Class Of 2021 Basketball Rankings – Here’s my first Power 36 review for the 2020-21 season. The NBA draft will likely continue well into the summer, possibly into the fall. So the list may not be made until school starts, hopefully in the fall semester.
1) Gonzaga: Corey Kispert, Filip Petrusev, Drew Timme, Joel Ayay and newcomer Jalen Suggs should keep the Zags rolling if he doesn’t turn to the NBA. This team will be as deep as last season.
Class Of 2021 Basketball Rankings
[Editor’s note: This story was first published on April 8, 2020, before Petrusev signed with the Serbian professional team.]
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2) Baylor: Jared Butler can lead the Bears to another potential No. 1 seed. The Bears will once again be a stingy defensive team.
3) Villanova: Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels and an up-and-coming crew means the Wildcats are in the thick of the hunt for the top seed. As expected, Saddiq Bey and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl are testing the NBA draft process.
4) Creighton: The Bluejays, like Nova, won a share of the Big East regular season title. Most of the crew returns, led by Marcus Zegarowski, who could be the Big East Player of the Year.
5) Iowa: The Hawkeyes should be the pick to win the Big Ten with likely returning player of the year Luka Garza. Having Joe Wieskamp alongside him means the Hawkeyes’ offense will be reloaded.
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6) Wisconsin: The Badgers got a share of the Big Ten regular season title in their last game at Indiana. They will be picked with Iowa to make another run by returning the core of the team, a full season from Micah Potter and a projected recruiting class.
7) Kansas: Devon Dotson’s status is still unknown. But we do know that the best defensive player in the country — Naismith Award winner Marcus Garrett — should be back. David McCormack should star in place of Udoka Azubuike. And the addition of Bryce Thompson means KU is a pick in the Big 12.
8) Michigan: The Wolverines take a hit by losing Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske. But if Isaiah Livers returns, the Wolverines will be even higher than that projection. Livers could be a first-team Big Ten if he comes back. Franz Wagner, Brandon Johns, Eli Brooks and bigs Austin Davis and Colin Castleton means this team has more significant rotation players than most. The Athletic reported that David DeJulius entered the transfer portal. And they have possibly a top five recruiting class with Isaiah Todd.
9) Kentucky: The roster is still in flux with the draft (Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans declared), but one thing is for sure – the Wildcats are star-studded with a top recruiting class. Six players in the top 50, led by Terrence Clarke and B.J. Boston.
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10) Virginia: The Cavaliers figured out how to win in the second half of the season. Add in Marquette transfer Sam Hauser and the Cavs are ready to go on day one.
11) Duke: The Blue Devils are underwhelmed in the draft (Tre Jones and Cassius Stanley so far), but it’s hard to see them falling too far with the top two recruiting classes led by Jalen Johnson. The Blue Devils need experience off the bench, and if that comes through, they’ll be in the running for the ACC title.
12) Michigan State: No Cassius Winston. No Xavier Tillman for now (still a possibility he could return). But the Spartans have a group of wings/forwards to rival any roster with Rocket Watts, Gabe Brown, Aaron Henry, Malik Hall, Marcus Bingham Jr. and Marquette transfer Joey Hauser.
13) Rutgers: 6-10 top 50 player Cliff Omoruyi’s decision to stay home in New Jersey and play for the Scarlet Knights pushed Rutgers higher into the top 25. Geo Baker, Ron Harper Jr. and Myles Johnson are expected to be back. Baker is one of the best late return shot makers.
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14) Florida State: Leonard Hamilton said on our March Madness 365 podcast that he expects Devin Vassell and Patrick Williams to remain in the NBA draft. But he said he still believes the Seminoles are a top-10 team. It’s hard to argue after the Seminoles won the ACC regular season and were poised for another deep run. For now, we’ll put them in the teens, but Hamilton is probably right that this team could be in the top 10 come December or January.
15) North Carolina: No draft declarations have been announced yet. But the Tar Heels played really well (winning four of their last six). With a top-five recruiting class led by Day’Ron Sharpe, Walker Kessler and Caleb Love, UNC shouldn’t expect last season’s postseason gaps (if any) to carry over into this season.
16) Tennessee: The Volunteers’ last two wins of the season came against Florida and Kentucky. There were only two seniors on the list. The Vols have a top five recruiting class led by Jaden Springer. Tennessee should be picked #1 or #2 in the SEC.
17) Texas Tech: It’s still unclear if the Red Raiders are feeling the early entry bug. If they don’t, then this team will be in the hunt for the Big 12 title. Top 30 player Nimari Burnett should be a significant addition.
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18) West Virginia: There’s no way we’re making an early season mistake with the Mountaineers. West Virginia has a chance to bring back one of the nation’s toughest frontcourts.
19) UCLA: Most of the Bruins are back (Chris Smith declared for the draft this week). And that’s great news considering UCLA was one of the hottest teams on the West Coast in the final weeks of the season. UCLA should be the pick to win the Pac-12. The addition of Daishen Nix adds perimeter depth to a team that now knows how to play Mick Cronin ball.
20) San Diego State: The Aztecs look to defend. And if Malachi Flynn and Matt Mitchell return, the Aztecs will have no problem scoring. The pick-up of Northridge grad transfer Terrell Gomez, who averaged nearly 20 points per game, should add to the scoring. SDSU is the pick to win the Mountain West.
21) Illinois: The Illini are tough to rank with pending decisions on Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. Cockburn entered the NBA draft. If he stays in, the Illini will slide down. Dosunmu’s decision marks a difference in the Power 36 and beyond. Losing Alan Griffin to Syracuse was a bit of a shocker. Still, the Illini have Trent Frazier, Giorgi Bezhanishvili and Da’Monte Williams back.
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22) Texas: The Longhorns had won five in a row before losing their last game to Oklahoma State. Texas was finally on the same page about how it needed to play to win. If that core comes back, Shaka Smart will have a team that should be in the top five in the Big 12.
23) Oregon: The departure of Payton Pritchard is a big hit. But the return of Will Richardson and the eligibility of Rutgers transfer Eugene Omoruyi give the Ducks a 1-2 punch to remain in the Pac-12 hunt.
24) Louisville: Jordan Nwora and Steven Enoch are out. But getting David Johnson, Samuell Williamson and Malik Williams back and adding Redford transfer guard Carlik Jones would mean the Cardinals still have a chance to be in the ACC race.
25) Richmond: The Spiders would have been an interesting case for the men’s basketball selection committee. I think they would have been in it and won a game or two. Richmond should return its top five scorers, meaning Blake Francis, Grant Golden, Jacob Gilyard, Nick Sherod and Nathan Cayo could wreak havoc in the A-10. Gilyard, Golden and Francis declared for the draft on Monday, but left open the possibility of returning. My gut is that they all do.
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26) Oklahoma: The Sooners could return to one of the Big 12’s best duos in Austin Reaves and Brady Manek. Both played an average of 14 games last season. They should do more in 21.
27) Houston: The Cougars had one senior last season. If everyone returns under Quentin Grimes, Houston will be the overwhelming favorite among the Americans. Nate Hinton, who grabbed eight boards in the game, already announced he will enter the draft but could return.
28) Stanford: The Cardinal won’t sneak up on anyone next season. This team should be legit from the start with the return of Oscar da Silva, Tyrell Terry (if he doesn’t stick in the NBA Draft) and Daejon Davis.
29) Florida: The Gators would have been in the tournament. But they weren’t the Final Four team that some predicted (myself included). Still, if Andrew Nembhard and Keyontae Johnson join Scottie Lewis (he announced he’s staying) and stick around, this team should be top four in the SEC and tournament bound.
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30) Oklahoma State: The
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