Top 40 Returning Players for 2023-24 College Basketball Season


Aug 30, 2023

As college basketball‘s frantic offseason starts to quiet down, preseason rankings become abundant. With NIL so prevalent in today’s world of collegiate sports, plenty of talent remains across the country.

With the NBA Draft concluded and the transfer portal nearly empty, we rank the top 20 players returning to college basketball for the 2023-24 season.

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1. Zach Edey – Purdue

Edey is undeniably the top player in college basketball and will be an overwhelming favorite to take home National Player of the Year again in 2023-24. He is the nexus of the Boilermakers, working as the central attraction for everything they do on both ends of the court.

2. Hunter Dickinson – Kansas

After a disappointing season with Michigan, Dickinson chose to find greener pastures where he could see some postseason success. After committing to Kansas as the top transfer of the 0ffseason, he got his wish, making the Jayhawks the most likely contender to be the No. 1 team in the country in every preseason poll.

3. Armando Bacot – North Carolina

Despite North Carolina’s disaster season that saw them go from preseason number-one to NCAA Tournament reject, Armando Bacot was the lone constant force for the Tar Heels. He dominated the paint nightly and continued to stake his claim as one of the best big men in the country. Expect more of the same from him come November.

4. Tyler Kolek – Marquette

Kolek‘s leap in 2022-23 was colossal, nearly doubling his points total and efficiently leading the Big East in assists per game at 7.5, which was also good for third in the nation. He has a fantastic feel for the game, knowing when to dish it to his teammates or take the opportunity himself.

5. Max Abmas – Texas

Abmas is the Steph Curry of college basketball, constantly showing off his limitless range and underrated on-ball abilities like ball handling and playmaking. He’s one of the most fun players to watch in the nation, and he should get the national spotlight he deserves after transferring from Oral Roberts to Texas this offseason.

6. Kyle Filipowski – Duke

Flip left Duke fans wondering for a few weeks following the NCAA Tournament if he would make his collegiate career a one-and-done, but he ultimately chose to return to Durham for his sophomore season. He’ll be one of the best forwards in the ACC and the face of the Blue Devils next season.

7. Ryan Kalkbrenner – Creighton

One of the best shot-blockers in the country, Kalkbrenner keeps Creighton’s defensive floor very high whenever he is on the court. He has found improvement in virtually every statistic across his three seasons with the Bluejays, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him do it again in his senior campaign.

8. Justin Moore – Villanova

Moore missed much of last season after tearing his Achilles in the 2022 NCAA Tournament and not returning to play until late January 2023. He never quite looked like his former self, but another offseason of recovery should be enough to bring him back to his old form. The Wildcats should return to March Madness in 2024.

9. Ryan Nembhard – Gonzaga

Nembhard exploded for a 30-point performance in the second round of this year’s NCAA Tournament, undoubtedly boosting his offseason stock once he entered the portal. He’s off to Gonzaga from Creighton, where he’ll look to lead the Bulldogs to their 25th consecutive March Madness appearance.

10. LJ Cryer – Houston

Cryer‘s average defense makes his move to Houston a bit puzzling, but his deep bag and scoring ability make him an excellent pickup for the Cougars. If anyone can improve Cryer’s defending capabilities, the defensive wizard is head coach Kelvin Sampson.

11. Tylor Perry – Kansas State

A lesser-known name, Perry is one of the top three-point shooters and guards from the mid-major level. His ability to catch and shoot while also creating for himself off the bounce makes him a dream in the backcourt as someone who can play on or off-ball at any time.

12. Wade Taylor IV – Texas A&M

Albeit undersized, Taylor‘s bursts to the rim, soft touch, and finishing through contact make him a perfect player to dominate the SEC. He made a monumental leap during his sophomore season with the Aggies and may make another heading into 2024.

13. Tristan da Silva – Colorado

It’s not just football that should be grabbing headlines in Boulder next season. The Buffaloes should be an NCAA Tournament team headlined by skilled forward Tristan da Silva, who missed much of the national spotlight last season on an inconsistent Colorado team. His scoring prowess and shotmaking ability should be more prominent next season.

14. Santiago Vescovi – Tennessee

Vescovi is a guy you want in your corner. He’s intelligent, tough, and has a motor that never stops. His ability to impact the game on both ends of the court makes him a carbon copy of what head coach Rick Barnes wants out of a point guard, and he’s ready to lead the Vols deep into the NCAA Tournament in 2024.

15. Johnell Davis – Florida Atlantic

After an impressive showing at the NCAA Tournament, Davis became a household name that, to the surprise of many, chose to stick around Boca Raton for his final collegiate season. As did many of the Owls from last year’s Final Four squad, making them a popular pick to be a second-weekend team for the second year running.

16. Donovan Clingan – UConn

Clingan has the most to prove out of anybody on this list, but what he did in his limited minutes behind Adama Sanogo was enough to get him within the top 20. He trailed just Zach Edey among all qualified players in the country in box plus/minus in 2022-23. He’ll see a much more significant role in his sophomore campaign following Sanogo’s departure to the NBA.

17. Jordan Dingle – St. John’s

One of the top transfers in the country, Dingle wreaked havoc within the Ivy League for three seasons and will now be a key chess piece for Rick Pitino in his debut season with St. John’s. His size, tenacity, and feel for the game make him a strong candidate to take home Big East Newcomer of the Year in 2024.

18. Grant Nelson – Alabama

Nelson is a unicorn that flirted with the NBA after his highlight reel made rounds on social media. At 6’10”, his ability to take defenders off the dribble, knock down perimeter jumpers, and create for himself out of the post made scouts drool. But the next level will have to wait, as Nelson will play for the Crimson Tide after transferring from North Dakota State this offseason.

19. Kam Jones – Marquette

The leading scorer for the Golden Eagles last season, Jones is a dark horse Big East Player of the Year candidate. He’s part of a thriving offense with one of the nation’s top point guards in Tyler Kolek and has free reign to take 15 or more shots each night next season. The potential is there, and we’ll see if Jones takes yet another leap heading into his junior season.

20. Graham Ike – Gonzaga

Ike helped bring Wyoming basketball back to life in 2021-22, averaging 19.5 points per game and helping the Pokes reach just their third NCAA Tournament in the past 35 seasons. He missed all of last season with a lower-leg injury, but he will bring the dynamism, scoring, and fight that the team lost from Drew Timme to the frontcourt.

21. Boo Buie – Northwestern

Buie was integral to Northwestern’s dream run to the No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The guard averaged 19.9 points in the team’s final ten games. He’ll be considered the leader for the Wildcats next season and should flirt with All-American consideration.

22. Terrence Shannon – Illinois

Shannon is a perfect example of a transfer that turned out for the better. After three solid seasons at Texas Tech, his move to Illinois saw him have a breakout season where he was one of the Big Ten’s top players. He’ll be in the running for First-Team All-Conference in 2023-24.

23. Boogie Ellis – USC

Ellis has improved with each passing season and will be a part of a lethal backcourt with five-star recruit Isaiah Collier at USC next season. The Trojans enter the season with lofty expectations, and Boogie’s scoring prowess is a primary reason.

24. Johni Broome – Auburn

A product of Morehead State, Broome dominated the paint for two seasons in the OVC. After an up transfer to Auburn before last season, he picked up right where he left off in the SEC with the Tigers, becoming their leading scorer and rebounder. He continues to improve his game and could make yet another leap heading into his senior season.

25. DaRon Holmes III – Dayton

Holmes is one of the least talked about mid-major superstars. Dayton seems to be on the cusp of being a tournament team every year, and it’ll be up to Holmes to get them over the hump next season. It wouldn’t surprise us to see him average 20 and 10 in the Atlantic 10 next season.

26. Tyson Walker – Michigan State

Walker enters his final season as one of Michigan State’s top players and the team’s best sharpshooter. Alongside A.J. Hoggard and Malik Hall, the Spartans could have a fun season that may be Tom Izzo‘s best chance at a Final Four in nearly a decade.

27. Antonio Reeves – Kentucky

A rollercoaster offseason had many wondering whether Reeves would remain in Lexington or transfer elsewhere, but he chose to stay with the Wildcats. As the team’s lone upperclassman on scholarship, he will see tons of playing time and will be heavily relied upon by head coach John Calipari to pull his weight.

28. Norchad Omier – Miami

Omier was a double-double machine for the Hurricanes last season, posting 16 across 37 games and anchoring the paint for Miami. He’ll be back and ready to lead the program to the NCAA Tournament again under head coach Jim Larrañaga.

29. Adem Bona – UCLA

The reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Bona was a brute force in the paint for the Bruins in his debut collegiate season. If he can improve his free-throw shooting and court awareness this offseason, the sky is the limit for his potential moving forward.

30. Nijel Pack – Miami

Pack slotted in beautifully with Miami’s playstyle after transferring from Kansas State. He has posted a 40 percent or better three-point shooting rate in all three collegiate seasons and will continue to be a perimeter threat for the Hurricanes next season.

31. Kerr Kriisa – West Virginia

Despite the resignation of head coach Bob Huggins, Kriisa has chosen to stay in Morgantown and be the point guard the Mountaineers desperately need in 2023-24. He was a flashy player for Arizona in his first two collegiate seasons, but needs to learn to manage his emotions a bit better in order to take that next step.

32. Oumar Ballo – Arizona

Ballo may make this ranking look silly this season with a more open frontcourt in Tucson. The departure of Azuolas Tubelis for the professional ranks leaves Ballo with the frontcourt largely to himself, where he could put up some ridiculous numbers. His skillset in the paint is second to none in the Pac-12.

33. Jesse Edwards – West Virginia

Another crucial pickup for the Mountaineers that has remained with the program, Jesse Edwards blossomed into one of the ACC’s top big men over the course of his four seasons at Syracuse. He’s a ready-to-go, plug-and-play center for West Virginia that could be apart of a fun high-low duo with the aforementioned Kriisa.

34. Joel Soriano  – St. John’s

While all of the attention has gone to the impact transfers head coach Rick Pitino has brought into St. John’s, the return of Joel Soriano may excite Red Storm fans the most. Pitino made it clear from day one that he wanted Soriano on his roster, and he should be one of the team’s most important player next season.

35. Eric Dixon – Villanova

Eric Dixon takes our vote from one of the most underrated players in the country. The 6’8″ big man is not only the perfect small-ball forward for Villanova’s positionless system, but he’s also consistently one of the team’s best shooters. He took a major step into the role of the team’s leading scorer after Justin Moore missed most of last season and should be ready to take on a similar workload again in 2023-24.

36. Jahmir Young – Maryland

Young fit into Maryland seamlessly after transferring in from Charlotte. While his efficiency numbers slightly dipped, he was a sparkplug for the Terrapins and helped them return to the NCAA Tournament. The expectations will be heightened in 2023-24, but we believe Young can rise to the occasion.

37. A.J. Hoggard – Michigan State

Hoggard stepped into a starting role for his junior campaign a season ago and thrived immediately. As the on-ball playmaker, his pairing with Walker gives the Spartans one of the nation’s top backcourts that has the chemistry to make some serious noise on a national level next season.

38. RayJ Dennis – Baylor

If you haven’t heard of RayJ Dennis yet, we are here to help. The Toledo transfer will head to Waco this fall and help bolster a Baylor backcourt that lost plenty from a season ago. Dennis was one of the most efficient guards in all of college basketball last season and will be ready for the step-up in competition.

39. Tyrin Lawrence – Vanderbilt

Lawrence originally entered the transfer portal this offseason before deciding to return to Vanderbilt for his senior season. He was a breakout star in the SEC a year ago, pouring in 13.1 points per game after tallying just 3.8 the year prior. If he can take another step this season, he could lead the Commodores to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in eight years.

40. Quinten Post – Boston College

Post is one of college basketball’s least-celebrated studs, likely because of Boston College’s lack of success since he arrived on campus. But last season’s performances as the team’s main offensive outlet have us ready for another breakout campaign from the seven-footer in 2023-24. Don’t be surprised to see him shoot up draft boards in the coming months.

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Thumbnail photo via Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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