ESPN.com 2006-07 June Top 25 (1-10)

Originally Published: June 19, 2006
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

No one in the NBA, the NCAA, the NABC or any other acronym you can find in hoops can believe that the Florida sophomores are still in college instead of the NBA draft.

But Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer are back -- and, as such, Florida remains atop our second 2006-07 preseason Top 25, despite the fact that no team has repeated since Duke did it in 1991 and '92.

You won't see some notable names here, but that doesn't mean we're giving up on them. We just want to be more convinced that teams like Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida State, Southern Illinois, Michigan, Cal, Hofstra, UMass, Xavier, Nevada, Indiana, Syracuse and Kansas State need to be in the Top 25.

We could be way off on these omissions (and that's why we have two more iterations before November's first tip). Still, we're sure we'll hear from the fan bases of these squads over their absences -- even in June.

Here are three reasons why we have each team where they are in our latest Top 25.

(Records are from the 2005-06 season.)

1. Florida (33-6)
Florida • The starting five is back from a national championship team.
• Forward Joakim Noah could be the preseason national player of the year.
• The Gators might have had the best locker room karma of any team in the NCAA Tournament. There's no reason to believe that won't continue in 2006-07.

2. Kansas (25-8)
Kansas • Brandon Rush didn't sniff the NBA draft and returns with rest of his mates.
• Kansas again signed the top prospect late in the spring recruiting period and Darrel Arthur is a potential national freshman of the year.
• The first-round loss to Bradley will push this squad maybe harder than any other team.

3. North Carolina (23-8)
North Carolina • Tyler Hansbrough returned to be one of the most efficient scorers in the low post.
• The addition of the top freshmen class in the country led by guards Tywon Lawson, Wayne Ellington and forward Brendan Wright make the Tar Heels one of the most talented teams in the nation.
• The so-called role guys who led the surprising Tar Heels to the NCAAs will be even more effective in Year 2.

4. Pittsburgh (25-8)
Pitt • Aaron Gray returned for his senior season. He'll be the immovable man in the middle for the Panthers.
• Sam Young might be the least-publicized elite forward in the country. Remember his name. He is a stud.
• The loss of Carl Krauser will hurt, but Ronald Ramon, Antonio Graves, Levance Fields and Keith Benjamin are all savvy enough to be the lead guard.

5. LSU (23-9)
LSU • Glen "Big Baby" Davis returned to LSU and skipped the NBA draft.
• Four of the five starters return (we're counting Tack Minor as a starter, since he'll be back at guard) and the bench has Final Four experience.
• We're going to believe coach John Brady that Magnum Rolle will replace Tyrus Thomas' shot blocking.

6. Georgetown (22-16)
Georgetown • Let's start with big men Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert. Tell us a pair of better forwards.
• The losses of Brandon Bowman and Ashanti Cook won't be as dramatic as it seems with a stable recruiting class on board led by Vernon Macklin.
• John Thompson III. He's that good a coach. His system works. Look, we're talking about Georgetown again. That's because of JT3.

7. Ohio State (26-6)
Ohio State • Greg Oden. Once he's healthy after wrist surgery, he'll instantly become the best big man in college basketball.
• The rest of the recruiting class isn't too shabby, either, with help at the other four positions.
• The Buckeyes lost Terrence Dials but return the core of a team that rocked the Big Ten for most of the season. And we'll toss in coach Thad Matta, too, who has that Midas touch of late, whether it's winning games or signing recruits.

8. Arizona (20-13)
WVa • Marcus Williams might be the preseason Pac-10 player of the year. There's no question that the Wildcats' staff was more worried Williams would declare than they were about Mustafa Shakur possibly bolting.
• Love him or hate him, Shakur still is an experienced point guard. He offers a stable defender and an improving distributor who still has to find his way offensively.
• The Cats are adding two big-time studs -- one that was hurt for most of last year in guard Jawann McClellan and freshman forward Chase Budinger. Budinger will give Washington's Spencer Hawes a run for Pac-10 freshman of the year.

9. Wisconsin (19-12)
Wisconsin • The Badgers have the top returnee in the Big Ten in Alando Tucker, and are safe up the middle with Brian Butch at center and Kammron Taylor.
• Bo Ryan got an extension for good reason: He wins and his system works every year.
• Ryan keeps singing the praises of incoming guard Jason Bohannon, who provides the Badgers depth at lead guard, something they desperately needed.

10. Texas A&M (22-9)
A&M • Acie Law and Joseph Jones return, giving the Aggies second-best 1-2 punch in the Big 12.
• Billy Gillispie. He's another golden boy who doesn't seem to do wrong. Gillispie's hard-work ethic always seems to carry over to his players. He lost two assistants not because he's hard to work for but rather because the Aggies are playing so well, the assistants have been gobbled up.
• Freshman Bryan Davis gives the Aggies a much-needed boost in the post.

To see teams 11-25, please click here.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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