Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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College basketball rankings: Arkansas rises in Top 25 And 1 as John Calipari continues to add transfers

DJ Wagner is the latest addition to Calipari’s first roster as coach of the Razorbacks

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Keytron Jordan, CBS Sports

DJ Wagner committed to Arkansas late Sunday, making the 6-foot-4 guard the eighth player to join John Calipari’s program since the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame coach was hired last month. It’s been a roster-building exercise that’s equal parts impressive and unsurprising, one that has the Razorbacks up to No. 16 in Version 26 of the 2024-25 CBS Sports preseason Top 25 And 1 college basketball rankings.

Kansas remains No. 1.

Wagner averaged 9.9 points, 3.3 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 25.8 minutes per game this past season for a Kentucky team that secured a No. 3 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament before losing to Oakland in the opening round. Less than three weeks after that disappointing upset, Calipari left UK for Arkansas in part to escape the negativity that had overwhelmed his program for a variety of reasons; he hadn’t advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament since 2019, hadn’t been to the Final Four since 2015 and was stuck on just one national championship in 15 years at Kentucky even though his teams were talented enough on paper to hang banners nearly every season.

Simply put, Calipari always had high expectations at UK but underperformed often, especially lately. So, if you’re skeptical that what he’s building at Arkansas will match the hype, hey, I hear you. But this eight-player class has convinced me that the Razorbacks belong in the top 20 of the Top 25 And 1.

Here’s a possible starting lineup:

G: Boogie Fland
G: DJ Wagner
G: Johnell Davis
F: Adou Thiero
C: Jonas Aidoo

In Wagner, Davis and Aidoo, Arkansas has three players who combined to start 98 games this past season for NCAA Tournament teams at Kentucky (Wagner), FAU (Davis) and Tennessee (Aidoo). Thiero just averaged 21.3 minutes per game at Kentucky. Fland is a five-star prospect in the Class of 2024, who is the 19th-best incoming freshman in the country, according to 247Sports’ Composite rankings.

That’s a nice first five.

Kentucky transfer Zvonimir Ivisic, along with heralded freshmen Karter Knox and Billy Richmond, currently project as reserves for Arkansas. At this point, it’s unlikely that Calipari will fill every available scholarship in Year 1. But what he’s already done should be enough to make Arkansas among the favorites in the SEC heading into the season.

Top 25 And 1 rankings

Biggest Movers

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Teams

 

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1

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Kansas

This ranking is based on Bill Self’s Jayhawks returning three of the top six scorers – specifically Hunter Dickinson, KJ Adams and Dajuan Harris – from a team that secured a No. 4 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The additions of AJ Storr (Wisconsin), Rylan Griffen (Alabama) and Zeke Mayo (South Dakota State) from the transfer portal, plus two top-50 high school prospects, will give Kansas the type of depth it lacked during this past season that was derailed by Kevin McCullar’s lack of availability. 23-11
2

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Houston

This ranking is based on Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars returning eight of the top 10 scorers – everybody besides Jamal Shead and Damian Dunn – from a team that won the Big 12 by two games and earned a No. 1 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. A backcourt of LJ Cryer, Emanuel Sharp and Oklahoma transfer Milos Uzan should make the Cougars among the favorites in the Big 12. 32-5
3

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N. Carolina

This ranking is based on Hubert Davis’ Tar Heels returning five of the top eight scorers – specifically RJ Davis, Elliot Cadeau, Seth Trimble, Jae’Lyn Withers and Jalen Washington – from a team that won the ACC regular-season title and secured a No. 1 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. UNC is also adding a top-10 recruiting class, highlighted by five-star prospects Ian Jackson and Drake Powell — plus Belmont transfer Cade Tyson and Vanderbilt transfer Ven-Allen Lubin. That should give the program a chance to make a 22nd appearance in the Final Four. 29-8
4

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UConn

This ranking is based on Dan Hurley’s Huskies returning five of the top nine scorers – specifically Alex Karaban, Hassan Diarra, Samson Johnson, Solomon Ball and Jaylin Stewart – from a team that won the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Transfers Aidan Mahaney (Saint Mary’s) and Tarris Reed (Michigan), plus five-star freshman Liam McNeely, are among the newcomers expected to keep UConn in contention for a third straight national championship. 37-3
5

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Iowa St.

This ranking is based on TJ Otzelberger’s Cyclones returning the top four scorers from a team that won 29 games and earned a No. 2 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Both Tamin Lipsey and Keshon Gilbert could compete for Big 12 Player of the Year honors and position Iowa State to maybe make what would be the program’s first trip to the Final Four since 1944. 29-8
6

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Baylor

This ranking is based on Scott Drew’s Bears returning three of the top seven scorers – specifically Langston Love, Jayden Nunn and Josh Ojianwuna – from a team that secured a No. 3 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The addition of a top-10 recruiting class headlined by Duke transfer Jeremy Roach, Miami transfer Norchad Omier, Cal transfer Jalen Celestine and five-star wing VJ Edgecombe should help offset the departures and have Baylor in a sixth straight NCAA Tournament. 24-11
7

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Gonzaga

This ranking is based on Mark Few’s Zags returning every rotation piece besides Anton Watson from a team that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Graham Ike should be the preseason WCC Player of the Year and the main reason Gonzaga makes the NCAA Tournament next March for the 26th straight time. 27-8
8

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Duke

This ranking is based on Jon Scheyer’s Blue Devils returning two of the top six scorers — specifically Caleb Foster and Tyrese Proctor — from a team that secured a No. 4 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Duke also has the sport’s top-ranked recruiting class headlined by Syracuse transfer Maliq Brown, Purdue transfer Mason Gillis, Tulane transfer Sion James and five-star phenom Cooper Flagg, the last of whom is the consensus No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2024 and projected No. 1 pick of the 2025 NBA Draft. 27-9
9

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Alabama

This ranking is based on Nate Oats’ Crimson Tide returning two of the top five scorers — specifically Grant Nelson and Latrell Wrightsell — from a team that advanced to the 2024 Final Four. The addition of top-35 freshmen Derrion Reed and Labaron Philon – plus transfers Clifford Omoruyi (Rutgers), Houston Mallette (Pepperdine), Chris Youngblood (USF) and Aden Holloway (Auburn) – should keep Alabama in the national conversation even if Mark Sears remains in the 2024 NBA Draft, which is the current projection here. 25-12
10

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Auburn

This ranking is based on Bruce Pearl’s Tigers returning three of the top five scorers – specifically Johni Broome, Chad Baker-Mazara and Denver Jones – from a team that secured a No. 4 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The addition of five-star freshman Tahaad Pettiford and Furman transfer JP Pegues should have Auburn in contention to maybe make a second Final Four. 27-8
11

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Texas A&M

This ranking is based on Buzz Williams’ Aggies returning four of the top five scorers – everybody except Tyrece Radford – from a team that advanced to the second round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Wade Taylor could enter the season as the favorite to win SEC Player of the Year for the second straight season, and the addition of SMU transfer Zhuric Phelps should have Texas A&M in a third straight NCAA Tournament. 21-15
12

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Purdue

This ranking is based on Matt Painter’s Boilermakers returning five of the top eight scorers – specifically Braden Smith, Fletcher Loyer, Trey Kaufman-Renn, Myles Colvin and Camden Heide – from a team that won the Big Ten regular-season title and advanced to the championship game of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The Boilermakers have finished in the top 25 at KenPom.com nine straight years, and there’s no reason to think that streak won’t continue next season even without two-time National Player of the Year Zach Edey. 34-5
13

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Arizona

This ranking is based on Tommy Lloyd’s Wildcats returning four of the top eight scorers — specifically Caleb Love, Jaden Bradley, KJ Lewis and Motiejus Krivas — from a team that won the Pac-12 regular-season title and secured a No. 2 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Arizona’s top-five recruiting class headlined by Oakland transfer Trey Townsend, Tennessee transfer Tobe Awaka, Campbell transfer Anthony Dell’Orso and top-40 high school prospects Joson Sanon, Carter Bryant and Jarari Phillips should help make the program’s transition to the Big 12 go relatively smoothly. 27-9
14

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Tennessee

This ranking is based on Rick Barnes’ Volunteers returning two of the top five scorers — specifically Zakai Zeigler and Jordan Gainey — from a team that won the SEC regular-season title and secured a No. 2 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The departures of Dalton Knecht, Jonas Aidoo and Josiah-Jordan James are huge, but Tennessee should still easily make the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year thanks in part to the additions of North Florida transfer Chaz Lanier, Hofstra transfer Darlinstone Dubar, Ohio State transfer Felix Okpara and Charlotte transfer Igor Milicic Jr. 27-9
15

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Ohio St.

This ranking is based on Jake Diebler’s Buckeyes returning two of the top seven scorers – specifically Bruce Thornton and Devin Royal – from a team that missed the NCAA Tournament but closed with an 8-3 record after Diebler replaced Chris Holtmann in February. The additions of South Carolina transfer Meechie Johnson, Kentucky transfer Aaron Bradshaw, San Diego State transfer Micah Parrish and Duke transfer Sean Stewart should help Ohio State be relevant again in Diebler’s first full season. 22-14
16

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Arkansas

This ranking is based on John Calipari’s Razorbacks returning zero players from a team that finished 16-17 under Eric Musselman. Arkansas is still building but already done enough to crack the top 20 of these rankings by securing commitments from transfers Johnell Davis (FAU), DJ Wagner (Kentucky), Jonas Aidoo (Tennessee), Adou Thiero (Kentucky) and Zvonimir Ivisic (Kentucky), and heralded freshmen Boogie Fland, Karter Knox and Billy Richmond. 7 16-17
17

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Marquette

This ranking is based on Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles returning every rotation player besides Tyler Kolek and Oso Ighodaro from a team that secured a No. 2 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Kam Jones’ announcement that he’ll return means Marquette will have a fourth-year guard who just averaged 17.2 points per game to build around. 1 27-10
18

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Indiana

This ranking is based on Mike Woodson’s Hoosiers returning three of the top four scorers — specifically Malik Reneau, Mackenzie Mgbako and Trey Galloway — from a team that finished tied for sixth in the Big Ten. The additions of Myles Rice (Washington State), Oumar Ballo (Arizona), Kanaan Carlyle (Stanford) and Luke Goode (Illinois) from the transfer portal means Indiana is adding four experienced pieces, three of whom just spent a season starting in the Pac-12. 1 19-14
19

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UCLA

This ranking is based on Mick Cronin’s Bruins returning four of the top five scorers – everybody except Adem Bona – from a team that finished fifth in the Pac-12. The additions of Skyy Clark (Louisville), Kobe Johnson (USC), Dominick Harris (Loyola Marymount), Eric Dailey Jr. (Oklahoma State), Tyler Bilodeau (Oregon State) and William Kyle III (South Dakota State) from the transfer portal, and top-35 point guard Trent Perry from the Class of 2024, suggests UCLA should have a nice bounceback season. 1 16-17
20

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Creighton

This ranking is based on Greg McDermott’s Bluejays returning three of the top six scorers – Ryan Kalkbrenner, Steven Ashworth and Mason Miller — from a team that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The addition of Arizona State transfer Jamiya Neal and Texas Tech transfer Pop Isaacs provides two experienced double-digit scorers to help offset the losses of Baylor Scheierman and Trey Alexander. 1 25-10
21

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Florida

This ranking is based on Todd Golden’s Gators returning six of the top nine scorers – everybody besides Zyon Pullin, Tyrese Samuel and Riley Kugel – from a team that secured a No. 7 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The transfer-portal additions of Alijah Martin (FAU) and Sam Alexis (Chattanooga) give Florida a pair of productive mid-major pieces, the former of whom helped Florida Atlantic make the 2023 Final Four. 1 24-12
22

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Texas

This ranking is based on Rodney Terry’s Longhorns returning two of the top six scorers – specifically Kadin Shedrick and Chendall Weaver – from a team that secured a No. 7 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. A top-25 recruiting class headlined by five-star guard Tre Johnson, Arkansas transfer Tramon Mark and Oregon State transfer Jordan Pope should be enough to get Texas to what would be a fifth straight NCAA Tournament. 1 21-13
23

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Rutgers

This ranking is based on Steve Pikiell’s Scarlet Knights only returning one double-digit scorer (Jeremiah Williams) from a team that finished below .500. But the enrollment of five-star prospects Ace Bailey and Dylan Harper — plus NEC Player of the Year Jordan Derkack and Eastern Michigan transfer Tyson Acuff — will give Rutgers enough talent to start the season with a number beside its name. 1 15-17
24

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Xavier

This ranking is based on Sean Miller’s Musketeers returning three of the top seven scorers – specifically Dayvion McKnight, Trey Green and Dailyn Swain – from a team that finished tied for eighth in the Big East. The return of Zach Freemantle and Jerome Hunter from injuries, plus the enrollment of transfers Dante Maddox (Toledo), Ryan Conwell (Indiana State), John Hugley (Oklahoma), Marcus Foster (Furman) and Cam Fletcher (Florida State) should have Xavier in contention to improve as much as anybody from one season to the next. 16-18
25

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Cincinnati

This ranking is based on Wes Miller’s Bearcats returning five of the top seven scorers — specifically Dan Skillings Jr., Simas Lukosius, Day Day Thomas, Jizzle James and Aziz Bandaogo — from a team that finished 39th at KenPom.com. That’s the type of roster-retention, when combined with the addition of multiple impactful transfers, most notably former five-star recruit Dillon Mitchell, that should have Cincinnati back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019. 22-15
26

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Providence

This ranking is based on Kim English’s Friars four of the top seven scorers — specifically Bryce Hopkins, Jaden Pierre, Corey Floyd and Rich Barron — from a team that finished tied for sixth in the Big East. Bensley Joseph (Miami), Jabri Abdur-Rahim (Georgia), Christ Essandoko (Saint Joseph’s) and Wesley Cardet Jr. (Chicago State) are three incoming transfers who project as likely starters at Providence. 21-14

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