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Best College Basketball Teams If Players Stayed Four Years

By Andrew Kahn

Here’s a scary thought: Anthony Davis, one of the top players in the NBA, would be a college senior this season. If players were forced to stay in school for four years, what would this season look like? Taking into account transfers (but not future injuries) and acknowledging that many of these players would have chosen other schools, here is a potential Final Four.

Kentucky Wildcats

Starters: Andrew Harrison (So.), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Sr.), Julius Randle (So.), Anthony Davis (Sr.), Nerlens Noel (Jr.)

Key reserves: Willie Cauley-Stein (Jr.), Marquis Teague (Sr.), James Young (So.), Alex Poythress (Jr.), Dakari Johnson (So.), Karl-Anthony Towns (Fr.), Archie Goodwin (Jr.), Aaron Harrison (So.), Devin Booker (Fr.), Trey Lyles (Fr.), Marcus Lee (So.), Tyler Ulis (Fr.)

John Calipari had enough star players on his actual team this year that he started the season with a platoon system. In a where one-and-done stars like Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Randle stay in school for four years, Calipari can employ three platoons. Even then, one McDonald’s All American would not get in the game. This team would become the first undefeated national champ since Indiana in 1976. The only question is what Calipari would call his third platoon, since the school colors are already taken. Judd, in homage to the team’s biggest celebrity fan? Drake, after a bandwagon fan who is more popular with recruits? Perhaps Calipari signs an endorsement deal with a hair gel company and names his third unit American Crew.

Duke Blue Devils

Starters: Tyus Jones (Fr.), Quinn Cook (Sr.), Jabari Parker (So.), Rodney Hood (Jr.), Jahlil Okafor (Fr.)

Key reserves: Austin Rivers (Sr.), Justise Winslow (Fr.), Rasheed Sulaimon (Jr.), Amile Jefferson (Jr.), Matt Jones (So.), Marshall Plumlee (Sr.)

This Duke dream team has only 11 McDonald’s All Americans, though keep in mind Hood is not one of them. This squad would have no trouble scoring inside or out, and has adequate frontcourt reserves, at least defensively, should Okafor get into foul trouble. It’s safe to say Coach K would have gotten to 1,000 wins even faster this season if he had this roster.

Kansas Jayhawks

Starters: Naadir Tharpe (Sr.), Ben McLemore (Jr.), Andrew Wiggins (So.), Perry Ellis (Jr.), Joel Embiid (So.)

Key reserves: Kelly Oubre, Jr. (Fr.), Wayne Selden, Jr. (So.), Cliff Alexander (Fr.), Frank Mason III (So.)

Like Kentucky, the Jayhawks may elect to go with a slightly less talented option at point guard just because of that player’s ability to distribute to a high-scoring bunch and knock down the occasional three. This team has explosive athletes all over the floor, but will they win? The roster would have no contributors from the last Kansas team that made a deep Tournament run (in 2012).

Michigan Wolverines

Starters: Trey Burke (Sr.), Nik Stauskas (Jr.), Caris LeVert (Jr.), Glenn Robinson III (Jr.), Mitch McGary (Jr.)

Key reserves: Zak Irvin (So.), Derrick Walton (So.), Spike Albrecht (Jr.)

This is truly a dream for Michigan fans, as every starter left for the NBA after two college seasons except LeVert, and he’s out for the season with an injury. Still, the other four were starters on the Michigan team that went to the national championship. McGary never got a chance to reach his full potential in Ann Arbor, but he’s the only star frontcourt player on this roster.

There would be plenty of challengers to these four teams. Arizona would bring back stars Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon to a team that went to the Elite Eight last year and is currently ranked sixth. Defending champion UConn would add seniors Andre Drummond and DeAndre Daniels in their frontcourt. UCLA, Indiana, and Syracuse are among the schools that have recently lost underclassmen to the NBA. Teams like Virginia, Wisconsin, and Gonzaga would remain strong even without adding any notable players. How the season would play out is anybody’s guess, but this we know for sure: It would be insanely awesome.


Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about college basketball and other sports at Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn.

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