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First preseason annual high on Louisville

We're still more than a month away from the first organized sneaker squeaks and echoing bouncing balls that none of us will hear, but the time for reading and discussion of what the 2008-2009 college basketball season might hold is officially upon us.

Athlon is the first college basketball annual to hit stores, and is available all over the country as of this morning. The publication, which tabbed Louisville as the No. 1 team in the country before the start of the 2004-05 season, is high on the Cards yet again, ranking them behind only North Carolina and Connecticut in its preseason top 25.  

More tidbits of note from the magazine:

--Louisville is ranked third in the country, but second in its own conference. No. 2 Connecticut is Athlon's pick to take the Big East.

--In the magazine's "Bracket Breakdown," the Cards are the No. 1 seed in the midwest, and advance all the way to the Final Four before being eliminated by UConn.

--Four of the top seven teams in the magazine's top 25 are from the Big East. Notre Dame (5) and Pittsburgh (7) are the other two.

--Athlon has ten Big East teams advancing to the NCAA Tournament (Providence is probably the one you're thinking about). That would be a record.

--Though Earl Clark graces the regional cover, the annual features an interview with Terrence Williams in which he gives the following response to a question about the decision to return for his senior season.

When last season was over and we lost to North Carolina, I was gone. That was it. It was over. When we got back to the dorm, I was packing up my stuff and getting ready to leave. I even talked to Coach (Walter) McCarty and told him that I was going. I'd told him that I'd made up my mind and that I was leaving. But the more I thought about it and the more Coach Pitino explained it to me, that wasn't a good decision. There were a lot of sharks in this draft. I would have just been a small fish. I want to be a shark. Next season I can be a shark because there's a lot more fish and seaweed in the draft.

--We talked a little bit in May about how hard it was going to be to pick a preseason all-conference team, well here's what Athlon came up with:

First Team

DeJuan Blair, Pitt
Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Jerel McNeal, Marquette
Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut

Second Team

Earl Clark, Louisville
Sam Young, Pittsburgh
A.J. Price, Connecticut
Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova

Third Team

Jeff Adrien, Connecticut
Eric Devendorf, Syracuse
Kyle McAlarney, Notre Dame
DaJuan Summers, Georgetown
Terrence Williams, Louisville

If I could trade Reynolds for a big man (Samardo?), then I'd take the second team over the first team.

--Samardo Samuels is tabbed as the league's Newcomer of the Year, and is one of the publication's "Super Six Freshmen."

--Williams (24), Clark (26) and Samuels (56) all rank in the top 60 when it comes to Athlon's fantasy rankings.

--Reggie Delk is identified as one of the top transfers in the country.

Reel it in, Mike. We're still a couple of months away from being able to swim out that far.