ESPN's Way Too Early Basketball Top 25

To dissect for funsies...

Andy Katz: Texas at #3.

The Longhorns move up a spot because of the buzz surrounding newcomer Avery Bradley. He shot up to No. 1 on the ESPNU 100 rankings, and fellow incoming freshman Jordan Hamilton isn't far behind. If they're that good, the potential loss of Damion James to the draft won't be as crushing.

Katz also has Kansas #1, Oklahoma #12, and Texas A&M as a "team to watch."

Doug Gottlieb (Insider): Texas at #2.

The Longhorns' roster is stocked with talent even if Damion James keeps his name in the NBA draft and doesn't return to Austin. If somehow J'Covan Brown gets eligible, the Horns would have no flaws.

As it stands, incoming freshmen Jordan Hamilton and Avery Bradley and transfer Jai Lucas make Texas one of the most talented teams in the country and the team best-suited to push Kansas in the Big 12.

Gottlieb also has Kansas #1, Oklahoma #5, Texas A&M #16, Oklahoma State #21, and Kansas State #24. He also expects Iowa State to see a "major jump in wins from last season."

Fran Fraschilla (Insider), who knows a whole heck of a lot about the Big XII, didn't rank teams, but had this to say about Katz's and Gottlieb's rankings (Big XII pertinent).

Texas A&M

Andy's Take: Out of the top 25
My Take: The Big 12's third-most talented team is top-25 good

I know my good friend has the Aggies out of his top 25, pending the return of Donald Sloan, Chinemelu Elonu and Bryan Davis, who have declared for the NBA draft. Trust me, they are all returning and they'll give coach Mark Turgeon the foundation of his most talented team in three years at A&M. The loss of sharpshooter Josh Carter has been compensated for with the addition of two top-75 wing recruits, 6-foot-5 Naji Hibbert and 6-foot-7 Khris Middleton. Elonu, Davis and 6-foot-9 sophomore David Loubeau provide the Aggies with one of the most physical front lines in the Big 12 and the backcourt duo of Sloan and former high school teammate Derrick Roland could play linebacker for the Aggies.


Andy's Take: No. 3
Doug's Take: No. 2
My Take: A tad too high

On paper, this is one of the country's most talented teams. Rick Barnes has a front line that Longhorns football coach Mack Brown would envy. And one of my favorite incoming freshmen in the country, 6-foot-2 Avery Bradley, will have an immediate impact on what was Texas' Achilles' heel last season, the backcourt. He is a blur with the ball and will be instantly one of the nation's best defenders. In addition, Florida transfer Jai Lucas will be eligible at the end of the first semester. Here's the one problem: Without the departed A.J. Abrams, who will make perimeter jump shots consistently? The Longhorns will have to answer that if they want to make a run at Kansas and hang around the top five all season.


Doug's Take: Oklahoma at No. 5
My Take: Not so fast!

Oklahoma's winning tradition has been very underrated through the years, despite the Sooners appearing in 27 postseason tournaments in 28 years. And Jeff Capel is certainly upholding that tradition. He has an excellent recruiting class to complement some key returnees. Here's the problem: Superman has just left the Lloyd Noble Center and has flown off to the NBA. Blake Griffin's dominance as a college player can't be understated and he'll be impossible to replace. The Sooners will be an NCAA team and hang around the top 25 all season, but if they are No. 5 at the end of the year, Capel will be getting another hefty raise.

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