College basketball rankings: Illinois enters early Top 25 And 1 after Kofi Cockburn decides not to transfer | MCUTimes

College basketball rankings: Illinois enters early Top 25 And 1 after Kofi Cockburn decides not to transfer

Kofi Cockburn entered both the NBA Draft and transfer portal earlier this offseason, which, at the time, strongly suggested the 7-foot center would be playing basketball somewhere other than Illinois next season. But word started to circulate in recent days that Cockburn would actually head back to the Big Ten school he helped secure a No. 1 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. And Cockburn made it official on Friday by announcing he will in fact play at least one more year for the Illini.

If you listened to Friday’s episode of the Eye On College Basketball Podcast, which was recorded before Cockburn’s announcement, you probably know I said I would not move Illinois back into the Top 25 And 1 even with Cockburn’s expected return. But after further looking at exactly what the Illini are returning and enrolling relative to other Top 25 And 1 teams, I’ve reconsidered and now do think Illinois belongs. Yes, Ayo Dosunmu is gone — and that’s a humongous loss. But Brad Underwood is still returning four of the top six scorers from a team that finished 16-4 in the Big Ten — and that’s enough to move Illinois up to No. 15 in Version 20.0 of the 2021-21 CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 And 1.  

Gonzaga remains No. 1.

The Zags have won at least 31 games in five consecutive seasons, played in two of the past four national title games, and finished first or second at KenPom in four of the past five years —  and it’s possible the best is yet to come considering the roster Mark Few has in place. The West Coast Conference power should bring back Andrew Nembhard and Drew Timme, the latter of whom is the likely preseason national player of the year. They’ll be joined by the top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2021 (Chet Holmgren) and two other consensus top-30 freshmen (Hunter Sallis, Nolan Hickman). meaning this should be the most-talented roster in program history.  

The latest with recruiting and major transfers are covered in the newest episode of Eye on College Basketball.

Top 25 And 1 rankings

Biggest Movers








The Zags are expected to bring back Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard, both of whom started for a team that finished 31-1. They’ll combine with a star-studded recruiting class – highlighted by five-star prospects Chet Holmgren and Hunter Sallis – and allow Gonzaga to enter the season as the favorite to win the national title. 31-1



Every player who helped the Bruins make the Final Four is returning – among them NCAA Tournament star Johnny Juzang. UCLA will add five-star prospect Peyton Watson and Rutgers transfer Myles Johnson to that core and have all of the pieces necessary to compete for the national title.




The Jayhawks are expected to return four of the top five scorers from a team that beat Baylor in February and finished second in the Big 12. The addition of high-level transfers Remy Martin (Arizona State) and Joseph Yesefu (Drake) should make Kansas the favorite to win what would be the 20th conference championship of Bill Self’s career. 21-9



The return of Collin Gillispie and Jermaine Samuels means the Wildcats will return four of the top five scorers from a team that won the Big East title by multiple games. So Jay Wright will have the pieces necessary to compete for his third national championship. 18-7



The return of Hunter Dickinson and Eli Brooks provides Juwan Howard with high-level experienced pieces to pair with the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class that features five-star prospect Caleb Houstan, five-star prospect Moussa Diabate and reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year DeVante’ Jones. The Wolverines should be the favorite to win what would be a second straight Big Ten title. 23-5



Duke is the only program expected to add three five-star prospects from the Class of 2021 – among them Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin, both of whom project as one-and-done top-10 NBA Draft picks. So even with Matthew Hurt and DJ Steward both leaving school early, Mike Krzyzewski should have enough talent to take the Blue Devils back to the top of the sport. 13-11



The Bears are losing Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler to the NBA Draft. But with a returning core of Adam Flagler, Matthew Mayer and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, and a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by five-star wing Kendall Brown and Arizona transfer James Akinjo, Scott Drew has the pieces to make another run at a national title. 28-2



The Razorbacks are losing a lot – including projected first-round pick Moses Moody. But JD Notae is returning as a double-digit scorer, and Eric Musselman is adding at least four other experienced double-digit scorers via the transfer market, most notably Chris Lykes (Miami) and Au’Diese Toney (Pitt).




The Boilermakers are returning the top eight scorers from a team that received a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The star is Trevion Williams, who averaged 15.5 points and 9.1 rebounds as a junior while setting himself up to be a possible First Team All-American next season.




As long as Kelvin Sampson remains the coach, Houston will likely be a mainstay in the Top 25 And 1. The early loss of Quentin Grimes hurts, but probably not too much with Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark set to return and be joined by Texas Tech transfer Kyler Edwards.




Chris Beard has used the transfer portal to add four players – Tre Mitchell (UMass), Timmy Allen (Utah), Christian Bishop (Creighton) and Dylan Disu (Vanderbilt) – who averaged double-figures in points last season. As a result, he appears to have enough experienced talent to compete for the Big 12 title in his first year at Texas 19-8



John Calipari has solved Kentucky’s point guard problems by enrolling five-star prospect TyTy Washington and Georgia transfer Sahvir Wheeler. Combine that with the return of Davion Mintz and Keion Brooks, and the additions of transfers Kellan Grady (Davidson), Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia) and CJ Frederick (Iowa), and the Wildcats look like a team set to have the biggest year-over-year turnaround in the sport. 9-16


N. Carolina

The return of Armando Bacot and Caleb Love will give Hubert Davis a chance to keep the Tar Heels nationally relevant in his first season after replacing Roy Williams. They’ll be joined by a couple of proven transfers – namely forwards Brady Manek (Oklahoma) and Dawson Garcia (Marquette) – who will make UNC’s frontcourt one of the sport’s best.




Dana Altman has been among the best at reloading his roster each offseason via the transfer market — and now he’s doing it again. The additions of Oklahoma transfer De’Vion Harmon, Syracuse transfer Quincy Guerrier and Rutgers transfer Jacob Young to an experienced core of Will Richardson, Eric Williams and N’Faly Dante should make the Ducks the biggest threat to UCLA in the Pac-12.




The return of Kofi Cockburn allows Illinois to return four of its top six scorers from a team that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. So even with the massive loss of Ayo Dosunmu to the NBA Draft, Brad Underwood’s team shouldn’t slip too much in the Big Ten standings.

NR 24-7


Ohio St.

Duane Washington’s decision to remain in the NBA Draft (despite the possibility that he’ll go unselected) is an obvious blow to Ohio State’s roster. But Chris Holtmann is still returning six of the top eight scorers from a team that earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and the addition of Louisiana transfer Cedric Russell will provide the Buckeyes with another proven shooter.

1 21-10



Alabama is losing four of the top five scorers from a team that won the SEC regular-season title and SEC Tournament – most notably Jaden Shackelford and Herb Jones. But the enrollment of a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by five-star point guard JD Davison, four-star big Charles Bediako and transfers Nimari Burnett (Texas Tech) and Noah Gurley (Furman) should give Nate Oats a chance to compete for back-to-back conference championships. 1 26-7


Florida St.

The Seminoles should be good again despite losing four of their top five scorers – among them projected lottery pick Scottie Barnes. A veteran core of Anthony Polite and Malik Osborne will be joined by a top-five recruiting class highlighted by former Houston standout Caleb Mills and five-star wing Matthew Cleveland. 1 18-7



John Fulkerson’s decision to return for another season means Tennessee is bringing back five of the top eight scorers from a team that earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That experienced core will pair nicely with a recruiting class highlighted by one of the best point guards in the Class of 2021 (Kennedy Chandler) and another newcomer who just averaged 11.7 points while shooting 44.2% from 3-point range at Auburn (Justin Powell).

1 18-9



Mark Turgeon has used the transfer market to add a quality guard (Fatts Russell) and big (Qudus Wahab). That should help offset the losses of Aaron Wiggins and Darryl Morsell and get the Terrapins to the Big Dance for the sixth time in a span of seven NCAA Tournaments. 1 17-14



Auburn’s frontcourt of Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler might end up being the best frontcourt in the SEC. That’s two bigs who were five-star prospects in high school joining a roster returning two double-digit scorers, most notably Allen Flanigan, who averaged 14.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season.

1 13-14



Dan Hurley has rebuilt UConn to the point where it should be a consistent challenger to Villanova in the Big East. Even the early loss of James Bouknight, a projected first-round NBA Draft pick, shouldn’t change that – especially with Tyler Polley set to return for a fifth season. 1 15-8


Michigan St.

Aaron Henry is following Joshua Langford and Rocket Watts out the door. But the arrival of five-star guard Max Christie and Northeastern transfer Tyson Walker should have Tom Izzo in his 24th straight NCAA Tournament.

1 15-13


St. Bona.

All five starters from a team that won the Atlantic 10 regular-season title and Atlantic 10 Tournament are expected back – most notably Kyle Lofton, who averaged 14.4 points and 5.5 assists as a junior. Wake Forest transfer Quadry Adams will provide depth.

1 16-5



Trey Murphy left school early for the NBA Draft, which means Virginia is losing its top three scorers. But Kihei Clark will provide Tony Bennett with an experienced point guard capable of keeping the Cavaliers near the top of the ACC, and the addition of East Carolina transfer Jayden Gardner could be a big boost.

1 18-7



Andy Enfield should have the Trojans back in the NCAA Tournament despite the loss of one-and-done star Evan Mobley. A top-15 recruiting class highlighted by Reese Dixon-Waters and Memphis transfer Boogie Ellis will help offset the departures and pair nicely with Isaiah Mobley, who averaged 9.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season.

1 25-8

Roster breakdowns

1. Gonzaga

Coach: Mark Few | 2020-21 record: 31-1


Coach: Mick Cronin | 2020-21 record: 22-10

3. Kansas

Coach: Bill Self | 2020-21 record: 21-9

4. Villanova

Coach: Jay Wright | 2020-21 record: 18-7

5. Michigan

Coach: Juwan Howard | 2020-21 record: 23-5

6. Duke

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski | 2020-21 record: 13-11

7. Baylor

Coach: Scott Drew | 2020-21 record: 28-2

8. Arkansas

Coach: Eric Musselman | 2020-21 record: 25-7

9. Purdue

Coach: Matt Painter | 2020-21 record: 18-10

10. Houston

Coach: Kelvin Sampson | 2020-21 record: 28-4

11. Texas

Coach: Chris Beard | 2020-21 record: 19-8

12. Kentucky

Coach: John Calipari | 2020-21 record: 9-16

  • Notable players expected to leave: Brandon Boston, Olivier Sarr, Terrence Clarke, Isaiah Jackson, Devin Askew, Cam’Ron Fletcher
  • Notable players expected to return: Davion Mintz, Keion Brooks, Dontaie Allen, Jacob Toppin, Lance Ware
  • Expected additions: TyTy Washington, Kellan Grady, Oscar Tshiebwe, Sahvir Wheeler, C.J. Frederick, Daimion Collins, Bryce Hopkins

13. North Carolina

Coach: Hubert Davis | 2020-21 record: 18-11

14. Oregon

Coach: Dana Altman | 2020-21 record: 21-7

15. Illinois

Coach: Brad Underwood   | 2020-21 record: 24-7

  • Notable players expected to leave: Ayo Dosunmu, Adam Miller, Giorgi Bezhanishvili
  • Notable players expected to return: Kofi Cockburn, Trent Frazier, Andre Curbelo, Da’Monte Williams, Jacob Grandison, Coleman Hawkins, Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk, Austin Hutcherson
  • Expected additions: Omar Payne, Alfonso Plummer, Luke Goode, Ramses Melendeez, Brandin Podziemski

16. Ohio State

Coach: Chris Holtmann | 2020-21 record: 21-10

17. Alabama

Coach: Nate Oats | 2020-21 record: 26-7

  • Notable players expected to leave: Jaden Shackelford, John Petty, Herb Jones, Joshua Primo, Jordan Bruner, Alex Reese
  • Notable players expected to return: Jahvon Quinerly, Keon Ellis, Juwan Gary, James Rojas, Darius Miles, Keon Ambrose-Hylton
  • Expected additions: Noah Gurley, JD Davison, Charles Bediako, Jusaun Holt, Nimari Burnett, Alex Tchikou

18. Florida State

Coach: Leonard Hamilton | 2020-21 record: 18-7

19. Tennessee

Coach: Rick Barnes | 2020-21 record: 18-9

20. Maryland

Coach: Mark Turgeon | 2020-21 record: 17-14

21. Auburn

Coach: Bruce Pearl | 2020-21 record: 13-14

22. UConn

Coach: Dan Hurley | 2020-21 record: 15-8

23. Michigan State

Coach: Tom Izzo | 2020-21 record: 15-13

24. St. Bonaventure

Coach: Mark Schmidt | 2020-21 record: 16-5

25. Virginia

Coach: Tony Bennett | 2020-21 record: 18-17

26. USC

Coach: Andy Enfield | 2020-21 record: 25-8

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