20. Alex Poythress, SO, F, Kentucky
This is one that people might take issue with, and that's completely understandable. Last season Poythress was the most inconsistent Wildcat on a team that became defined by that very characteristic. Still, his next-level talent was apparent to anyone and everyone on a handful of occasions, and he's the type of player who will thrive with an influx of talent around him. Not everyone "gets it" in one year, even in the basketball crazy world of Lexington, where that has become the expectation instead of the hope.
19. Montrezl Harrell, SO, F, Louisville
Some were calling Harrell Louisville's best NBA prospect last year, when he was averaging just 16.2 minutes for a Cardinal team that went on to win the national championship. He scored 226 points last season, and somewhere around 2/5 of that total came via the slam dunk. Rick Pitino will need the 6'8, 235-pound Harrell to be a bit more well-rounded in his sophomore season. He'll also need him to shoulder even more of the load inside now that Chane Behanan has been suspended indefinitely.
18. Andrew Harrison, FR, G, Kentucky
John Calipari probbaly doesn't have to have an elite point guard to have success, but history shows that it definitely helps. With NC State transfer Ryan Harrow struggling to run the show last season, the Wildcats went from the preseason No. 3 team in the country to one that didn't win a game in the NIT. Harrow bolted after just one season in Lexington and left the reigns to the highly-touted Harrison, the consensus No. 1 point guard in the class of 2013. He and twin Aaron will called upon to produce, and lead, from day one.
17. P.J. Hairston, JR, G, North Carolina
There's no question he can play - Hairston led UNC in scoring last season at 14.6 ppg - but there's significant question surrounding whether or not he will play. Hairston has been suspended indefinitely following a series of offseason incidents which included citations for speeding and reckless driving, an arrest for possession of marijuana and driving without a license, and reports of a link to convicted felon Haydn "Fats" Thomas. Though he remains suspended, Hairston is still practicing with the team.
16. Rodney Hood, SO, F, Duke
While Jabari Parker is the Duke newcomer likely to grab the majority of preseason headlines, it's Hood who might prove to be the most important. The Mississippi State transfer averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in his only season as a Bulldog, and possesses a combination of size and athleticism that the Blue Devils desperately needed during the second half of their Elite 8 loss to Louisville last season. It's worth noting that in 33 years at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski has only taken on four Division-I transfers. The previous three - Roshown McCleod, Dahntay Jones and Seth Curry - all worked out pretty well.
15. Glenn Robinson III, SO, F, Michigan
No one questions his athleticism or his status as an NBA prospect, but the challenge for GR III this season will be stepping up as a leader now that Trey Burke has moved on. If he can do that, and adjust to a likely move from power forward to small forward, then the Wolverines have a shot to make consecutive Final Fours for the first time since the Fab Five era.
14. James Michael McAdoo, JR, F, North Carolina
Lofty, if not unfair, preseason expectations made McAdoo's sophomore season look far worse than it actually was. All the 6'9 forward did was get better as the year went along, and wind up being UNC's leading rebounder (7.3 rpg) and second-leading scorer (14.4 ppg). He ended the season by scoring in double figures in 11 straight games, although he was just 5-of-19 from the field in the Tar Heels' round of 32 loss to Kansas.
13. C.J. Fair, SR, F, Syracuse
Perhaps the most consistent player in the country, Fair led last season's Final Four squad in scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg). Though he's known mostly for his work around the rim, the forward also drilled nearly 47 percent (30-of-64) his three-point attempts. With Brandon Triche, Michael Carter-Williams and James Southerland all being paid to play the game, Fair enters his senior season as Syracuse's unquestioned "go-to-guy" for the first time in his career.
12. Jahii Carson, SO, G, Arizona State
Head coach Herb Sendek has already said that this will be the final season in Tempe for Carson, who averaged 18.5 points, 5.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals last year as a freshman. He's currently dealing with what Sendek described as a "stress reaction" in his right tibia, which has limited his ability to practice. Still, Carson is expected to be good to go when the Sun Devils open the season on Nov. 8.
11. Shabazz Napier, SR, G, Connecticut
Despite playing on a team that began the year knowing it was banned from any type of postseason play, Napier was a star for first-year head coach Kevin Ollie. He ranked in the Big East's top 10 in scoring (17.1 ppg), assists (4.6 apg) and steals (2.0 spg), and earned first team all-conference honors. He was also the only player in the league to average at least 15 points, four rebounds and four assists.
10. Gary Harris, SO, G, Michigan State
Expectations for Harris were so high in East Lansing that a season which saw him earn Big 10 Freshman of the Year honors was viewed as a disappointment by some. It ended on a particularly sour note, however, as Harris missed nine of 11 field goal attempts and was lit up by Seth Curry during Michigan State's Sweet 16 loss to Duke. If he can avoid the injury bug that has followed him fairly relentlessly over the past 12 months, then it's hard to envision a more confident and aggressive Harris not having a monster sophomore campaign.
9. Aaron Gordon, FR, F, Arizona
The most-recent MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game was also the leading scorer and rebounder for the U-19 USA squad at last summer's FIBA World Championship. Folks in Serbia are already quite familiar with what Gordon brings to the table.
8. Aaron Craft, SR, G, Ohio State
Craft is sure to be the butt of about a trillion awful "when is this guy going to graduate?" jokes during his senior season, but that's only because of how solid he's been since donning a Buckeye jersey for the first time three years ago. The only phrase you'll hear hurled in his direction more often is "best on-ball defender in college basketball," a distinction he's proven himself worthy of time and time again. Craft's recent engagement also resulted in an unofficial day of mourning in Columbus.
7. Jabari Parker, FR, F, Duke
It's ironic that Andrew Wiggins was commonly referenced as "the best high school basketball player since LeBron James" since it was Parker who appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated along with that exact description. A nagging foot injury forced him to relinquish his stranglehold on both that title and the No. 1 ranking in the class of 2013. The injury has also left a number of folks wondering what expectations for Parker should be in what will likely be his only season as a Blue Devil.
6. Adreian Payne, SR, F, Michigan State
Payne finally had the breakthrough pro scouts had been waiting to see during the second half of last season, notching double-doubles in six of Michigan State's last 11 games. The elevation in his game left plenty of people surprised to see Payne elect not to take it to the NBA, a group which included head coach Tom Izzo. The big man's explanation for the decision was pretty straightforward.
"I like doing things the right way," he said. "With me graduating, I'm able to set a standard and be a role model for kids to look up to so I can give hope to another child that may have the same situation as me to let them know that it's possible."
Payne and classmate Keith Appling will now try to avoid the dubious distinction of becoming the first Spartans to play four years under Tom Izzo and not make it to a Final Four.
5. Doug McDermott, SR, F, Creighton
The Meryl Streep of the top five, McDermott will almost certainly be a first team preseason AP All-American for the second year in a row when the honorees are announced later this month. He was also a postseason first-teamer in both 2012 and 2013. You can Google the stats, awards and stories about him walking on as a senior for yourself, but McDermott's 2013-14 season is basically about one thing: getting Creighton out of the NCAA Tournament's opening weekend for the first time in four decades.
If there's a player in the country capable of displacing Andrew Wiggins as the top pick in next summer's NBA Draft, it's Randle. He has a body that would terrify the biggest guy at your gym, and the world class athleticism to consolidate it. Expect to hear his name and "victimized" in the same sentence more than a few times between November and March.
3. Russ Smith, SR, G, Louisville
Critics are quick to point out his questionable decision-making and spotty jump-shot, but the fact remains that Smith averaged 18.7 points per game for a team that was the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and went on to win the national championship. The last player to average more points for a national champion and decide to come back to school was Duke's Jason Williams, who averaged 21.3 ppg in 2000-01 before electing to play one more year in Durham. If that wasn't enough to sway you on Smith as the third-best player in the country, then there's also the fact that he's likely going to leave Louisville as the school's all-time steals leader.
2. Marcus Smart, SO, G, Oklahoma State
Smart may have well been the No. 1 overall pick in last June's NBA Draft had he elected to turn pro, which makes his decision to return to Stillwater - and compete with a much deeper draft class in 2014 - one of the most surprising in recent memory. His potential financial loss is Oklahoma State's gain, as the unanimous Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Year will be looking to lead the Cowboys into the second round of the big dance for the first time since 2005.
1. Andrew Wiggins, FR, F, Kansas
We've seen a handful of freshmen rack up national awards in recent years, just never before the season. The accolades should be expected when you're referred to as the "biggest can't-miss NBA prospect since Kevin Durant" as often as Wiggins has been. Though Bill Self has tried to temper expectations in recent weeks, the 18-year-old Wiggins' decision to become a Jayhawk will make every nationally televised Kansas game a must-watch occasion for college and pro fans alike.