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Old 06-17-2009, 10:01 PM   #1
TheGame414
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Default My early 2009-2010 Top 25

Yes, it's obviously still really early to do this, but with the draft deadline passing and pretty much every relevant recruit that would make an impact on this Top 25 signed, it isn't too early. The things that would change it between now and October are (usually) relatively minor compared to what has already happened to shape next year's rosters: namely, the NBA Draft and the finalizing of the 2009 recruiting classes.

Quick note: recruiting rankings in parentheses next to the newcomers is taken from the Recruiting Services Consensus Index.

Let's get to it. I'll probably post five at a time. I'll write more about some teams than others. There isn't any real reason for that other than I have more to say about some teams than I do others.

1. KANSAS

Key returnees: PG Sherron Collins, C Cole Aldrich, SG Tyshawn Taylor

Key losses: None

Key newcomers: SF Xavier Henry (No. 6), PF Thomas Robinson (No. 28), C Jeff Withey (No. 27 in 2008)

Analysis: An absolute no-brainer of a pick. Bill Self has done a remarkable job of reloading Kansas into the title favorite just two years after winning it all in 2008, and as I've written before they have every single ingredient for title contention: a coach that's been there, 3+ NBA players, an elite point guard, an elite big man, a wing scorer, they return most/all of a roster from a good team, at least 40% of scoring from the PF and C. They have everything and could be as good as UNC was this year.

Sherron Collins enters the year as college basketball's top point guard until John Wall proves otherwise, and Cole Aldrich is the nation's top returning big man. Robinson and Withey provide even more depth to the frontcourt, ensuring that Kansas will be one of the nation's most dominant rebounding teams.

Ironically, they can thank the coach of who many consider to be their biggest threat to the title. John Calipari leaving Memphis opened the doors for Xavier Henry to come to Lawrence, giving them the one thing they were missing: that big wing scorer, a la Brandon Rush in '08. He doesn't have to be a savior like Kentucky's freshmen will have to be, and now Kansas has everything a college basketball team could possibly need.



2. TEXAS

Key returnees: F Damion James, G Justin Mason, F Gary Johnson, C Dexter Pittman

Key losses: G A.J. Abrams, C Connor Atchley

Key newcomers: G Avery Bradley (No. 4), F Jordan Hamilton (No. 22), G Jai Lucas (No. 32 in 2007)

Analysis: This team has depth, versatility, and athleticism in abundance, giving the Big XII the nation's top two teams for 2010.

A.J. Abrams three-point shooting will be missed, but he's being replaced by a better player in Avery Bradley. Bradley doesn't have Abrams' range, but he's better at everything else: way bigger, way more athletic, way better defensively, better ballhandler, better all-around scorer.

Jai Lucas- along with Bradley, who can play either guard spot but is better suited to score- gives Texas what they lacked most last year: a real-life point guard. Is he great? No, but he doesn't have to be with all the weapons on this team. He wasn't bad as a freshman at Florida, and if he's improved at all he'll be a welcome addition for a team that was trotting out Justin Mason (not a PG), Dogus Balbay (should never be starting) and A.J. Abrams (also not a PG) at the point last year.

The return of Damion James was a huge unexpected boost; a 6'7", superathletic future NBA forward who will average 15 and 9 coming back for his senior year? Yeah, that takes you from a fringe Top 10 team to title contention. He'll team up with freshman Hamilton and junior Gary Johnson to form perhaps the nation's finest trio of forwards.

I've read concerns that they won't be able to shoot the three with Abrams having made most of their threes last year. It's valid. But Lucas made 37 of 85 (43.5%) as a freshman at Florida. Bradley's better in the midrange but will make threes. Damion James fell off last year but made 38 of 92 in '07-'08 (41.3%). Jordan Hamilton can shoot it, too. Between those four, I think they can make 5-6 threes a game.

The wildcard is supersized center Dexter Pittman, who was dominant at times last year and could be dominant at all times if he keeps losing weight. He averaged 10.1 points and 5.5 boards last year- in only 16.6 minutes per game. Three times last year he scored 20+ points in less than 30 minutes, but toward the end of the year he showed much more stamina; in the Big XII tourney against K-State and in the NCAA tourney against Minnesota he played 30+ minutes for the only times of his career; he had 36 points and 31 rebounds in those two games. In fact, over his last eight games he averaged 15.1 points and 8.4 rebounds, numbers that if he approximates over the whole year, Texas could topple Kansas for both the Big XII and national title.

3. MICHIGAN STATE

Key returnees: PG Kalin Lucas, SG Durrell Summers, SG Chris Allen, PF Raymar Morgan, PF Delvon Roe

Key losses: G Travis Walton, C Goran Suton

Key newcomers: C Derrick Nix (No. 85), C Garrick Sherman, SF Dion Sims

Analysis: Michigan State loses some valuable pieces. Center Goran Suton was undoubtedly their second-most valuable player last year, and point guard Travis Walton was perhaps the league's best defensive player. But they didn't lose any of their most talented players.

Don't forget that their dominance of the Big Ten and their run to the national title game was accomplished without much help from perhaps their most talented player, forward Raymar Morgan, who was set back by illness and injury most of last year. With Morgan diminished, Kalin Lucas became MSU's leader and the Big Ten POY. Fellow juniors Chris Allen and Durrell Summers give Michigan State a very athletic and very versatile backcourt: Lucas is the superfast playmaker, Allen the perimeter shooter, and Summers the rangy wing player.

Though Suton will be missed at center, Michigan State may play even faster this year without him. Delvon Roe figures to be more explosive this year and show why he was once a Top 10 recruit, now that his knee problems are (hopefully) behind him. A center-less lineup with Morgan at the 4 and Roe at the 5- which I imagine you'll see a lot of- will be a lethal transition offense. Also in the frontcourt, banger Draymond Green was a surprise as a freshman, coming on strong in the NCAA tournament by averaging 9 points and 5 boards after averaging just 3 and 3 in the regular season. Freshmen centers Nix and Sherman likely won't contribute much statistically but could see playing time, as we know Tom Izzo likes a deep bench.

Without Suton, Michigan State will likely be more dependent on their underrated transition game, which may not be a bad thing. I expect Raymar Morgan to bounce back, Delvon Roe to look like the star MSU thought they were getting, Kalin Lucas to continue to be one of the nation's best PGs, and Durrell Summers to be a breakout star. The 2009 runner-ups will be an improved team.

4. VILLANOVA

Key returnees: G Scottie Reynolds, G Corey Fisher, G Corey Stokes, G Reggie Redding, F Antonio Pena

Key losses: F Dante Cunningham, F Dwayne Anderson, F Shane Clark

Key additions: F/C Mouphtaou Yarou (No. 12), G/F Dominic Cheek (No. 22), PG Maalik Wayns (No. 24)

Analysis: Perhaps the nation's deepest backcourt with the addition of Cheek and Wayns. Reynolds hasn't really evolved much since a breakout freshman year, but he remains one of the country's better guards even though he's a bit streaky. Fisher, Stokes and Redding will be pushed by the freshmen, and that's a good thing.

The frontcourt is thin, but a three/four-guard offense anchored by Yarou and Pena isn't exactly a bad thing, especially considering that Redding, Stokes and Cheek are all at least 6'5", so when they do play four guards- and with so many talented ones, they will- it won't be an extremely tiny lineup.

After all, that wide-open perimeter attack took Nova to last year's Final Four, and the 2006 Elite Eight. Maybe you can't win a national championship without much post scoring, but you can get pretty close.

5. Kentucky

Key returnees: F Patrick Patterson, F Perry Stephenson, F Darius Miller

Key losses: G Jodie Meeks

Key newcomers: PG John Wall (No. 2), C Demarcus Cousins (No. 3), C Daniel Orton (No. 19), PG Eric Bledsoe (No. 52) SG Jon Hood (No. 64), SF Darnell Dodson

Analysis: If Jodie Meeks had returned, I likely would have had Kentucky No. 2 like everyone else. But without him, there's a glaring hole on the wing, and in terms of overall experience level. Patterson is the only above-average player returning, and the only returning wing-type players, Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins, aren't shooters.

There's no doubt that Kentucky will be extremely talented, and I'm not discounting them as championship contenders. But how often does a coach win it all in his first year at a school, in his first year of coaching in a major conference, relying so heavily on freshmen with only one proven returnee?

But when you have two possible top five picks in next year's draft with Wall and Cousins and a third possible first-rounder in Patterson, that makes you really, really good no matter what shortcomings you may have in experience and outside shooting.

Still, someone is going to have to make three-pointers, meaning one of the less heralded freshmen, Jon Hood, may be kind of important.

Truth be told, I considered putting them even lower in the Top 10, because I don't think in the wake of Meeks staying in the draft that a wait-and-see approach to this Kentucky team would be a wrong thing to do, but there's just too much talent to put them any lower.

Last edited by TheGame414 : 06-18-2009 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

No complaints about the first 5. I'll keep checking in I'm curious to see if you have Dayton placed anywhere in the top 25. And also where you place Tennessee.
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:50 PM   #3
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

Dayton will probably be in the 21-25 range, possibly a bit higher.

Tennessee I'd like a lot more if I thought they had an answer at point guard. Even without one I still like them somewhere between 10 and 15 because that's a really talented team. But I might drop them to the 16-20 range. I'll have to think about that one, because I have to think about how likely it is that they'll get back to playing some actual defense. I certainly didn't think they'd be as good in '09 as they were in '08, but their complete departure from guarding people was a surprise.
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Old 06-18-2009, 12:53 AM   #4
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

6. PURDUE

Key returnees: G E'Twaun Moore, F Robbie Hummel, F/C Jujuan Johnson, G Keaton Grant, G Chris Kramer, G Lewis Jackson

Key departures: F/C Nemanja Calasan, F Marcus Green

Key newcomers: SF D.J. Byrd, PF Jeff Robinson

Analysis: A couple of weaknesses: it's not a particularly deep team, with no real impact players replacing Calasan and Green. They weren't impact players themselves, but they were valuable rotation guys. I'm not sure if Byrd or Robinson is the caliber of player that can really contribute much as freshmen.

Also, in terms of competing for a national championship- which, as the No. 6 team in the nation, is something that should at least be in their sight even if I don't think it's realistic- I think they'll be hurt by a lack of bulk.

However, Moore, Hummel and Johnson are one of the best trio of players on any team in the country. In the backcourt, Moore isn't really a point guard or a shooting guard, just a guard that can do it all. Lewis Jackson is a guy that really ignites things with his speed and playmaking ability, and Chris Kramer is a terrific defender.

Hummel and Johnson could really use some help up front off the bench, but what a terrific frontcourt tandem. Johnson was playing like a future lottery pick by the end of last season. Hummel may not have the same type of pro potential, but he's tough and versatile and one of the best players in the Big Ten when healthy.


7. WEST VIRGINIA

Key returnees: F Desean Butler, F Devin Ebanks, G Darryl Bryant, F Kevin Jones

Key departures: G Alex Ruoff

Key newcomers: G Dalton Pepper (No. 77), F Deniz Kilicli, F Dan Jennings

Analysis: I think Devin Ebanks is going to be one of the best players in the nation this year, especially if he develops some three-point range. He and Butler are both All-American candidates and one of the best duos in the country. Between them, they should be good for 35 points and 15 rebounds. Wellington Smith and Kevin Jones add some legit depth and muscle to the frontcourt.

Losing Alex Ruoff hurts, but Dalton Pepper looks like he's physically ready to contribute as a freshman and could replace, say, half of Ruoff's production.

I'm ranking the 'Neers here assuming that Joe Mazzulla returns from his indefinite suspension at some point. I don't know what the status is, as last I read it was still just an indefinite suspension, but if they didn't plan on him coming back they probably would've booted him by now. Even without him, they have a pretty good lead guard in Truck Bryant, who averaged just under 10 points and 3 assists last year. But with him, that's a pretty good backcourt. Mazzulla is a good setup man who can't really score much, but if Bryant can play off the ball, along with Ebanks and Butler at the forwards, how much scoring would Mazzulla have to do?



8. NORTH CAROLINA

Key returnees: F/C Deon Thompson, F/C Ed Davis, C Tyler Zeller, G/F Marcus Ginyard, PG Larry Drew

Key departures: PG Ty Lawson, SG Wayne Ellington, SF Danny Green, PF Tyler Hansbrough

Key newcomers: F John Henson (No. 4), SG Dexter Strickland (No. 24), F Travis Wear (No. 37), F David Wear (No. 38), SG Leslie McDonald (No. 44)

Analysis: Carolina hoops: recession-proof.

It certainly isn't unprecedented to lose this much from a championship team and return a Top 10 team the next year- Kansas just did it last year, after all, and UNC themselves did it in 2006- but it's still impressive.

The frontcourt will be among the deepest and most talented in the nation. I'm curious if they'll go with a super-sized frontcourt with Henson at SF and Davis/Thompson up front. I'd guess they will at least at times to get their best players on the floor, but that isn't a very good shooting team.

Marcus Ginyard's return means that Danny Green won't be missed very much, relatively speaking. Strickland and McDonald can't replace Wayne Ellington but they'll do well- especially Strickland- in filling the shooting guard slot. The overall talent and depth of the frontcourt means Hansbrough won't be missed as much as one would think, though he certainly will be missed.

The biggest difference is point guard. Larry Drew will be fine, but he's no Ty Lawson. UNC won't be able to play at their normal breakneck speed, which means they might only average 80 points instead of 90. Damn.


9. CALIFORNIA

Key returnees: PG Jerome Randle, SG Patrick Christopher, F Theo Robertson, F Jamal Boykin

Key losses: none

Key additions: PF Markuri Sanders-Frison (Juco), PG Brandon Smith

Analysis: It seems trite to say it, but Cal is the new Stanford. Mike Montgomery has always been one of the nation's best coaches, a guy that takes good talent at a place where it's extremely difficult to get a lot of guys because of academics, and gets great results. The only thing that's changed is which side of the Bay he's on.

Randle and Christopher are one of the nation's best backcourts, and they're bolstered by a pair of solid forwards with small forward Theo Robertson and power forward Jamal Boykin. That's perhaps the best quartet in the Pac-10.

Cal isn't a particularly deep team, especially in the frontcourt, but that's a common theme in college basketball. But with the production they get from the aforementioned four, it isn't a huge problem. They at least have some size; Jordan Wilkes is a seven-footer, Harper Kamp is 6-8, 255, and newcomer Sanders-Frison is 6-8, 265. That's some serious beef.

Cal made 43% of their three-pointers and only turned the ball over 12 times a game. They definitely need to improve defensively, ranking only No. 101 in defensive efficiency last year, but they return everyone from one of the nation's best offenses (No. 12). When you're that good offensively and return everyone from a 22-win team, that sounds like a potential Top 10 team to me. There are teams behind them with more talent, but Montgomery's presence, Randle being one of the nation's best point guards and the fact that they return intact leads me to put Cal ahead of some of those teams.



10. TENNESSEE


Key returnees: F Tyler Smith, F/C Wayne Chism, G/F Scottie Hopson, PG Bobby Maze

Key losses: None

Key additions: PF Kenny Hall (No. 62)

Analysis: Like I told Posterize, this is a team I had to think about, and the more I thought about it I decided I like them going into next year. Well, maybe not "like," since their coach is a miserable human being, but you know what I mean.

I just can't see them defending that poorly again. Too many athletes, and now too much experience and talent.

Bobby Maze should do better at point guard this year, and wasn't that bad last year. Combine that with having Tyler Smith and J.P. Prince as a pair of point forwards, and they should have enough playmaking.

Scottie Hopson was one of the most highly-touted players in the 2008 class, and I expect he'll be a breakout player in '09-'10.

Too much talent, size and with the core returning intact, I decided I do like this team heading into next year. They need to shoot the three ball a lot better this year (31.5% last year, not good) and like I said, defend better, but I think they will.

Last edited by TheGame414 : 06-18-2009 at 04:37 AM.
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Old 06-18-2009, 11:29 AM   #5
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

I like Bobby Maze, he just needs to chill with all that school spirit
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Old 06-18-2009, 11:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

Jeff Robinson didn't get admitted due to being a moron. They do have the 6'10/260 Sandi Marcius coming in, if he's as good as his HS coach, good ole Delray Brooks, says he is he'll be a solid contributor.

I've seen Byrd play 4 or 5 times and the kid needs to learn to pass the ball. He's the definition of streaky and hasn't ever seen a shot he doesn't like. He's a stocky kid though, be able to body a lot of the wings in the conference. If Painter can reign him in offensively he can help in year one.

I'm not convinced they're really in national title contention either, could happen sure, but I see more of an Elite 8 team.

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Old 06-18-2009, 11:56 AM   #7
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

I'm confident that Darius Miller is going to improve and fill alot of the void that Meeks left.
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Old 06-18-2009, 12:22 PM   #8
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

Duke out of the top 10? Thats impossible, they return more players than UNC and UK and they also have two McDonalds All Americans coming in as well. This years Duke team will be better than last year, obviously they will miss Henderson, but Singler gets to move to his natural SF position, Duke will be a bigger team. They have superb PF Ryan Kelly coming in who might be the best offensive player in this class. Duke is a top 10 team, dont care where you put them but they are top 10. UK loses Meeks, they arent top 5 anymore. UNC lost their entire starting line up other than Deon Thompson, they arent a top 5 team either I dont care how much talent they have. A bunch of freshman and soph. on that team.
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Old 06-18-2009, 12:48 PM   #9
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

Nice work. Only thing about West Virginia is the JUCO recruit Casey Mitchell (not on the list) will IMO replace Ruoff's production moreso than Pepper.

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Old 06-18-2009, 01:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

Quote:
Originally Posted by InspiredLebowski
Jeff Robinson didn't get admitted due to being a moron. They do have the 6'10/260 Sandi Marcius coming in, if he's as good as his HS coach, good ole Delray Brooks, says he is he'll be a solid contributor.

I've seen Byrd play 4 or 5 times and the kid needs to learn to pass the ball. He's the definition of streaky and hasn't ever seen a shot he doesn't like. He's a stocky kid though, be able to body a lot of the wings in the conference. If Painter can reign him in offensively he can help in year one.

I'm not convinced they're really in national title contention either, could happen sure, but I see more of an Elite 8 team.
Didn't know that about Robinson. It doesn't really have any affect on my ranking of Purdue though, so no biggie.
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Old 06-18-2009, 01:54 PM   #11
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

Quote:
Originally Posted by timlush
I'm confident that Darius Miller is going to improve and fill alot of the void that Meeks left.
I think he'll improve too and if someone would assure me that he could average double figures and hit close to 40% of his threes, I'd feel better about Kentucky.
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Old 06-18-2009, 01:59 PM   #12
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

Quote:
Originally Posted by roachkilla
Duke out of the top 10? Thats impossible, they return more players than UNC and UK and they also have two McDonalds All Americans coming in as well. This years Duke team will be better than last year, obviously they will miss Henderson, but Singler gets to move to his natural SF position, Duke will be a bigger team. They have superb PF Ryan Kelly coming in who might be the best offensive player in this class. Duke is a top 10 team, dont care where you put them but they are top 10. UK loses Meeks, they arent top 5 anymore. UNC lost their entire starting line up other than Deon Thompson, they arent a top 5 team either I dont care how much talent they have. A bunch of freshman and soph. on that team.
Duke has had a team full of McDonald's All-Americans every single year and haven't been past the Sweet 16 in five years.

I know they spent a buch of time ranked in the Top 10 each of the past two seasons, but they've also been exposed over and over again as an imposter in the Top 10. I don't see anything inherently different about this season's Duke team. I'm going to have them in the 11-15 range, but they just lost their one guy who could get his own shot whenever he wanted, they still don't have a real point guard, and even though Ryan Kelly is a skilled player they still won't have any real muscle in the post. So they have the same problems they've had for several years now.
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Old 06-18-2009, 03:52 PM   #13
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

You will have UConn in the top 25 right? I'd like to see what a non-UConn fan feels about them, especially now that Majok is back.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:36 PM   #14
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

Quote:
Originally Posted by roachkilla
Duke out of the top 10? Thats impossible, they return more players than UNC and UK and they also have two McDonalds All Americans coming in as well. This years Duke team will be better than last year, obviously they will miss Henderson, but Singler gets to move to his natural SF position, Duke will be a bigger team. They have superb PF Ryan Kelly coming in who might be the best offensive player in this class. Duke is a top 10 team, dont care where you put them but they are top 10. UK loses Meeks, they arent top 5 anymore. UNC lost their entire starting line up other than Deon Thompson, they arent a top 5 team either I dont care how much talent they have. A bunch of freshman and soph. on that team.

I agree that Duke should be top 10 but Ryan Kelly has become extremely overrated towards the end of the signing period. Sure, he's got some offensive polish and a nice perimeter stroke but he's far from being the best offensive player in his class. Mason Plumlee is a more valuable addition to this team.

Nolan Smith will have a breakout season.
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Old 06-18-2009, 05:36 PM   #15
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Default Re: My early 2009-2010 Top 25

Quote:
Originally Posted by UConnCeltics
You will have UConn in the top 25 right? I'd like to see what a non-UConn fan feels about them, especially now that Majok is back.
They're going to be in, but they're one of several teams- Dayton, Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois, Maryland, and Minnesota being a few others- that I'm pretty sure I'll have in but haven't decided if they're in the 16-20 range or the 21-25 range.
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