It’s been reasonable for a while to assume all projected first-round picks will enter and remain in the NBA Draft. In fact, not a single projected first-round pick this year has announced he’s returning to school.
Will that change with new NIL rules?
But, in recent years, any coach planning to have a projected first-round pick back on campus is a man who was poorly planning. It’s the other guys who have real decisions to make — and the top of the sport is often shaped by those decisions.
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Take Baylor last season, for instance. The Bears had multiple borderline prospects enter the 2020 NBA Draft before ultimately withdrawing and returning to school. The result was the first national title in school history. And all of this is why Tuesday was a not-great day for Ohio State. The Buckeyes lost Duane Washington, their leading scorer, to the NBA Draft even though their leading scorer might not be selected in the NBA Draft. So that’s 16.4 points per game, and a 37.4% 3-point shooter, out the door. It’s a blow. And the byproduct of that development is that I’ve dropped Ohio State to No. 18 in Version 15.0 of the 2021-22 CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 And 1.
Gonzaga remains No. 1.
The Zags have won at least 31 games in five consecutive seasons, played in two of the past four national title games, and finished first or second at KenPom in four of the past five years — and it’s possible the best is yet to come considering the roster Mark Few has in place. The West Coast Conference power should bring back Andrew Nembhard and Drew Timme, the latter of whom is the likely Preseason National Player of the Year. They’ll be joined by the top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2021 (Chet Holmgren) and two other consensus top-30 freshmen (Hunter Sallis, Nolan Hickman). meaning this should be the most-talented roster in program history.
Top 25 And 1 rankings
The Zags are expected to bring back Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard, both of whom started for a team that finished 31-1. They’ll combine with a star-studded recruiting class – highlighted by five-star prospects Chet Holmgren and Hunter Sallis – and allow Gonzaga to enter the season as the favorite to win the national title.
Every meaningful player who helped the Bruins make the Final Four is currently projected back on campus – among them NCAA Tournament star Johnny Juzang. UCLA will add five-star prospect Peyton Watson and should have all of the pieces necessary to compete for the national title.
The Jayhawks are expected to return four of the top five scorers from a team that beat Baylor in February and finished second in the Big 12. The addition of high-level transfers Remy Martin (Arizona State) and Joseph Yesefu (Drake) should make Kansas the favorite to win what would be the 20th conference championship of Bill Self’s career.
The return of Collin Gillispie and Jermaine Samuels means the Wildcats will return four of the top five scorers from a team that won the Big East title by multiple games. So Jay Wright will have the pieces necessary to compete for his third national championship.
The Crimson Tide should return four of the top seven scorers from a team that won the SEC regular-season title and SEC Tournament – most notably Jaden Shackelford and Jahvon Quinerly. The addition of five-star point guard JD Davison and four-star big Charles Bediako gives Nate Oats a chance at back-to-back conference championships.
Eli Brooks’ decision to return will provide Juwan Howard with an additional experienced piece to pair with the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class that features five-star prospect Caleb Houstan, five-star prospect Moussa Diabate and reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year DeVante’ Jones. As long as Hunter Dickinson also returns, which is expected, the Wolverines should be able to compete for another No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Duke is the only program expected to add three five-star prospects from the Class of 2021 – among them Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin, both of whom project as one-and-done top-10 NBA Draft picks. So even with Matthew Hurt and DJ Steward both leaving school early, Mike Krzyzewski should have enough talent to take the Blue Devils back to the top of the sport.
The Bears are expected to lose Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler to the NBA Draft. But if Baylor keeps a core of Adam Flagler, Matthew Mayer and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, and enrolls its top-10 recruiting class highlighted by five-star wing Kendall Brown, Scott Drew can make a run at another national title — and he’ll be in even better position to do it if Arizona transfer James Akinjo receivers a waiver to play immediately.
The Razorbacks are losing a lot – including projected first-round pick Moses Moody. But JD Notae should return as a double-digit scorer, and Eric Musselman is adding at least four experienced double-digit scorers via the transfer market, mostly notably Chris Lykes (Miami) and Au’Diese Toney (Pitt).
The Boilermakers have no seniors and zero players likely to enter the 2021 NBA Draft, meaning everybody who matters should return from a team that received a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The star is Trevion Williams, who averaged 15.5 points and 9.1 rebounds as a junior.
As long as Kelvin Sampson remains the coach, Houston will likely be a mainstay in the Top 25 And 1. The early loss of Quentin Grimes will hurt, but probably not too much with Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark set to return and be joined by Texas Tech transfer Kyler Edwards.
Mark Turgeon has used the transfer market to add a quality guard (Fatts Russell) and big (Qudus Wahab). That should be enough to offset the loss of Darryl Morsell and get the Terrapins to the Big Dance for the sixth time in a span of seven NCAA Tournaments.
Chris Beard has used the transfer portal to add four players – Tre Mitchell (UMass), Timmy Allen (Utah), Christian Bishop (Creighton) and Dylan Disu (Vanderbilt) – who averaged double-figures in points this past season. As a result, he appears to have enough experienced talent to compete for the Big 12 title in his first year at Texas
John Calipari has solved Kentucky’s point guard problems by adding five-star prospect TyTy Washington and Georgia transfer Sahvir Wheeler. Other additions like transfers Kellan Grady (Davidson), Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia) and CJ Frederick (Iowa) are what will give the Wildcats a chance to go from a losing season to a conference title.
Dana Altman has been among the best at reloading his roster each offseason via the transfer market — and now he’s doing it again. The additions of Oklahoma transfer De’Vion Harmon, Syracuse transfer Quincy Guerrier and Rutgers transfer Jacob Young to an experienced core of Will Richardson, Eric Williams and N’Faly Dante should make the Ducks the biggest threat to UCLA in the Pac-12.
The Seminoles should be good again despite the fact that they’re likely losing four of their top five scorers – among them projected lottery pick Scottie Barnes. A veteran core of Anthony Polite and Malik Osborne will be joined by a top-five recruiting class highlighted by former Houston standout Caleb Mills and five-star wing Matthew Cleveland.
John Fulkerson’s decision to return for another season means Tennessee should bring back five of the top eight scorers from a team that earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That experienced core will pair nicely with a recruiting class highlighted by one of the best point guards in the Class of 2021 (Kennedy Chandler) and another newcomer who just averaged 11.7 points while shooting 44.2% from 3-point range at Auburn (Justin Powell).
Duane Washington’s decision to remain in the NBA Draft (despite the possibility that he’ll go unselected) is an obvious blow to Ohio State’s roster. But Chris Holtmann is still expected to return six of the top eight scorers from a team that earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The return of Armando Bacot and Caleb Love will give first-year coach Hubert Davis a chance to keep the Tar Heels nationally relevant. The arrival of Oklahoma transfer Brady Manek should help offset the loss of Garrison Brooks and Day’Ron Sharpe.
Auburn’s frontcourt of Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler might end up being the best frontcourt in the SEC. That’s two bigs who were five-star prospects in high school joining a roster returning two double-digit scorers, most notably Allen Flanigan, who averaged 14.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season.
Dan Hurley has rebuilt UConn to the point where it should be a consistent challenger to Villanova in the Big East. Even the early loss of James Bouknight, a projected first-round NBA Draft pick, shouldn’t change that (especially with Tyler Polley set to return for a fifth season).
Aaron Henry is following Joshua Langford and Rocket Watts out the door. But the arrival of five-star guard Max Christie and Northeastern transfer Tyson Walker should have Tom Izzo in his 24th straight NCAA Tournament.
All five starters from a team that won the Atlantic 10 regular-season title and Atlantic 10 Tournament are expected back – most notably Kyle Lofton, who averaged 14.4 points and 5.5 assists as a junior. Wake Forest transfer Quadry Adams will provide depth.
Trey Murphy will remain in the NBA Draft, which means Virginia is losing its top three scorers. But Kihei Clark will provide Tony Bennett with an experienced point guard capable of keeping the Cavaliers near the top of the ACC, and the addition of East Carolina transfer Jayden Gardner could be a big boost.
Andy Enfield should have the Trojans back in the NCAA Tournament despite the loss of one-and-done star Evan Mobley. A top-15 recruiting class highlighted by Reese Dixon-Waters and Memphis transfer Boogie Ellis will help offset the departures.
The top four scorers from a team that made the NCAA Tournament are expected to return – among them Keve Aluma, who averaged 15.2 points and 7.9 rebounds last season. They’ll be joined by Wofford transfer Storm Murphy, who should help Virginia Tech compete near the top of the ACC.
Coach: Mark Few | 2020-21 record: 31-1
Notable players expected to leave: Corey Kispert, Jalen Suggs, Joel Ayayi, Aaron Cook, Oumar Ballo, Pavel ZakharovNotable players expected to return: Drew Timme, Andrew Nembhard, Anton Watson, Julian Strawther, Dominick Harris, Ben GreggExpected additions: Chet Holmgren, Hunter Sallis, Nolan Hickman, Rasir Bolton, Kaden Perry
Coach: Mick Cronin | 2020-21 record: 22-10
Notable players expected to leave: Chris SmithNotable players expected to return: Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez, Jules Bernard, Tyger Campbell, Cody Riley, David Singleton, Jake Kyman, Mac Etienne, Jaylen Clark, Kenneth NwubaExpected additions: Peyton Watson, Will McClendon, Myles Johnson
Coach: Bill Self | 2020-21 record: 21-9
Notable players expected to leave: Marcus Garrett, Bryce Thompson, Tyon Grant-Foster, Tristan Enaruna, Gethro MuscadinNotable players expected to return: Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Jalen Wilson, Christian Braun, Mitch Lightfoot, Dajuan Harris, Chris TeahanExpected additions: Remy Martin, Joseph Yesufu, Cam Martin, Jalen Coleman-Lands, Zach Clemence, KJ Adams, Bobby Pettiford, Sydney Curry
Coach: Jay Wright | 2020-21 record: 18-7
Notable players expected to leave: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Cole SwiderNotable players expected to return: Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels, Justin Moore, Caleb Daniels, Brandon Slater, Eric Dixon, Bryan Antoine, Chris Arcidiacono, Trey PattersonExpected additions: Jordan Longino, Nnanna Njoku, Angelo Brizzi
Coach: Nate Oats | 2020-21 record: 26-7
Notable players expected to leave: Herb Jones, John Petty, Alex Reese, Jordan BrunerNotable players expected to return: Jaden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly, Joshua Primo, Keon Ellis, Juwan Gary, James Rojas, Darius Miles, Keon Ambrose-HyltonExpected additions: Noah Gurley, JD Davison, Charles Bediako, Jusaun Holt, Nimari Burnett, Alex Tchikou
Coach: Juwan Howard | 2020-21 record: 23-5
Notable players expected to leave: Isaiah Livers, Franz Wagner, Mike Smith, Chaundee Brown, Austin DavisNotable players expected to return: Hunter Dickinson, Eli Brooks, Brandon Johns, Terrence Williams, Zeb Jackson, Jace HowardExpected additions: DeVante’ Jones, Caleb Houston, Moussa Diabate, Kobe Bufkin, Frankie Collins, Isaiah Barnes, Will Tschetter
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski | 2020-21 record: 13-11
Notable players expected to leave: Matthew Hurt, DJ Steward, Jordan Goldwire, Jaemyn Brakefield, Patrick Tape, Henry ColemanNotable players expected to return: Wendell Moore, Jeremy Roach, Mark Williams, Joey BakerExpected additions: Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin, Trevor Keels, Theo John, Jaylen Blakes
Coach: Scott Drew | 2020-21 record: 28-2
Notable players expected to leave: Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, MaCio Teague, Mark VitalNotable players expected to return: Adam Flagler, Matthew Mayer, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchouwa, L.J. Cryer, Flo Thamba, Zach Loveday, Jordan TurnerExpected additions: Kendall Brown, Langston Love, Jeremy Sochan, Dain Dainja, Dale Bonner
Coach: Eric Musselman | 2020-21 record: 25-7
Notable players expected to leave: Moses Moody, Justin Smith, Jalen Tate, Desi Sills, Vance Jackson, Ethan HendersonNotable players expected to return: JD Notae, Davonte Davis, Connor Vanover, Jaylin Williams, Khalen RobinsonExpected additions: Au’Diese Toney, Chris Lykes, Stanley Umode, Kamani Johnson, Trey Wade, Chance Moore, Jaxson Robinson
Coach: Matt Painter | 2020-21 record: 18-10
Notable players expected to leave: Aaron Wheeler, Emmanuel DowuonaNotable players expected to return: Trevion Williams, Jaden Ivey, Sasha Stefanovic, Zach Edey, Eric Hunter Jr., Brandon Newman, Mason Gillis, Isaiah Thompson, Ethan Morton.Expected additions: Trey Kaufman, Caleb Furst
Coach: Kelvin Sampson | 2020-21 record: 28-4
Notable players expected to leave: Quentin Grimes, Dejon Jarreau, Justin Gorham, Bryson Gresham, Cameron TysonNotable players expected to return: Marcus Sasser, Tramon Mark, Fabian White, Reggie Chaney, Jamal Shead, Kiyron Powell, J’Wan RobertsExpected additions: Kyler Edwards, Ja’Vier Francis, Taze Moore, Ramon Walker, Robbie Armbrester, Josh Carlton
Coach: Mark Turgeon | 2020-21 record: 17-14
Notable players expected to leave: Darryl Morsell, Galin Smith, Chol Marial, Aquan Smart, Reese Mona, Jairus HamiltonNotable players expected to return: Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Donta Scott, Hakim Hart, James Graham III, Marcus DockeryExpected additions: Qudus Wahab, Fatts Russell, Julian Reese, Ike Cornish, Ian Martinez, Pavlo Dziuba
Coach: Chris Beard | 2020-21 record: 19-8
Notable players expected to leave: Matt Coleman, Greg Brown, Jericho Sims, Kai Jones, Donovan Williams, Kamaka Hepa, Royce Hamm Jr.Notable players expected to return: Andrew Jones, Courtney Ramey, Jase Febres, Brock CunninghamExpected additions: Tre Mitchell, Timmy Allen, Dylan Disu, Devin Askew, Christian Bishop, Jaylon Tyson, Avery Benson
Coach: John Calipari | 2020-21 record: 9-16
Notable players expected to leave: Brandon Boston, Olivier Sarr, Terrence Clarke, Isaiah Jackson, Davion Mintz, Devin Askew, Cam’Ron FletcherNotable players expected to return: Keion Brooks, Dontaie Allen, Jacob Toppin, Lance WareExpected additions: TyTy Washington, Kellan Grady, Oscar Tshiebwe, Sahvir Wheeler, C.J. Frederick, Daimion Collins, Bryce Hopkins
Coach: Dana Altman | 2020-21 record: 21-7
Notable players expected to leave: Eugene Omoruyi, Chris Duarte, LJ Figueroa, Chandler Lawson, Amauri Hardy, Will Johnson, Jalen TerryNotable players expected to return: Will Richardson, Eric Williams, N’Faly Dante, Aaron Estrada, Franck Kepnang, Lok WurExpected additions: Quincy Guerrier, De’Vion Harmon, Jacob Young, Rivaldo Soarez, Nathan Bittle, Isaac Johnson
16. Florida State
Coach: Leonard Hamilton | 2020-21 record: 18-7
Notable players expected to leave: MJ Walker, RaiQuan Gray, Scottie Barnes, Balsa Koprivica, RayQuan Evans, Nathaniel Jack, Tanor NgomNotable players expected to return: Anthony Polite, Malik Osborne, Sardaar Calhoun, Wyatt Wilkes, Quincy BallardExpected additions: Caleb Mills, Cam’Ron Fletcher, Matthew Cleveland, Jalen Warley, John Butler, Naheem McLeod
Coach: Rick Barnes | 2020-21 record: 18-9
Notable players expected to leave: Jaden Springer, Keon Johnson, Yves Pons, EJ Anosiki, Davonte Gaines, Drew PemberNotable players expected to return: Victor Bailey, John Fulkerson, Santiago Vescovi, Josiah-Jordan James, Olivier Nkamhoua, Uros PlavsicExpected additions: Kennedy Chandler, Justin Powell, Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, Jonas Aidoo, Jahmai Mashack, Quentin Diboundje
18. Ohio State
Coach: Chris Holtmann | 2020-21 record: 21-10
Notable players expected to leave: Duane Washington, CJ Walker, Musa Jallow, Jimmy SotosNotable players expected to return: E.J. Liddell, Justice Sueing, Kyle Young, Justin Ahrens, Zed Key, Seth Towns, Meechie Johnson, Eugene BrownExpected additions: Malaki Branham, Kalen Etzler, Jamari Wheeler, Joey Brunk
19. North Carolina
Coach: Hubert Davis | 2020-21 record: 18-11
Notable players expected to leave: Garrison Brooks, Day’Ron Sharpe, Walker Kessler, Andrew Playtek, Sterling ManleyNotable players expected to return: Armando Bacot, Caleb Love, R.J. Davis, Kerwin Walton, Leaky Black, Anthony Harris, Puff Johnson.Expected additions: Brady Manek, Dontrez Styles, D’Marco Dunn, Justin McKoy
Coach: Bruce Pearl | 2020-21 record: 13-14
Notable players expected to leave: Sharife Cooper, Justin Powell, Jamal Johnson, Javon FranklinNotable players expected to return: Allen Flanigan, Jaylin Williams, JT Thor, Devan Cambridge, Dylan Cardwell, Chris Moore, Babatunde AkingbolaExpected additions: Walker Kessler, K.D. Johnson, Jabari Smith, Zeb Jasper, Wendell Green
Coach: Dan Hurley | 2020-21 record: 15-8
Notable players expected to leave: James Bouknight, Brendan Adams, Josh CarltonNotable players expected to return: R.J. Cole, Tyrese Martin, Isaiah Whaley, Tyler Polley, Adama Sanogo, Jalen Gaffney, Andre Jackson, Akok Akok, Richie SpringsExpected additions: Rahsool Diggins, Jordan Hawkins, Samson Johnson
22. Michigan State
Coach: Tom Izzo | 2020-21 record: 15-13
Notable players expected to leave: Aaron Henry, Joshua Langford, Rocket Watts, Foster Loyer, Thomas KithierNotable players expected to return: Joey Hauser, Gabe Brown, Malik Hall, Julius Marble, Marcus Bingham, AJ Hoggard, Mady SissokoExpected additions: Tyson Walker, Max Christie, Jaden Akins, Pierre Brooks
23. St. Bonaventure
Coach: Mark Schmidt | 2020-21 record: 16-5
Notable players expected to leave: Alejandro Vasquez, Jalen Shaw, Jermaine TaggartNotable players expected to return: Kyle Lofton, Jaren Holmes, Jalen Adaway, Dominick Welch, Osun Osunniyi, Alpha Okoli, Eddie CrealExpected additions: Linton Brown, Justin Ndjock, Quadry Adams, Abdoul Karim, Coulibaly, Oluwasegun Durosinmi
Coach: Tony Bennett | 2020-21 record: 18-17
Notable players expected to leave: Sam Hauser, Jay Huff, Trey Murphy, Tomas Woldentensae, Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Casey Morsell, Justin McKoyNotable players expected to return: Kihei Clark, Reece Beekman, Kody Stattman, Kadin Shedrick, Francisco Caffaro, Carson McCorkle, Chase Coleman, Malachi PoindexterExpected additions: Armaan Franklin, Jayden Gardner, Taine Murray
Coach: Andy Enfield | 2020-21 record: 25-8
Notable players expected to leave: Evan Mobley, Tahj Eaddy, Noah BaumannNotable players expected to return: Isaiah Mobley, Isaiah White, Drew Peterson, Ethan Anderson, Chevez Goodwin, Max Agbonkpolo, Reese WatersExpected additions: Boogie Ellis, Malik Thomas, Harrison Hornery, Kobe Johnson, KJ Allen
26. Virginia Tech
Coach: Mike Young | 2020-21 record: 15-7
Notable players expected to leave: Jalen Cone, Wabissa Bede, Joe Bamisile, Cordell PemslNotable players expected to return: Keve Aluma, Tyrece Radford, Nahiem Alleyne, Justyn Mutts, Hunter Cattoor, David N’Guessan, Darius Maddox, John OjiakoExpected additions: Storm Murphy, Sean Pedulla