Staff writer Kevin Lyttle’s men’s basketball preseason Top 25, unabridged version

Posted October 31st, 2014


The Texas Longhorns are 10th in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25 media men’s college basketball poll just released Friday. Texas also was No. 10 in the coaches poll released last week.
Kansas leads a contingent of four Big 12 teams in the Top 25. The Jayhawks are No. 5, followed by the Longhorns, Iowa State at No. 14 and Oklahoma at No. 19. Kansas State was sixth among other teams receiving votes.
SMU also represents Texas in the AP poll, checking in at No. 22.
The Preseason All-American team comes out Monday, and the regular season starts Friday, Nov. 14.
American-Statesman sports writer Kevin Lyttle is one of three AP Top 25 voters from Texas – the Dallas Morning News’ Chuck Carlton and Waco Herald-Tribune’s John Werner are the others.
Here is the poll Lyttle turned into the AP with analysis:


1. Kentucky………Unlike years past, a bunch of Wildcats, like the Harrison twins from Texas, stayed in school to blend with another top freshman class.
2. Wisconsin…….A Final Four-experienced, flexible lineup has shooters all over and includes standouts like C Frank Kaminsky and F Sam Dekker.
3. Arizona………..Big, physical team boasts F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, heady PG T.J. McConnell and possible one-and-doner Stanley Johnson.
4. Duke…………..Freshman C Jahlil Okafor is making a lot of first-team All-American lists because he’s a 7-foot, 265-pound potential dominant force.
5. Kansas………..How do you lose three NBA lottery picks and still contend? When a super freshman class supplements F Perry Ellis, G Wayne Selden.
6. North Carolina…Unless the widening academic scandal scuttles their season, the Tar Heels are loaded and have a legit go-to star in G Marcus Paige.
7. Villanova………The defending Big East champions return 78 percent of their scoring, 80 percent of their rebounding and a balanced lineup.
8. Wichita State…..The Shockers aren’t gonna start 35-0 again, but they have perhaps the best backcourt in the country with Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet.
9. Texas…………..With all five starters back and blue-chip PF recruit Myles Turner, the Longhorns should be top-10 material. They’re also tree-tall.
10. Florida…………Losing four senior starters usually is catastrophic. Who ever has four senior starters? But Billy Donovan had plenty of talent stashed away.
11. Gonzaga………The normally reserved Mark Few is bullish on the Zags, who have an excellent backcourt and intriguing transfers from Kentucky and USC.
12. Louisville………How will the Cardinals adapt to the ACC? When PF Montrezl Harrell kept his name out of the NBA draft, fans were surprised and excited.
13. Virginia………..The 30-win, defending ACC champs won’t sneak up on anyone this year, yet a Tony Bennett team will always win with defense.
14. Iowa State…….SF Georges Niang has All-American potential and, of course, there’s an exciting transfer, this time G Bryce Dejean-Jones from UNLV.
15. San Diego State…Always athletic, the Aztecs should rule the Mountain West with battle-tested players like F Winston Shepard and G/F Dwayne Polee II.
16. Oklahoma…….Four starters on hand from the Big 12’s 2nd-place club, and if Houston transfer F TaShawn Thomas is granted eligibility, things look real good.
17. Harvard…………The Ivy League champs return the bulk of a team, including Wesley Saunders, that has won NCAA tourney games in back-to-back years.
18. VCU……………..’Havoc’ still rules as the seldom-seen, full-court pressure style that Shaka Smart’s teams play will continue to make life miserable for most foes.
19. SMU……………..Larry Brown’s Mustangs should have made The Dance last year, but the AAC favorites will get there this time, even without Emmanuel Mudiay.
20. Connecticut……The defending national champs are retooling after losing Shabazz Napier and most of his cast. G Ryan Boatright is a good place to start, though.
21. Ohio State………The Buckeyes will be hard to recognize without PG Aaron Craft. They still have plenty of talent, though, and G D’Angelo Russell is the new force.
22. Michigan State….Three of the top 20 NBA picks were Spartans, and there’s not a great class arriving. Yet Branden Dawson should lead, and Tom Izzo is still the coach.
23. Utah……………….The Utes should take advantage of a depleted Pac-12, especially with G Delon Wright, one of the league’s best players, and F Jordan Loveridge.
24. Louisiana Tech….G Speedy Smith is one of four returning starters from a Conference USA co-championship team that won 29 games and reached the NIT quarters.
25. Kansas State…….The Wildcats will get lost in the Big 12 discussion, but they’ll be tough with all-league G Marcus Foster, breakout G Justin Edwards and depth.



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