“College Basketball Catch-Up” is a column by Terence Holton discussing the latest men’s college basketball headlines.
While it is April, the college basketball season really is right around the corner. We’ve got just about half a year to go until the season begins! So, here are some of my top superlatives for next season.
Blue Devils are back?
I hyped up Duke’s recruiting class in one of my previous columns and partially because of that, they are my preseason No. 1. The Blue Devils, like I mentioned earlier, are bringing in a stellar recruiting class including four five-star recruits. While all of the recruits will have immediate impacts, guard Jared McCain and forward Sean Stewart will have the most hype.
McCain is one of the most well-known recruits of all time, as he has accumulated nearly two million followers on Tik Tok. But don’t let that distract you from his game: He won back-to-back California Gatorade Player of the Year award, won three straight CIF Open Division Championships and is a lights-out shooter.
Stewart is a high flier who will dunk on anyone. During his senior year, Stewart averaged 16.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game while leading his team to a 21-8 record. Don’t be surprised if we see Stewart on Sports Center next year.
Let’s not forget about who Duke is returning, though. The Blue Devils are returning three, possibly four, of their four highest scorers (Depending on if Jeremy Roach decides to stay in the NBA Draft or not.) Next year, Duke will be led by freshman center Kyle Filipowski, who led the Blue Devils in points, rebounds and steals per game.
Duke should regain supremacy in the college basketball world this season.
Dark horse Final Four contender
OK, this is going to sound incredibly biased. However, USC is sneakily building an incredibly talented roster. The Trojans are returning three of five starters, including their leading scorer, senior guard Boogie Ellis. And one of the holes in the starting lineup is being filled with No. 1 overall recruit Isaiah Collier. The Trojans are also returning four of five players of their top-10 recruiting class from 2022.
Defensively, this team will be scary. The Trojans are returning a top-10 shot blocker per game in senior center Joshua Morgan, and his partner in crime freshman center Vince Iwuchukwu. These two twin oak trees are the anchors of the Trojan defense, but let’s not forget that USC held opponents to 39% from the field — good for top 10 in the country. Along with Iwuchukwu off the bench will be his fellow freshmen: guard Oziyah Sellers and forward Kijani Wright. Additionally from the bench will be four-star forward, Arrinten Page, who can stretch the floor very well for someone who’s 6 foot 9. And I won’t forget about the possibility of USC landing Bronny James, a fantastic shooter and team player.
Like I said, it sounds biased, but the Trojans will be tough next year and are No. 13 in ESPN’s Way-To-Early Top 25.
A 7 foot 4 void to fill
Purdue has a huge hole to fill next season, and I feel like most analysts are overlooking how big a factor junior center Zach Edey was for Purdue. Edey averaged 22.3 points and 12.9 points while taking home practically every single award in college basketball. Edey literally and figuratively carried the Boilermakers to a No. 1 seed. It looked like Edey was the only player who was trying when Purdue lost to Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
ESPN currently has Purdue as No. 15 in their most recent preseason poll. That is absolutely absurd. While the Boilermakers are returning much of their lineup from last year, that entire team was based around feeding the ball to Edey. Someone will need to become a true star for the Boilermakers to make any noise in college basketball, but I just don’t see it happening. Purdue has no players I would consider star talent — just a bunch of role players. Over the last two years, Purdue has had one or two star players who carry them, but they just don’t have that guy in 2023. I could see them missing the tournament.
It’s only 191 days until November 1, 2023, which is around when college basketball season will start. I’m not anxious for the season to start at all, clearly. See you all next season, when College Basketball Catch-Up returns.
“College Basketball Catch-Up” runs every Monday.