Ranking the Top-25 College Basketball Teams For 2023-24 Season (No. 21-25)

Ranking the Top-25 College Basketball Teams For 2023-24 Season (No. 21-25)

College basketball offseasons have turned from being straightforward to possibly more complex than any other sport. There has been more freedom given to the players to allow them a free transfer without having to sit out a year for undergraduates, an extra year of eligibility thanks to the COVID year, and the ability to test the NBA Draft process before deciding whether or not to return next season. There are no contracts for these players, so coaches have absolutely no idea who is going to stay from year-to-year. Coaching staffs now are doing as much recruiting and scouting of players in the transfer portal as they do for incoming freshman. All that being said, trying to rank teams is an evolving process that can change by the minute if a freshman recruit or graduate student elects to seek a better opportunity. 

These rankings are based on a number of factors such as star power, depth, roster continuity, coaching, and fit. Each of the teams below will include analysis on their biggest losses in the offseason, key returning players, new impact transfers/freshman, and what to watch for. The projected starting lineup is not necessarily the Day 1 starters, but who I think will eventually rise and be the top contributors on each team. The freshman rankings are based on the composite industry ranking between the top four recruiting sites (ESPN, 247, Rivals, On3). With all that covered, let's dive into our Preseason Top 25 rankings!


25. Saint Mary's

Coach Randy Bennett is coming off a season in which he shared the WCC title with Gonzaga and helped the Gaels lock up a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They continued their trademark elite defensive play, but ultimately ran into the buzzsaw in the second round that was UConn. Saint Mary's will lose its leader in Logan Johnson (14.5 PPG) and fellow starter Kyle Bowman (7.1 RPG), but it will have a Big 3 to work around who should absorb most of that production. Aidan Mahaney is a star in the making who averaged nearly 14 PPG and shot 40 percent from deep as a freshman. He could develop into a name everyone around the country knows as a sophomore. Alex Ducas will return for a fifth season with the Gaels after shooting 41.4 percent from three-point range last year. The final piece of that Big 3 is C Mitchell Saxen who stepped up as a junior to average 11.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per contest. Augustas Marciulionis seems like an easy pick to secure a starting spot as a junior after being a solid role player the last two seasons. The rest of this roster is pretty unproven, however. Mason Forbes redshirted last season to preserve a year of eligibility after averaging 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds two years ago with Harvard. Joshua Jefferson started to increase his production down the stretch as a freshman and could be the guy that gets the first crack at the final starting spot. Four-star PG Jordan Ross is likely the X-factor with this team. If he can come right in and provide a Mahaney-like freshman campaign this is easily a second weekend team, something the Gaels haven't done since 2010. 

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG: Augustas Marciulionis (5.9 PPG)

SG: Aidan Mahaney (13.9 PPG)

SF: Alex Ducas (12.5 PPG)

PF: Joshua Jefferson (2.2 PPG)

C: Mitchell Saxen (11.6 PPG)

Key Reserves: Jordan Ross (Freshman), Harry Wessels (2.6 PPG), Mason Forbes (Redshirt), Luke Barrett (2.4 PPG), Chris Howell (0.6 PPG)


24. San Diego State

A big story going into the NCAA Tournament this past season was the struggles of Mountain West teams in the tournament in recent years. San Diego State was able to put that conversation to bed with an incredible run as a No. 5 seed all the way to the title game before falling to UConn. Coach Brian Dutcher will have his work cut out to try to get this team back to that level after losing veterans like Matt Bradley (12.6 PPG), Keshad Johnson (7.7 PPG), Nathan Mensah (6.0 PPG), and Aguek Arop (4.5 PPG). Fortunately, the Aztecs will bring back their starting backcourt of Darrion Trammell and Lamont Butler, along with two key rotation pieces from last year in Micah Parrish and Jaedon LeDee, who should both start in 2023-24. They will also bring in the Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year Reese Dixon-Waters from USC, who is in position for a career year. This will be a very formidable starting lineup without question, but the strength of this team last year was all the bodies they could bring at you to wear you down on the defensive end. Losing a big chunk of the key contributors last year will open up chances for a couple of sophmores like Miles Byrd, Elijah Saunders, and Demarshay Johnson. Incoming freshman like BJ Davis and Miles Heide should get playing time as well. Jay Pal should be the first guy off the bench transferring in from Campbell where he averaged 12.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. 

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG: Darrion Trammell (9.9 PPG)

SG: Lamont Butler (8.7 PPG)

SF: Reese Dixon-Waters (9.8 PPG at USC)

PF: Micah Parrish (7.7 PPG)

C: Jaedon LeDee (7.8 PPG)

Key Reserves: Jay Pal (12.3 PPG at Campbell), Miles Byrd (4.3 PPG), Elijah Saunders (0.9 PPG), BJ Davis (Freshman), Demarshay Johnson (0.9 PPG), Miles Heide (Freshman)


23. Colorado

Colorado is in line to take a big step forward this season after being an inconsistent, 18-17 NIT team last year. The Buffaloes will return their top six scorers from last season, including point guard KJ Simpson and power forward Tristan da Silva, who combined to average nearly 32 points per contest. They will be given a big boost of energy by TCU transfer Eddie Lampkin, who is an absolute force on the offensive glass. Lampkin battled through an ankle injury much of last season with the Horned Frogs, but will be at 100 percent to begin the 2023-24 campaign with the Buffs. Coach Tad Boyle was also able to ink the best recruit in school history this offseason signing SF Cody Williams. His brother Jalen Williams is coming off a rookie season in which he finished second in the NBA Rookie of the Year voting with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and many think that Cody is even further along at this stage than his brother was. The fight for the final starting spot will likely be between three players. Luke O'Brien is the favorite for me after he started the final nine games last season and averaged 9.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists over that stretch. J'Vonne Hadley was the third-leading scorer last year and started 19-of-22 games before going down with a season-ending hand injury, however, so he will be in the mix as well. Julian Hammond also showed well over the final five games averaging 13.2 points, 4.0 assists, and 1.8 steals while KJ Simpson was battling an illness. Javon Ruffin can be another solid role player for the Buffs is he can avoid knee issues that have plagued him since arriving on campus in 2021. Four-star C Assane Diop will likely be the player to spell Lampkin as the primary interior defender. Overall, this is a very talented and deep team, but it will be up to coach Boyle to put it all together and challenge in the Pac-12. 

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG: KJ Simpson (15.9 PPG)

SG: Luke O'Brien (6.2 PPG)

SF: Cody Williams (No. 6 in 2023 class)

PF: Tristan da Silva (15.9 PPG)

C: Eddie Lampkin (6.3 PPG at TCU)

Key Reserves: Julian Hammond (6.9 PPG), J'Vonne Hadley (8.0 PPG), Javon Ruffin (6.0 PPG), Assane Diop (Freshman), Courtney Anderson (Freshman)


22. Baylor

It wouldn't surprise me to see this unit start slow, but Scott Drew will make this into a scary team come March. They will basically be starting from scratch in the backcourt with Keyonte George (15.3 PPG), Adam Flagler (15.6 PPG), LJ Cryer (15.0 PPG), and Dale Bonner (4.7 PPG) all gone. Center Flo Thamba (5.0 PPG) also ran out of eligibility after five years with the Bears. The key returning players will be stretch four Jalen Bridges, center Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, and wing Langston Love. Both JTT and Love are very talented players who have injury histories over the last couple years, and Baylor needs both of them to stay healthy to try to reach its full potential in 2023-24. Leading the offense will be Toledo transfer RayJ Dennis, who is coming off a monster senior season with Toledo in which he averaged 19.5 points, 5.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.5 three-pointers per contest. It's unclear how that will transfer into the best conference in the country, but Baylor is banking that Dennis can transfer in and instantly be a big-time scoring threat like Adam Flagler did from Holy Cross. The overall upside of this team will likely be dependent on the integration of their 2023 freshman class that includes three top-50 players. The top prize was shooting guard Ja'Kobe Walter, who I see a lot of similarities with Keyonte George. Coach Drew has thrived with players with similar games to Walter's, and I believe he has a chance to be one of the most impactful freshman in the country. Point guard Miro Little and center Yves Missi are Baylor's other top recruits, and both should be solid options off the bench. VCU transfer Jayden Nunn should bring a toughness to this team and could potentially start as a defensive specialist for a squad that was outside the top-100 in KenPom defensive efficiency a season ago. While it is a much different look, there are a lot of talented pieces on this team that will hope to avoid the early exits in March that happened the last two years after winning the title in 2020-21. 

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG: RayJ Dennis (19.5 PPG at Toledo)

SG: Ja'Kobe Walter (No. 9 in 2023 class)

SF: Langston Love (6.3 PPG)

PF: Jalen Bridges (10.3 PPG)

C: Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (5.1 PPG)

Key Reserves: Jayden Nunn (9.3 PPG at VCU), Yves Missi (No. 29 in 2023 class), Miro Little (No. 49 in 2023 class), Joshua Ojianwuna (4.2 PPG), Caleb Lohner (3.2 PPG)


21. Texas

What a job that Rodney Terry did taking over early in the season after Chris Beard was dismissed from the team. He led the Longhorns to a 12-6 record in the Big 12 to finish just a game back of Kansas in the regular season, then he would beat the Jayhawks for the second time in a 7 days to win the Big 12 Tournament. That earned Texas a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but would fall jut short of the Final Four when they lost to Miami in the Elite Eight. There are a lot of key veteran pieces that this team will have to replace like Marcus Carr (15.9 PPG), Sir'Jabari Rice (13.0 PPG), Timmy Allen (10.5 PPG), and Christian Bishop (6.6 PPG). They also lost one of the top recruits from the 2022 class when Arterio Morris (4.6 PPG) elected to join Kansas in the offseason. Texas will return junior Tyrese Hunter, who should have the ball in his hands a lot more, as well as Dylan Disu who really came on strong at the end of last season. Coach Terry picked up some big commitments in the transfer portal highlighted by Max Abmas, who has been one of the most dynamic scorers in the country over the last four seasons. It will be fun to see how Abmas' game transfers to the Big 12, but I think he will be a great fit in the backcourt alongside Hunter. Kadin Shedrick also comes over from Virginia and will be an instant factor on defense giving this team some much needed size it didn't have last season. Dillon Mitchell was a top-five recruit in the country going into last season and was hugely disappointing. His development in the offseason will probably be the determining factor of how far this team can go. Brock Cunningham will be going into his fifth year with the Longhorns and will provide stability off the bench along with transfers Ithiel Horton, Chendall Weaver, Ze'Rik Onyema. An underrated piece might four-star guard Chris Johnson who decommitted from Kansas to join Texas late this summer. 

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG: Tyrese Hunter (10.3 PPG)

SG: Max Abmas (21.9 PPG at Oral Roberts)

SF: Dillon Mitchell (4.3 PPG)

PF: Dylan Disu (8.8 PPG)

C: Kadin Shedrick (6.2 PPG at Virginia)

Key Reserves: Ithiel Horton (12.3 PPG at UCF), Brock Cunningham (4.6 PPG), Chendall Weaver (9.5 PPG at Texas-Arlington), Ze'Rik Onyema (7.0 PPG at UTEP), Chris Johnson (No. 53 in 2023 class), Alex Anamekwe (1.5 PPG)


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Ryan  Andrade
Ryan has covered golf, college basketball, and motorsports for RotoWire since 2016. He was nominated for "DFS Writer of the Year" in 2021 and 2023 by the FSWA.
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