Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Top 50 players returning to same team for 2024-25 season

Tennessee v Creighton
Tennessee v Creighton / Aaron J. Thornton/GettyImages
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Tier 1: The Superstars

5. Hunter Dickinson - Kansas
Last spring's consensus top transfer lived up to the billing in Lawrence, with a First Team All-Big 12 season where he upped his rebounding to a top ten level nationally (10.9 rpg) and set a new career best in takeaways (2.3 steals + blocks). Dickinson also proved to still be a three-point threat (35.4%) after a strong, but fluky-seeming, performance from deep in his final year at Michigan. A monstrous performance against Samford (19 pts, 20 rebs, 5 asts, 4 blks) in the NCAA Tournament served as a reminder that he's been a dominant postseason player, and now, he has the help around him to do it on the biggest stage.

4. LJ Cryer - Houston
This ranking includes a bit of projection, as Cryer has yet to reach the heights of the other four in this tier. Houston has all of the perfect pieces for a run this season, the sidekick scorer (see Tier 4), the dominant defensive bigs (see Tier 7), a new point guard (Milos Uzan), and a great coach. The Cougars just need someone to lead the way offensively and Cryer is the next man up. He was the team's best three-point shooter (and actually much better than that at Baylor), decently efficient inside the arc for a small guard and an excellent free throw shooter (41.1/38.8/87.1 splits). If Cryer can continue to be efficient on a star's volume, then Houston should be among next season's favorites.

3. Ryan Kalkbrenner - Creighton
The best defensive center in college basketball is back for his final season with a Creighton team losing its top two scorers (and maybe Steven Ashworth, who never announced he was using his extra year, but also isn't on the NBA draft list). The Bluejays defense is fully built off of discipline (dead last nationally in turnover rate, first in free throw rate), and centered around Kalkbrenner's ability to block shots at an elite level without fouling. Creighton's top ten offense loses a lot of creation and will now have to re-orient more around Kalkbrenner and his 70.5% two-point shooting.

2. RJ Davis - North Carolina
Davis transformed into a First Team All-American once he became the undisputed top option for the Tar Heels last season, and even became an improved three-point shooter (39.8%) on a massive 7.7 attempts per game volume. As is basically always the case in Chapel Hill, North Carolina has the athletes to put together a top-notch defense this season, but Davis will once again be asked to shoulder a heavy offensive load with Belmont transfer Cade Tyson as a likely second option, and not a lot else (unless freshman Ian Jackson emerges). It'll be ugly at times, but more often than not, Davis will carry North Carolina to whatever point total they need.

1. Johni Broome - Auburn
All-American Broome's surprising decision to return for his fifth and final season gives Auburn the best chance the school has ever had at a National Championship. The Tigers' top seven players are all seniors and after the upset loss to Yale, it's make or break for a program that's only made the Elite Eight twice (1986 and 2019). Auburn led the nation in opponent effective field goal percentage last year, largely thanks to always having an elite rim protector on the court with Broome and Dylan Cardwell.

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On the other end, Broome's 16.5 ppg doesn't seem like much for a star, until you realize he only plays 24.7 mpg since Cardwell can keep him fresh. If Auburn can reach the promised land, it will need to involve Broome becoming the best two-way player in the sport.