Houston retains the No. 1 spot in our college basketball way-too-early Top 25 rankings for the 2022-23 season.
With the NBA Draft deadline in the rearview mirror, college basketball rosters are beginning to take shape around the country.
There was a flurry of notable draft decisions that went right down to the June 1 deadline, including Gonzaga’s Drew Timme announcing his return to the Bulldogs, potentially positioning Mark Few’s team with the preseason No. 1 spot in the AP ballot.
Let’s turn out attention to the third major edition of our way-too-early college basketball Top 25 rankings. As always, our rankings are a consensus of each of the Heat Check CBB staff writers. We will continue to update our Top 25 rankings throughout the offseason.
Without further ado, our college basketball way-too-early Top 25 rankings for the 2022-23 are below.
Rankings last updated on June 2, 2022.
Received votes: Michigan, Miami, Virginia, Florida, Saint Louis, Texas A&M, USC, Purdue, Notre Dame
25. Florida State Seminoles
The ’21-22 season was a disappointing one by Leonard Hamilton standards. Injuries, inexperience and constant rotation shuffling led to 12 unique starting lineups and also a dozen players averaging at least 10 minutes a night, many of whom missed several games. Caleb Mills is the leading returning scorer, seeing career-highs in scoring efficiency and a substantial bump in assist rate. Sophomores Matthew Cleveland still has room to grow but is a surefire breakout candidate with his natural abilities. Look out for transfers Darin Green (UCF) and Jaylan Gainey (Brown). Green is a tremendous 3-point sniper and Gainey is a 6-9, 220-pounder who made 70 percent of his shots last season and led the Ivy League in blocks two straight years.
24. Oregon Ducks
The last three times Dana Altman’s Oregon team missed the NCAA Tournament, the Ducks followed it up with a Sweet 16 appearance (2021, 2019 and 2013). The ’22-23 squad appears capable of doing the same with Will Richardson back on campus after flirting with the NBA. Oregon also has some notable newcomers in Jermaine Couisnard (12.0 ppg at South Carolina) and Keeshawn Barthelemy (11.1 ppg at Colorado) via the transfer portal as well as top-10 freshman Kel’el Ware. The Ducks should be much better offensively but the frontcourt needs to have defensive improvement.
23. UConn Huskies
Dan Hurley has completely retooled his backcourt this offseason with the transfer portal. Tristen Newton (East Carolina), Nahiem Alleyne (Virginia Tech) and Hassan Diarra (Texas A&M) are all capable shot-making guards who bring experience to the UConn lineup. Forward Andre Jackson seems to be on the cusp of breaking out alongside rim-protector Adama Sanogo. Jackson, a former top-50 recruit, became a factor on the defensive boards last season and is beginning to round out his offensive game.
22. Dayton Flyers
Dayton was the very first team left out of the 2022 NCAA Tournament field. Given the Flyers had the youngest roster in college basketball this past season, Dayton fans can expect to read plenty of articles this summer about the team’s breakout potential. Anthony Grant’s team nearly pulled out an at-large bid despite a 1-3 start that included losses to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay, finishing the year 23-8 and gaining over 80 spots in KenPom. The trio of lead distributor Malachi Smith, interior force DaRon Holmes and athletic forward Toumani Camara will be must-watch material.
21. Indiana Hoosiers
With Trayce Jackson-Davis returning for his senior season, Indiana is positioned to contend for a Big Ten title. The Hoosiers will have as much physicality, length and defensive intensity as any team in college basketball next season. The questions center around IU’s perimeter scoring and whether Xavier Johnson can effectively lead the offense for a full season, something he showed flashes of as the year progressed. Five-star combo guard Jalen Hood-Schifino should be a dynamic offensive threat.
20. Arizona Wildcats
Arizona had a breakout season under first-year head coach Tommy Lloyd and now looks to keep the momentum going in Year 2. Bennedict Mathurin and Christian Koloko are projected first-round draft choices while Dalen Terry also turned pro. The Wildcats remain heavily involved in the transfer market while they welcome in lengthy combo guard Adama Bal and fellow overseas products Filip Borovicanin and Henri Veesaar.
19. Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois’ stock has rebounded since losing Kofi Cockburn, Trent Frazier and Andre Curbelo. Like many other high-majors, the Illini have rebooted with a promising recruiting class (No. 7 nationally), key transfers (Terrence Shannon, Matthew Mayer and Dain Dainja) and some up-and-coming returners (RJ Melendez and Coleman Hawkins). With so much roster turnover, it could take some time before the Illini get up to speed. Assuming they find their footing, Brad Underwood‘s group should be able to carve out another top-3 finish in an otherwise weaker-than-usual Big Ten.
18. Villanova Wildcats
Thanks to Jay Wright‘s unexpected retirement, longtime assistant Kyle Neptune takes over following a year as Fordham’s head coach. As for the roster, the health of Justin Moore (torn Achilles) and Jordan Longino (torn meniscus) will go a long way in the team’s ‘22-23 outlook. Caleb Daniels and Brandon Slater both took advantage of extra eligibility years, Eric Dixon is back after starting 38 games, and five-star swingman Cam Whitmore enters. For the first time since 2015, the team’s starting point guard will be someone besides Collin Gillespie or Jalen Brunson. There are at least three viable candidates for the job, which will go a long way in determining how Neptune’s first season unfolds.
17. Tennessee Volunteers
As a top-5 seed, Tennessee has made the second weekend just once in four tries under Rick Barnes. But even with some notable departures, the Vols have a capable roster in place for ’22-23. Zakai Zeigler looks to build off an excellent freshman season and four players who started at least 20 games are also back, including Santiago Vescovi, Josiah-Jordan James, Uros Plavsic and Olivier Nkamhoua. The additions aren’t too shabby, either: Indiana State transfer Tyreke Key (17.2 ppg in ’21), 5-star small forward Julian Phillips and top-100 point guard BJ Edwards.
16. Texas Longhorns
Texas benefitted from starters Marcus Carr and Timmy Allen using their extra year of eligibility to return for another season. They were the team’s leading scorers last season and ensure that Chris Beard’s team has experience and shot creation to go along with five-stars Arterio Morris and Dillon Mitchell. The backcourt was bolstered with Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter — the Big 12 Rookie of the Year — and three-time All-WAC honoree Sir’Jabari Rice providing depth. Barring a significant frontcourt portal addition, the Longhorns will probably go as far as Christian Bishop and Dylan Disu can take them.
15. San Diego State Aztecs
San Diego State has enjoyed a tremendous offseason that seems to get better by the day. First, it was Matt Bradley and Adam Seiko using their extra years of eligibility. Then, Seattle U transfer Darrion Trammell announced he was returning to his home state before SDSU beat out Michigan State for Oakland transfer Micah Parrish. The final puzzle piece? Rim-protecting center Nathan Mensah exercising an extra season. Overall, the Aztecs have the makings of a breakout season thanks to two elite defensive playmakers in the backcourt, a shot creator in Bradley and a frontcourt that prides itself in the dirty work.
14. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech reached the Sweet 16 in Mark Adams‘ first season as head coach and looks to carry the momentum into Year 2. Kevin Obanor is back and will hope to shoot the triple like he did with Oral Roberts, hitting 33.6 percent of his 3s last season after a 46.3 percent clip in ’20-21. The rest of the starting five could be newcomers. De’Vion Harmon (Oregon) is back in the Big 12 as a former Oklahoma Sooner and he will team up with either 3-point specialist D’maurian Williams (Gardner-Webb) or reclassified 5-star recruit Elijah Fisher in the backcourt. Jaylon Tyson is a former top-30 recruit who played just 55 minutes with rival Texas last season before leaving the program. Fardaws Aimaq, formerly of Utah Valley, averaged 14.2 rebounds per game over the past two seasons and is rounding out his offensive game.
13. TCU Horned Frogs
Jamie Dixon continues to bring his alma mater to new heights. TCU is fresh off its first NCAA Tournament victory since 1987 and returns all of its top six players. While the Horned Frogs could desperately use some perimeter help (321st in 3-point shooting percentage), the overwhelming physicality (1st in offensive rebounding rate) of the roster isn’t going anywhere.
12. Alabama Crimson Tide
The 2021-22 campaign didn’t go the way Nate Oats had hoped, but the talent level in Tuscaloosa is still palpable. The nation’s No. 3 class enters, highlighted by a pair of five-stars in small forward Brandon Miller and guard Jaden Bradley. The returning frontcourt duo of Noah Gurley and Charles Bediako will also be aided by St. Bonaventure transfer Dominick Welch, top-60 recruit Noah Clowney and JUCO transfer Nick Pringle. Keep an eye on former Texas Tech guard Nimari Burnett, a top-30 2020 product who struggled with the Red Raiders but could shine once he’s fully healthy. Ohio transfer Mark Sears could also make for one of the offseason’s top additions. He will be called upon early with Jahvon Quinerly reportedly likely to miss the start of next season due to a torn ACL.
11. Auburn Tigers
Auburn was at one point the No. 1 team in the country this past season before a March flameout, finishing the year just 6-5 after a 22-1 start. Bruce Pearl and the Tigers turn the page with hopes of defending their SEC title, and most of the team’s contributors besides Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler are expected to return. Newcomers Yohan Traore (five-star recruit) and Johni Broome (Morehead State transfer) immediately replace the Smith/Kessler duo to keep Auburn humming along as an SEC contender. If the backcourt can be a bit more steady, the Tigers will once again be a Final Four threat.
10. UCLA Bruins
Even with Johnny Juzang, Jules Bernard and Peyton Watson off to the pros, UCLA has one of the highest ceilings in the country for ’22-23. Juzang’s Final Four running mate Jaime Jaquez is back once again as well as two-time Pac-12 first-teamer Tyger Campbell. Junior Jaylen Clark is already an all-league defender on the wing and will see a bigger role due to Bernard’s departure. Meanwhile, Mick Cronin brought in a top-10 recruiting class that includes 5-stars Amari Bailey in the backcourt and Adem Bona down low. The Bruins check all of the boxes of tournament experience, returning upside and incoming talent.
9. Arkansas Razorbacks
It took no time for Eric Musselman to leave his impact in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks reached the Elite Eight for the second year in a row, the first time the program had accomplished the feat since 1994-95. The 2022-23 season could be even better. Musselman welcomes the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, including three of the seven highest-rated commits in program history in Nick Smith, Jordan Walsh and Anthony Black. The key will be down low where the Mitchell brothers from Rhode Island and Arizona State transfer Jalen Graham will look to make an impact after Jaylin Williams turned pro.
8. Creighton Bluejays
Creighton was one of the pleasant surprises of the ‘21-22 season, finishing fourth in the Big East and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament behind an inexperienced and hobbled roster. Newly extended head coach Greg McDermott has an awesome core back in Omaha in guards Ryan Nembhard and Trey Alexander and frontcourt starters Arthur Kaluma and Ryan Kalkbrenner. The Bluejays found an elite scorer in the portal in South Dakota State transfer Baylor Scheierman, locking Creighton as preseason Big East favorites.
7. Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky looks to avenge the Saint Peter’s upset loss with another talented group that features a mix of productive transfers, five-star freshmen and the first returning Naismith winner since Tyler Hansbrough. Oscar Tshiebwe and Sahvir Wheeler are the lone returning starters and they will be joined by a tremendous off-ball scorer in Illinois transfer Antonio Reeves and a pair of 5-stars on the wings in Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston. Don’t forget about Iowa transfer CJ Fredrick, a lifetime 46.6-percent shooter from downtown who missed all of last season with a leg injury.
6. Duke Blue Devils
It’s a new era in Durham. Jon Scheyer officially succeeds Mike Krzyzewski as the Duke men’s basketball head coach. The Blue Devils have plenty of talent to work with in Year 1 of the Scheyer regime, headlined by the nation’s top recruiting class that has a quartet of 5-stars in big men Dereck Lively and Kyle Filipowski, swingmen Dariq Whitehead and Mark Mitchell and recently reclassified guard Tyrese Proctor. Junior point guard Jeremy Roach could be the most important player in America next season after finishing the year on a tear.
5. Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas has had a busy offseason since winning the national title. Big 12 Third-Team honoree Jalen Wilson announced his return to campus, spurning the NBA for another season. He is expected to be joined by three newcomers in the Jayhawk lineup in 5-star recruit Gradey Dick, Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCullar and top-30 prospect Ernest Udeh. Kansas has plenty of depth to work with as well in former top-100 recruits Zach Clemence, KJ Adams and Bobby Pettiford. The young frontcourt will need to grow up quickly if Kansas wants to return to the Final Four.
4. Baylor Bears
The departures are substantial (James Akinjo, Jeremy Sochan, Kendall Brown, Matthew Mayer), but Scott Drew’s Baylor squad is capable of a deep tournament run once again in 2023. Keyonte George has lottery-pick potential in the backcourt and he will team up with sharpshooting vet Adam Flagler and the promising LJ Cryer. Frontcourt depth will be pivotal, though. Transfers Jalen Bridges (West Virginia) and Caleb Lohner (BYU) join returning starter Flo Thamba. Consistent production from this trio will determine Baylor’s ceiling.
3. Gonzaga Bulldogs
No team has had as fruitful of an offseason as Gonzaga. The trio of Rasir Bolton, Julian Strawther and Drew Timme all returned to campus while the Bulldogs added SoCon Player of the Year Malachi Smith via the transfer portal as well as LSU transfer Efton Reid. Gonzaga has an embarrassment of riches, especially now that top-25 recruits Nolan Hickman and Hunter Sallis will get more playing time as sophomores. Mark Few has a number of lineup variations he could roll with to start the season. The Bulldogs could have the nation’s best offense for the fourth time in five seasons.
2. North Carolina Tar Heels
Minus Brady Manek, second-year head coach Hubert Davis will bring back the core of its national runner-up roster, including studs Caleb Love, Armando Bacot, RJ Davis and Leaky Black. Few teams, if any, will match the level of returning talent this season. The biggest question will be the power forward position, which could belong to Puff Johnson or an incoming transfer. Three top-80 recruits are on the way, highlighted by guard Seth Trimble, who could be the future of the UNC backcourt.
1. Houston Cougars
The 2021-22 season should serve as a reminder that we should never doubt Kelvin Sampson. The Cougars returned just 23 percent of their minutes from the 2021 Final Four team, then lost stars Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark to season-ending injuries, and proceeded to have one of the program’s best seasons since the Hakeem Olajuwon days. This time around, Houston projects to have another deep rotation while adding top-10 recruit Jarace Walker, the highest-rated in UH history. With Sasser pulling his name from the draft, the Cougars will be on the shortlist of 2023 national title contenders.