UPDATED 2012-2013 college basketball preseason top 25

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Here is an updated on my preseason Top 25 for the 2012-2013 college basketball.  With transfers, the decisions of some previously undeclared top high school recruits, and players declaring their intentions to return to school or leave for the NBA Draft, there has been a lot of movement since I released my original rankings the day after the National Championship game.  (Click here for a list of NBA Draft early entries.) Leave a comment below if you think a team is too high, too low, not getting enough respect, or if you notice an error in a projected roster.  (Click here for my way too early preseason rankings from last season.)

1. INDIANA HOOSIERS
With Cody Zeller and Christian Watford coming back, Tom Crean returns all five starters from his 27-win, Sweet 16 team.  IU also brings in one of the top recruiting classes in the country led by McDonald’s All-American point guard, Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell.  The x-factor could be Maurice Creek.  If he can stay healthy and return to his freshman year form, the Hoosiers are my pick to cut down the nets a year from now.  Click here for more on the Hoosiers possible return to prominence.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Cody Zeller (So)/Peter Jurkin (Fr)
F: Christian Watford (Sr)/Derek Elston (Sr)/Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Fr)
G/F: Victor Oladipo (Jr)/Will Sheehey (Jr)/Jeremy Hollowell (Fr)/Austin Etherington (So)
SG: Maurice Creek (Jr)/Remy Abell (So)/Ron Patterson (Fr)
PG: Jordan Hulls (Sr)/Yogi Ferrell (Fr)

Gone: G-Verdell Jones III, F/C-Tom Pritchard, SG-Matt Roth, PG-Daniel Moore

2. KENTUCKY WILDCATS
UK’s five underclassmen starters officially declared for the draft but the cupboard is never empty for John Calipari.  Getting a late commitment from Nerlens Noel, the top recruit in the 2012 class according to many, was absolutely huge for the Wildcats.  McDonald’s All-Americans Anthony Bennett and Amille Jefferson are still considering Kentucky.  Getting either or both of them to join Big Blue Nation would give them some much needed depth.  Still, the ‘Cats will once again be starting five future NBA players and a force to be reckoned with on the national level.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Nerlens Noel (Fr)/Willie Cauley (Fr)
PF: Kyle Wiltjer (So)
SF: Alex Poythress (Fr)
SG: Archie Goodwin (Fr)/Jon Hood (Jr)
PG: Ryan Harrow (So)/Twany Beckham (Sr)/Jarrod Polson (Jr)

Gone: C-Anthony Davis, SF-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, PF-Terrence Jones, PG-Marquis Teague, G/F-Darius Miller, SG-Doron Lamb, C-Eloy Vargas

3. LOUISVILLE CARDINALS
With as well as Louisville played in the final stretch of the season, they will carry some terrific momentum into next year.  The core of a steadily improving Gorgui Dieng, Chane Behanan, and floor general Peyton Siva will lead the Cards next year.  Russ Smith and Wayne Blackshear should step into the starting line-up for graduating seniors Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith.  George Mason transfer Ryan Hancock becomes eligible and sharpshooter Mike Marra returns from season-ending injury as well.  Louisville will always be a solid defensive team and with all the weapons they have for next year, should be much more efficient on the offense as well.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Gorgui Dieng (Jr)/Stephan Van Treese (Sr)/Zach Price (So)
F: Chane Behanan (So)/Ryan Hancock (Jr)/Rakeem Buckles (Sr-out for season, torn ACL)
G/F: Wayne Blackshear (So)/Angel Nunez (So)
SG: Russell Smith (Jr)/Mike Marra (Jr)
PG: Peyton Siva (Sr)/Kevin Ware (So)/Elisha Justice (Jr)/Terry Rozier (Fr)

Gone: G/F-Kyle Kuric, SG-Chris Smith, F-Jared Swopshire (transfer-Northwestern)

4. KANSAS JAYHAWKS
After the outstanding coaching job Bill Self did this past season, count me in the “never underestimate Kansas” group.  Replacing Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor won’t be easy.  Elijah Johnson will have to emerge as the team’s go-to scorer while sophomore point guard Naadir Tharpe takes over as the floor general.  Perry Ellis should be an impact freshman and KU also gets Ben McLemore and Jamari Taylor on the floor after both guys sat out this past season due to eligibility issues.  Self will have a lot of new faces in much larger roles, but that was the case this season and things turned out pretty well, huh?

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Jeff Withey (Sr)/Landen Lucas (Fr)
F: Perry Ellis (Fr)/Kevin Young (Sr)/Justin Wesley (Jr)/Jamari Taylor (Fr)/Zach Peters (Fr)
G/F: Travis Releford (Sr)/Andrew White (Fr)/
SG: Elijah Johnson (Sr)/Ben McLemore (Fr)/Anrio Adams (Fr)
PG: Naadir Tharpe (So)

Gone: PF-Thomas Robinson, PG-Tyshawn Taylor, SG-Conner Teahan, SG-Merv Lindsay (transfer)

5. MISSOURI TIGERS
Mizzou moves into the top five in our update due to the addition of UConn transfer Alex Oriakhi who will provide the Tigers with that verteran, physical presence in the middle that they were missing.  Add in three other impact transfers in Earnest Ross, Keion Bell, and Jabari Brown along with the return of Laurence Bowers from injury; and the Tigers shouldn’t miss much of a beat next season.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Alex Oriakhi (Sr)/Tony Criswell (Jr)/Quantel Denson (Jr)Ryan Rosburg (Fr)/Eric Moeller (Fr)
F: Laurence Bowers (Sr)/Stefan Jankovic (Fr)
G/F: Earnest Ross (Jr)/Negus Webster-Chan (Fr)
G: Michael Dixon (Sr)/Keion Bell (Sr)/Dominique Bull (Fr)
PG: Phil Pressey (Jr)/Jabari Brown (So)

Gone: SG-Marcus Denmon, G/F-Kim English, PF-Ricardo Ratliffe, SG-Matt Pressey, C-Steve Moore, PF-Kadeem Green (transfer-Ohio)

6. UCLA BRUINS
Our biggest mover; UCLA went from being an honorable mention to a top ten team thanks to Shabbaz Muhammad and Tony Parker choosing to play for the Bruins.  Muhammad, Parker, and Kyle Anderson give Ben Howland two game-changing freshmen to go along with a solid returning core of juniors.  Another freshman, Jordan Adams and UNC transfer Larry Drew should give UCLA quality depth and help them return to the national stage for a positive reason.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Joshua Smith (Jr)/Anthony Stover (Jr)
PF: David Wear (Jr)/Travis Wear (Jr)
G/F: Shabazz Muhammad (Fr)/Jordan Adams (Fr)
SG: Tyler Lamb (Jr)/Norman Powell (So)/Khalid McCaskill (Fr)
PG: Kyle Anderson (Fr)/Larry Drew (Jr)

Gone: PG-Lazeric Jones, G-Jerime Anderson, PF-Reeves Nelson, PF-Brendan Lane (transfer-Pepperdine), SF-De’End Parker (transfer-San Francisco)

7. N.C. STATE WOLFPACK
Mark Gottfried received good news with C.J. Leslie deciding to come back for his junior season rather than bolting for the NBA.  However, the Pack frontcourt still took a hit with key reserve DeShawn Painter transferring closer to home.  Still, N.C. State returns four starters and also welcomes in three McDonald’s All-Americans; T.J. Warren, Rodney Purvis, and Tyler Lewis.  There is no reason to believe they can’t compete for the ACC crown.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Richard Howell (Sr)/Jordan Vandenberg (Sr)
PF: C.J. Leslie (Jr)/Tyler Harris (So)/Thomas de Thaey (So)
G/F: Scott Wood (Sr)/T.J. Warren (Fr)
SG: Rodney Purvis (Fr)/
PG: Lorenzo Brown (Jr)/Tyler Lewis (Fr)

Gone: PG-Alex Johnson, G/F-C.J. Williams, F/C-Deshawn Painter (transfer-Old Dominion), SG-Jaqawn Raymond (transfer)

8. FLORIDA GATORS
As expected, Bradley Beal left for the NBA so Billy Donovan loses two starters but everybody else will be back for the Gators.  Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather, and Mike Rosario will step into bigger roles on the perimeter joining this past season’s leading scorer, Kenny Boynton.  Backcourt depth will once again be a strength as Florida brings in three talented freshmen guards who are all capable of contributing right away.  The frontcourt has an inside presence (Young), a stretch four (Murphy), and an energetic role player (Yegeuette.)

Projected Depth Chart
C: Patric Young (Jr)/Cody Larson (So)
PF: Erik Murphy (Sr)/Will Yeguette (Jr)/
G/F: Casey Prather (Jr)/Michael Frazier (Fr)
SG: Kenny Boynton (Sr)/Mike Rosario (Sr)/Dillon Graham (Fr)
PG: Scottie Wilbekin (Jr)/Braxton Ogbueze (Fr)

Gone: PG-Erving Walker, SG-Bradley Beal, F/C-Walter Pitchford (transfer)

9. SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS
Consider the Aztecs one of my sleepers for next season.  They return their four-headed backcourt including talented scorer, Jamaal Franklin.  Transfer forwards J.J O’Brien and Dwayne Polee will add more size, athleticism, and versatility to the frontcourt along with do-it-all freshman Winston Shepard.  With all that talent, San Diego State should be the cream of the non-power six conference crop.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Deshawn Stephens (Sr)/Alec Williams (Sr)/Skylar Spencer (Fr)/James Johnson (So)
F: J.J. O’Brien (So)/Dwayne Polee (So)/Winston Shepard (Fr)
G/F: Jamaal Franklin (Jr)/Matt Shrigley (Fr)
SG: Chase Tapley (Sr)/James Rahon (Sr)
PG: Xavier Thames (Jr)/LaBradford Franklin (Jr)

Gone: F/C-Garrett Green, F/C-Tim Shelton

10. DUKE BLUE DEVILS
The Blue Devils take a tad bit of a hit with Andre Dawkins rumored to possibly be redshirting next season and losing Michael Gbinije to transfer.  That means redshirt freshman Alex Murphy and McDonald’s All-American Rasheed Sulaimon will have to be immediate impact players since Coach K. also lost Austin Rivers to the NBA Draft.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Mason Plumlee (Sr)/Marshall Plumlee (Fr)
PF: Ryan Kelly (Sr)/Josh Hairston (Jr)
SF: Alex Murphy (Fr)
SG: Seth Curry (Sr)/Rasheed Sulaimon (Fr)/Andre Dawkins (Sr)
PG: Quinn Cook (So)/Tyler Thornton (Jr)

Gone: G-Austin Rivers, C-Miles Plumlee, G/F-Michael Gbinije (transfer)

11. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES
The Wolverines lose their two invaluable, hard-working leaders in Zach Novak and Stu Douglas as well as three players who decided to transfer.  Still, with Trey Burke deciding to return to Ann Arbor, he and Tim Hardaway Jr. should make Michigan a Big Ten Title contender.  Jon Beilein will have more size and depth inside with Jordan Morgan, highly-touted freshman Mitch McGary, and the return of Jon Horford who missed most of last season with a foot injury.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Mitch McGary (Fr)/Jon Horford (So)/Blake McLimans (Sr)
PF: Jordan Morgan (Jr)/Max Bielfeldt (Fr)
SF: Eso Akunne (Sr)/Glenn Robinson (Fr)/Nick Stauskas (Fr)
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Jr)/Matt Vogrich (Sr)
PG: Trey Burke (So)

Gone: G-Stu Douglas, G/F-Zach Novak, F-Evan Smotrycz (transfer-Maryland), PF-Colton Christian (transfer), SG-Carlton Brundidge (transfer)

12. NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS
As expected, UNC is losing four of their starters with underclassmen Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Kendall Marshall turning pro.  Roy Williams received good news though when James McAdoo chose to return.  Combined McAdoo with Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston, and Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald who both will return from season-ending injuries; there will not be a shortage of talent on Tobacco Road.  I have two major questions/concerns though.  How will McDonald’s All-American point guard Marcus Paige do in taking over at the point for Marshall?  With so much inexperience up-front, will they have any sort of inside presence?

Projected Depth Chart
C: Desmond Hubert (So)/Joel James (Fr)
PF: James McAdoo (So)/Jackson Simmons (So)/Brice Johnson (Fr)
G/F: Reggie Bullock (Jr)/P.J. Hairston (So)/J.P. Tokoto (Fr)
SG: Dexter Strickland (Sr)/Leslie McDonald (Jr)
PG: Marcus Paige (Fr)

Gone: SF-Harrison Barnes, C-Tyler Zeller, PF-John Henson, PG-Kendall Marshall, F-Justin Watts

13. SYRACUSE ORANGE
Dion Waiters and Fab Melo left early for the NBA meaning ‘Cuse loses four key contributors from this past season.  A lot of the load will rest on the shoulders of Brandon Triche and C.J. Fair with talented, but seldom-used Michael Carter-Williams expected to take over at point guard.  Rakeem Christmas will need to be more of an impact player in the paint with the big body of DeJuan Coleman adding more size inside.  Jim Boeheim won’t have depth like he did this past season but there is plenty of length and athleticism to cause a whole lot of problems with their always effective 2-3 zone.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Baye Moussa Keita (Jr)/DaJuan Coleman (Fr)
PF: Rakeem Christmas (So)/James Southerland (Sr)
SF: C.J. Fair (Jr)/Jerami Grant (Fr)
SG: Brandon Triche (Sr)/Trevor Cooney (Fr)
PG: Michael Carter-Williams (So)

Gone: G-Dion Waiters, SF-Kris Joseph, PG-Scoop Jardine, C-Fab Melo, G/F-Mookie Jones (transfer)

14. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
It will take a team effort to replace everything that Draymond Green brought to the floor for Sparty but if any coach knows how to maximize ability and get a team to jell, it’s Tom Izzo.  Keith Appling will have to emerge as the team’s go-to scorer with in-coming freshman Gary Harris adding to a young, but talented group of wing players.  MSU will have a bruising, physical frontcourt with Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix, assuming Nix remains on the roster after a recent off-the-court arrest.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Derrick Nix (Sr)/Alex Gauna (So)
PF: Adreian Payne (Jr)/Kanny Kaminski (Fr)/Matt Costello (Fr)
SF: Branden Dawson (So)/Russell Byrd (So)/Denzel Valentine (Fr)
SG: Gary Harris (Fr)/Brandan Kearney (So)
PG: Keith Appling (Jr)/Travis Trice (So)

Gone: PF-Draymond Green, SG-Brandon Wood, SF-Austin Thornton

15. BAYLOR BEARS
The return of Quincy Miller solidifies the Bears as a preseason Top 25 team.  They will lose Perry Jones and Quincy Acy inside but welcome in McDonald’s All-American Isaiah Austin, talented freshman Ricardo Gathers, and J’mison Morgan who redshirted this past season.  The backcourt will look the same led by the ultra-speedy and fearless Pierre Jackson.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Isaiah Austin (Fr)/J’mison Morgan (Sr)
PF: Cory Jefferson (Sr)/Ricardo Gathers (Fr)/Chad Rykhoek (Fr)
SF: Quincy Miller (So)/Deuce Bello (So)
SG: Brady Heslip (Jr)/Gary Franklin (Jr)
PG: Pierre Jackson (Sr)/A.J. Walton (Sr)/L.J. Rose (Fr)

Gone: F-Perry Jones III, F/C-Quincy Acy, F-Anthony Jones, F-Fred Ellis

CLICK HERE FOR TEAMS #16-#25 AND HONORABLE MENTIONS

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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