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Newsday’s college hoops preseason top 10

Marvin Bagley III headlines a talented freshman class

Marvin Bagley III headlines a talented freshman class at Duke. Credit: AP / Gregory Payan

1. Duke: The Blue Devils will go as far as their incredibly talented and deep freshmen class will take them. Marvin Bagley III, a 6-11 forward, is the headliner of the class. Duke also got a boost from the return of senior guard Grayson Allen.

2.Arizona: The Wildcats have three of their top four scorers back from last season’s Sweet 16 team — Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins and Dusan Ristic. Five-star recruit DeAndre Ayton, a 7-1 center, should have an immediate impact.

3.Michigan State: Miles Bridges, who averaged 16.9 points as a freshman last season, opted to stay in school. The Spartans also return key sophomores Josh Langford and Nick Ward. Freshman Jaren Jackson Jr., a 6-11 forward, is one to watch.

4.Kansas: The Jayhawks return guards Devonte Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, which helps to soften the losses of Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson. Kansas also welcomes top recruits Billy Preston, a 6-11 forward, and Marcus Garrett, a point guard.

5.North Carolina: The defending national champion Tar Heels return Joel Berry II, who averaged 14.7 points last season, Theo Pinson and Kenny Williams. Roy Williams also brings in a top 20 recruiting class, with point guard Jalek Felton as an expected contributor this season.

6.Kentucky: John Calipari has done it again. The Wildcats bring in what is considered to be the nation’s top recruiting class, loaded with five-star players. Forward Kevin Knox was one of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school.

7.Florida: The Gators return some key veterans from last season’s Elite Eight team, including guards KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza. Florida will also have guard Jalen Hudson, a transfer from Virginia Tech, eligible this season and expected to play a key role.

8.USC: The talented Trojans return their top eight scorers from last season’s team that won two NCAA Tournament games. Bennie Boatweight withdrew from the NBA draft in April, giving USC a big boost. Prize recruit Charles O’Bannon Jr. will add to an already deep roster.

9.Villanova: Jalen Brunson averaged 14.7 points last season and has been picked as the Big East’s preseason player of the year. Mikal Bridges is also back. But keep an eye on redshirt freshman forward Omari Spellman, who could be a difference-maker.

10.Wichita State: The Shockers return their top eight scorers from last season’s 31-5 team, which lost to Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Wichita State will also play its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

New York Sports