Preseason ALL-ROLLS-ROYCE Teams | July 19, 2004
I'm so excited about the upcoming college basketball season because there are so many mega-, mega-names on my preseason All-Rolls-Royce teams. It's been several years since we've had such depth in the talent pool. Looking at the best of the best, the créme de la créme returning to the college basketball landscape, it's an impressive group.
It wasn't easy picking preseason All-Rolls-Royce squads, and I'm sure there will be lots of debating. I've analyzed this over and over, choosing players by position, but remember that this is just a first glance at these teams in the summer -- we have to see if there are any injuries that could change things as the season approaches. I've unveiled my top five All-Rolls-Royce teams one at a time, leading up to the gold standard, the very best, my first team All-America candidates. When you look at these guys, it should be an exciting season, baby!
All-Rolls-Royce First Team
Point guard -- Raymond Felton | North Carolina | 6-1 | Junior
My first team is dynamite, dominated by an All-ACC backcourt. At the point is the wizardry of Tar Heels star Raymond Felton. Hey, everybody loves Raymond, baby! He is so creative and innovative, and I believe he'll have a phenomenal season. Felton has improved his perimeter game, and within coach Roy Williams' system he'll be ready to explode.
Swing guard -- Julius Hodge | NC State | 6-6 | Senior
NC State was thrilled when Julius Hodge decided to return to college for his senior season instead of opting for the NBA draft.
Hodge is multidimensional and can play almost anywhere on the court. His love for the college game is evident.
Swing forward -- Hakim Warrick | Syracuse | 6-8 | Senior
Coach Jim Boeheim and Syracuse had to be ecstatic when Hakim Warrick decided to return to college as well.
Warrick brings that feathery jump shot, offensive-rebounding skill and shot-blocking talent. Warrick should have a big year in the Big East.
Power forward -- Lawrence Roberts | Mississippi State | 6-9 | Senior
Down in the SEC, Lawrence Roberts thought seriously about the NBA draft. When he found out his draft status wasn't to his liking, he opted to return to Starkville, pleasing coach Rick Stansbury. This power guy on the interior was the first Mississippi State player to average a double-double in over two decades! He's a physical force around the basket.
Center -- Wayne Simien | Kansas | 6-9 | Senior
Rounding out my golden five is Wayne Simien of Kansas.
He can play both power forward and center, and he's extremely aggressive inside, whether he's rebounding or scoring. Simien is so strong and has a great work ethic.
All-Rolls-Royce Second Team
Point guard -- Chris Thomas | Notre Dame | 6-1 | Senior
I'll start the second team with Notre Dame's Chris Thomas at the point-guard slot. He came on strong last season after a slow start, and I look forward to him building on a great finish from last year. The addition of Dennis Lattimore gives Thomas another threat in the Irish offensive attack.
Swing guard -- Rashad McCants | North Carolina | 6-4 | Junior
At the swing guard, Rashad McCants is explosive in transition and also in the low box. In his second season in coach Roy Williams' system, he should be more comfortable.
Swing forward -- Francisco Garcia | Louisville | 6-7 | Junior
Francisco Garcia is a multidimensional performer at the swing forward. He can step out and shoot the 3-pointer, he can go inside and he can really pass the rock. Coach Rick Pitino gushes when he talks about Garcia's ability.
Power forward -- Ryan Gomes | Providence | 6-7 | Senior
Coach Tim Welsh and the Friars have to be excited to have Ryan Gomes back after he considered jumping to the NBA. He brings a jump shot and ability to compete inside. The Friars should be among the Big East contenders thanks to the return of Gomes.
Center -- Shelden Williams | Duke | 6-9 | Junior
Shelden Williams has been a post-deluxe player who gets better and better. He's a solid defensive player, and if he stays out of foul trouble his stats can go even further up the charts. Williams will have to be more of a factor now that the Dukies have lost Luol Deng to the NBA.
All-Rolls-Royce Third Team
Point guard -- Chris Paul | Wake Forest | 6-0 | Sophomore
Chris Paul was a diaper dandy last year, and there's no reason to believe he won't be even better with a year under his belt. It wasn't easy putting Paul on the third team, as he could contend for bigger and better things. He has penetration ability and loves to have the ball in crucial situations. He also isn't afraid to take the big shot in crunch time.
Swing guard -- J.J. Redick | Duke | 6-4 | Junior
J.J. Redick has improved his game and can really attack the basket. Everyone knows about his shooting ability and tremendous range, and he's automatic at the foul line (95.3 percent last season).
Swing forward -- Keith Langford | Kansas | 6-4 | Senior
Kansas forward-guard Keith Langford has a great first step and can really get to the rack. He has great quickness and has improved his shooting range. The presence of Langford and Wayne Simien will bring smiles to the "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawks" crowd.
Power forward -- Ike Diogu | Arizona State | 6-8 | Junior
Arizona State was a major disappointment last season, but you can't blame Ike Diogu for the team's woes because his surrounding cast did not play up to its abilities. Diogu is a force on the baseline and can hurt the opposition in a number of ways.
Center -- Channing Frye | Arizona | 6-11 | Senior
Both Frye and Diogu are inside forces in the Pac-10. Arizona coach Lute Olson has a real good one in Channing Frye. He has a world of experience and can dominate on the interior by scoring and blocking shots.
All-Rolls-Royce Fourth Team
Point guard -- John Gilchrist | Maryland | 6-3 | Junior
Starting off my fourth team is Maryland point guard John Gilchrist, who had a brilliant ACC tournament last season. Nobody will forget what he did against Duke in the ACC final. He put on a show and dominated, and there's no reason to believe he won't build on that performance.
Swing guard -- Gerry McNamara | Syracuse | 6-2 | Junior
McNamara showed in the national-championship game two years ago against Kansas what a clutch shooter he is. He carried the Orangemen against BYU in the tournament that year, scoring 40-plus points. McNamara and returning senior forward Hakim Warrick will give Syracuse one of the best 1-2 punches in America next season.
Swing forward -- Kennedy Winston | Alabama | 6-6 | Junior
When you talk about versatility at the swing forward position, coach Mark Gottfried has one of the best SEC players in Kennedy Winston. Gottfried is expecting big things and the Tide won't be a surprise this season.
Power forward -- Ronny Turiaf | Gonzaga | 6-10 | Senior
Coach Mark Few was happy to see Ronny Turiaf return. Turiaf can score in the low-box area and is very aggressive on the boards.
Center -- Luke Schenscher | Georgia Tech | 7-1 | Senior
Georgia Tech shocked America by making it to the national-championship game last season, and one key reason was the play of Schenscher. There will be no surprises this season, as the Yellow Jackets have top-10 talent. His post presence is a major factor, and he has shown improvement since day one.
All-Rolls-Royce Fifth Team
Point guard -- John Lucas Jr.| Oklahoma State | 5-11 | Senior
One reason Oklahoma State made the Final Four last season was the point-guard play of John Lucas Jr. No one will forget the big shot he hit against St. Joe's, which gave the Cowboys a trip to San Antonio. He should have another dandy year after getting familiar with coach Eddie Sutton's system. He's one of the premier players in the Big 12.
Swing guard -- Bracey Wright | Indiana | 6-3 | Junior
Bracey Wright can play both guard positions and shows explosiveness when he's healthy. I expect big things from Wright this season in Hoosier Country.
Swing forward -- Sean Banks | Memphis | 6-8 | Sophomore
When talking about versatility at swing forward, Sean Banks is a super soph who brings a smile to coach John Calipari's face. Banks can shoot the trifecta as well as score around the basket.
Power forward -- Craig Smith | Boston College | 6-7 | Junior
Craig Smith has been a pleasant surprise at Boston College since the day he arrived. He gives the Eagles a major low-post presence and deserves a lot more publicity as a tough inside force.
Center -- Paul Davis | Michigan State | 6-11 | Junior
Improved play at the point-guard slot should benefit Michigan State's Paul Davis inside. Davis has great touch, can shoot facing the basket and score in the low blocks. Coach Tom Izzo has to be excited about his Spartans this season, and Davis is one key reason why.
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.