Bossi's Best: How the top 10 teams will replace key players
The 2019-20 college season is officially here. While preseason rankings don’t mean much, they at least give a good baseline of what to expect. In this week’s edition of Bossi’s Best, National Analyst Eric Bossi takes a look at which player will be the most important to replace for each of the AP preseason top 10 teams after this season and how they will do it.
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2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position
2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position
1. Michigan State, Cassius Winston
Why him? This is an easy call. Winston is a potential national player of the year and the type of guy who may eventually see his jersey hanging in the rafters of the Breslin Center.
How will they replace him? This is where things get tricky. Top 50 class of 2020 point guard Jalen Terry was the guy, but he backed out of his commitment. Tom Izzo added bully combo guard A.J. Hoggard, who can pick up the slack, and current Spartans Rocket Watts and Foster Loyer will get their chances.
2. Kentucky, Tyrese Maxey
Why him? This Kentucky team is an interesting one because we know it will lose guys to the NBA, but they don't have an established Alpha. But, Maxey has the best chance to be that guy and the type of work he puts in on a daily basis, his energy and his leadership won’t be easy to replace.
How will they replace him? It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Immanuel Quickley back for his junior season, and he has many of the same qualities as Maxey when it comes to hard work and high character. The Cats have a terrific class, headlined by top five shooting guard Terrence Clarke, but they still have some work to do to find a quality ball-handler in 2020. Then again, John Calipari always has a plan and it wouldn't be a surprise if 2021 commit Devin Askew graduates early and become that 2020 option.
3. Kansas, Devon Dotson
Why him? The Jayhawks will also lose Udoka Azubuike to graduation but the expected departure of Dotson, a potential All-American point guard, to the NBA will be toughest to replace.
How will they replace him? Junior Marcus Garrett can slide over and play some point and 2019 four-star Dajuan Harris is redshirting this season. But, a major part of the Jayhawks' pitch to five-star Bryce Thompson is that he will have the opportunity to come in and be a ball-handler and decision-maker in Dotson’s place.
4. Duke, Tre Jones
Why him? Jones, who passed on the NBA after his freshman season, is the only proven ball-handler for the Blue Devils. It will be hard enough to replace him next season, but if he gets injured again this year they could be in trouble.
How will they replace him? Five-star point guard Jeremy Roach is already in the fold and should walk into major minutes next season. We’ll learn a lot about just how ready he’ll be for that role this season when he is back on the floor after being sidelined by injury. Also capable of playing some point is another commit, D.J. Steward.
5. Louisville, Jordan Nwora
Why him? It’s looking like a pretty sure thing that Nwora will leave for the NBA and while freshman Samuell Williamson is a sneaky one-and-done candidate, it's Nwora who makes the Cards go.
How will they replace him? One of the top prospects in junior college basketball, Jayden Scrubb isn’t as big and is a bit more of a slasher, but he can certainly replace Nwora’s production and give the Cardinals a capable threat from deep. Long term, the potential of recently committed high school senior JJ Traynor is considerable.
6. Florida, Kerry Blackshear Jr.
Why him? The Gators are absolutely loaded on the wings and in the backcourt where they could lose Andrew Nembhard, Scottie Lewis or Tre Mann. But, they don’t have many big men and certainly not one like Blackshear, who is a potential All-American with his inside/out ability.
How will they replace him? How the Gators replace Blackshear is a really good question. The hope will be that Dontay Bassett or Omar Payne steps forward from within the program. Junior college four-man Osayi Osifo will get a crack at replacing Blackshear’s minutes as well.
7. Maryland, Jalen Smith
Why him? There aren’t many guys with Smith’s size, skill and shot-blocking ability who play multiple years of college, so it will be a surprise if he’s back for his junior year. Especially if he takes the big step forward expected this season.
How will they replace him? Already in the program are twins Makhi Mitchell and Makhel Mitchell. They took a late flyer on Chol Marial, who could be a difference-maker if he is ever healthy. High school senior Cliff Omoruyi is waiting until the spring and would be a major add if they could get him.
8. Gonzaga, Admon Gilder
Why him? As usual, the Zags have a well-constructed roster and are seemingly deep at every position, especially across the front line. So, a seasoned guard who can play the one or the two such as Gilder will be hard to replace.
How will they replace him? Already committed is four-star combo guard Dominick Harris, who can shoot from deep and play pretty good defense. The real prize they are after, though, is five-star point guard Jalen Suggs. As long as he doesn’t head overseas, Gonzaga looks to be in the driver’s seat for Suggs.
9. North Carolina, Cole Anthony
Why him? Look for Anthony to be one of the college game’s most dynamic scorers and creators this season. But don’t look for him to be back next season, and that will leave a gaping hole in the Tar Heels' backcourt.
How will they replace him? Roy Williams is sleeping well, because he knocked it out of the park with five-star Caleb Love. UNC got involved a little late with the St. Louis playmaker, but it made up ground quickly and landed a difference-maker on both ends of the floor.
10. Villanova, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
Why him? The Wildcats don’t have any seniors on the roster who are vital to their success on a nightly basis. That leaves the freshman four-man Robinson-Earl, who is now being discussed by NBA scouts as a legitimate one-and-done threat. He can shoot, he is a big-time rebounder and there’s nobody else like him on the roster.
How will they replace him? The Wildcats recruiting may be the most perplexing of any highly ranked team in the country. They don’t appear to be actively recruiting anybody in the senior class and if they are going to add anybody it won’t be until late, and it’s looking like they could have to hit the transfer market. It’s certainly a situation to monitor.