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Thursday, August 16th, 2007 at 4:22 pm  |  109 responses

SLAM Preseason College Top 25

We crank out the best 25 teams and explain why we’re holding the Mayo. For now.

by Ben Collins

OJ Mayo is good at basketball. We know this.

We’ve seen the high school all-star games. We’ve seen the Youtube videos, and not just the ones of him “bumping” a referee that we’re now certain is related to Tim Donaghy. He’s 6’4” — maybe 6’5” — has a jumpshot and has some of the best point guard skills we’ve seen in a big guard since Gilbert Arenas.

We’ve heard the hype. The buzz could knock out all of the power in Los Angeles. (This may or may not be a bad thing.)

So we implore you to go ahead and do what’s natural: flip out! Everybody! Come on! Make a life-sized OJ Mayo cut-out, dress it up all pretty-like and tango with it on your front lawn. Drape a USC flag around your shoulders like a shawl and wear only that to work every day. Slather yourself in red and yellow facepaint. When you feel the facepaint isn’t expressive enough, set yourself on fire.

For the sake of hype, we should be doing these things, too. We should make OJ Mayo the next LeBron James or the next Sebastian Telfair and immediately throw him and the USC Trojans at the top of everything.

If he swims, we were right, and we knew it all along. All those hours being ridiculed for the facepaint and the flag-wearing and the six days in intensive care were worth it. Now we get a book deal! I’m pretty sure this is how Charlie Rosen did it.

If he sinks, we blame it on character issues. “All the talent in the world,” we’ll say, “he just couldn’t go to class/share with his teammates/get past himself/lay off the (fill in hampering applicable illegal or inappropriate activity or substance here).” And we’ll be fine because we never could’ve predicted all of these readily predictable character flaws of those put on a too-tall pedestal. No, never.

But we’re not going to put this USC team at number one. We’re not going to place them out of the top 25 like some want either. Because, on paper, there’s a reason we shouldn’t be so polar.

You can say this: USC is the preeminent team in the Pac-10 because OJ Mayo is on USC.

But you must also say this: OJ Mayo is on USC because USC was not the preeminent team in the Pac-10.

You’ve heard this story already: OJ Mayo walks into Tim Floyd’s office and tells him that he wants to create the USC basketball legacy on his own terms. Or maybe he came down through the chimney. I don’t know, something like that. The story is one year old and it has already been destroyed by the telephone game.

Regardless, OJ Mayo walked into a situation where he knew that a collected assortment of talent, like UCLA, UNC, Memphis or even Arizona, wouldn’t hamper the minutes he needs to survive as the best player in his class. Thus it would be completely illogical to put them atop the top 25, even though Tim Floyd was still able to squeeze a Sweet 16 appearance out of last year’s team.

So we’ve leveled off Mayo and the Trojans at number seven in our Preseason Top 25. This, too, may even be a little high. Because this team is very combustible. And we’ve already been burnt too many times before.

[Table=6]

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Thanks to your intro, Ben, I can totally stop what I was working on and take a nap. G’night.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    Yeah, I agree. That length was totally uncalled for.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    Wait, let me fix it so Penn State is number one and then you can comment again. Go.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com H to the izzo

    Ben,How dare you leave out Texas A&M Corpus Christi

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    Roll Islanders! Or something.

  • Whodoneit

    And Oregon…? An elite 8 appearance last year, and the fact that theyve got everybody but Brooks coming back isn’t good enough to crack the top 25 huh? Wierd.

  • JZ

    “ran & gan”…hahahaha
    wash st. at 12?? that’s just bananas!

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    I’m currently more pumped for college football, but this is a good little primer nonetheless. As for WSU, I can name another contributor. Taylor Rotcheskie (spelling?), a lefty combo guard from Santa Barbara who transferred from Tulane. Played pick-up hoops against him last week. He’s maybe 6’0″, and was throwing himself alley oops off the backboard and throwing down one-handed. Seemed like a cool kid.

  • slamrules!!!!

    duke? florida?

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    Very nice rankings. The table looks great! When I think of how much more user-friendly this site is now than when I wrote the Dirty 30…
    Ah, but back to Collins. Great work!

  • lawrence moten

    Duke?? Florida?? Slamrules!!!! have you been drinking already son? I will send you 65 bucks and a Duke Lacrosse shirt if you can explain why either of those teams should be in the top 25.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    Florida lost its top-six players. Duke sucks. No, really, they do. And they lost their best player.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Duke will probably be better than they were last year. Unfortunately.

  • miguel024

    OREGON? Top 8 finish, Bryce Taylor, a healthy Malik Hairston? Maybe when we beat your #14 Kansas State on Nov. 29 you’ll listen

  • lawrence moten

    Duke has many problems. The best shooter and playmaker are both freshman, but K wants to play Paulus, ScheyerFaces and Demarcus Nelson. Gerald Henderson is probably their all around best player, but he looks like one of those guys that K puts in his doghouse. Singler might be ok, but he will probably be a bust like most all Duke players. Plus after they all get done sucking and crying to K they can get asst. coach jobs. Well only the floor-slapping guards.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    I thought about Oregon, Miguel, and they should probably be in that group of 26s instead of Ohio State. But do you think Tajuan Porter and Hairston are better than Augustin and size? More likely to dominate than Hardin? Maybe they’re in there instead of UConn — that’s completely hit-or-miss — but without Aaron Brooks, who is to say they’re better than those last five teams?

  • http://www.firemitchkupchak.com Reggie Evans

    Don’t think you’re granted immunity from being called a hater just because you wrote a long apology before hand. Just kidding. Don’t play wit it.

  • http://www.myspace.com/whyberickjames Jesus Shuttlesworth

    nobody care miguel. kansas will win it all. i swear. sherron collins might be p.o.y. shady arthur will be killing everyone. brandon rush will be dropping panties and snactching hearts on a nightly basis

  • DWADE

    Im not saying Florida should be in the top 25 but somebody tell me where they should be

  • JayLynch

    UNC all the way, there wont be any choking this year.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    This was the longest I’ve ever awaited a college preview. Thankfully, it was worth the wait.

  • chiqo

    slam pays attention to college ball enough to get an online write up? new. still awesome though.

  • http://yourmom.com whitechocolate

    oj mayo, demar derozan and romeo miller! Oh Baby!

  • miguel024

    The Ducks only loss comes in the form of Brooks which will actually end up freeing up the rest of our incredibly deep team offensively This is the second preview I’ve read of that has had no mention of Bryce Taylor despite the fact that he’s probably our most promising return. This guy can shoot, slash, and rise just wait by the end of next year you’ll be hearing his name called in the first round, possibky even lottery. Hairtson is back and will finally be healthy, this guy played all of last season injured and still had people mentioning his name in last years draft. And Porter, this guy constantly gets slept on because of his height but you got to remember that he was only a freshman last still earning PT at the begining of the season and still managed to break Kopono’s (NBA 3PT Champ) single season record. Not to mention we handled Cal and Washington State last year, along with Zona, USC, Georgetown, and UCLA. Not to mention that we too have a couple of incoming freshman whereas Cal and W State add nothing, and as good as USC’s incoming class is they are still frosh and they lost two of their leaders, Cal loses their point. Oh and we’ve got a ton of seniors, leadership and wisdom baby
    DUCKS SHOULDA BEEN SOMEHWERE 10-20

  • Phila

    Im pretty sure UCLA wasnt eliminated “by Florida 76-6″

  • Phila

    and where da Badgers at? im Wisconsin born and resident in Madison, show Bucky some love

  • Phila

    and where da Badgers at? I know we just lost Tucker but c’mon show Wisconsin some love

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    Yes they did. It was a horrible, horrible blowout.

  • http://www.ojmayonaise.com/ OJ Mayonnaise

    Nice 559 word explaination on OJ

  • ty akins

    look out for syracuse they already have talent with paul harris and eric plus a nice incoming class with donte and company

  • Jukai

    Are we looking out for them to actually make the bracket this year, Akins?

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    White Chocolate, Romeo Miller is not all that.

  • Jukai

    Also, I still don’t get Marquette at 11.

  • chris prov

    “The pac-10 is thin up front.”
    Wait.
    Did I miss something.
    Im so confused.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    I’m talking about height, Chris. There’s Love and Hardin, but neither of them aren’t close to 7′. Hawes manhandled the conference last year and bolted for the lottery.

  • Simon Fuller

    Best point guard skills in a big guard since Gilbert Arenas? If I was an NBA player and Gilbert Arenas was my point guard, I’d probably want to kill myself…

  • Boing Dynasty

    I cant wait ’till OJ Mayo shows up at the SLAM office to announce that hes going to be writting the ’09 rookie diary. Before asked.

  • Boing Dynasty

    Simon, if Gilbert ever felt like he had to prove he was the best PG in the leauge i wouldnt bet against him leading the league in assists. Maybe even assists and dimes.

  • Boing Dynasty

    One more, for the road. I think what steph meant by that 10-11 assists and 3-4 dimes a game comment was that dimes are really only pretty passes that get your teamamte wide open looks. If you pass it, and your team-mate his a 3 with a defender right up on him, its not a dime. But you still get an assist.

  • chris prov

    @ ben: 2 legit 7 footers on a college team is a rarity these days no matter what conference. the pac-10 may be a little on the short side, but with the depth and quality of the other posts in the league its not exactly like their thin up front. Maybe just a little short and stocky.

  • Kene

    …i’ll put 20 up against 10 that Duke ends up better than USC this year. They had a down year last season and still won 20 games. There’s no way they aren’t one of the top 25 teams in the country this year. No way.

  • E.J.

    You will live to regret you prediction for the Indiana Hoosiers. Just wait until the ball is tipped. Stanford at #10? Sure.

  • http://mynameinorange.blogspot.com Hisham

    how come everybody’s name is derrick all of a sudden?

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com H to the izzo

    Also look at for Vanderbilt,they’ve got a legitimate future 7′ Australian lottery pick whose names escapes me at the moment.
    It might be a bad year for Not Duke.
    And lets hope that Pitt hand the team to LeVance Fields,if nothing else it’ll be fun to watch

  • The Big Cheese

    Um…Gilbert Arenas is a “big guard”? Compared to most junior high-schoolers, I suppose. Even if we’re talking about the college level, I remember Gil’ as a seemingly small two for ‘Zona in his day.
    The average height for guards these days has to be over 6’4″, which would mean Gil’ is below average even if you believe he’s as tall as the 6’4″ he’s listed at.
    Regardless, Gil’ hits big shots on the big stage so he’s a big guard in the “most valuable” sense of the word. Let’s see if Mayo’s as effective once he gets his chance.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com H to the izzo

    Gil is a big point guard

  • three stripes

    Wouldn’t say anyone is actually “looking out” for Vanderbilt really, but that Australian is supposed to be pretty good. Andrew Ogilvy is his name.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Demar Derozan will be a high school senior this year. And Romeo Miller is a non-issue.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Also, Ben C., I just read an article about how the Pac 10 probably has the best collection of big men in the nation this season. So, obviously, you’re stupid.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com H to the izzo

    Demar Derozan is talented

  • Lovethysneaker

    its nice to see NC State in the top 25, with the work they did in the ACC tournament last year led by Sidney Lowe, and the fact that they only lost one good player while picking up JJ Hickson to more than replace him…i think they’ll earn that ranking

  • Ric Bucher

    Go Spartans. Michigan State all the Way Baby. Get you Neitzel on Big 10 MVP and College MVP

  • http://www.myspace.com/whyberickjames Jesus Shuttlesworth

    sherron collins and shady arthur

  • three stripes

    UNC and Roy Williams

  • Bran

    Kentucky will be up there half way through the season. Untapped talent will shine through and bring home some upsets!!

  • http://none KyBoy

    No Kentucky? New Coach, New Attitude, 2 great new players…This team is going to tear it up!

  • lordgefroh

    milk carton: oregon

  • whodoneit

    …and Oregon? you guys didn’t watch the tourney last year huh. Returning everybody but Brooks, plus the fact that they gave the eventual champs a run for the money in the elite 8 isn’t enough to crack the top 25???
    Wierd.

  • WHATTTT

    why didnt you put up syracuse. they have 5 top recruits and paul harris’s teammate all on one team!

  • Phil B

    KENTUCKY!!!!!!!!

    Oregon!!!!

    Mostly Kentucky though!!!!!!!!!!

  • Steve

    syracuse?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    I like Kentucky.

  • Driveby

    It’s Slam Online. Don’t take their writing or opinions too seriously.

  • Mike J

    wow, I really can’t believe y’all dropped Duke out of the top 25. Worst season since 95 and they still won 20 games. Add ANOTHER star-studded class of freshmen to an already experienced and talented core, throw in a hall of fame coach and…still no top 25?

    Oh wait, this is slam. Home of the writers that think year in and year out that this is Kansas or Memphis’s year to win it all, when they do nothing but choke. Enjoy the season fellas, keep riding the hype machines into the ground. USC? yeah…add them to the list.

  • HoosyourDaddy?!

    The Hoos and $ean $ingletary will go for back to back ACC champions. Here we come UNC!

  • UNCfan

    Yea Carolina is the gratest teams ever, You all cannt be seriaous not makin thems the nuber 1 team with out quesion.

  • Bball fan

    Where the HECK is Oregon? And Gonzaga will not “hack” but absolutely annihilate the WCC this year (see Memphis vs CUSA last year)

  • Matt

    This is a horrible ranking done by an obvious idiot.

  • dukeroxx

    first off
    UNC is clearly gonna suck
    no recruits
    lost 27 PPG with the departure of 3 players

    and stop hatin on duke
    just cuz there gonna be nasty doesnt mean u guys gotta bitch cuz ure team usually sucks

  • urwrong

    Are you smoking crack? Duke has one off year and now they aren’t even top 25? We will see come march. Wishful thinking though!

  • chris

    As much as I like oregon, good god they will not be a top 25 team. A. Brooks saved their ass so many times last year.

  • Jason

    No Duke? What a joke.

    Duke returns 4 starters plus a healthy Paulus who played on a broken foot all of last year. Add to that Singler and Nolan Smith.

    Duke is easily a top 25 team.

  • http://dwflash3msn.com PG27

    I think that UCONN could be a little higher rated.There team just needs to grow up a little.Someone needs to step up and be the leader.Dyson(one of my favorite college players)wil probably be that leader.I saw him attempt to do so on some occasions last year.

  • Wally Sexybiak

    Where are those blue devils? come on I thought Coach K had Taylor King, Kyle Singler, and a sophmoric Gerald Henderson JR.

    Would it have helped if white boy McRoberts stayed?

  • Wally Sexybiak

    I think Coach K’s new recruiting pipeline is in Orange County considering they got two sick white kids.

  • greg

    duke is a legit top 10 team……i have lost all respect for Slam….we return 4 starters on top of the best class in the ACC. A healthy Paulus will make a world of difference plus a breakout year Henderson….Nolan Smith, Singler and Taylor King are all capable of being regular contributors……this top 25 is a joke!!!!

  • roypaysplayers

    “I think Coach K’s new recruiting pipeline is in Orange County considering they got two sick white kids.”

    Coach K should recruit more of these types….

    http://carolinasucks.com/images/uncrapsheet.htm

    …more “street cred” an’ all. That seems to be important around here.

  • dukeispuke

    paulus a broken foot all year? ok, u sure about that? he was hurt beginning of the season, he’s slow and white and got pawned by vcu and md’s vasquez…their star studded classes of recent years consisted of that dud in josh mcroberts(who really sucks) so dont go with that star studdedness when coach k will put all white players on the court if he has to. your 5 will be slow, even moreso with coming off a broken foot, mcclure is coming off surgery and will be out 6-8 weeks prior to the season so he wont be in shape in time, singler is on crutches as we speak and nelson broke his non shooting hand. they’ll struggle to get .500 in the acc and struggle to get a 10-11 seed in the tourny

  • Jeanne

    To not see Duke in the top 25 is laughable. Yeah, I know there’s a lot of Duke haters out there. Bring them on! Get real!!

  • http://myspace.com/emac12 EMac

    All Im Saying is watch out 4 my man Terrence roderick of U.A.B. just signed letter of intent its a wrap look him up

  • http://Rivals Bluemetro

    I think it is a good list but I truly believe that Duke will be about #22 by the end of the year. Arkansas, UConn, and even though I like them a lot, I think K-Stae will be behind the Blue Devils.

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  • rusty

    what about SIU?

  • soox

    No Duke? What hack published this ranking?

  • DecaturHeel

    No way Duke should be on this list. If they get into it at some point, they’ll deserve real credit. They’ll have a mediocre season (by usual dook standards). But he Heels on top…yeah, baby! http://www.duckfook.com

  • kellen

    how can this site say gonzaga will only be good cause they will kill in the wcc did anyone remember their playing conneticut,tennesee,wsu,memphis,possibly michigan and butler. they are in the top ten toughest nonconferences this year. give them a little cheer for making a tough schedule even with the wcc.

  • adam

    Indiana will be in the top 10 all year long. DJ White is one of the best post players in the country and with the #2 ranked player coming in (Eric Gordon), Indiana has the inside/outside combo that very few have. Duke probably should be ranked somewhere between 17-24.

  • Pittfan

    And Pitt, the leader in winning pct over the last 7 years, isn’t on this list…mkay.

  • Bob

    Nice to see Cal mentioned. They definitely have some talent, especially up front, though I think a #24 rating is a bit premature. The real quesion is whether Braun is talented enough to produce results with the very good players that he has.

  • C.J

    what about florida!!!did they get any good recruits

  • John

    It cracks me up to think Duke wasn’t included in the top 25, the reason “Duke sucks” Good reason…Mcroberts their best player last year? i doubt it. Duke is a top 25 team, and has better players than 3/4 of the teams in the country. Anyone with any basketball knowledge at all knows that Duke will be a good team, maybe not great, but good.

  • Carlos

    I got to see O.J Mayo play down in Mexico this past labor day wknd. If you havents seen usc play you will become a fan once you see them play. I think O.J Mayo has the complete game defense, sharp shooting, speed and Jumping ability. The thing most impress me is that he can go down low with the big guys and bang. I got to see him dunk on a 7 footer that plays for Caballeros from Culiacan Mx man did he impress me. I think they will make it to the ncaa tournament.

  • Nigel T

    Oregon didn’t just lose Brooks they also lost Chamberlain Oguchi who would have been a lock to start this year if Kent hadn’t jacked him around all last year. They also should automatically be dropped a few spots just because Kent is still their coach! That said Taylor, Hairston and Leunen were really good and clutch as Juniors and maybe with Champ gone the 5th starter will be a big guy- giving them more balance. Should be top 20- as should Duke just cause they’re Duke!- My hatred for them and their coach doesn’t guarantee they’ll suck again!!! /Also why would Florida be ranked? Is Billy D gonna coach and play guard?…and forward….and Center…….

  • Dave

    Pitt should definitely be ranked in the top 25. They lost gray and kendall, but they got some good young talent coming in and a whole lot of great experienced guards who know how to win (Fields, Ramon, Cook) along with Sam Young who is gonna settle into the starting lineup this year. Young was hurt much of last year and once he got healthier he became a big time point scorer and defender. DeJuan Blair will probably come in as a freshman starter and be the bulk inside with a nice scoring touch

    Pitt will be contending for the big east championship again this year, because of the fact that they are still the deepest team in the league, and they have experience in winning

  • bulldogdude

    unc is #1 because their young players are now more experienced. duke is not ranked at all even though they had only 1 junior and no seniors last year, and actually beat a final 4 team in georgetown. did dukes young players get worse? nc state is ranked because they got hot like lebron in the acc tournament? they beat duke in overtime and duke didnt have henderson. the same duke team that isnt ranked. nc state also lost to duke by 25 at home last year, beat an ecu team that won 3 games against division 1 teams by 7 at home, and finished 5-11 in the acc, and also lost their pg. this is the most racist ranking ever.

  • perrks

    Syracuse? bringing back eric devendorf and paul harris and then adding that top recruiting class. this is a horrible top 25. and to think you leave out florida

  • Tom R.

    No way Butler, Stanford, or Gonzaga have the atheleticism to be ranked that high. Especially Standford, Ohio State should be ranked higher with Kosta Koufous and Eric Wallace coming in

  • Eric

    MSU at 15? Best guard in the conference. Check. Plethora of Big men. Check. Top 10 recruiting class. Check. This will be a high flying team of old, watch out.

  • http://slamonline.com marcus hanley

    gonzaga will be sweet sixteen remember this name micah downs he will be on the slam one day.

  • http://slamonline.com marcus hanley

    watch out for micah downs of gonzaga they will be in the sweet sixteen and uw could surprise i am looking forward to this year tho

  • nic

    What about the oregon ducks? look out for baby t porter from the d.

  • dferg18

    dont forget about Missouri

  • Thack

    Don’t Forget Ky or Cinn the cats will be in.

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  • jonathan Ashworth

    were is WVU 4 of the starting 5 return, and Huggins runin the show!! its going too be a fast runin gun kinda year!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • http://www.slamonline.com Bigeasy

    i am sick and tired of the usc football because they are overrated every year back in the day that have it but now it all about lsu

  • G

    hey wheres Duke in all of this.

  • http://slamonline.com Adam Fleischer

    Nice call.

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