Now that the June 1 deadline for players to withdraw from the NBA draft has passed, it's time to unveil my new rankings. It's early, but people love to look ahead to the future. I went to the VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) and came up with my latest dazzling dozen, subject to change:
It's great to have an All-American in Armando Bacot returning up front. Having Caleb Love, Leaky Black and R.J. Davis provides continuity and experience. The Tar Heels also bring in 6-9 recruit Jalen Washington and point guard Seth Trimble, providing lots of depth. Hubert Davis has a reason to smile and the Heels may add another transfer. They tried to get Matthew Mayer from Baylor but fell short. Look for bigger things from Puff Johnson.
My player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe returns and the All-American should put up even greater numbers. The Wildcats will have a major force up front and a team that is hungry after the shocking NCAA loss to Saint Peter's. Sahvir Wheeler, one of the top passers in America, also returns. John Calipari will reload with premier diaper dandies Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston, a pair of top 15 recruits. They are names of note that Big Blue Nation celebrates.
I love the depth and talent that Eric Musselman has brought in. Nick Smith is a premier diaper dandy. Musselman has added impact transfers in 6-9 Trevon Brazile from Missouri, Makhi and Makhel Mitchell from Rhode Island and Jalen Graham from Arizona State. Add in a few members of last year's Elite Eight squad and the Razorbacks are loaded.
Kelvin Sampson got big news when Marcus Sasser pulled out of the draft and returned to Houston. He is a special player when healthy. The Cougars upset Arizona before falling to Villanova in the Elite Eight, and Sampson took the Cougars far despite injuries to Tramon Mark and Sasser. Jamal Shead shined during the NCAA tournament, averaging 15 points and four assists per game. Add in forward Jarace Walker from IMG Academy and the Cougars are in great shape.
No team received more help at the June 1 NBA Draft withdrawal deadline. The return of All-American Drew Timme, Julian Strawther and Rasir Bolton gave Mark Few three returning starters. Nolan Hickman and Hunter Sallis are ready to step up. Few always gets additional help through transfers, with Chattanooga's Malachi Smith and LSU's Efton Reid among the new faces in Spokane this time around.
I believe the Bluejays will be the favorite over Villanova in the Big East. Baylor Scheierman comes in from South Dakota State and will be a difference-maker. Ryan Nembhard's wrist injury was a blow as Creighton fell to Kansas in the NCAA tournament, but Nembhard should return with three other starters for a Creighton team with experience and continuity. Arthur Kaluma had 24 points vs. the Jayhawks and should improve even more. Ryan Kalkbrenner and Trey Alexander are the other returning starters.
Jon Scheyer's debut as Blue Devils coach and Mike Krzyzewski's replacement will include an incredible recruiting class. Three of the top five on ESPN's list are going to Durham. Center Dereck Lively, forward Dariq Whitehead and center Kyle Filipowski will have an immediate impact. Add forward Mark Mitchell and guard Jaden Schutt, both top 50 prospects, as well as five-star reclassifier Tyrese Proctor, and Duke will be fine. Jeremy Roach is an experienced returning veteran while Northwestern transfer Ryan Young will help.
The Jayhawks got a big boost when Jalen Wilson pulled out of the NBA draft to return to Lawrence. KU cut down the nets and would love to go back-to-back. While Kansas loses a lot (Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack), Coach Bill Self has talent coming in. Forwards Gradey Dick and M.J. Rice are top 20 prospects. Center Ernest Udeh is not far behind. Dajuan Harris Jr. can be more productive. You know Self will add more talent through the transfer portal.
9. UCLA Bruins
Mick Cronin has a solid lineup. Start with the veteran nucleus of Jaime Jaquez Jr., and Tyger Campbell. Amari Bailey is a top 10 recruit and will have an immediate impact. Another newcomer to keep an eye on is Adem Bona. Jaylen Clark is expected to come through with greater numbers.
10. Texas Longhorns
The Longhorns got a major addition in Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter. Former transfers Marcus Carr and Timmy Allen have settled in and will be ready to shine. Dillon Mitchell is a top-flight diaper dandy. Chris Beard will build something special in Austin.
11. Baylor Bears
Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer lead the veterans returning for Scott Drew. He has one of the nation's premier diaper dandies in Keyonte George. The transfer portal also helped as West Virginia transfer Jalen Bridges will be an instant-impact performer. BYU transfer Caleb Lohner will also contribute.
New coach Kyle Neptune takes over for retired Jay Wright and the program won't miss a beat. Brandon Slater is expected to have a greater impact. Cameron Whitmore is a highly-anticipated diaper dandy. A key could be the return of Justin Moore, who is hoping to return this season from a knee injury sustained in the 2022 NCAA tournament.