2024-25 men's NCAA basketball rankings: Way-Too-Early Top 25

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In a college basketball offseason filled with deadlines, the final truly impactful one came and went at midnight on May 29. And there were two overarching themes coming out the NBA draft withdrawal deadline.

One, we might be headed for an all-time college basketball season. It was mentioned at the top of our last Way-Too-Early Top 25 update, but the preseason top 10 is as strong as it's been in recent memory. Kansas, Alabama and UConn all look absolutely loaded; Houston, Gonzaga and Iowa State bring back nearly all of their key pieces; Baylor and Duke are loaded with talent; and Arizona, North Carolina and Auburn have legitimate All-Americans leading the way for deep rosters.

That's from a team perspective. From a player perspective, things look just as impressive. Mark Sears and Caleb Love withdrawing on deadline day means five AP All-Americans are back next season, with RJ Davis, Johni Broome and Hunter Dickinson joining them.

The second theme: There is a legitimate debate for No. 1.

Kansas looked to be head-and-shoulders above the rest of the country after Dickinson returned, but deadline day decisions from Alabama's Sears and UConn's Alex Karaban to withdraw from the draft - as well as Kansas' own Johnny Furphy choosing to remain in the draft - narrowed the gap.

We're sticking with the Jayhawks at the top spot for now - they have the fewest question marks on paper - but there's still a handful of notable players left in the portal and five months until the season tips off.

Let the debates begin.

Last updated: May 30, 2024

1. Kansas Jayhawks

Previous ranking: 1

After entering 2023-24 ranked No. 1, Bill Self had one of his most disappointing seasons since taking over in Lawrence. He has clearly taken that to heart and has answered questions with the most loaded roster in the country. He went into the portal and landed AJ Storr (Wisconsin), Zeke Mayo (South Dakota State) and Rylan Griffen (Alabama); then, All-American big man Hunter Dickinson opted to return for another year. Labaron Philon and Riley Kugel decommitting shouldn't impact their ceiling too much. It's not a lock that Self and the Jayhawks are done adding to the roster, either.

Projected starting lineup

Dajuan Harris Jr. (8.5 PPG)
Zeke Mayo (18.8 PPG at South Dakota State)
AJ Storr (16.8 PPG at Wisconsin)
K.J. Adams Jr. (12.6 PPG)
Hunter Dickinson (17.9 PPG)

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

Previous ranking: 6

The withdrawal deadline decisions from Mark Sears and Jarin Stevenson vaulted Alabama right into the discussion to be preseason No. 1. Sears will be a preseason All-American after averaging 21.5 points and 4.0 assists last season. Nate Oats overhauled the rest of the roster, landing three potential starters from the portal: Aden Holloway (Auburn), Chris Youngblood (South Florida) and Clifford Omoruyi (Rutgers). But potential all-league forward Grant Nelson and part-time starter Latrell Wrightsell are also back from a team that reached the Final Four.

Projected starting lineup

Mark Sears (21.5 PPG)
Latrell Wrightsell Jr. (8.9 PPG)
Chris Youngblood (15.3 PPG at South Florida)
Grant Nelson (11.9 PPG)
Cliff Omoruyi (10.4 PPG at Rutgers)

3. UConn Huskies

Previous ranking: 7

Back-to-back-to-back? Don't count out the Huskies, especially not after Alex Karaban's decision to return to Storrs and the way Dan Hurley hit the recruiting trail this spring. Karaban is the lone starter back for the reigning national champions, but he should combine with top-10 recruit Liam McNeeley and Saint Mary's transfer Aidan Mahaney to form one of the most dangerous shooting trios in the country. Hassan Diarra at the point guard spot will be the key for UConn next season.

Projected starting lineup

Hassan Diarra (6.1 PPG)
Aidan Mahaney (13.9 PPG at Saint Mary's)
Liam McNeeley (No. 9 in ESPN 100)
Alex Karaban (13.3 PPG)
Samson Johnson (5.4 PPG)

4. Houston Cougars

Previous ranking: 2

Once L.J. Cryer and J'Wan Roberts announced they were planning to use their extra year of eligibility, Houston put itself in the preseason top-five discussion. Then Kelvin Sampson landed Oklahoma transfer Milos Uzan to replace Jamal Shead at point guard. We know the Cougars will be physical, we know the Cougars will defend, and a healthy Terrance Arceneaux would bring back some intriguing offensive potential to raise their ceiling even higher.

Projected starting lineup

Milos Uzan (9.0 PPG at Oklahoma)
L.J. Cryer (15.5 PPG)
Emanuel Sharp (12.6 PPG)
J'Wan Roberts (9.5 PPG)
Ja'Vier Francis (6.0 PPG)

5. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Previous ranking: 3

Except for Anton Watson, Mark Few will bring back the roster that played like a top-10 or top-15 team for the final two months of the season. Ryan Nembhard and Graham Ike form one of the best inside-outside duos in the country, and the Zags will also welcome Pepperdine transfer Michael Ajayi and finally have former Eastern Washington transfer Steele Venters, who missed this past season because of injury, on the court to add perimeter pop. They also added Arkansas transfer Khalif Battle, who averaged 29.6 points over his final seven games.

Projected starting lineup

Ryan Nembhard (12.6 PPG)
Nolan Hickman (14.0 PPG)
Michael Ajayi (17.2 PPG at Pepperdine)
Ben Gregg (9.0 PPG)
Graham Ike (16.5 PPG)

6. Baylor Bears

Previous ranking: 4

Entering May, Scott Drew had one of the best perimeter groups in the country but lacked an inside presence to provide balance. That problem was solved when Miami transfer Norchad Omier, a double-double machine and a top-five transfer this spring, committed to the Bears. The strength of the team is still the backcourt, though. Duke transfer Jeremy Roach and top-five recruit V.J. Edgecombe will team up with double-figure scorers Jayden Nunn and Langston Love.

Projected starting lineup

Jeremy Roach (14.0 PPG at Duke)
Jayden Nunn (10.5 PPG)
V.J. Edgecombe (No. 3 in ESPN 100)
Langston Love (11.0 PPG)
Norchad Omier (17.0 PPG at Miami)

Iowa State upsets Houston for Big 12 title

No. 7 Iowa State upsets No. 1 Houston in a blowout for the Big 12 championship.

7. Iowa State Cyclones

Previous ranking: 5

T.J. Otzelberger produced another exceptional season in Ames, winning the Big 12 tournament and earning a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament. Next season's Cyclones should be even better. Last season's top four scorers are all set to return, including the backcourt of Tamin Lipsey, Curtis Jones and Keshon Gilbert. Otzelberger has also been busy on the recruiting trail, landing four transfers -- led by former Saint Mary's forward Joshua Jefferson.

Projected starting lineup

Tamin Lipsey (12.4 PPG)
Curtis Jones (11.0 PPG)
Keshon Gilbert (13.7 PPG)
Milan Momcilovic (10.9 PPG)
Dishon Jackson (11.4 PPG at Charlotte)

8. Duke Blue Devils

Previous ranking: 8

Duke was a national title contender last season but never quite seemed to put it all together for an extended stretch, and it ultimately fell in the Elite Eight. Jon Scheyer will have two of the best NBA prospects in the country next season in No. 1 recruit Cooper Flagg and projected top-five pick Khaman Maluach, but his roster is going to be completely revamped. Tyrese Proctor and Caleb Foster are the only returnees after seven players left via the portal. Tulane transfer Sion James' addition will give the Blue Devils some size and scoring ability on the perimeter. Further experience comes by way of transfers Mason Gillis (Purdue), Maliq Brown (Syracuse) and Sion James (Tulane).

Projected starting lineup

Tyrese Proctor (10.5 PPG)
Caleb Foster (7.7 PPG)
Cooper Flagg (No. 1 in ESPN 100)
Maliq Brown (9.5 PPG at Syracuse)
Khaman Maluach (five-star)

9. Arizona Wildcats

Previous ranking: 10

It has been a busy offseason thus far for Arizona. Kylan Boswell and Oumar Ballo both entered the transfer portal, and Pelle Larsson entered the NBA draft. Caleb Love and KJ Lewis both tested the waters before opting to withdraw their names and return to Tucson. Tommy Lloyd added reinforcements via the portal, namely Horizon League Player of the Year Trey Townsend from Oakland and high-scoring Campbell transfer Anthony Dell'Orso. The interior battle between Tennessee transfer Tobe Awaka and returnee Motiejus Krivas is a position contest to monitor.

Projected starting lineup

Jaden Bradley (7.0 PPG)
Caleb Love (18.0 PPG)
KJ Lewis (6.1 PPG)
Trey Townsend (17.3 PPG at Oakland)
Motiejus Krivas (5.4 PPG)

10. North Carolina Tar Heels

Previous ranking: 9

RJ Davis made official his return to Chapel Hill for his final season, which gives the Tar Heels a preseason first-team All-American and arguably the Wooden Award favorite. The perimeter group was finalized when Belmont transfer Cade Tyson, a 46.5% 3-point shooter, committed. Hubert Davis clearly made getting a true 5-man a priority in the portal, and after missing on a few of his top targets, the Tar Heels ultimately landed Vanderbilt transfer Ven-Allen Lubin.

Projected starting lineup

Elliot Cadeau (7.3 PPG)
RJ Davis (21.2 PPG)
Ian Jackson (No. 7 in ESPN 100)
Cade Tyson (16.2 PPG at Belmont)
Ven-Allen Lubin (12.3 PPG)

Broome dimes Baker-Mazara for an Auburn slam

Johni Broome dishes a dime to Chad Baker-Mazara for a Tigers flush.

11. Auburn Tigers

Previous ranking: 12

Auburn has seen a steady stream of positive news this offseason, starting with the addition of Furman transfer JP Pegues and continuing with the return of first-team All-SEC selection Johni Broome up front. Broome could enter the season as a preseason All-American. Denver Jones and Chad Baker-Mazara are also back on the perimeter, while Bruce Pearl recently went out and landed Georgia Tech transfer Miles Kelly. Could the Tigers look to add one more piece up front?

Projected starting lineup

JP Pegues (18.4 PPG at Furman)
Denver Jones (9.1 PPG)
Miles Kelly (13.9 PPG at Georgia Tech)
Chad Baker-Mazara (10.0 PPG)
Johni Broome (16.5 PPG)

12. Texas A&M Aggies

Previous ranking: 11

A&M struggled in the first half of the season for the second straight campaign before surging late and making the NCAA tournament. With further continuity entering next season, perhaps the Aggies will get off to a stronger start. Seven of their top eight scorers are back, led by potential All-American candidate Wade Taylor IV. Buzz Williams also landed a couple of impact transfers, headlined by SMU's Zhuric Phelps and Minnesota's Pharrel Payne, who should both push for starting spots.

Projected starting lineup

Wade Taylor IV (19.1 PPG)
Manny Obaseki (7.0 PPG)
Zhuric Phelps (14.8 PPG at SMU)
Henry Coleman III (8.8 PPG)
Pharrel Payne (10.0 PPG at Minnesota)

13. Tennessee Volunteers

Previous ranking: 20

Dalton Knecht is gone, and with him goes Rick Barnes' best offense in several years. But if the more up-tempo, 3-point-heavy offensive system remains in Knoxville, there should be plenty of optimism. The Volunteers also landed another potential stud mid-major transfer in North Florida's Chaz Lanier, who averaged 19.7 points and shot 44% from 3. Barnes will surround high-level point guard Zakai Zeigler with a slew of shooters and Ohio State transfer Felix Okpara will anchor the interior defensively.

Projected starting lineup

Zakai Zeigler (11.8 PPG)
Chaz Lanier (19.7 PPG at North Florida)
Jahmai Mashack (4.5 PPG)
Darlinstone Dubar (17.8 PPG at Hofstra)
Felix Okpara (6.6 PPG at Ohio State)

14. Creighton Bluejays

Previous ranking: 18

Ryan Kalkbrenner didn't wait until the deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft and return to Omaha, giving Greg McDermott one of the best interior defenders in college basketball. And given his offensive improvement, he will be an All-American candidate. Starting point guard Steven Ashworth also opted to take advantage of his extra year of eligibility and suit up for another season. Around those two, the Bluejays landed third-team All-Big 12 guard Pop Isaacs from Texas Tech and double-figure scorer Jamiya Neal from Arizona State.

Projected starting lineup

Steven Ashworth (11.1 PPG)
Pop Isaacs (15.8 PPG at Texas Tech)
Jamiya Neal (11.0 PPG at Arizona State)
Mason Miller (5.6 PPG)
Ryan Kalkbrenner (17.3 PPG)

15. Purdue Boilermakers

Previous ranking: 13

The post-Zach Edey era in West Lafayette has officially begun, but don't expect Matt Painter's team to completely fall out of the national discussion. The Boilermakers will still return one of the best backcourts in the country in Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer, and Trey Kaufman-Renn is ready for a bigger role in the frontcourt. The key will be whether Smith and Loyer can take the jump from complementary to go-to players, and which reserve or freshman breaks out. A good bet would be Camden Heide, while incoming freshman Daniel Jacobsen recently turned heads at the USA Basketball U18 National Team workouts.

Projected starting lineup

Braden Smith (12.2 PPG)
Fletcher Loyer (10.6 PPG)
Camden Heide (3.4 PPG)
Trey Kaufman-Renn (6.4 PPG)
Daniel Jacobsen (four-star)

16. Arkansas Razorbacks

Previous ranking: 19

John Calipari has slowly built up his first roster in Fayetteville and is now closing in on one of the more talented squads in the SEC. The Razorbacks landed two of the best players in the portal: Florida Atlantic transfer Johnell Davis, the AAC Player of the Year, and Tennessee transfer Jonas Aidoo, an All-SEC big man. He also signed two McDonald's All-American recruits, while D.J. Wagner, Adou Thiero and Zvonimir Ivisic all followed him from Kentucky.

Projected starting lineup

D.J. Wagner (9.9 PPG at Kentucky)
Johnell Davis (18.2 PPG at Florida Atlantic)
Karter Knox (No. 26 in ESPN 100)
Adou Thiero (7.2 PPG at Kentucky)
Jonas Aidoo (11.4 PPG at Tennessee)

17. Marquette Golden Eagles

Previous ranking: 14

Tyler Kolek and Oso Ighodaro have played their final game in a Marquette uniform, but Shaka Smart brings back three starters in Kam Jones, David Joplin and Stevie Mitchell, plus key rotation players Chase Ross, Ben Gold and a potentially healthy Sean Jones. This is a team that has earned 2-seeds in each of the past two NCAA tournaments and didn't see a single player leave or enter the program via the portal this spring. The Golden Eagles shouldn't fade away quickly.

Projected starting lineup

Sean Jones (5.8 PPG)
Kam Jones (17.2 PPG)
Stevie Mitchell (8.8 PPG)
David Joplin (10.8 PPG)
Ben Gold (5.0 PPG)

18. Indiana Hoosiers

Previous ranking: 16

Mike Woodson got his offseason work done early, as the Hoosiers were the big winners of the first wave of portal season. The Hoosiers landed Arizona transfer Oumar Ballo, the top-ranked player in the portal, as well as top-15 guard transfers Myles Rice (Washington State) and Kanaan Carlyle (Stanford). Three starters also return: Malik Reneau, Mackenzie Mgbako and Trey Galloway. They added Illinois transfer Luke Goode to address their shooting woes, although another perimeter sniper with size could help.

Projected starting lineup

Myles Rice (14.8 PPG at Washington State)
Kanaan Carlyle (11.5 PPG at Stanford)
Mackenzie Mgbako (12.2 PPG)
Malik Reneau (15.4 PPG)
Oumar Ballo (14.2 PPG at Arizona)

19. Cincinnati Bearcats

Previous ranking: 25

Cincinnati has won 45 games in two seasons but has yet to reach the NCAA tournament in Wes Miller's three seasons at the helm. That should change in 2024-25. The Bearcats are bringing back six of their top eight scorers, signed a pair of ESPN 100 prospects and are welcoming three transfers. Bradley transfer Connor Hickman's shooting should help the team that ranked dead last in the Big 12 in 3s, while Texas transfer Dillon Mitchell brings versatility and two-way ability.

Projected starting lineup

Day Day Thomas (10.4 PPG)
Connor Hickman (14.5 PPG at Bradley)
Dan Skillings Jr. (12.9 PPG)
Dillon Mitchell (9.6 PPG at Texas)
Aziz Bandaogo (6.6 PPG)

20. Florida Gators

Previous ranking: 15

Florida struck gold in the portal last spring and reeled in three transfers this year. The Gators also have All-American candidate and one of the nation's top scorers in Walter Clayton Jr., and Will Richard is a double-figure scorer. Former Florida Atlantic star Alijah Martin will slot in seamlessly. Todd Golden should have plenty of frontcourt options too: Alex Condon and Thomas Haugh are back, while Sam Alexis (Chattanooga) and Rueben Chinyelu (Washington State) have arrived.

Projected starting lineup

Walter Clayton Jr. (17.6 PPG)
Alijah Martin (13.1 PPG at Florida Atlantic)
Will Richard (11.4 PPG)
Alex Condon (7.7 PPG)
Reuben Chinyelu (4.7 PPG at Washington State)

21. UCLA Bruins

Previous ranking: 17

Mick Cronin's worst season in 15 years is unlikely to be repeated. Especially because the Bruins have already landed five transfers -- at least two could start right off the bat, with USC's Kobe Johnson providing two-way ability and Oregon State's Tyler Bilodeau an inside-outside threat. That's on top of three returning starters, each of whom averaged double-figures in scoring last season. McDonald's All-American point guard Trent Perry is also entering the fold. How all the pieces fit might be the biggest question at this point.

Projected starting lineup

Dylan Andrews (12.9 PPG)
Sebastian Mack (12.1 PPG)
Kobe Johnson (10.9 PPG at USC)
Lazar Stefanovic (11.5 PPG)
Tyler Bilodeau (14.3 PPG at Oregon State)

22. Ole Miss Rebels

Previous ranking: Unranked

Matthew Murrell's decision to withdraw from the NBA draft and return to Oxford for another season gives Chris Beard one of the most talented and experienced rotations in the SEC. Three starters are back from this past season, and the Rebels went out and landed five transfers who averaged double-figures last season, including high-major guards Dre Davis (Seton Hall) and Sean Pedulla (Virginia Tech). The key could be whether Ole Miss can defend like vintage Beard teams - and not like it did last season.

Projected starting lineup

Sean Pedulla (16.4 PPG at Virginia Tech)
Matthew Murrell (16.2 PPG)
Dre Davis (15.0 PPG at Seton Hall)
Jaemyn Brakefield (12.9 PPG)
Malik Dia (16.9 PPG at Belmont)

23. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Previous ranking: Unranked

In Grant McCasland's first year in Lubbock, the Red Raiders won 23 games and earned a 6-seed in the NCAA tournament. And now they bring back four of their top seven scorers from that group and add four transfers - including Mountain West Freshman of the Year JT Toppin, a 6-foot-9 forward from New Mexico. With Elijah Hawkins (Minnesota) running the point and a long list of versatile wings, Tech will have plenty of firepower.

Projected starting lineup

Elijah Hawkins (9.5 PPG at Minnesota)
Chance McMillan (10.8 PPG)
Darrion Williams (11.4 PPG)
JT Toppin (12.4 PPG at New Mexico)
Federiko Federiko (4.7 PPG at Pitt)

24. Xavier Musketeers

Previous ranking: 23

This ranking could look low by the end of 2024-25. Sean Miller's team took a major step backward from his first year back with the Musketeers, but he overhauled the perimeter group and added plenty of shooting by way of transfers Ryan Conwell (Indiana State), Dante Maddox Jr. (Toledo) and Marcus Foster (Furman), as well as future depth in Cam'Ron Fletcher (Florida State) and Roddie Anderson III (Boise State). That's in addition to the return of Dayvion McKnight. Up front, can Zach Freemantle and Jerome Hunter come back healthy? Miller is now better prepared if they take time to ramp up, with the additions of John Hugley IV (Oklahoma) and Lassina Traore (Long Beach State).

Projected starting lineup

Dayvion McKnight (12.4 PPG)
Dante Maddox Jr. (15.6 PPG at Toledo)
Ryan Conwell (16.6 PPG at Indiana State)
Jerome Hunter (7.8 PPG in 2022-23)
Zach Freemantle (15.2 PPG in 2022-23)

Julian Reese grabs the rebound for a slam dunk

Julian Reese grabs the rebound off the backboard and slams in a dunk.

25. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Previous ranking: 23

Rutgers will have two of the top-six players in ESPN's 2025 mock draft in Airious "Ace" Bailey and Dylan Harper, the Nos. 2 and 3 players in the ESPN 100, respectively. The two arrivals should have a transformative impact on the team next season - but Steve Pikiell went out and surrounded his two potential stars with veteran scorers. The return of Jeremiah Williams is a boost and he landed three transfers - Tyson Acuff, Zach Martini, Jordan Derkack -- from the portal.

Projected starting lineup

Dylan Harper (No. 4 in ESPN 100)
Jeremiah Williams (12.2 PPG)
Jordan Derkack (17.0 PPG at Merrimack)
Ace Bailey (No. 2 in ESPN 100)
Zach Martini (8.4 PPG at Princeton)

Dropped out: Texas Longhorns (No. 21), Ohio State Buckeyes (No. 22), Maryland Terrapins (No. 24)

Next in line:

Texas Longhorns
Maryland Terrapins
Ohio State Buckeyes
Kentucky Wildcats
Oregon Ducks