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


Rosters aren’t quite finalized yet, but if a couple of decisions go the right way, we could be headed toward one of the strongest preseason top-10s in recent memory.

Kansas has everything; Houston, Iowa State and Gonzaga return nearly everyone; Alabama and Baylor have reloaded; and Duke brings in the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class and the most talented player in the country. What would solidify the collective strength of the top 10: Alex Karaban (UConn) and Caleb Love (Arizona) returning to college and North Carolina landing a high-level big man.

On paper, there would be 10 teams with an argument to be in the preseason No. 1 discussion.

The next deadline to monitor is May 29, the last day for players who entered the NBA draft and kept their college eligibility to withdraw their names and return for another season.

Quick reminder on the primary ground rule for the rankings: Seniors who haven’t yet announced their fifth-year plans and any player ranked in the top 60 of ESPN’s 2024 NBA draft rankings are still considered departures, until they opt to return to school. This most impacts the rankings of UConn (Alex Karaban), Alabama (Mark Sears) and Arizona (Caleb Love).

With that out of the way, it’s time to check in on the latest Way-Too-Early rankings as we inch closer to the next stage of the offseason.

Last updated: May 13, 2024

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.

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)


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)


Previous ranking: 4

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 just 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)


Previous ranking: 5

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)


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0:43

Iowa State upsets Houston for Big 12 title

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

Previous ranking: 3

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)


Previous ranking: 6

Nate Oats spent the first part of the offseason overhauling the perimeter group. Aaron Estrada, Rylan Griffen — and perhaps Mark Sears — are out the door, while Aden Holloway (Auburn), Chris Youngblood (South Florida) and Houston Mallette (Pepperdine) have arrived. The past couple of weeks, however, he’s been focused on the frontcourt, first getting starting forward Grant Nelson back and then beating out North Carolina for Rutgers transfer Clifford Omoruyi.

Projected starting lineup

Aden Holloway (7.3 PPG at Auburn)
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)


Previous ranking: 7

Back-to-back-to-back? Don’t count out Dan Hurley, especially not after what he did on the recruiting trail since the last update. He landed top-10 high school prospect Liam McNeeley, one of the most gifted shot-makers in the class, then added Saint Mary’s transfer Aidan Mahaney, who should bring plenty of offensive firepower. The key moving forward will be the stay-or-go decision of forward Alex Karaban, who is testing the draft waters.

Projected starting lineup

Hassan Diarra (6.1 PPG)
Aidan Mahaney (13.9 PPG at Saint Mary’s)
Liam McNeeley (No. 9 in ESPN 100)
Jaylin Stewart (2.6 PPG)
Samson Johnson (5.4 PPG)


Previous ranking: 9

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 a 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.

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)


Previous ranking: 8

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 has clearly made getting a true 5-man a priority in the portal, and the Tar Heels are still in pursuit of reinforcements in that area after missing out on Omoruyi and others.

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)
Jalen Washington (3.9 PPG)


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 are testing the waters but would be better suited to a return to Tucson. Tommy Lloyd made a splash in the portal with the addition of Horizon League Player of the Year Trey Townsend, and Tennessee transfer Tobe Awaka provides some defensive solidity down low. Campbell transfer Anthony Dell’Orso is a high-level scorer who provides some insurance in case Love stays in the draft.

Projected starting lineup

Jaden Bradley (7.0 PPG)
KJ Lewis (6.1 PPG)
Anthony Dell’Orso (19.5 PPG at Campbell)
Trey Townsend (17.3 PPG at Oakland)
Motiejus Krivas (5.4 PPG)


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)


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0:19

Broome dimes Baker-Mazara for an Auburn slam

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

Previous ranking: 12

Auburn rose in our last update with the return of first-team All-SEC selection Johni Broome up front; he gives Bruce Pearl a legitimate preseason All-American candidate. Furman transfer JP Pegues should get the reins at the point guard spot, with Denver Jones and Chad Baker-Mazara next to him. Pearl could use a bit more up front, though. Chaney Johnson and Chris Moore both saw some starts last season, while Dylan Cardwell would provide a different dimension with his size. Pearl could use a big-time forward from the portal to pair with Broome up front.

Projected starting lineup

JP Pegues (18.4 PPG at Furman)
Denver Jones (9.1 PPG)
Chad Baker-Mazara (10.0 PPG)
Chaney Johnson (4.7 PPG)
Johni Broome (16.5 PPG)


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.

Projected starting lineup

Braden Smith (12.2 PPG)
Fletcher Loyer (10.6 PPG)
Camden Heide (3.4 PPG)
Trey Kaufman-Renn (6.4 PPG)
Caleb Furst (2.2 PPG)


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. 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)


Previous ranking: 15

Florida struck gold in the portal last spring and has already reeled in three transfers this year. The Gators also have All-American candidate, and one of the nation’s top scorers, Walter Clayton Jr. — if he decides to withdraw from the NBA draft — 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)


Previous ranking: 16

The 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)


Previous ranking: 19

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. How all the pieces fit might be the biggest question at this point. Cronin also just landed McDonald’s All-American point guard Trent Perry.

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)


Previous ranking: 17

Outside of Hunter Dickinson, arguably the biggest returnee in the past couple weeks is Ryan Kalkbrenner. One of the best interior defenders in college basketball, Kalkbrenner opted to play one more year under Greg McDermott. And given his offensive improvement, he will be an All-American candidate. The Bluejays also landed Texas Tech transfer Pop Isaacs, a third-team All-Big 12 performer. With Steven Ashworth likely coming back, this team should once again be elite offensively.

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)


Previous ranking: 25

John Calipari doesn’t have a full roster yet, but the seven-man squad he has currently is still talented enough to be in the top 20. 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. Five-star freshman Boogie Fland is a high-level playmaker in the backcourt and a pair of Kentucky transfers — Adou Thiero and Zvonimir Ivisic — could be poised for a breakout campaign.

Projected starting lineup

Boogie Fland (No. 14 in ESPN 100)
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)


Previous ranking: 18

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. Zakai Zeigler is one of the best point guards in the country, and Jordan Gainey, Jahmai Mashack and Hofstra transfer Darlinstone Dubar are plenty experienced on the perimeter. Barnes also addressed the frontcourt, adding Igor Milicic Jr. (Charlotte) and Felix Okpara (Ohio State).

Projected starting lineup

Zakai Zeigler (11.8 PPG)
Jahmai Mashack (4.5 PPG)
Darlinstone Dubar (17.8 PPG at Hofstra)
Igor Milicic Jr. (12.8 PPG at Charlotte)
Felix Okpara (6.6 PPG at Ohio State)


Previous ranking: 20

Texas is another school that has had a love-hate relationship with the transfer portal and offseason. Out the door went Tyrese Hunter and Dillon Mitchell, while top-50 recruit Cam Scott decommitted. Incoming are Tramon Mark (Arkansas), Jayson Kent (Indiana State), Julian Larry (Indiana State) and Jordan Pope (Oregon State). At least three could start. Rodney Terry also landed top-five prospect Tre Johnson, one of the elite scorers in the 2024 high school class. Whether Kadin Shedrick can play with some consistency will be key.

Projected starting lineup

Jordan Pope (17.6 PPG at Oregon State)
Tramon Mark (16.2 PPG at Arkansas)
Tre Johnson (No. 5 in ESPN 100)
Jayson Kent (13.5 PPG at Indiana State)
Kadin Shedrick (7.7 PPG)


Previous ranking: 21

Ohio State went 8-3 after Jake Diebler took over for Chris Holtmann and will hope some of that momentum carries over to 2024-25. The Buckeyes lost a lot to the portal but landed their fair share of transfers as well. Meechie Johnson (South Carolina), Micah Parrish (San Diego State), Aaron Bradshaw (Kentucky) and Sean Stewart (Duke) should all push for starting jobs, joining returning point guard Bruce Thornton. Bradshaw and Stewart, in particular, offer tremendous upside as former five-star recruits.

Projected starting lineup

Bruce Thornton (15.7 PPG)
Meechie Johnson (14.1 PPG at South Carolina)
Micah Parrish (9.3 PPG at San Diego State)
Sean Stewart (2.6 PPG at Duke)
Aaron Bradshaw (4.9 PPG at Kentucky)


Previous ranking: 22

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)


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0:17

Julian Reese grabs the rebound for a slam dunk

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

Previous ranking: 23

Another team that underachieved relative to preseason expectations last year, Kevin Willard will trot out a revamped starting group in November. Julian Reese is returning, and former top-50 recruit DeShawn Harris-Smith will be expected to improve. Then there’s the newcomers. Top-10 prospect Derik Queen could be the fulcrum of the offense, while Ja’Kobi Gillespie (Belmont), Selton Miguel (South Florida) and Rodney Rice (Virginia Tech) could push for starting jobs.

Projected starting lineup

Ja’Kobi Gillespie (17.2 PPG at Belmont)
DeShawn Harris-Smith (7.3 PPG)
Selton Miguel (14.7 PPG at South Florida)
Julian Reese (13.7 PPG)
Derik Queen (No. 8 in ESPN 100)


Previous ranking: 24

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 could change in 2024-25, as the Bearcats are bringing back five of their top seven scorers. Miller also welcomes a pair of ESPN 100 prospects and two transfers. The biggest impact could come from Bradley transfer guard Connor Hickman, whose shooting should help the team that ranked dead last in the Big 12 in 3s.

Projected starting lineup

Day Day Thomas (10.4 PPG)
Connor Hickman (14.5 PPG at Bradley)
Dan Skillings Jr. (12.9 PPG)
Simas Lukosius (11.8 PPG)
Aziz Bandaogo (6.6 PPG)

Dropped out: None

Next in line

Oregon Ducks
Providence Friars
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Saint Louis Billikens
McNeese Cowboys





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