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May 2, 2006

Defections alter preseason top 25

What if all the players who entered the NBA draft didn't come back to school? That's the question we posed to our panel of college basketball writers.

They put in their votes for our second preseason poll with the assumption that all the early entrees will end up staying in the draft, even those who haven't signed with an agent. The deadline to delcare for the draft was April 28. Another poll will be release after the early entry withdrawl deadline June 18.

Florida came out No. 1, followed by North Carolina - again. But, that was about all that remained the same.

Alabama jumped from No. 11 to the top five and Tennessee went from No. 21 to the top 10.

UCLA had the steepest fall of anyone, dropping from No. 3 to No. 23. Texas and Memphis fell from the top five to Nos. 16 and 18, respectively.

California, Florida State, George Washington and Gonzaga all fell out of the poll. They were replaced by Kentucky, Southern Illinois, Syracuse and Washington. The point totals are in parentheses.

Rivals.com 2006-07 Preseason Basketball Top 25 2005 Record
1. Florida (99) 33-6
The biggest surprise of the offseason may have been Joakim Noah's decision to stay in school. Considered a lock for the lottery and the possible No. 1 pick, the big man turned down guaranteed millions. Al Horford, a likely lottery pick, and Corey Brewer - a likely first-round pick -are coming back, too. That means all five starters from this year's team return for Billy Donovan, making the Gators the favorites to repeat as national champs.
2. North Carolina (97) 23-8
The addition of an incredible recruiting class makes the Tar Heels an instant national title contender. Ranked the No. 1 class by Rivals.com, the six-man group includes three top 10 prospects, including point guard Tywon Lawson, shooting guard Wayne Ellington and power forward Brandan Wright. They join a solid foundation of rising sophomores, including the consensus 2004-05 National Freshman of the Year Tyler Hansbrough. Depth should not be a problem for Roy Williams next season.
3. Ohio State (90) 26-6
Nobody benefited more from the NBA's age-limit rule, which went into effect this year, than the Buckeyes. OSU signee Greg Oden would have been the top pick in the draft, but instead he is forced to spend at least one season in college. The dominating 7-footer will be surrounded by the rest of the "Thad Five" - Rivals.com's No.2-ranked recruiting class. The group includes two other McDonald's All-Americans, Daequan Cook and Mike Conley. Cook and Conley jumped to No. 13 and No. 18 in the individual rankings after great senior seasons.
4. Kansas (89) 25-8
Back-to-back first-round flops didn't scare our panel from placing high expecations on the Jayhawks. Each voter placed the Big 12 power in their top five and it's easy to see why. All the starters return from a young team that won 15 of 16 games leading up to the NCAA Tournament last season. Plus, incoming point guard Sherron Collins will provide coach Bill Self with another backcourt weapon.
5. Alabama (81) 18-13
Mark Gottfried turned the Tide into an NCAA Tournament team last season with just seven scholarship players. In the fall he should have at least nine, including point guard Ronald Steele and power forward Jermareo Davidson. Had the duo decided to leave, they could have both been first-round picks. If highly touted recruit Richard Hendrix continues to improve, this team will be dangerous come March.
6. Georgetown (80) 23-10
Nobody in the Big East will boast a better frontcourt than the Hoyas. Center Roy Hibbert dominated in the NCAA Tournament and athletic power forward Jeff Green (6-8) provides an ideal complement. Incoming five-star forwards DaJuan Summers (6-8) and Vernon Macklin should be forces in the paint as well.
7. LSU (69) 27-9
Apparently our panel includes a few Glen "Big Baby" Davis fans. Despite the departure of future top-10 draft pick Tyrus Thomas and the loss of senior point guard Darrel Mitchell (16.8 ppg), the Tigers moved up one spot in our second preseason poll. Reigning SEC Player of the Year Glen Davis gives coach John Brady a proven star around which to build his team. However, to get back to the Final Four, point guard Tack Minor - who missed last season due to knee surgery - and big man Magnum Rolle must make big strides.
8. Duke (61) 32-4
How could the young Blue Devils jump from No. 16 to the top ten? Look no further than incoming recruit Gerald Henderson. The prep star from the Philadelphia suburbs showed he had the makings of a star at the McDonald's All-Star game and will give coach Mike Krzyzewski the athletic wing he has been missing the last few seasons.
9. Tennessee (60) 22-8
The Vols appear to have fixed their biggest weakness in the late signing period by landing five-star point guard Ramar Smith. A great defender with tremendous quickness, Smith will take over for departing four-year starter C.J. Watson. The additions of Smith and highly-touted freshman forwards Duke Crews and Wayne Chism will give the Volunteeers a legitimate shot to win the SEC East again.
10. Wisconsin (54) 19-12
Coach Bo Ryan has the personnel needed to capture another Big Ten title. Alando Tucker (18.9 ppg) and Kammron Taylor (14.2 ppg) will be one of the best tandems in the nation. The Badgers boast a handful of effective role players once again.
11. Texas A&M (48) 22-9
The Aggies don't have to worry about not getting respect anymore. Not after coming a basket away from the Sweet 16. With all key players back, including Acie Law, a deeper run will be expected.
12. Arizona (42) 20-13
Mustafa Shakur is leaving, but the Wildcats' best player - Marcus Williams - decided to stay. Williams and highly-touted recruit Chase Budinger will form a dangerous tandem.
13. Louisville (41) 21-13
The thought of Rick Pitino missing the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons just seems too outrageous to consider.
14t. Connecticut (40) 30-4
The departures of Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams and Josh Boone don't leave the Huskies with enough firepower to make another national title run. But Jeff Adrien has the tools to be a force in the post. The Huskies have the talent to remain a contender in the Big East.
14t. Georgia Tech (40) 11-17
Could the Jackets go from one of the worst teams in the ACC to one of the best? The addition of two top-10 recruits, Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young, made believers out of our panel.
16t. Texas (37) 30-7
The Longhorns had the talent to get to the Final Four without LaMarcus Aldridge (a top-10 draft pick). Losing P.J. Tucker and Daniel Gibson is actually what ended any national title hopes. But, a great recruiting class will allow the 'Horns to challenge for the Big 12 title.
16t. Pittsburgh (37) 25-8
Aaron Gray is gone but another big man, rising sophomore Sam Young, is poised for his breakout season.
18. Memphis (36) 33-4
Losing Shawne Williams and Darius Washington Jr. doesn't leave the Tigers with enough offense to hang with the elite teams.
19. Washington (34) 26-7
Versatile star Bradon Roy is gone, but recruit Spencer Hawes gives the Huskies a much-needed scoring presence on the interior.
20. Boston College (29) 28-8
Jared Dudley gives the Eagles one of the ACC's best and most versatile players. Freshman Tyrese Rice has the tools to be a star.
21. Villanova (24) 28-5
Kyle Lowry could have become a star next season. Instead, he leaves Curtis Sumpter - who missed last season with a knee injury - to carry the Wildcats.
22t. UCLA (16) 32-7
Instantly replacing Arron Afflalo and Jordan Farmar isn't an option. The spotlight is now on the Cameroon prince, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
22t. Syracuse (16) 23-12
Gerry McNamara is gone, but the other Big East powers lose much more. The 'Cuse will be counting on Eric Devendorf to develop into a consistent scorer.
24. Southern Illinois (15) 22-11
Meet the next mid-major with Final Four potential. The Salukis return every starter and all the key reserves from a team that went 3-2 against Wichita State and Bradley last season.
25. Kentucky (13) 22-13
The pressure is on Tubby Smith at exactly the wrong time. The SEC East looks loaded with Florida, Tennessee and NIT champ South Carolina all returning several key players.

Others receiving votes: Michigan (12), Gonzaga (9), Hofstra (8), Marquette (5), Florida State (4), South Carolina (3), Virginia (3), Houston (1).

  • Rivals.com's first 2006 preseason poll (4/06/06)

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