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Duke slides from No. 3 to 8; Arizona still preseason No. 1


June 20
With the early entries for the NBA draft now set, it's time to revise my preseason 2002-03 Dazzling Dozen (to compare, check out my previous Dazzling Dozen).

Duke slides from No. 3 to No. 8 due to Michael Dunleavy Jr.'s decision to stay in the draft. Arizona remains at No. 1. Coach Lute Olson is happy to have maestro man Jason Gardner coming back for his senior season. Here's a look at my new preseason Dazzling Dozen:

1. Arizona
The Wildcats have veterans galore, and that experience will be a plus. Arizona has inside-outside talent and the complete package. Luke Walton and Gardner provide a dynamite 1-2 punch. Rick Anderson is also slated to return. Star recruit Hassan Adams should have an immediate impact.

2. Kansas
The Jayhawks lose Drew Gooden's inside power and Jeff Boschee's jump shot, but big man Nick Collison and point guard Kirk Hinrich are back. Williams still has a team that can win it all. Aaron Miles, Wayne Simien and Keith Langford will be even better as super sophs.

3. Oklahoma
Coach Kelvin Sampson's club will reload. This unit has great defensive ability and intense rebounding skills. Returning stars Hollis Price and Ebi Ere, plus a solid recruiting class, make this team dangerous.

4. Kentucky
The Wildcats will bounce back with the potential return of Jason Parker to provide low-post power. Kentucky really missed that last season. Having guard Keith Bogans back for a final season is a definite plus. Look for him to have a big senior campaign.

5. Pittsburgh
Coach Ben Howland is smiling, as his Panthers return all five starters. With Brandin Knight at the controls, it should be a big year for Pittsburgh.

6. Florida
The news of Brett Nelson's return had to put a smile on coach Billy Donovan's face. The Gators have a solid recruiting class coming in, so Florida will contend again in the SEC.

7. Texas
The Longhorns have a talented orchestra leader in T.J. Ford, who should be even better as a super soph. Coach Rick Barnes has a talented cast returning in addition to Ford.

8. Duke
It's bye-bye for Dunleavy, Jay Williams and Carlos Boozer, but don't write off the Dukies yet. It's hello to Shavlik Randolph and a host of diaper dandies. Remember, the return of Chris Duhon, Dahntay Jones and Daniel Ewing gives Duke a wealth of winning experience.

9. Connecticut
Obviously, losing Caron Butler is tough, but the Huskies still have a lot of talent. Coach Jim Calhoun welcomes back super sophs Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon. The Huskies should be a top-flight contender in the Big East.

10. Georgia
Coach Jim Harrick welcomes Jarvis Hayes back to the lineup, and he'll key a talented and tough Bulldogs squad.

11. UCLA
Coach Steve Lavin is expecting Jason Kapono's return. The Bruins had a young nucleus step up late last season, and more positives will be expected from the likes of Dijon Thompson next season.

12. Alabama
The Tide faded late last season. Remember, this club won the SEC West regular-season title. Maurice Williams should be even stronger as a sophomore. Erwin Dudley was an underrated force on the interior. I can't wait to see Alabama and Ohio State battle in the Tip-Off Classic in Springfield -- that's an interesting early test.

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