the toughest season of his coaching career – one that resulted in five more losses (19) than wins (14). It was a nightmare. But the 2020-21 season will be much better, even with the loss of Cole Anthony, thanks to the arrival of a top-three recruiting class featuring 5-star prospects Day’Ron Sharpe, Walker Kessler and Caleb Love. With Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, Anthony Harris and Leaky Black all returning, UNC should push Virginia and Duke at the top of the ACC.
Ohio State beat Duke for graduate-transfer Seth Towns, a 6-8 forward from Harvard who was the Ivy League Player of the Year in 2018. His arrival alone won’t cancel out the departure of Kaleb Wesson – but it will help. Meantime, Duane Washington, CJ Walker and Kyle Young should provide Chris Holtmann with an experienced nucleus on a team that is returning five of the top nine scorers from a roster that finished No. 8 at KenPom last season.
Texas is returning every meaningful player from a team that went 5-1 in its final six games and entered the Big 12 Tournament with a chance to make the NCAA Tournament – and adding five-star big Greg Brown to the roster. So this could be Shaka Smart’s best team since leaving VCU for UT. Matt Coleman is one of five returning players who averaged at least 26.5 minutes, and 9.3 points, per game last season.
Texas Tech is losing its top two scorers early – namely one-and-done star Jahmi’us Ramsey and Davide Moretti, the latter of whom decided in late May to pursue overseas. But Chris Beard is still returning three of the top six scorers from a team that finished 21st at KenPom, and he’s combining that nice nucleus with a top-15 recruiting class highlighted by four-star prospects Nimari Burnett and Micah Peavy (plus VCU grad-transfer Marcus Santos-Silva). So Texas Tech should operate in the top half of the Big 12 again.
It’s impossible to overstate what losing somebody like Payton Pritchard means to Oregon. He was fabulous and a worthy All-American last season. But two of the best three scorers from the Pac-12 champs are still returning – and Dana Altman has worked the transfer market successfully again. So it would be foolish to assume the Ducks will do anything but compete for another Pac-12 title.
Rutgers is returning seven of the top eight scorers from a team that finished 28th at KenPom – most notably double-digit scorers Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker. Beyond that, the Scarlet Knights are adding a consensus top-50 prospect in Cliff Omoruyi. So winning at the RAC will once again be a difficult task for opponents because Steve Pikiell should have a team equipped to make the NCAA Tournament for what would be, under normal circumstances, the second straight season.
The late additions of Moussa Cisse, a five-star center talented enough to be the best rim protector in college basketball as a freshman, and Landers Nolley, an All-ACC player at Virginia Tech last season, were massive developments for Memphis. Cisse could make the Tigers even better defensively than they were last season when they ranked fifth nationally in defensive efficiency, and Nolley will add much-needed scoring. They’ll join a roster highlighted by sophomores D.J. Jeffries, Boogie Ellis and Lester Quinones, all of whom are former top-60 prospects. So Penny Hardaway should have his alma mater in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.
The greatest in-season turnaround of the 2019-20 season belonged to UCLA, which went from 8-9 to 19-12 by going 11-3 in its final 14 games. It was incredible stuff from Mick Cronin and his staff. And now the top five scorers from that team are back – among them Chris Smith, who entered the NBA Draft but ultimately withdrew. So the Bruins should be contenders to win the Pac-12 in what will be Cronin’s second season in Westwood.
The addition of five-star point guard Khristian Lander pushed Indiana’s recruiting class into the top 20 and provided Archie Miller with the perfect compliment to an experienced roster. Justin Smith’s decision to transfer stings a little. But the Hoosiers are still returning seven of the top nine scorers from a team that was projected to make the NCAA Tournament, and that should be enough to give Indiana a chance to compete at the top of the Big Ten standings.
Romello White’s decision to transfer to Ole Miss caused Arizona State to lose its leading rebounder and one of three double-digit scorers who were expected to return from last season’s team. That’s tough. But five-star guard Josh Christopher joining a nucleus of Remy Martin and Alonzo Verge suggests Bobby Hurley might still have a chance to finish in the top three of the Pac-12 for what would be the third consecutive season.
LSU was a big winner at the NCAA’s deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA Draft because Trendon Watford and Javonte Smart both withdrew and returned to campus. So now Will Wade is bringing back four of the top six scorers from a team that was projected to make the NCAA Tournament. And that – combined with a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by five-star guard Cameron Thomas – should provide the Tigers with a roster talented enough to finish in the top four of the SEC for the third consecutive season.
–21-10 Updated Top 25 And 1 rosters 1. Gonzaga
Coach: Mark Few
2019-20 record: 31-2
Notable players definitely gone: Filip Petrusev, Killian Tillie, Ryan Woolridge, Admon GilderNotable players expected to return: Corey Kispert, Joel Ayayi, Drew Timme, Anton Watson, Pavel Zakharov, Martynas Arlauskas, Will Graves, Matthew LangExpected additions: Jalen Suggs, Julian Strawther, Dominick Harris, Oumar Ballo, Aaron Cook
Coach: Scott Drew
2019-20 record: 26-4
Notable players definitely gone: Freddie Gillespie, Devonte BandooNotable players expected to return: Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell, Mark Vital, Matthew Mayer, Tristan Clark, Flo ThambaExpected additions: Dain Dainja, LJ Cryer, Zach Loveday, Adam Flagler, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua
Coach: Jay Wright
2019-20 record: 24-7
Notable players definitely gone: Saddiq Bey Notable players expected to return: Collin Gillespie, Justin Moore, Jermaine Samuels, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Cole Swider, Brandon Slater, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Bryan AntoineExpected additions: Caleb Daniels, Eric Dixon
Coach: Tony Bennett
2019-20 record: 23-7
Notable players definitely gone: Mamadi Diakite, Braxton KeyNotable players expected to return: Kihei Clark, Jay Huff, Tomas Woldetensae, Casey Morsell, Kody Stattman, Francisco Caffaro, Justin McKoyExpected additions: Sam Hauser, Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Reece Beekman, Carson McCorkle, Kadin Shedrick
Coach: Fran McCaffery
2019-20 record: 20-11
Notable players definitely gone: Ryan Kriener, Bakari Evelyn, Cordell PemslNotable players expected to return: Luka Garza, Joe Wieskamp, CJ Fredrick, Jordan Bohannon, Joe Toussaint, Connor McCaffery, Jack NungeExpected additions: Ahron Ulis, Tony Perkins, Josh Ogundele, Keegan Murray, Kris Murray
Coach: Brad Underwood
2019-20 record: 21-10
Notable players definitely gone: Andres Feliz, Alan Griffin, Kipper Nichols Notable players expected to return: Ayo Dosunmu, Kofi Cockburn, Trent Frazier, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Da’Monte Williams, Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk Expected additions: Adam Miller, Andre Curbelo, Coleman Hawkins, Brandon Lieb, Jacob Grandison, Austin Hutcherson
Coach: Bill Self
2019-20 record: 28-3
Notable players definitely gone: Devon Dotson, Udoka Azubuike, Isaiah MossNotable players expected to return: Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett, David McCormack, Christian Braun, Silvio De Sousa, Tristan Enaruna, Mitch LightfootExpected additions: Bryce Thompson, Tyon Grant-Foster, Gethro Muscadin, Latrell Jossell
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
2019-20 record: 25-6
Notable players definitely gone: Vernon Carey, Tre Jones, Cassius Stanley, Alex O’Connell, Javin DeLaurier, Jack WhiteNotable players expected to return: Matthew Hurt, Wendell Moore, Joey Baker, Jordan GoldwireExpected additions: Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, DJ Steward, Mark Williams, Jaemyn Brakefield, Henry Coleman
Coach: Greg McDermott
2019-20 record: 24-7
Notable players definitely gone: Ty-Shon Alexander, Kelvin Jones, Davion Mintz, Jalen WindhamNotable players expected to return: Marcus Zegarowski, Denzel Mahoney, Mitch Ballock, Jacob Epperson, Damien Jefferson, Christian Bishop, Shareef Mitchell, Jett CanfieldExpected additions: Antwann Jones, Ryan Kalkbrenner, Rati Andronikashvili
Coach: Greg Gard
2019-20 record: 21-10
Notable players definitely gone: Brevin PritzlNotable players expected to return: Nate Reuvers, Micah Potter, Brad Davison, D’Mitrik Trice, Aleem Ford, Tyler Wahl, Trevor AndersonExpected additions: Ben Carlson, Johnny Davis, Lorne Bowman, Steven Crowl, Jordan Davis
11. Michigan State
Coach: Tom Izzo
2019-20 record: 22-9
Notable players definitely gone: Xavier Tillman, Cassius Winston, Kyle AhernsNotable players expected to return: Aaron Henry, Rocket Watts, Gabe Brown, Malik Hall, Marcus Bingham, Thomas Kithier, Foster Loyer, Julius Marble, Joshua LangfordExpected additions: Joey Hauser, Mady Sissoko, AJ Hoggard
Coach: Rick Barnes
2019-20 record: 17-14
Notable players definitely gone: Jordan Bowden, Jalen JohnsonNotable players expected to return: John Fulkerson, Yves Pons, Santiago Vescovi, Josiah-Jordan James, Olivier Nkamhoua, Uros Plavsic, Davonte GainesExpected additions: Jaden Springer, Keon Johnson, Corey Walker, Malachi Wideman, Victory Bailey, E.J. Anosike
13. West Virginia
Coach: Bob Huggins
2019-20 record: 21-10
Notable players definitely gone: Jermaine Haley, Chase Harler, Brandon Knapper, Logan RouttNotable players expected to return: Oscar Tshiebwe, Derek Culver, Miles McBride, Emmitt Matthews, Sean McNeil, Taz Sherman, Jordan McCabe, Gabe OsabuohienExpected additions: Isaiah Cottrell, Taj Thweatt, Kedrian Johnson, Jalen Bridges
Coach: Kelvin Sampson
2019-20 record: 23-8
Notable players definitely gone: Nate Hinton,Chris Harris, Fabian WhiteNotable players expected to return: Caleb Mills, Quentin Grimes, DeJon Jarreau, Marcus Sasser, Justin Gorham, Brison Gresham, Cedrick AlleyExpected additions: Tramon Mark, Jamal Shead, Kiyron Powell, Cameron Tyson, J’Wan Roberts
Coach: John Calipari
2019-20 record: 25-6
Notable players definitely gone: Immanuel Quickley, Nick Richards,Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Nate Sestina, EJ Montgomery, Johnny JuzangNotable players expected to return: Keion BrooksExpected additions: Terrence Clarke, BJ Boston, Devin Askew, Isaiah Jackson, Lance Ware, Cam’Ron Fletcher, Davion Mintz
16. North Carolina
Coach: Roy Williams
2019-20 record: 14-19
Notable players definitely gone: Cole Anthony, Brandon Robinson, Christian Keeling, Justin Pierce, Jeremiah FrancisNotable players expected to return: Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, Anthony Harris, Leaky Black, Andrew Platek, K.J. SmithExpected additions: Day’Ron Sharpe, Walker Kessler, Caleb Love, Puff Johnson, R.J. Davis, Kerwin Walton
17. Ohio State
Coach: Chris Holtmann
2019-20 record: 21-10
Notable players definitely gone: Kaleb Wesson, Andre Wesson, D.J. Carton, Luther Muhammad, Alonzo GaffneyNotable players expected to return: Duane Washington, CJ Walker, Kyle Young, E.J. Liddell, Justin AhrensExpected additions: Seth Towns, Eugene Brown, Zed Key, Justice Sueing
Coach: Shaka Smart
2019-20 record: 19-12
Notable players definitely gone: N/ANotable players expected to return: Matt Colemam, Andrew Jones, Courtney Ramey, Jericho Sims, Jase Febres, Gerald Liddell, Kai Jones, Donovan Williams, Kamaka Hepa, Royce Hamm, Will Baker, Brock CunninghamExpected additions: Greg Brown
19. Texas Tech
Coach: Chris Beard
2019-20 record: 18-13
Notable players definitely gone: Jahmi’us Ramsey, Davide Moretti, TJ Holyfield, Chris Clarke, Russel TchewaNotable players expected to return: Kyler Edwards, Terrance Shannon, Kevin McCullar, Clarence Nadolny, Avery BensonExpected additions: Marcus Santos-Silva, Nimari Burnett, Micah Perry, Chibuzo Agbo, Joel Ntambwe, Vladislav Goldin
Coach: Dana Altman
2019-20 record: 24-7
Notable players definitely gone: Payton Pritchard, Shakur Juiston, Anthony Mathis, Francis OkoroNotable players expected to return: Chris Duarte, Will Richardson, N’Faly Dante, Addison Patterson, Chandler Lawson, C.J. WalkerExpected additions: Jalen Terry, Eric Williams, Eugene Omoruyi, Amauri Hardy
Coach: Steve Pikiell
2019-20 record: 20-11
Notable players definitely gone: Akwasi Yeboah, Shaq CarterNotable players expected to return: Ron Harper Jr., Geo Baker, Jacob Young, Myles Johnson, Montez Mathis, Caleb McConnell, Paul MulcahyExpected additions: Cliff Omoruyi, Mawot Mag, Dean Reiber, Oskar Palmquist
Coach: Penny Hardaway
2019-20 record: 21-10
Notable players definitely gone: Precious Achiuwa, Tyler Harris, Isaiah MauriceNotable players expected to return: D.J. Jeffries, Lester Quinones, Boogie Ellis, Alex Lomax, Lance Thomas, Damion Baugh, Malcolm Dandridge, Jayden HardawayExpected additions: Landers Nolley, Moussa Cisse, Isaiah Stokes, Ahmad Rand, Conor Glennon
Coach: Mick Cronin
2019-20 record: 19-12
Notable players definitely gone: Prince Ali, Alex OlesinskiNotable players expected to return: Chris Smith, Jalen Hill, Jaime Jaquez, Cody Riley, Tyger Campbell, Jules Bernard, Jake Kyman, David SingletonExpected additions: Jaylen Clark, Kenneth Nwuba, Johnny Juzang
Coach: Archie Miller
2019-20 record: 20-12
Notable players definitely gone: Devonte Green, Justin Smith, Damezi Anderson, De’Ron Davis Notable players expected to return: Trayce Jackson-Davis, Al Durham, Rob Phinisee, Joey Brunk, Jerome Hunter, Armaan Franklin, Race Thompson Expected additions: Khristian Lander, Jordan Geronimo, Anthony Leal, Trey Galloway
25. Arizona State
Coach: Bobby Hurley
2019-20 record: 20-11
Notable players definitely gone: Rob Edwards, Romello White, Mickey Mitchell, Khalid Thomas Notable players expected to return: Remy Martin, Alonzo Verge, Kimani Lawrence, Taeshon Cherry, Jaelen House, Jalen GrahamExpected additions: Joshua Christopher, Marcus Bagley
Coach: Will Wade
2019-20 record: 21-10
Notable players definitely gone: Skylar Mays, Emmitt Williams, Marlon Taylor, James Bishop, Marshall Graves, Courtese Cooper Notable players expected to return: Trendon Watford, Javonte Smart, Darius Days, Charles Manning, Aundre Hyatt Expected additions: Cameron Thomas, Jalen Cook, Eric Gaines, Mwani Wilkinson, Shareef O’Neal, Josh LeBlanc