John Calipari’s success at Kentucky has been largely tied to five-star point guards — one elite prospect after another who became professionals, among them John Wall, Brandon Knight, Marquis Teague, Andrew Harrison, Tyler Ulis, De’Aaron Fox and Ashton Hagans.
The list is long.
But, for one reason or another, the Wildcats got stuck without an elite primary ball-handler on the roster last season. And that’s one of the reasons — not the only reason, but definitely one of the reasons — they finished 9-16, which equated to the worst record Calipari has posted as a college coach in more than three decades.
It was rough and embarrassing.
But the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame coach insisted he’d fix things. And he took a step in the right direction late Wednesday when he secured a commitment from TyTy Washington, a five-star point guard who is a consensus top-25 prospect in the Class of 2021.
“Coach Cal has passion to develop me,” Washington told ESPN. “He was confident and straightforward on how I would fit and his plan for me. I could play both the point guard and also slide over to the wing because of my scoring ability. I watched a lot of film of Kentucky, and they play a three-guard attack.”
Washington projects as UK’s starting point guard — someone who should work well next to a pair of gifted and proven shooters in transfers Kellan Grady (Davidson) and CJ Frederick (Iowa). His addition is why Kentucky is up to No. 17 in Version 9.0 of the preseason CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 college basketball rankings.
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UCLA remains No. 1 in the Top 25 And 1.
The Bruins’ ranking is based on a simple concept: Every meaningful player who helped them make the Final Four and finish 13th at KenPom will return to Westwood for at least one more year. Obviously, Johnny Juzang has a decision to make about the NBA Draft — whether to remain in it or withdraw — but if he comes back and picks up right where he left off, UCLA should have a real chance to win what would be the 12th national title in school history. The Bruins are also adding five-star prospect Peyton Watson and Rutgers transfer Myles Johnson to its experienced core to help in that goal.
Top 25 And 1 rankings
Every meaningful player who helped the Bruins make the Final Four is currently projected back on campus – among them NCAA Tournament star Johnny Juzang. UCLA will add five-star prospect Peyton Watson and should have all of the pieces necessary to win a national title.
The Zags are losing a lot – most notably Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi. But with Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard expected back, and the arrival of five-star prospects Chet Holmgren and Hunter Sallis, Mark Few’s program should again dominate the West Coast Conference and have a real chance to win the first national championship in school history.
The return of Collin Gillispie and Jermaine Samuels means the Wildcats will return four of the top five scorers from a team that won the Big East title by multiple games. So Jay Wright will have the pieces necessary to compete for his third national championship.
The Crimson Tide should return four of the top seven scorers from a team that won the SEC regular-season title and SEC Tournament – most notably Jaden Shackelford and Jahvon Quinerly. The addition of five-star point guard JD Davison and four-star big Charles Bediako gives Nate Oats a chance at back-to-back conference championships.
Ohio State is expected to return seven of the top eight scorers from a team that earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament – most notably Duane Washington, E.J. Liddell, Justice Sueing and Kyle Young. Malaki Branham, a consensus top-30 prospect in the Class of 2021, is an incoming recruit who should make an immediate impact.
Eli Brooks’ decision to return will provide Juwan Howard with an additional experienced piece to pair with the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class that features five-star prospect Caleb Houstan, five-star prospect Moussa Diabate and reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year DeVante’ Jones. As long as Hunter Dickinson also returns, which is expected, the Wolverines should be able to compete for another No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Duke is the only program expected to add three five-star prospects from the Class of 2021 – among them Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin, both of whom project as one-and-done top-10 NBA Draft picks. So even with Matthew Hurt and DJ Steward both leaving school early, Mike Krzyzewski should have enough talent to take the Blue Devils back to the top of the sport.
The Bears are expected to lose Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler to the NBA Draft. But if Baylor keeps a core of Adam Flagler, Matthew Mayer and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, and enrolls its top-10 recruiting class highlighted by five-star wing Kendall Brown, Scott Drew can make a run at another national title — and he’ll be in even better position to do it if Arizona transfer James Akinjo receivers a waiver to play immediately.
Kansas is projected to return four starters from a team that went 9-2 in its final 11 games and advanced in the NCAA Tournament. The recent addition of Joseph Yesufu, a transfer who averaged 12.8 points at Drake this season, will enhance the Jayhawks’ shot-making ability.
The Razorbacks are losing a lot – including projected first-round pick Moses Moody. But JD Notae should return as a double-digit scorer, and Eric Musselman is adding at least four experienced double-digit scorers via the transfer market, mostly notably Chris Lykes (Miami) and Au’Diese Toney (Pitt).
The Boilermakers have no seniors and zero obvious NBA prospects, meaning everybody who matters should return from a team that received a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The star is Trevion Williams, who averaged 15.5 points and 9.1 rebounds as a junior.
As long as Kelvin Sampson remains the coach, Houston will likely be a mainstay in the Top 25 And 1. The early loss of Quentin Grimes will hurt, but probably not too much with Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark set to return and be joined by Texas Tech transfer Kyler Edwards.
Mark Turgeon has used the transfer market to add a quality guard (Fatts Russell) and big (Qudus Wahab). That should be enough to offset the loss of Darryl Morsell and get the Terrapins to the Big Dance for the sixth time in a span of seven NCAA Tournaments.
The Seminoles should be good again despite the fact that they’re likely losing four of their top five scorers – among them projected lottery pick Scottie Barnes. A veteran core of Anthony Polite and Malik Osborne will be joined by a top-five recruiting class highlighted by former Houston standout Caleb Mills and five-star wing Matthew Cleveland.
John Fulkerson’s decision to return for another season means Tennessee should bring back five of the top eight scorers from a team that earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That experienced core will pair nicely with a recruiting class highlighted by one of the best point guards in the Class of 2021 (Kennedy Chandler) and another newcomer who just averaged 11.7 points while shooting 44.2% from 3-point range at Auburn (Justin Powell).
The expected return of Armando Bacot and Caleb Love will give first-year coach Hubert Davis a chance to keep the Tar Heels nationally relevant. The arrival of Oklahoma transfer Brady Manek should help offset the loss of Garrison Brooks and Day’Ron Sharpe.
The addition of five-star prospect TyTy Washington gives Kentucky the type of talented point guard that didn’t exist on last season’s roster. He’ll pair with three proven transfers — Kellan Grady, Oscar Tshiebwe and CJ Frederick — and should help the Wildcats return to the NCAA Tournament after missing the Field of 68 in 2021.
Dan Hurley has rebuilt UConn to the point where it should be a consistent challenger to Villanova in the Big East. Even the early loss of James Bouknight, a projected first-round NBA Draft pick, shouldn’t change that (especially with Tyler Polley set to return for a fifth season).
Aaron Henry is following Joshua Langford and Rocket Watts out the door. But the arrival of five-star guard Max Christie and Northeastern transfer Tyson Walker should have Tom Izzo in his 24th straight NCAA Tournament.
All five starters from a team that won the Atlantic 10 regular-season title and Atlantic 10 Tournament are expected back – most notably Kyle Lofton, who averaged 14.4 points and 5.5 assists as a junior. Wake Forest transfer Quadry Adams will provide depth.
Chris Beard has used the transfer portal to add three players – Timmy Allen (Utah), Christian Bishop (Creighton) and Dylan Disu (Vanderbilt) – who averaged double-figures in points this season. He appears to have enough experienced talent to compete for the Big 12 title in his first year at Texas.
Dana Altman has been among the best at reloading his roster each offseason via the transfer market — and now he’s doing it again now. The addition of Oklahoma transfer De’Vion Harmon to an experienced core of Will Richardson, Eric Williams and N’Faly Dante should make the Ducks the biggest threat to UCLA in the Pac-12.
Trey Murphy is expected to remain in the NBA Draft, which means Virginia will likely lose its top three scorers. But Kihei Clark will provide Tony Bennett with an experienced point guard capable of keeping the Cavaliers near the top of the ACC, and the addition of East Carolina transfer Jayden Gardner could be a big boost.
Auburn’s frontcourt of Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler might end up being the best frontcourt in the SEC. That’s two five-star high school prospects joining a roster returning two double-digit scorers.
Andy Enfield should have the Trojans back in the NCAA Tournament – as long as Isaiah Mobley doesn’t join his brother, Evan Mobley, in the NBA Draft. A top-15 recruiting class highlighted by Reese Dixon-Waters and Memphis transfer Boogie Ellis will help offset the departures.
The top four scorers from a team that made the NCAA Tournament are expected to return – among them Keve Aluma, who averaged 15.2 points and 7.9 rebounds this season. They’ll be joined by a pair of transfers (USF’s Michael Durr and Wofford’s Storm Murphy) who should help Virginia Tech compete near the top of the ACC.
Roster breakdowns1. UCLA
Coach: Mick Cronin | 2020-21 record: 22-10
Notable players expected to leave: Chris SmithNotable players expected to return: Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez, Jules Bernard, Tyger Campbell, Cody Riley, David Singleton, Jake Kyman, Mac Etienne, Jaylen Clark, Kenneth NwubaExpected additions: Peyton Watson, Will McClendon, Myles Johnson2. Gonzaga
Coach: Mark Few | 2020-21 record: 31-1
Notable players expected to leave: Corey Kispert, Jalen Suggs, Joel Ayayi, Aaron Cook, Oumar Ballo, Pavel ZakharovNotable players expected to return: Drew Timme, Andrew Nembhard, Anton Watson, Julian Strawther, Dominick Harris, Ben GreggExpected additions: Chet Holmgren, Hunter Sallis, Rasir Bolton, Kaden Perry3. Villanova
Coach: Jay Wright | 2020-21 record: 18-7
Notable players expected to leave: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Cole SwiderNotable players expected to return: Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels, Justin Moore, Caleb Daniels, Brandon Slater, Eric Dixon, Bryan Antoine, Chris Arcidiacono, Trey PattersonExpected additions: Jordan Longino, Nnanna Njoku, Angelo Brizzi4. Alabama
Coach: Nate Oats | 2020-21 record: 26-7
Notable players expected to leave: Herb Jones, John Petty, Alex Reese, Jordan BrunerNotable players expected to return: Jaden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly, Joshua Primo, Keon Ellis, Juwan Gary, James Rojas, Darius Miles, Keon Ambrose-HyltonExpected additions: Noah Gurley, JD Davison, Charles Bediako, Jusaun Holt, Nimari Burnett, Alex Tchikou5. Ohio State
Coach: Chris Holtmann | 2020-21 record: 21-10
Notable players expected to leave: CJ Walker, Musa Jallow, Jimmy SotosNotable players expected to return: Duane Washington, E.J. Liddell, Justice Sueing, Kyle Young, Justin Ahrens, Zed Key, Seth Towns, Meechie Johnson, Eugene BrownExpected additions: Malaki Branham, Kalen Etzler, Jamari Wheeler, Joey Brunk6. Michigan
Coach: Juwan Howard | 2020-21 record: 23-5
Notable players expected to leave: Isaiah Livers, Franz Wagner, Mike Smith, Chaundee Brown, Austin DavisNotable players expected to return: Hunter Dickinson, Eli Brooks, Brandon Johns, Terrence Williams, Zeb Jackson, Jace HowardExpected additions: DeVante’ Jones, Caleb Houston, Moussa Diabate, Kobe Bufkin, Frankie Collins, Isaiah Barnes, Will Tschetter7. Duke
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski | 2020-21 record: 13-11
Notable players expected to leave: Matthew Hurt, DJ Steward, Jordan Goldwire, Jaemyn Brakefield, Patrick Tape, Henry ColemanNotable players expected to return: Wendell Moore, Jeremy Roach, Mark Williams, Joey BakerExpected additions: Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin, Trevor Keels, Theo John, Jaylen Blakes8. Baylor
Coach: Scott Drew | 2020-21 record: 28-2
Notable players expected to leave: Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, MaCio Teague, Mark VitalNotable players expected to return: Adam Flagler, Matthew Mayer, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchouwa, L.J. Cryer, Flo Thamba, Zach Loveday, Jordan TurnerExpected additions: Kendall Brown, Langston Love, Jeremy Sochan9. Kansas
Coach: Bill Self | 2020-21 record: 21-9
Notable players expected to leave: Marcus Garrett, Bryce Thompson, Tyon Grant-Foster, Tristan Enaruna, Gethro MuscadinNotable players expected to return: Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Jalen Wilson, Christian Braun, Mitch Lightfoot, Dajuan Harris, Chris TeahanExpected additions: Joseph Yesufu, Cam Martin, Zach Clemence, KJ Adams, Bobby Pettiford, Sydney Curry10. Arkansas
Coach: Eric Musselman | 2020-21 record: 25-7
Notable players expected to leave: Moses Moody, Justin Smith, Jalen Tate, Desi Sills, Vance Jackson, Ethan HendersonNotable players expected to return: JD Notae, Davonte Davis, Connor Vanover, Jaylin Williams, Khalen RobinsonExpected additions: Au’Diese Toney, Chris Lykes, Stanley Umode, Kamani Johnson, Chance Moore, Akol Mawein, Jaxson Robinson11. Purdue
Coach: Matt Painter | 2020-21 record: 18-10
Notable players expected to leave: Aaron Wheeler, Emmanuel DowuonaNotable players expected to return: Trevion Williams, Jaden Ivey, Sasha Stefanovic, Zach Edey, Eric Hunter Jr., Brandon Newman, Mason Gillis, Isaiah Thompson, Ethan Morton.Expected additions: Trey Kaufman, Caleb Furst12. Houston
Coach: Kelvin Sampson | 2020-21 record: 28-4
Notable players expected to leave: Quentin Grimes, Dejon Jarreau, Justin Gorham, Bryson Gresham, Cameron TysonNotable players expected to return: Marcus Sasser, Tramon Mark, Fabian White, Reggie Chaney, Jamal Shead, Kiyron Powell, J’Wan RobertsExpected additions: Kyler Edwards, Ja’Vier Francis, Taze Moore, Ramon Walker, Robbie Armbrester, Josh Carlton13. Maryland
Coach: Mark Turgeon | 2020-21 record: 17-14
Notable players expected to leave: Darryl Morsell, Galin Smith, Chol Marial, Aquan Smart, Reese Mona, Jairus HamiltonNotable players expected to return: Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Donta Scott, Hakim Hart, James Graham III, Marcus DockeryExpected additions: Qudus Wahab, Fatts Russell, Julian Reese, Ike Cornish, Ian Martinez14. Florida State
Coach: Leonard Hamilton | 2020-21 record: 18-7
Notable players expected to leave: MJ Walker, RaiQuan Gray, Scottie Barnes, Balsa Koprivica, RayQuan Evans, Nathaniel Jack, Tanor NgomNotable players expected to return: Anthony Polite, Malik Osborne, Sardaar Calhoun, Wyatt Wilkes, Quincy BallardExpected additions: Caleb Mills, Cam’Ron Fletcher, Matthew Cleveland, Jalen Warley, John Butler, Naheem McLeod15. Tennessee
Coach: Rick Barnes | 2020-21 record: 18-9
Notable players expected to leave: Jaden Springer, Keon Johnson, Yves Pons, EJ Anosiki, Davonte Gaines, Drew PemberNotable players expected to return: Victor Bailey, John Fulkerson, Santiago Vescovi, Josiah-Jordan James, Olivier Nkamhoua, Uros PlavsicExpected additions: Kennedy Chandler, Justin Powell, Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, Jonas Aidoo, Jahmai Mashack, Quentin Diboundje16. North Carolina
Coach: Hubert Davis | 2020-21 record: 18-11
Notable players expected to leave: Garrison Brooks, Day’Ron Sharpe, Walker Kessler, Andrew Playtek, Sterling ManleyNotable players expected to return: Armando Bacot, Caleb Love, R.J. Davis, Kerwin Walton, Leaky Black, Anthony Harris, Puff Johnson.Expected additions: Brady Manek, Dontrez Styles, D’Marco Dunn, Justin McKoy17. Kentucky
Coach: John Calipari | 2020-21 record: 9-16
Notable players expected to leave: Brandon Boston, Olivier Sarr, Terrence Clarke, Isaiah Jackson, Devin Askew, Cam’Ron FletcherNotable players expected to return: Davion Mintz, Keion Brooks, Dontaie Allen, Jacob Toppin, Lance WareExpected additions: TyTy Washington, Kellan Grady, Oscar Tshiebwe, CJ Frederick, Daimion Collins, Bryce Hopkins18. UConn
Coach: Dan Hurley | 2020-21 record: 15-8
Notable players expected to leave: James Bouknight, Brendan Adams, Josh CarltonNotable players expected to return: R.J. Cole, Tyrese Martin, Isaiah Whaley, Tyler Polley, Adama Sanogo, Jalen Gaffney, Andre Jackson, Akok Akok, Richie SpringsExpected additions: Rahsool Diggins, Jordan Hawkins, Samson Johnson19. Michigan State
Coach: Tom Izzo | 2020-21 record: 15-13
Notable players expected to leave: Aaron Henry, Joshua Langford, Rocket Watts, Thomas KithierNotable players expected to return: Joey Hauser, Gabe Brown, Malik Hall, Foster Loyer, Julius Marble, Marcus Bingham, AJ Hoggard, Mady SissokoExpected additions: Tyson Walker, Max Christie, Jaden Akins, Pierre Brooks20. St. Bonaventure
Coach: Mark Schmidt | 2020-21 record: 16-5
Notable players expected to leave: Alejandro Vasquez, Jalen Shaw, Jermaine TaggartNotable players expected to return: Kyle Lofton, Jaren Holmes, Jalen Adaway, Dominick Welch, Osun Osunniyi, Alpha Okoli, Eddie CrealExpected additions: Linton Brown, Justin Ndjock, Quadry Adams, Abdoul Karim, Coulibaly, Oluwasegun Durosinmi21. Texas
Coach: Chris Beard | 2020-21 record: 19-8
Notable players expected to leave: Matt Coleman, Greg Brown, Jericho Sims, Kai Jones, Donovan Williams, Kamaka Hepa, Royce Hamm Jr.Notable players expected to return: Andrew Jones, Courtney Ramey, Jase Febres, Brock CunninghamExpected additions: Timmy Allen, Dylan Disu, Devin Askew, Christian Bishop, Jaylon Tyson22. Oregon
Coach: Dana Altman | 2020-21 record: 21-7
Notable players expected to leave: Eugene Omoruyi, Chris Duarte, LJ Figueroa, Chandler Lawson, Amauri Hardy, Will Johnson, Jalen TerryNotable players expected to return: Will Richardson, Eric Williams, N’Faly Dante, Aaron Estrada, Franck Kepnang, Lok WurExpected additions: De’Vion Harmon, Rivaldo Soarez, Nathan Bittle, Isaac Johnson23. Virginia
Coach: Tony Bennett | 2020-21 record: 18-17
Notable players expected to leave: Sam Hauser, Jay Huff, Trey Murphy, Tomas Woldentensae, Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Casey Morsell, Justin McKoyNotable players expected to return: Kihei Clark, Reece Beekman, Kody Stattman, Kadin Shedrick, Francisco Caffaro, Carson McCorkle, Chase Coleman, Malachi PoindexterExpected additions: Armaan Franklin, Jayden Gardner, Taine Murray24. Auburn
Coach: Bruce Pearl | 2020-21 record: 13-14
Notable players expected to leave: Sharife Cooper, Justin Powell, Jamal Johnson, Javon FranklinNotable players expected to return: Allen Flanigan, Jaylin Williams, JT Thor, Devan Cambridge, Dylan Cardwell, Chris Moore, Babatunde AkingbolaExpected additions: Walker Kessler, Jabari Smith, Zeb Jasper, Wendell Green25. USC
Coach: Andy Enfield | 2020-21 record: 25-8
Notable players expected to leave: Evan Mobley, Tahj Eaddy, Isaiah White, Noah BaumannNotable players expected to return: Isaiah Mobley, Drew Peterson, Ethan Anderson, Chevez Goodwin, Max Agbonkpolo, Reese WatersExpected additions: Boogie Ellis, Malik Thomas, Harrison Hornery, Kobe Johnson, KJ Allen26. Virginia Tech
Coach: Mike Young | 2020-21 record: 15-7
Notable players expected to leave: Jalen Cone, Wabissa Bede, Joe Bamisile, Cordell PemslNotable players expected to return: Keve Aluma, Tyrece Radford, Nahiem Alleyne, Justyn Mutts, Hunter Cattoor, David N’Guessan, Darius Maddox, John OjiakoExpected additions: Michael Durr, Storm Murphy, Sean Pedulla