In the one-and-done era of college basketball, it’s easy to forget which players would still be in school if they used all four years of their eligibility. Here’s what the top 10 might look like if every player stuck around for their senior season. In this fantasy world of college hoops, we’re also going to assume everyone is healthy and has avoided NCAA sanctions.
Player Key: Red (on NBA roster), Black (still in college), and Blue (not in NBA or college)
Possible lineup: G Brandon Knight (Sr.); G/F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Jr.); F Terrence Jones (Sr.); F Julius Randle (Fr.); F/C Anthony Davis (Jr.)
It’s rather telling that Nerlens Noel, the No. 6 pick in last year’s draft, didn’t crack this starting lineup. If you include Enes Kanter, who never actually played at Kentucky because the NCAA ruled him ineligible, this Wildcats squad would have nine players who are currently on an NBA roster. Add in the three projected 2014 first-rounders — Randle, James Young and Willie Cauley-Stein — and Kentucky would have an entire 12-man roster of pros. Most NBA teams would take this kind of frontcourt depth.
Possible lineup: G Kyrie Irving (Sr.); G Austin Rivers (Jr.); F Rodney Hood (So.); F Jabari Parker (Fr.); F Amile Jefferson (So.)
While this Blue Devils team would lack size, it would have the best player in the country. Irving is the only one eligible in this fantasy college hoops world who has made an NBA All-Star team (although Anthony Davis may be an injury replacement). The Cavaliers point guard has averaged 21.7 points and 6.2 assists this season and will be an East All-Star starter Feb. 16. Pairing him with the Pelicans’ Rivers would create a formidable backcourt to complement this year’s talented young frontline.
Possible lineup: G Michael Carter-Williams (Jr.); G Dion Waiters (Sr.); F C.J. Fair (Sr.); F Jarami Grant (So.); C Fab Melo (Sr.)
Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis is a Wooden Award candidate for best college basketball player of the year for the 2013-14 undefeated Orange squad, but he’d have to come off the bench on this fantasy team. Michael Carter-Williams is the leading candidate for NBA rookie of the year, as the 76ers point guard leads all first-year players in points, rebounds and assists. With Waiters, who is averaging 14.2 points a game for Cleveland, this would be the best and deepest backcourt.
Possible lineup: G Josh Selby (Sr.); G Ben McLemore (So.); F Andrew Wiggins (Fr.); F Perry Ellis (So.); C Joel Embiid (Fr.)
With four underclassmen starting, this would be the youngest of the top 10 squads. Kansas is this year’s most-talented team — with two projected top-five NBA picks for the upcoming draft in Wiggins and Embiid. Last year, McLemore led the Jayhawks in scoring as a freshman and now the 20-year-old is averaging 7.7 points a game with the Sacramento Kings. Selby was a second-round pick in 2011, bounced around the D-League and currently plays professionally in Croatia.
Possible lineup: G Shabazz Napier (Sr.); G Ryan Boatright (Jr.); G/F Jeremy Lamb (Sr.); F DeAndre Daniels (Jr.); C Andre Drummond (Jr.)
This hypothetical Huskies team would have two of the NBA’s most-improved players. Lamb has emerged as a key scorer off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s averaging 10 points a game this year after scoring just 3.1 per contest as a rookie. Detroit Pistons center Drummond is third in the NBA in rebounding (12.7 per game) and has increased his scoring from 7.9 points a game in 2012-13 to 12.8 this season. With UConn’s current talented backcourt, this would be a solid squad inside and out.
6. North Carolina
Possible lineup: G Kendall Marshall (Sr.); G Marcus Paige (So.); G/F Reggie Bullock (Sr.); F Harrison Barnes (Sr.); F James Michael McAdoo (Jr.)
Possible lineup: G Trey Burke (Jr.); G Nik Stauskas (So.); G/F Tim Hardaway Jr. (Sr.); F Glen Robinson III (So.); F Mitch McGary (So.)
Possible lineup: G Yogi Ferrell (So.); G Victor Oladipo (Sr.); F Will Sheehey (Sr.); F Noah Vonleh (Fr.); C Cody Zeller (Jr.)
9. Ohio State
Possible lineup: G Aaron Craft (Sr.); G Lenzelle Smith Jr. (Sr.); F LaQuinton Ross (Jr.); F Deshaun Thomas (Sr.); F Jared Sullinger (Sr.)
Possible lineup: G Scottie Wilbekin (Sr.); G Bradley Beal (Jr.); F Casey Prather (Sr.); F Chris Walker (Fr.); C Patric Young (Sr.)