1. Kansas coach Bill Self said sophomore Ben McLemore is the top NBA-level talent on the roster, but the go-to guy when the Jayhawks need a bucket is likely going to be Elijah Johnson. McLemore had the most talented label even while sitting out last year while academically ineligible. Johnson is more apt to score than the other two key returnees: Jeff Withey and Travis Releford. So far forward Perry Ellis has been the most impressive among the six newcomers. The Jayhawks have had the allowable summer workouts and will also get 10 practices in preparation for an Aug. 5-14 trip to Switzerland and France. Self is propping up Oklahoma State as having the most talented roster in the Big 12, but didn't pick against his team to win the Big 12. Neither will I after foolishly picking against KU last year. I would go KU, Baylor, Texas, Kansas State and then Oklahoma State at the top.
2. NC State coach Mark Gottfried said the preseason buzz on campus -- even in July -- is unreal. The Wolfpack will likely be picked to win the ACC, or at the very least finish second to North Carolina after the Wolfpack reached the Sweet 16 last March. The Wolfpack fan base has been desperate to be treated as equals in the triangle. This is the first time in decades that NC State has more offseason hype than UNC or Duke. It would be a mistake to dismiss UNC with the return of healthy Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald as well as the addition of a major recruiting class again. NC State returns its core and an elite recruiting class. The headline name is shooting guard Rodney Purvis, but don't sleep on small forward T.J. Warren and point guard Tyler Lewis. Gottfried said both players are off to great starts. The Wolfpack are practicing on a few scattered days for an upcoming trip to Spain.
3. The latest scheduling gimmick John Calipari threw at me was to get what he perceived as the top Kentucky nonconference opponents -- Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas and Louisville -- to agree to a scheduling rotation in which each team would play two home and two road games against the group each season so that all four teams were on each team's schedule. It sounds great, but it would be almost impossible to pull off with those other schools having other high-profile commitments with tournaments, neutral-site agreements and conference-mandated challenge games. UK is playing only Louisville on that list of teams next season.