The 2017-18 season presents the most intriguing collection of talent the sport has enjoyed in recent years.
The freshman class features multiple projected top-five picks in next summer's NBA draft, players presumed to make the most of their lone seasons at the collegiate level. But the stage is not theirs alone.
Michigan State sophomore Miles Bridges, the preseason leader for the Wooden Award, turned down millions to return for another shot at a national title. And veterans such as USC's Bennie Boatwright, Arizona's Allonzo Trier, Notre Dame's Bonzie Colson and Kansas' Devonte' Graham all came back to chase a ring, too.
But who is the best?
To determine this, ESPN formed a panel of writers, reporters, analysts and Insiders to rank the top 50. To compile CBBRank, we collaborated with Microsoft Research and The Wharton School, and polled a variety of ESPN experts who voted in thousands of head-to-head matchups. After five days of voting, we have our results.
Player breakdowns by Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway, Jeff Goodman, Myron Medcalf and Dan Murphy.
1. Miles Bridges, Michigan State Spartans
The sophomore returned to chase Big Ten and national titles after a freshman season few players in the country could match (16.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 38.9 percent from the 3-point line). When Bridges left the floor, Michigan State's success rate from beyond the arc dropped to 34.8 percent, compared with its overall 38.8 percent clip with him on the court, per HoopLens.com.
2. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin Badgers
One of only two returning All-Americans from last season, Happ was one of the most efficient players in the country. Now with Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes gone, Happ's numbers should go even higher.
3. Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The preseason ACC player of the year enters his senior campaign as the featured scorer for yet another highly efficient Mike Brey offense. Few if any players nationally under 6-foot-6 have more of an impact on both offense and defense than 6-5 Colson.
4. Allonzo Trier, Arizona Wildcats
Trier found his rhythm quickly last season after a 19-game suspension caused him to miss much of his sophomore year. But after averaging 17.2 points when he got his shot, the speedy and smooth ball handler has basketball fans salivating to see what he can do as an upperclassmen with a full year of opportunities ahead of him.
5. Michael Porter Jr., Missouri Tigers
He's regarded as the savior for the Tigers, a long, skilled, smooth forward who can score in a variety of ways and might also wind up as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft come June.
6. Grayson Allen, Duke Blue Devils
Lost in the conversation about Allen's tripping incidents last season was his impressive finish -- he scored 18 or more in four of Duke's final five games -- to a year filled with self-inflicted drama. But Allen, the senior leader on this promising Duke roster, admitted his wrongs and said he's focused on guiding his teammates through the 2017-18 season, one that could end with the fourth-year star again emerging as one of America's top talents.
7. Devonte' Graham, Kansas Jayhawks
Don't expect any more nights like his 0-for-7 performance against Oregon in the Elite Eight. It's Graham's turn to be the face of the Kansas program, after playing alongside Frank Mason III the past three seasons. He's ready.
8. Landry Shamet, Wichita State Shockers
Shamet is actually older than Brandon Ingram, yet here he is, still just a sophomore, about to embark on a season that could end at the Final Four. Gregg Marshall's point guard went from great to unreal as his freshman season progressed.
9. Marvin Bagley III, Duke Blue Devils
The best prep player in the country couldn't wait to get started. After reclassifying to play in 2017, Bagley has Duke as the No. 1 team in the country heading into the season thanks to his mixture of size (6-11, 220 pounds), athleticism and comfort level no matter where he is on the floor.
11. Jevon Carter, West Virginia Mountaineers
With Carter as the catalyst, West Virginia led the nation by forcing turnovers on more than one-quarter of its opponents' possessions. Carter (13.5 PPG, 77.4 percent from the free throw line, 38.9 percent from beyond the arc), the Big 12's reigning defensive player of the year, returns to boost a West Virginia squad hoping to upset Kansas in the race for the league's crown.
12. Deandre Ayton, Arizona Wildcats
Lost in the Michael Porter Jr. and Marvin Bagley III hype the past few months, Ayton's ceiling is as high as anyone's in college basketball. He's a 7-footer who can run the floor and block shots. He also has very good perimeter shooting touch.
13. Joel Berry II, North Carolina Tar Heels
Leave room for Berry on your Wooden Award watch lists. Voters love handing that hardware to seniors, and Roy Williams' point guard just happens to be the reigning Final Four most outstanding player. He'll be out for a bit after breaking his hand after a video game loss.
14. Collin Sexton, Alabama Crimson Tide
Sexton comes to Tuscaloosa with the type of buzz normally reserved for football players in those parts. The five-star guard has a knack for finding the basket and plays with an energy that should make the Crimson Tide fun to watch as they attempt to make their first NCAA tournament run in five years.
15. Robert Williams, Texas A&M Aggies
He could have bolted after his freshman season in College Station and been a first-round draft pick. Instead, he remained and will look to become more well-rounded on the offensive end instead of regarded as solely an athlete.
16. Angel Delgado, Seton Hall Pirates
Somehow, the impressive contributions of a 6-10, 245-pound powerhouse who gobbled offensive rebounds like snacks and led his squad to the NCAA tournament were overlooked last season. But Delgado -- responsible for Marvel-like numbers of 15.2 PPG and 13.1 RPG -- must improve at the free throw line (55.6 percent) and away from the basket to attract the spotlight he deserves and help his team in clutch situations.
17. Jalen Brunson, Villanova Wildcats
One can make the case that Brunson is the best point guard in the country, and with Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins gone, he becomes Villanova's go-to guy. He averaged 16.0 points on 56 percent shooting the final 11 games of the season.
18. Trevon Bluiett, Xavier Musketeers
If there were an award for most outstanding player before the Final Four, the 2017 winner would almost certainly have been Bluiett. Facing the likes of Maryland, Florida State, Arizona and Gonzaga, Chris Mack's star averaged 21 points.
19. Bruce Brown, Miami Hurricanes
Brown is an aggressive, strong guard who affects the game on both ends of the floor. He had his biggest performances as a freshman on big stages, including a career-high 30 points in an upset win over North Carolina.
20. Justin Jackson, Maryland Terrapins
The 6-7 Canadian had a solid season, but now he'll get a chance to expand his role with the departure of Melo Trimble. Jackson is a multidimensional player, especially the way he can score on the offensive end.
21. Mohamed Bamba, Texas Longhorns
Shaka Smart's squad played top-25 defense but failed to secure offensive rebounds or stop its opponents from dominating the offensive glass in most outings. But Bamba represents the solution: a five-star 7-footer who will run the floor and turn the paint into a canvas for his elite defensive work and rebounding ability.
22. Shake Milton, SMU Mustangs
His numbers aren't as flashy as some, but the 6-6 point guard has consistently impressed NBA people. A five-game stretch in the middle of the conference season when he averaged 21.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists could be a sign of things to come.
23. Yante Maten, Georgia Bulldogs
Last seen scoring 33 points in just 31 minutes in UGA's 80-68 exhibition loss to Michigan State, Maten is going to be a problem for opposing defenses all season. The 6-8 senior is a box score stuffer par excellence.
24. Quentin Snider, Louisville Cardinals
A returning captain with 62 starts in his college career, Snider should be a steady presence in what promises to be an interesting season for Louisville. On the floor, Snider consistently puts his teammates and the Cardinals' offense in position to score points.
25. Mikal Bridges, Villanova Wildcats
The Wildcats will have plenty of weapons, so don't look for the lesser-known Bridges to put up gaudy numbers. But he's capable of getting 20 -- and capable of defending multiple positions.
26. Mike Daum, South Dakota State Jackrabbits
If it comes down to stats and significance, Daum -- who dropped 17 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in a loss to Gonzaga in the opening round of last season's NCAA tournament -- will find a spot on a multitude of All-American teams. Yes, he plays in the Summit League, but a 6-9 forward who averaged 25.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 86.9 percent from the free throw line and 41.8 percent from the 3-point line deserves recognition.
27. Tyler Davis, Texas A&M Aggies
Overshadowed in the offseason by projected lottery pick Robert Williams, Davis is a dominant low-post force. He has shot 63.6 percent from the field in his first two seasons for the Aggies -- all inside the arc.
28. Malik Newman, Kansas Jayhawks
Two years ago at this time, Newman was a Mississippi State Bulldog and one of the most highly anticipated freshmen in the country. Now the 6-3 redshirt sophomore will team with Devonte' Graham to give KU what could be one of the nation's most potent backcourts.
29. Reid Travis, Stanford Cardinal
He is one of the best big men on the West Coast and should be a focal point for a Cardinal team looking to climb its way back toward a winning record in 2017-18. The Minnesota native has the potential to average a double-double if he stays healthy.
30. Marcus Foster, Creighton Bluejays
The Bluejays' clear go-to guy. The former Kansas State guard averaged 18.2 points in his first season on the court playing for Greg McDermott, and he could be among the nation's leaders in scoring this season.
31. Moe Wagner, Michigan Wolverines
He thought about turning pro after scoring 26 points and leading the Wolverines to an upset of Louisville in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Now, the 6-11 big man from Germany must prove he's capable of consistent production, a challenge for him last season.
32. Johnathan Williams, Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Missouri transfer took massive steps forward after his sit-out year. Williams is a very good defender and rebounder who became far more consistent last season -- and now Mark Few will need him to put up points.
33. Wendell Carter, Duke Blue Devils
Carter is a 6-10 power forward and straight-A student who said no to Harvard to say yes to Duke. If he, Marvin Bagley III and others can defend the rim and crash the offensive glass, the sky's the limit for the Blue Devils.
34. KeVaughn Allen, Florida Gators
If you didn't know about Florida's soft-spoken scorer before he dropped a school-record 35 points to knock Wisconsin out of the NCAA tournament, you should get to know him this season. The addition of a couple of transfers from Rice and Virginia Tech should help Allen continue to find space to shoot.
35. Nick Ward, Michigan State Spartans
He was a pleasant surprise last season, thrown into the fire because of a rash of frontcourt injuries. Ward is talented and skilled but needs to take another step this season in terms of consistency.
36. Kelan Martin, Butler Bulldogs
He's the key to new coach LaVall Jordan's Big East title hopes. Martin (16.0 PPG) fell from his previous season's 37.7 percent clip from beyond the arc, but he's the star of a Butler squad that needs him to become a two-way threat every night if it intends to compete with the league's contenders.
37. Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky Wildcats
After leaving his NBA draft decision until the final hour, Diallo immediately became one of the most intriguing players in college basketball. He's a freak athlete who excels in transition, but he will need to make perimeter shots.
38. Vincent Edwards, Purdue Boilermakers
This summer when Purdue represented the United States at the World University Games, Edwards averaged 19 points and seven rebounds. Nominally a 6-8 power forward, the senior is also a career 39 percent shooter from beyond the arc.
39. Deng Adel, Louisville Cardinals
The 6-7 junior averaged 12.1 points last season and should emerge among the Cardinals' top scoring threats this winter. Adel can play multiple spots on the floor but would be most useful attacking from the wing spot if he can score consistently the way he did at the end of last season.
40. Matt Farrell, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
He is one of the best point guards in the country and gets labeled as tough and gritty, but he's far more than just that. He's a senior who can score when necessary and set guys up, and he also is a quality leader.
41. Bennie Boatwright, USC Trojans
His return elevated USC's position in the race for the Pac-12 title. Boatwright is a 6-10 forward who made 36.4 percent of his 3-point attempts last season, and, if he improves from beyond the arc, the versatile star will create more mismatch challenges for opponents.
42. Isaac Haas, Purdue Boilermakers
Throughout his career, Haas has thrived playing regular but limited minutes alongside fellow big men such as A.J. Hammons and Caleb Swanigan. Now those guys are gone and the spotlight belongs to the 7-2 senior.
43. Gary Trent Jr., Duke Blue Devils
The No. 1 shooting guard in the 2017 class, Trent is a high-level scorer who makes contested shots as well as anyone. With other elite offensive weapons at Duke, though, Trent might have to buy in as a secondary option.
44. Trevon Duval, Duke Blue Devils
The nation's top backcourt prospect should have an immediate impact on Duke's lineup. Duval is an explosive athlete who likes to add style points whenever possible and is usually strong and fast enough to pull it off.
45. Chimezie Metu, USC Trojans
He considered leaving for the NBA draft, and his return is huge for a Trojans team that has no shortage of talent. Metu averaged 14.8 points and 7.8 boards last season, and the 6-11 junior is one of the best big men in the Pac-12, and maybe the country.
46. Aaron Holiday, UCLA Bruins
While Lonzo Ball created the most exciting and efficient offense in America last season, it was easy to forget Holiday averaged 12.3 points, contributed 4.4 assists, nailed 41.1 percent of his 3-point attempts and made 79.3 percent of his free throw attempts. He would have been the No. 1 point guard for many top-25 squads last season, and now he has the chance to lead a rebooted UCLA team.
47. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas Jayhawks
Everyone has waited for him to take the next step in his development -- but remember, he's only 20 years old despite being a senior. With Mason and Josh Jackson gone, Kansas will need his shooting ability from the perimeter.
48. Carsen Edwards, Purdue Boilermakers
As Edwards logged more minutes in his freshman season, his accuracy improved markedly at the line and from 3-point range. In his sophomore campaign, the 6-foot guard will look to share the ball with fellow top-50 teammates while improving his success rate on 2s.
49. Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure Bonnies
The Atlantic 10's top returning playmaker averaged a league-high 6.5 assists last season. A 35.6 percent career shooter from 3-point range, he also set a school record by shooting 206 free throws as a junior. The 6-2 point guard is part of a talented backcourt that should put the Bonnies in the running for a March Madness ticket.
50. Kamar Baldwin, Butler Bulldogs
New coach LaVall Jordan is going to slide Baldwin over to the point, which should be interesting. He was a surprise last season as a freshman, averaging double figures. Now he'll have to balance scoring and running the team.