College Basketball Insider: Early Top 10 includes Tech!

Everything changes when the deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft arrives. This time a year ago, North Carolina went from being a program in transition to the prohibitive favorite to win the 2009 NCAA title — which it did — when Tywon Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green chose to stay in school. Here’s how the doings (and undoings) shook out this time:

1. Kentucky: The Wildcats lost Jodie Meeks of Norcross to the draft but kept Patrick Patterson, the best big man in the SEC. And they again have a real coach in John Calipari, who promptly delivered recruits John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.

2. Kansas: The Jayhawks would’ve been preseason No. 1 if not for Kentucky’s flurry. Sherron Collins, who helped undo Calipari and Memphis in the 2008 NCAA final, is back, as is post player Cole Aldrich. Xavier Henry spurned UK for KU.

3. Michigan State: The Final Four won’t be in Michigan next year — it’ll be in Indianapolis, which is essentially the same thing — but the Spartans could well be make a return trip. Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan are big-time players.

4. North Carolina: Yep, these guys again. Four starters are gone, but the Heels return the inside tandem of Deon Thompson and the burgeoning Ed Davis. Marcus Ginyard missed last season with an injury. And the recruits are again stellar.

5. Villanova: The Wildcats got a boost when Scottie Reynolds, whose runner sent Villanova to the Final Four, withdrew from the draft. Add a consensus top five recruiting class and this becomes the new bellwether program in the Big East.

6. Purdue: If seasoning and continuity count for anything, the Boilermakers will make their biggest run since Glenn (Big Dog) Robinson was on campus. All starters return, including Robbie Hummel, who was slowed by injury, and JaJuan Johnson.

7. Mississippi State: The shot-blocker Jarvis Varnardo withdrew from the draft, meaning the Bulldogs won’t need an SEC tournament run to make the NCAA in 2010. The name to watch: Renardo Sidney, who spurned Southern Cal and ignited an inquiry.

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8. Duke: Still chasing Carolina in the ACC, the Blue Devils might actually have nosed ahead next season if Gerald Henderson had stayed. But he didn’t. So now these are the same old Dookies of Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith.

9. Texas: It’s about time for Rick Barnes to win a national championship, wouldn’t you say? He had another terrific recruiting class in place — Avery Bradley and Jordan Hamilton are the big names — and then Damion James pulled out of the draft.

10. Georgia Tech: Yep, it’s a mighty long way from 2-14 in the ACC to the Top 10, but Derrick Favors and Mfon Udofia and the other freshmen are that good. And Gani Lawal’s decision to remain at the Institute was a massive and unexpected bonus.

The next wave: 11. Butler 12. Maryland 13. Dayton 14. Washington 15. Notre Dame 16. Minnesota 17. Cal 18. Michigan 19. UConn 20. Syracuse 21. Tennessee 22. BYU 23. Clemson 24. Ole Miss 25. Northern Iowa.

Part of the package: Here’s a little something I’ve written about Paul Hewitt looking ahead to next season. Click at your own risk.

93 comments Add your comment

J-MAN

June 19th, 2009
2:54 pm

J-MAN

June 19th, 2009
2:57 pm

You got another column up wow please start covering my Falcons so I don’t have to wait every 2 weeks to find something out about ,my team. My dark horse Arizonia State and UCONN should be in the top 10 and UCLA should be in top 25

Tim

June 19th, 2009
3:07 pm

Let me get this straight. You have UK #1 for really no reason. Patterson? Really? Cole Aldrich, Jeff Withey, Morris Twins, and Thomas Robinson. Yes, Aldrich alone would undress Cousins, who is LAZY, and the twins and Robinson would more than hold their own on Patterson.

UK has Wall now. Great job. KU has the best PG in college basketball in Sherron Collins. Proven, champ, and a wealth of experience (WHICH KENTUCKY HAS NONE!!!!)

Xavier Henry is now a piece to a great team. Not going to be relied on, but will be an additional piece. Will be wide open all day with Cole on the inside and Collins driving in the lane.

Taylor, who just made the under 19 national team, was a surprise stud as a freshman and is even better now. Kansas is literally at least 2 deep at every position and in some cases, 3 deep.

This is no contest at all. UK has freshmen, no experience, and a coach that has a bad name and got undressed in the title game by a better coach is Self.

But yep, your logic is great here.

BravesFan79

June 19th, 2009
3:24 pm

Id actually put tech 6th, in a tie with a good Purdue team. Ive been telling EVERYONE wed be a top 10 team again in 2009 because i saw we had the lead on Favors 2 years ago by checking up on scout.com GT is back baby!!

kyle

June 19th, 2009
3:32 pm

I hope Hewitt can deliver! It shouldn’t be hard with Favors AND Lawal in the post. Expect Moe Miller to have a breakout year with so many options. Shumpert needs to be more consistant with the trey.

Aubrey

June 19th, 2009
3:37 pm

Tech has good recruiting class and some good holdovers but has same old coach. Given that it makes a top ten in the ACC possible but not overall. Paul has a great contract and can recruit but has biven no recent evidence that he can teach or game plan. To bad David Braine failed to use his in giving that rediculous rolling contract.

Bob in SF

June 19th, 2009
3:41 pm

I’m a Tech fan but I just don’t see how Hewitt and Tech’s severe lack of imagination on offense makes them better than anything but middle of the pack in the ACC before his super recruits go one-and-done.

BravesFan79

June 19th, 2009
3:47 pm

I expect Millers 3 point shooting % to go up without him having the mask on. This year will be all about our guard play (lets hope Shumperts matured and Ufoia is ready).

To really reach our potential tho, Hewitt MUST bring in a top name Assistant…. someone with EXPERIENCE that could be a head coach at another school. Keener would be great. Or maybe he can recruit a old retired coach to come in here, like a Lefty Drisel or a Bob Knight. Can yall imagine that… the recruiting of Hewitt, the teaching/coaching of Knight!!

Hey…. Money talks… make it happen AD. After all, that would be cheaper than buying out Hewitt!

luap

June 19th, 2009
3:52 pm

What planet do you live on? Renardo Sidney what to go to UCLA. UCLA dropped him and then USC dropped him, too.

Larry Morris

June 19th, 2009
3:52 pm

Are we talking the Jacket’s men’s team or women’s team?

I really can’t tell them apart because they both have a lot of facial hair

Dannyboy

June 19th, 2009
3:52 pm

GaTech in 2009/2010…Top 10 TALENT definitely…as for the coaching, chemistry, and teamwork…we shall see…

CatFanDo

June 19th, 2009
3:53 pm

As a UK fan, I’d like to argue with Tim, but I can’t. The Cats have a ton of raw talent, which is a big improvement over the late Tubby/BCG years, but raw talent alone isn’t enough. (If it was, Tubby’s recruiting class of 2004 would have won a couple of national titles.)

UK probably is a Top 10 program for the first time in a while, but ranking them as a pre-season number 1 is a pretty big reach. I’m not even sure we’re the number 1 team in the SEC headed into the 2009-10 season. Mississippi State will have something to say about that, and they have experience and an established team chemistry on their side.

Saint Simons

June 19th, 2009
3:54 pm

I wish I could still have a one and done.

Mac

June 19th, 2009
3:55 pm

Yeah, preseason top-10. Finish there? No way. Great roster, bad coach.

The Real Fan

June 19th, 2009
4:00 pm

What no Georgia?
Go Tech!

Matt

June 19th, 2009
4:01 pm

Mark, it’s so nice to see Minnesota in a preseason ranking for change.

What a departure from the gloomy Monson era. Tubby for Governor.

Gophers have a solid core and excellent freshman class coming in the fall.

PaulHewittisaGreatCoach

June 19th, 2009
4:09 pm

Do you morons not realize that Hewitt is still the coach? Middle tier ACC team at best. Give me a break!

PittJacket / Jacket 'burgh

June 19th, 2009
4:09 pm

This’ll be coach Hewitt’s year to prove what he can do with talent. They certainly could be a top 10 team . . . And Pitt’s not a Top 25 team?

pensacola dawg

June 19th, 2009
4:14 pm

NCCA rules violation to folloe!!!!Desparate people do desperate things

Guys, please don't tell my mom I'm blogging and not studying for my Tech exam; she won't cut the crust off my sandwich

June 19th, 2009
4:21 pm

I love blogging and caculators and being ranked in baseketball. im awesome.

RAMBLE ON!!!

June 19th, 2009
4:29 pm

We’ll fall faster than a UGAg football team ranked #1 in preseason.

…well maybe not that fast, but pretty fast.

Mr C.

June 19th, 2009
4:29 pm

2 columns in 3.5 hrs. Great job Mark!!! This is Paul Hewitt’s yr. Have a great year or get fired. Please Paul, find a good assistant that can coach up the kids. No excuses this yr.

BravesFan79

June 19th, 2009
4:31 pm

As a GT and UGA fan (ugas 2nd tho) i gotta say you football fans making comments on here are stupid. Let us know when college football becomes a REAL sport! Because with no playoffs its more of a dog and pony show where everyone prances around rather than fight it out like real men do in REAL sports!
The only REAL football played in America is the NFL… go Falcons! And go Vikings (if they get Farve)

BravesFan79

June 19th, 2009
4:40 pm

btw… i do like college football… its a shame its the biggest sham in the history of sports. With the real loosers being the fans and players. I feel like the Joe Hamilton led teams could of competed for a national title in a football playoff system, just like i felt like the David Pollock/ David Greene/ DJ Shockley teams could of beaten anyone!
But well never know… because COLLEGE FOOTBALL BLOWS! Boycott the BCS!

RAMBLE ON!!!

June 19th, 2009
4:40 pm

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know already BravesFan79. College football is not a real sport, whatever.

Being Phewitt’s greatest defender (excuse maker), what will it take for him to keep his job, outside of the obvious 7million other reasons David Brainless gave us?

Herschel Talker

June 19th, 2009
4:47 pm

UGA will go further in the NCAA tourney than Tech.

BravesFan79

June 19th, 2009
4:52 pm

Yea Ramble ive argued with u many times about GT Hoops. I have stood up for Paul, but only because i recognize what a great recruiter he is.
If he actually puts that together with hiring good solid assistants instead of hiring guys that look like they should be working the drive thru at Sonic….. then well reach our potential.

In other words…… no more young black (or any other color for that matter) assistants!

We need at least one older white man with MORE experience than Hewitt! Common Paul, we all know you wanna support the BCA by hiring/teaching young blacks how to coach, but don’t you wanna WIN also!??

Like i said before, we need a Keener, Lefty, or Bob Knight type to reach our potential. Then again, ive been saying this for years……. lets hope Hewitt gets the point that things need to change from a coaching standpoint, and swallows his pride and gets some real help in here!

dawes

June 19th, 2009
4:53 pm

mark georgia tech will not be in the top 15 alone top 10

Paul Underwood

June 19th, 2009
4:54 pm

OK, GO BIG BLUE!
Time to reap some tall bluegrass this season!!

john

June 19th, 2009
5:02 pm

The Vols will be better than #21. Only 1 freshman and all returning letterman. Somewhere around 10-15 is more realistic. Also, no way Jackets are 10th

Mark Bradley

June 19th, 2009
5:33 pm

I do stand corrected. Renardo Sidney had committed to Southern Cal, not UCLA. Here’s a Pat Forde column from ESPN.com about the whole strange affair.

Mark Bradley

June 19th, 2009
5:40 pm

Patrick Patterson: Really good player. John Wall: Probably the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft. John Calipari: Massive upgrade over Billy Gillspie. The UK recruiting class: Ranked No. 1 in the nation. So I’m thinking maybe I do have a sliver of a reason for putting that team at the top.

Also this: The last time Kentucky hired a real coach, he won the national championship in Year 1. Just saying.

RedGA Dawg

June 19th, 2009
5:41 pm

Top 10 talent and bottom 10 coach means another subpar year on North Ave for the Bees. Too expensive to fire and not good enough to get ‘er done when lucky enough to have tons of talent. Best chance ever next year, all will be gone after last tournament loss. Pickem 5th in ACC and maybe one win big tourney. It will be interesting to watch his skill at making a team out of group of super stars, at least in thier won minds. I wish Tech the best they deserve better than they have received the last several years. If Hewitt could get as much out of avaialable talent as Johnson then they could be in the NCAA net cutting group, but that is not the case.

UGA_2001

June 19th, 2009
5:45 pm

Don’t worry, Hewitt will mess it up.

That guy should be selling used cars somewhere. It is simply astounding that so many top recruits want to play for that flake.

ROLLTIDE23

June 19th, 2009
5:47 pm

Hewitt coaches basketball like Bobby Cox coaches baseball. Hewitt’s slow tempo style will not advance. Besides that, majority of Tech players will be inelgible by January.

[...] of the package: Here’s my preseason Top 25. Tech is included … [...]

Willy

June 19th, 2009
5:59 pm

It seems some of you guys forgot Hewitt has led GT to a championship before….he can do it again.

Bradley UK still has NO shooters.

ricky barnes | Latest Information

June 19th, 2009
6:48 pm

[...] 1. Kentucky: The Wildcats lost Jodie Meeks of Norcross to the draft but kept Patrick Patterson, the best big man in the SEC. And they again have a real coach in John Calipari, who promptly deliRead more at http://blogs.ajc.com/mark-bradley-blog/2009/06/19/college-basketball-insider-early-top-10-includes-t... [...]

TechDan

June 19th, 2009
6:53 pm

“It seems some of you guys forgot Hewitt has led GT to a championship game before….he can do it again.”

Fixed.

Mike

June 19th, 2009
7:22 pm

Mark, you are clueless on what you are writing. You corrected yourself on Sidney, and you still didn’t get it right. Sidney is a Mississippi St. commitment, and his eligibility is still up in the air. As is the eligibility of John Wall and Demarcus Cousins. Aside from that, your reasoning for ranking Kentucky first is terrible. You use the exact opposite reasoning (experience) when ranking other teams. Take the glasses off. Kentucky 1 (one) starter who has seen any post-season action. Calipari, aside from having all of this academic scandel stuff floating around, he was clearly out-coached by Bill Self. Going further, the Kentucky savior didn’t win anything until most of the conference left for the Big East, meaning all the competition. Looking even closer, the last 5 years of Calipari at Memphis saw a 24-25 record against the RPI top-50. What does that mean? Figure it out.

Paul

June 19th, 2009
8:04 pm

Tim, I agree we shouldn’t be number 1. However, Patterson’s nuts won’t be able to be held by anybody this year. He has pretty much dominated everyone who has guarded him. If it wasn’t for the constant double and triple teams he has to face his numbers would be a lot better. I would take John Wall over any pg in the nation. Senior, Junior, Sophmore.

Go Tech

June 19th, 2009
8:06 pm

We still have Hewitt as coach, so look for about middle of ACC.

Techman

June 19th, 2009
8:08 pm

As long as Hewitt and Hall are coaches at GT, dont look for much play in Championships. GT will get there, but then with Hewitt and Hall come the “big” chokes

OldTimer

June 19th, 2009
8:12 pm

No chance for Tech.

JimC

June 19th, 2009
8:16 pm

It’s way past time for Hewitt to move on from Tech. He’s a cancer that just gets worse and worse. Tenth in the country? Tech will be lucky to finish 10th in the ACC under his brilliant coaching.

JimC

June 19th, 2009
8:20 pm

If Favors comes through, Tech might make it into March Madness, but don’t expect much. And who cares? Favors is one year and out, he’s not a team-builder. Hewitt is just desperate to have one winning season to get the boo-birds off his back.

bill

June 19th, 2009
8:26 pm

ku sucks and they have no players and no way in hell collinas is number one morris twins suck and kansas is gay i live in kansas and uk will beat them down like every other time 18 and 4 aganist ku i think so nice try tim but thwy suck balls

moose

June 19th, 2009
8:41 pm

Haha cole aldrich and the morris twins would get posterized against Orton, Patterson, and Cousins. Collins is not, no way the best point guard in college ball, sorry to bust your bubble. John Wall would run circles around him and leave his ankles weak, so would bledsoe. Miller is on the U19 team, and would hold his own against henry.. I still put Michigan State ahead of KU.

Catseatjayhawks4lunch

June 19th, 2009
8:48 pm

Hey Tim,
The only way Aldrich will undress Cousins this season is with his eyes! You say Cousins is lazy and the season hasn`t even started yet. Don`t you worry about Cousins, Coach Cal will have him ready along with the rest of our #1 ranked team in the nation.
I hope and pray that UK gets to meet your Jayhawks in the tourney! Then we`ll see who is talking trash after the game when the Wildcats dismantle the Jayhawks. You say Sherron Collins is the best pg in the country? Yeah right! Kansas does not have anyone that can keep up with John Wall period! And Kansas doesn`t have anyone who can hold their own with PPat, you are dreaming. And Bledsoe is better than Collins also!
Add Orton and Miller and Hood along with the other great players we have coming back and look out! Coach Self has done a great job at Kansas but I think you are a little overconfident to be downing Coach Cal and our Wildcats the way you are.
Wait until March and we will see who has the best team.
Coach Cal said we will probably get off to a slow start because of starting so many freshman that have to learn the dribble drive motion offense but we will be ready by March and tourney time. It gonna be a lot of fun watching the Wildcats take their rightful place back on top again! GO BIG BLUE!!!!

4UK

June 19th, 2009
9:01 pm

Tim stop your whining! UK is the best team in the country whether you like it or not!
Oh and Self barely beat Calipari in that championship game! Memphis should have won that game but Kansas got lucky. It was a right down to the wire game and you make it sound like KU just ran away with it. Moron!