Football season is very much still in full swing. The weather is starting to change and we are getting some perfect fall weather over the last week or so. However, basketball is right around the corner. In fact, the college basketball season tips officially off in just 25 days. Monday, November 7th will be here before you know it. Likely preseason Top 10 team Baylor is among the group that will tip off the season at noon EST with a huge slate of games to follow on opening day.
In honor of hitting the 25-day-out mark, let’s begin by taking a look at five of the biggest storylines entering the 2022-2023 season. Every five days we will release five more headlines and ultimately reach a total of 25 when the season begins on the 7th of November. As Jon Rothstein would say: And Here. we Go.
New Faces on the Sidelines at Power Programs
Don’t worry college basketball fans, the Mike Krzyzewski farewell tour is over. However, the Duke Blue Devils still promise to be one of the most talked about teams this upcoming season. 35-year-old Jon Scheyer takes over at his alma mater and will likely have a preseason top 5 team. He played a big role in landing the top-ranked recruiting class and those freshmen will make an instant impact.
It isn’t just Blue Devils who made headlines with a coaching change though. At Villanova, Jay Wright decided to forgo a season-long retirement celebration in favor of announcing his surprise departure from the sport on April 20th at age 60. The Wildcats also went with a familiar face, hiring Wright’s long-time assistant Kyle Neptune.
Time will tell if these two new head coaches can find the same success that Hubert Davis experienced in his first season taking over for legendary North Carolina boss Roy Williams. However, we do know that all eyes around college basketball with be on Duke and Villanova early in the season.
Reigning National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe Returns
You didn’t really think we would get further than this without mentioning the Wildcats, did you? This is Kentucky Sports Radio after all. On paper, it seems shocking that Oscar Tshiebwe would return to college basketball after sweeping the national player of the year awards. Only Ralph Sampson in 1982 and Tyler Hansbrough in 2008 have done the same. However, as a projected second-round NBA draft pick, it made sense for Tshiebwe to return. When you factor in the Name, Image, and Likeness money he is set to earn in Lexington and it is very likely that Kentucky’s big man is making more as a collegiate player than he would have as a professional.
Southeastern Conference Hires Six New Head Coaches
The head coaching changes at Duke and Villanova certainly dominated the college basketball offseason. However, the Southeastern Conference made a lot of waves in its own right by turning over nearly half of the league’s head jobs. Chris Jans (New Mexico State -> Mississippi State), Lamont Paris (Chattanooga -> South Carolina), Todd Golden (San Francisco -> Florida), Matt McMahon (Murray State -> LSU), Mike White (Florida -> Georgia) , and Dennis Gates (Cleveland State -> Missouri) filled the six open SEC jobs.
High Scoring Guards Chasing Records
Detroit guard Antonio Davis has already broken into college basketball’s all-time top 25 scoring leaders with 2,734 points. The prolific guard will surpass the 3,000-point milestone and could finish as high as second all-time.
Additionally, last season’s second-leading scorer in the country, Darius McGhee, returns to Liberty after scoring 24.6 points per game. The 5’9″ guard has 1,864 career points and will easily crack the 2,000-point threshold.
Oral Roberts guard Max Abmas has returned to college basketball as well after back-to-back All-American Honorable Mention seasons. The 6’1″ guard has scored 1,818 points in just three seasons so far. Playing at the mid-major level these guys don’t always get national attention, but they are all worth the price of admission.
How Many Forwards/Centers Can We Fit on an All-American List?
Everyone has their own opinions on how All-Conference or All-American lists should be constructed. Is it the five best players regardless of position? Do you need to be able to actually put this team of five players on the floor in a real-life basketball game? Or, does it even need to consist of only five players to begin with? Those questions will be challenged this season as traditional big men are officially back at the forefront of college basketball.
Oscar Tshiebwe, the consensus National Player of the Year from last season, is back at Kentucky. He’s a lock to be a preseason first-team All-American. Drew Timme, is back at Gonzaga after two consecutive All-American seasons. The 6’10” forward is also a lock to be a preseason First Team All-American. 6’10” forward Armando Bacot is back for his senior season at North Carolina. All he did last year was earn First Team All-ACC honors and lead North Carolina to the national championship game. In the tournament, Bacot averaged 15.3 points and 16.5 rebounds per game. He is almost assuredly going to be a preseason First-Team All-American. That marks three traditional, back-to-the-basket forwards on the list.
Tshiebwe, Timme, and Bacot deserve first-team honors, but we haven’t even mentioned the player who has arguably gotten as much hype as anyone this offseason. Trayce Jackson Davis at Indiana elected to return after averaging 18.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in ’21-22. He is a big reason why the Hoosiers have become a trendy Top 15 team in the country and will likely lead to him being placed on plenty of preseason All-American ballots. Also, 7’1″ center Hunter Dickinson is back at Michigan after a season of 18.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. He’s a likely All-American who has to battle with Jackson-Davis to even be the best at his position in the Big Ten. Then there is 7’4″ behemoth Zach Edey at Purdue. Edey averaged 14.4 points and 7.7 rebounds as a sophomore and will likely be the focal point of the boilermakers this season.
With shoutouts to Dereck Lively II (duke) Ryan Kalkbrenner (Creighton), Colin Castleton (Florida), and Adam Sanogo (UConn), there are certainly plenty of worthy big men in college basketball this season. It will be interesting to see how media members handle the All-Conference and All-American lists.