Self also is looking towards loaded class of 2009 and everyone's #1 player, wing Xavier Henry, who's father Carl played at KU, and who hails from the Oklahoma city. Henry's got so much hype as a junior that he already has his own website. Yikes. The other stud is targeting is the #4 player in the class, 6'5 Point man Lance Stephenson, from Brooklyn's Lincoln High, the hot bed for point men.
On that note, lets dig deeper into out Top 25 with teams 20 through 16:
2o. Southern Illinois - I no longer refer to the MVC as a mid-major conference and SIU certainly isn't a mid-major team. Chris Lowery returns three starters from his Sweet 16 team, including our MVC player of the year 6'9 Randal Falker. The way Falker and the rest of the Salukis play D, there can beat anyone. Their defensive pressure against Kansas in last year's Sweet 16 loss had this corner coming away extremely expressed. Along with Falker, 6'9 Matt Shaw and Point Guard Bryan Mullins are back to keep the now strong SIU tradition going. Look for 6'3 Soph Josh Bone to take his game to the next level.
19. Stanford - Everyone jocks the Lopez Twins, Robin and Brook. Rightfully so, I suppose. The 7-Footers have mad game. Big things are expected from both of them this year. Yet, Brook, the better of the two, is suspended for the first semester of the season because of academic issues. That puts extra pressure on Robin. Said coach Trent Johnson: ''Brook came along in Pac-10 play, but to me, they were equally important to our team last season, just at different times. If we can have them each be more consistent this season, we're going to have something.'' Look for SG Anthony Goods (12.8 PPG) and SF Lawrence Hill (15.7 PPG) to be the torch holders on offense early until Brook Lopez comes back.
18. Pittsburgh - Jamie Dixon may be the most underrated coach in the nation. Yes, they lost Aaron Gray, but this could be addition by subtraction. They can play more up and down, while still playing suffocating full court D without Gray slowing them down. The season hinges on the legal issues of PG Levance Fields, one of my favorite players in the country. Assuming he is cleared of wrongdoing in his arrest this summer (like he won't be, right?), he will run the show for the Panthers will the heart and guts of former PG Carl Krauser, only with better game. They still have three-point bomber Ronald Ramon, regulars Keith Benjamin, Mike Cook, Tyrell Biggs and Sam Cooke. Losing JUCO player Darnell Dodson before school even started is a blow, but watch for 6'7 Frosh DeJuan Blair.
17. USC - Who is else tired about hearing about how great O.J. Mayo is? It's time for the phenom to finally step on the court and show the world what he is made of. This one and done wonder will either make or break Tim Floyd's bunch with his superb game. With Mayo next to returning PG Daniel Hackett and the 6'9 uber-talented Taj Gibson, the Trojans should be able to contend for the runner-up to UCLA trophy in the Pac-10. Mayo brought Freshman Davon Jefferson with him who also should start right away. SG Dwight Lewis is also back to provide experience depth. But don't fool yourself, this team will only go as far as Mayo takes it. In the meantime, last month Hackett received a broken jaw in practice, allegedly from an arrant elbow from Mayo. The whispers are Mayo may have punched him in the face.
16. Texas A&M - Gone are the incomparable PG Acie Law and the ultimate glue guy PF Antaunas Kauvalauskas. Also gone is the man who resurrected this moribund program Billy Gillispie, who bolted for greener pastures at Kentucky. But new coach Mark Turgeon was hardly left a bare cupboard. PF Joseph Jones is an all-Big 12 performer who can do damage inside and out. SG Josh Carter is one of the deadliest three-point assassins in the nation. SG and defensive stopper Dominique Kirk is back. Sophomore Donald Sloan, who got plenty of run off the bench last year, takes over at the point and he has huge shoes to fill. However, the man this year for the Aggies will be 7-0 Freshman Center DeAndre Jordan, the #8 rated player in the nation as a high school Senior and the Texas State Player of the Year. He will be a beast in the post from day one.