We are in a new era.
College basketball is back to being older, wiser and more experienced again. Credit NIL, the transfer portal, the COVID-19 extra eligibility year, and some common sense on the NBA Draft early entry process.
The draft deadline was May 31. And for the second straight season, the consensus National Player of the Year winner is back. After the 2022-23 season, Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe returned upon winning all of the player of the year awards. Now, Purdue’s Zach Edey decided to do the same for the 2023-24 season.
A shocking first round exit may not have been the deciding factor in either decision, but it did weigh on each. Tshiebwe and Kentucky lost to Saint Peter’s in a No. 2 vs. No. 15 game in the first round of the 2022 NCAA tournament. Edey and Purdue became the second team ever to lose as a No. 1 to a No. 16 when the Boilermakers lost to Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round in March.
The transfer portal isn’t completely settled yet. There are also some grad transfers who can still find a new home. Still, as of June 1, we finally have a better idea on some of the rosters. So, it’s time for our latest Power 36 for the 2023-24 season.
- Kansas: The Jayhawks have a chance to win the national title for the second time in three seasons. The big catch was getting Michigan center Hunter Dickinson. The return of Kevin McCullar, Dajuan Harris and KJ Adams gives Bill Self enough to make another run.
- Duke: The Blue Devils bring back their top four scorers Kyle Filipowski, Jeremy Roach, Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell. They also added one of the best freshmen classes in the country. Jon Scheyer has another year as a head coach and is ready to challenge for a title.
- Michigan State: The Spartans bring back essentially every key piece except for Joey Hauser. Jaden Akins, A.J. Hoggard, Tyson Walker and Malik Hall give Michigan State a loaded lineup. Freshmen Xavier Booker and Jeremy Fears will have an immediate impact.
- Purdue: The Boilermakers bring back the national consensus player of the year in Zach Edey. While all but one of the top seven scorers is returning, the Boilermakers still need to figure out how to deal with quicker guards. That was the reason Purdue lost in stunning fashion to FDU. The pieces are in place for Purdue to avenge the loss — just like Virginia did in 2019 after losing to 16 seed UMBC in 2018.
- Marquette: The Golden Eagles won the Big East behind conference player of the year and tournament MVP Tyler Kolek. He leads an experienced team back for another run at a Big East title.
- Florida Atlantic: The Owls will be the pick in their new conference — the American — after a Final Four run out of Conference USA. Back for Dusty May to lead the Owls are Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin. The core of this group knows how to win — big.
- Miami: The Hurricanes Canes made a Final Four run behind Nijel Pack. He’s returning for another chance. So, too, is Norchad Omier. The Canes also landed the 2022 ACC sixth man of the year in Florida State’s Matthew Cleveland.
- Gonzaga: The Zags will have a completely new look but with plenty of star power. Wyoming’s Graham Ike and Creighton’s Ryan Nembhard will be the inside-out combo. Veterans Anton Watson and Nolan Hickman are back as well. This roster isn’t complete yet but the team should be top-10 good.
- Creighton: The Bluejays lost their point guard to the Zags but get back their big man Ryan Kalkbrenner and their top wings in Trey Alexander and Baylor Scheierman. In addition, Utah State’s Steven Ashworth will join the mix. The Bluejays should be in the hunt for the Big East title again.
- UConn: The 2023 champs lost three key pieces in Jordan Hawkins, Adama Sanogo and Andre Jackson. But the roster is still Big East championship level with Donovan Clingan inside and Alex Karaban and Tristen Newton anchoring the perimeter. The full newcomer roster is still being flushed out.
- Texas: The Longhorns picked up one of the top scorers in the country in Oral Roberts’ Max Abmas. He’ll join Tyrese Hunter, Dylan Disu and Dillon Mitchell to give new full-time head coach Rodney Terry plenty of options for a top four Big 12 finish.
- USC: The Trojans get back scoring guard Boogie Ellis and a headline recruiting class led by the top player in Isaiah Collier and Bronny James. Kobe Johnson, a top defender, is back as well to give the Trojans a highly anticipated backcourt. If the frontcourt can be decent then the Trojans can and should win the Pac-12.
- Houston: The Cougars won’t have a difficult adjustment into the Big 12 with a loaded roster yet again. Jamal Shead leads five of the top eight scorers returning. Adding in Baylor transfer LJ Cryer and Kelvin Sampson has a Big 12 contending team.
- Arkansas: Devo Davis and Trevon Brazile lead the returnees while transfers Tramon Mark and Khalif Battle should shore up some holes for Eric Musselman’s crew. This is yet again an SEC title contender.
- San Diego State: The Aztecs can make another deep run in March after the decisions of Lamont Butler and Jaedon LeDee to return to San Diego. USC’s Reese Dixon-Waters will help immediately as well. This team will still retain its defensive identity under Brian Dutcher.
- Arizona: The Wildcats picked up North Carolina’s Caleb Love to join returnees Oumar Ballo and Pelle Larsson. The Wildcats won’t have the same offensive pop as a season ago but they will still be a Pac-12 contender.
- North Carolina: The Tar Heels have the talent — again — to make the NCAA tournament. But they’ve got to be a better team. The players are in place with RJ Davis and Armando Bacot anchoring a lineup that added Stanford’s Harrison Ingram as its star newcomer. Elliot Cadeau’s reclassification should mean the Tar Heels have depth, too.
- Kentucky: The Wildcats have the top recruiting class in the country led by Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw and DJ Wagner. But the lack of veterans will haunt this team and probably prevent the Wildcats from winning a title.
- Ohio State: The Buckeyes were one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten in the final weeks of the season. But the return of Zed Key, Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle and Felix Okpara as well as the addition of star shooting guard Jamison Battle from Minnesota and Evan Mahaffey from Penn State make the Buckeyes a Big Ten threat.
- Illinois: The Illini got their 1-2 star punch back in Terrence Shannon Jr. and Coleman Hawkins. Illinois still needs to shore up its perimeter but the experience has returned.
- Tennessee: The Vols will be in the mix again with a veteran crew back in Josiah-Jordan James, Santiago Vescovi and Zakai Zeigler.
- Maryland: The Terps brought back Jahmir Young and Donta Scott for one more run. Getting Indiana’s Jordan Geronimo is a key pickup. So, too, is a solid recruiting class.
- Texas A&M: The Aggies return nearly all of the core of their team and should be right in the middle of the SEC chase yet again. Buzz Williams has been able to find the right pieces to make the Aggies relevant again.
- Northwestern: The Wildcats will be in the Big Ten top-five chase again with the return of all-Big Ten guard Boo Buie. He joins rising Big Ten star Brooks Barnhizer, stable big man Matthew Nicholson and Princeton scoring guard Ryan Langborg.
- West Virginia: The Mountaineers did well in the portal getting two key pieces in Arizona’s Kerr Kriisa and Syracuse’s Jesse Edwards. Tre Mitchell is back and so is Joe Toussaint to give the Mountaineers a solid squad in the Big 12.
- Mississippi State: Tolu Smith is back for the Bulldogs and that means they will challenge for another NCAA tournament bid.
- Indiana: Xavier Johnson, Trey Galloway and Malik Reneau will join Kel’el Ware (Oregon) and incoming freshman Mackenzie Mgbako to give the Hoosiers a chance for another NCAA tournament run.
- Alabama: The Tide bring back Mark Sears and Jahvon Quinerly to anchor a rebuilt roster for Nate Oats.
- UCLA: Mick Cronin got Pac-12 freshman of the year Adem Bona back but will rely on a young roster to get the Bruins in the NCAA tournament.
- Providence: Kim English has plenty to work with in year one with the return of Devin Carter and Bryce Hopkins. This should be an NCAA tournament team.
- Wisconsin: The Badgers return their core five with Tyler Wahl, Chucky Hepburn, Connor Essegian, Steven Crowl and Max Klesmit.
- Villanova: Kyle Neptune did a fantastic job adding critical pieces in the portal with Maryland’s Hakim Hart and Washington State’s TJ Bamba to go with the return of Eric Dixon and Justin Moore.
- Auburn: Johni Broome and Jaylin Williams returned and that means the Tigers will be in the thick of the SEC chase.
- Colorado: A sleeper pick here with the return of Tristan da Silva and KJ Simpson for Tad Boyle’s crew.
- Pitt: The Panthers were the surprise of the ACC last season but should be relevant again with the return of Blake Hinson, Federiko Federiko as well as twins Guillermo Diaz Graham and Jorge Diaz Graham.
- Rutgers: Cliff Omoruyi’s decision to return puts the Scarlet Knights back into NCAA bid contention. Paul Mulcahy is expected back along with Mawot Mag, Aundre Hyatt and Derek Simpson as well as Steve Pikiell’s highest-rated recruiting class.
NCAA tournament-bound contenders as well: Baylor, Saint Mary’s, Iowa State, TCU, Virginia, Xavier, St. John’s, Oregon, Arizona State, Utah, Kansas State, Clemson, Dayton, Syracuse, Boise State, New Mexico, Memphis.
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