College basketball teams around the country returned to the gym this week for their first official practices of the 2022-23 season, which unofficially brought the offseason to an end. While fans must wait several more weeks to see their programs in action, coaching staffs now have the chance to begin molding their squads into teams capable of reaching their full potential.
But before we get too deep into previewing the 2022-23 season, let's reflect on the offseason. There are no games played over the summer — except for the programs who go on international exhibition tours — but there are winners and losers. With the transfer portal humming months after the season ends and a recruiting cycle that never sleeps, there's little time for rest.
Some programs restocked their rosters, dodged attrition and landed big-time high school commitments. Others dealt with coaching changes, lost players to injury and dealt with a slew of outgoing transfers. So let's dive in and put a bow on the offseason by looking at some winners and losers from the past several months.
Winner: Duke makes smooth transition to Scheyer
It wasn't all roses this offseason for the Blue Devils, who learned that five-star freshman Dariq Whitehead needed surgery to repair a fractured foot. The injury kept him out of action as Duke began practice this week. But that hiccup aside, it was a great offseason for first-year coach Jon Scheyer from the recruiting perspective. Duke rounded out the No. 1 ranked 2022 recruiting class on June 2, when five-star guard Tyrese Proctor reclassified to be eligible for this season. Then, just a few weeks ago, Scheyer added a fifth five-star prospect to the program's top-ranked 2023 class by landing a commitment from TJ Power. Before even coaching a game, Scheyer has landed two top-ranked classes.
Loser: Arizona hit hard by NBA Draft
The NBA Draft hit the Wildcats hard. Seeing Bennedict Mathurin depart was no shock, but with Christian Koloko and Dalen Terry also keeping their names in the draft, it leaves second-year coach Tommy Lloyd with some holes to fill. In the long run, having three players selected in a single draft is a great selling point on the recruiting trail. In the short run, it means some newcomers will have to hit for the Wildcats to repeat as Pac-12 champions.
Winner: Indiana stars choose to stay
In an era when professional options abound and the transfer portal beckons, retaining key pieces of a roster can be an even bigger win than recruiting new faces. Indiana coach Mike Woodson nailed both elements of the equation this offseason. For the second straight year, Woodson managed to keep the dynamic frontcourt duo of Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson together following the season. In addition to the retention of those two — along with several other key returners — the late addition of top-40 power forward Malik Reneau to the fold helped Indiana finish with the nation's No. 9 ranked recruiting class. As a result, buzz around Indiana has been rising all offseason.
Loser: Louisville off to slow start under Payne
The buzz over Kenny Payne's hiring as coach sure died down quickly. The Cardinals did little this offseason to inspire confidence that the on-court product will significantly improve following last season's 13-19 (6-14 ACC) debacle. More specifically, the roster's glaring lack of quality guards could be an issue after Louisville failed to land back court help through the transfer portal. A couple of four-star commitments from the Class of 2023 are an encouraging sign, but five-star guard DJ Wagner is the big prize that Payne needs to energize the program.
Winner: Creighton builds Big East's best roster
The addition of former South Dakota State star Baylor Scheierman, our No. 16 transfer of the offseason, sent Creighton hype into overdrive in May. With three double-digit scorers also returning from the program's first Sweet 16 appearance of the modern NCAA Tournament era, the Bluejays sit at No. 11 in Gary Parrish's preseason . That makes Creighton the Big East's top-ranked team entering the season. With Villanova undergoing a coaching transition and Providence reloading, Scheierman's addition makes this team a solid pick to win the league.
Loser: Villanova has big shoes to fill
In addition to Jay Wright's sudden retirement and the transition to coach Kyle Neptune, the Wildcats are dealing with the harsh reality that leading returning scorer Justin Moore will likely miss the early portion of the season after rupturing his Achilles in the Elite Eight. His rehabilitation, combined with the departures of veteran anchors Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels, create a rebuilding situation of sorts for Villanova. With no prospects committed yet as part of the program's 2023 class, Neptune has a big year ahead as he takes on the unenviable task of replacing a legend.
NEW: Villanova star Justin Moore tells me he’s currently targeting some time around the start of Big East play for his 2022-23 season debut. Nova early BE schedule: St. John’s Dec. 21, @ UConn Dec. 28, Marquette Dec. 31.— John Fanta (@John_Fanta) September 19, 2022
Moore is recovering from a torn right Achilles tendon.
Winner: Oregon finds success on recruiting trail
Life, death, taxes and Dana Altman making splashy additions to Oregon's basketball roster. After landing Kwame Evans Jr., the No. 11 overall prospect from the Class of 2023 on Aug. 2, the Ducks received a commitment from No. 10 overall prospect Mookie Cook 10 days later. Those big wins on the trail catapulted Oregon's 2023 class to No. 7 in the 247Sports Team Rankings and continued the program's strong run of recruiting success under Altman.
Loser: Texas Tech transfer out to start season
Don't doubt what Mark Adams can do with a group of transfers. That was the lesson learned last season as Adams took over following Chris Beard's departure for Texas and led a patchwork roster to the Sweet 16. Replicating that success again this season will be a challenge since the crown jewel of TTU's transfer class, Fardaws Aimaq is dealing with a foot injury expected to keep him out for several months. Aimaq finished as our No. 5 transfer of the offseason after a prolific run at Utah Valley as a two-way big man. Texas Tech's chances of competing for a Big 12 title may rest largely on his health, and it's a downer that preseason practice is beginning with Aimaq on the sideline.
Winner: Virginia brings in talent
Sometimes it feels like Virginia has fallen off a cliff since winning the 2019 national championship. The Cavaliers haven't won an NCAA Tournament game since then — though the 2020 team didn't get a chance due to COVID-19 — and they missed out on 2022 Big Dance. But the reality is that UVA is still 40-17 in ACC play over the past three seasons, which would be considered wild success by the standards of 85% of programs across the country. Now, after a great offseason for coach Tony Bennett, the Cavaliers appear primed for a return to national prominence. The top six scorers return from last season, and perennial All-MAC forward Ben Vander Plas joins from Ohio with four seasons of high-level college play under his belt. With the nation's No. 13 recruiting class enrolled as well, Bennett has everything he needs to make Virginia elite again.
Loser: Clemson loaded with questions
The Tigers' leading returning scorer, PJ Hall, has no timetable for return after an offseason knee surgery. That could put the Tigers in a precarious position to begin the season on the heels of a 17-16 (8-12 ACC) campaign. With double-digit scorers Al-Amir Dawes and David Collins departed from last season's roster, coach Brad Brownell may need to find significant production from previously untapped sources if Clemson is going to build a quality resume early in the season.
Winner: Top players back for TCU
After a wild near-upset of No. 1 seed Arizona in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, it looks like the Horned Frogs decided to run it back. The top six scorers are returning and Oklahoma State transfer Rondel Walker is joining to add quality depth. Offseason roster retention rarely makes the headlines, but with TCU returning this much from its first team in 35 years to win an NCAA Tournament game, the Horned Frogs are big-time offseason winners.
Loser: Uncertainty abounds at Georgia Tech
It's time for seventh-year coach Josh Pastner to put his player development chops on full display once again. After an ACC Tournament title in 2021 with Moses Wright leading the way, the Yellow Jackets need someone to break out like Wright did midway through his career. There are no double-digit scorers back from last season, and it's a stretch to expect productive transfers Lance Terry (Gardner-Webb) and Javon Franklin (South Alabama) to seamlessly translate to the ACC. A June commitment from four-star prospect Blue Cain was nice, but with Georgia Tech undergoing a change at athletic director, Pastner may be under heightened scrutiny entering the 2022-23 season.
Winner: Dayton keeps momentum going
Dayton isn't some run of the mill mid-major program — not by any stretch. Still, in this era, any program outside of a handful of the sport's biggest brands must hold their breath when the season ends when it comes to keeping top young talent. However, the Flyers emerged from the offseason as big winners by returning their top seven scorers from a 24-11 team. In particular, true freshman stars from last season DaRon Holmes II, the league's Rookie of the Year, and promising point guard Malachi Smith are back and look like they could anchor the program for the next three seasons.
Loser: Oregon State doesn't do much to improve
The Beavers followed up their magical Elite Eight run from the 2021 NCAA Tournament with a 3-28 (1-19 Pac-12) season. So what did they do this offseason to return the program to competence? Very little, it appears. The top-five scorers are departing, so unless the nation's No. 81 ranked recruiting class outperforms expectations, this could be another long season. This would have been an excellent offseason for the Beavers to make some noise in the portal, but their transfer additions do not inspire confidence that a return to postseason glory is imminent.
Winner: Stars align for Saint Louis
Like the Flyers, Saint Louis makes Parrish's Top 25 And 1 after an offseason of quality roster developments. First, the Billikens reeled the program's all-time assists leader, Yuri Collins, back from the transfer portal after he led the nation in assists at 7.9 per game last season. Then, star wing Javonte Perkins received full medical clearance after missing the 2021-22 season with a torn ACL. Perkins was a preseason first-team all-conference player before the 2021-22 season. Having him back along with Collins and elite 3-point marksman Gibson Jimerson makes Saint Louis a good bet to reach the NCAA Tournament.
He’s back!!Javonte Perkins tells us today he will return to play for @SaintLouisMBB next season. He knew it in heart with the way the fans cheered for him on Senior Night.A great thing to have this rare talent return. Story at 5 @ksdknews pic.twitter.com/NzyOqIoFF1— Frank Cusumano (@Frank_Cusumano) March 28, 2022
Loser: Washington State loses key player to G League
Washington State lost Efe Abogidi to G League Ignite in June after he spent two years playing a key role for the Cougars. Previously, the professional development program emerged as a competitor for elite high school talent, but the idea of Ignite snapping up college players is a new one. Losing Abogidi means Washington State must replace its top four scorers after making some strides in coach Kyle Smith's third season.
Winner: White rights the ship at Georgia
Say what you will about Georgia's uninspired hire of SEC rival Florida's milquetoast coach, but it's clear the Bulldogs will improve immediately in Mike White's first year after a good offseason. The two leading scorers from last season's train wreck return in Kario Oquendo and Braelen Bridges, as does productive veteran forward Jailyn Ingram, who missed all but nine games last season. With three double-digit transfers arriving from the transfer portal and additions from Alabama, Oklahoma State and Syracuse as well, White has the ingredients to make immediate progress and at least return the Bulldogs to a competitive baseline after last season's 6-26 (1-17 SEC) mark under Tom Crean.