SEC Basketball Preview
After sending a record eight teams to the NCAA tournament last year, the SEC is primed for one of its most intriguing seasons in the past few years.
Kentucky will look to defend its SEC tournament title as it brings a talented squad to the table, led by sophomore guard PJ Washington. Kentucky also features the second-ranked recruiting class in the nation, bringing in another boatload of five stars.
Right behind the Wildcats is Tennessee, Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State. Tennessee brings back reigning SEC player of the year in forward Grant Williams. Williams will lead one of the SEC’s best teams into the fray this season as the Vols look for their second straight tournament berth since the 2009-2010 seasons.
The Auburn Tigers will return senior guard Bryce Brown, who averaged 15 points per game for them last season. Auburn was also without Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy due to an FBI probe into possible violations last-season but the two will be eligible once again, giving Auburn a huge boost to its forward and guard spots.
After the Tigers come the LSU Tigers. LSU was not dancing last season after a disappointing season. LSU returns a top point guard in Tremont Waters and adds an extremely talented big man in freshman Nazreon Reid. Look for new head coach Will Wades squad to make some noise as a possible SEC sleeper this season.
Finally, rounding out the top teams in the conference is the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are primed for a huge breakout in the SEC this year. Led by shooting guard Quinndary Weatherspoon and a nationally ranked recruiting class, the Bulldogs are in a position to shake up the conference this year.
Outside of these teams are Florida and Vanderbilt. The Gators were a tournament team a season ago but are now without talented guard Chris Chiozza, who took his talents to the NBA. The Gators do bring in talented scorer Andrew Nembhard from Montverde Academy who will look to make an immediate impact.
Meanwhile Vanderbilt sports an insane recruiting class with two five-star players in point guard Darius Garland and power forward Simisola Shittu joining a team that made the tournament only two years ago.
Finally, the bottom half of the conference with Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Missouri and Ole Miss rounding out the SEC. The Alabama Crimson Tide are fresh off a tournament berth only a season ago but lose their most talented player in point guard Collin Sexton to the NBA.
Missouri is now without big man Jontay Porter, who tore his ACL in October, putting its tournament hopes in jeopardy.
Texas A&M lost most of the squad that carried it to the tournament last year with big men Tyler Davis and Robert Williams both heading to the pros.
Arkansas returns sophomore forward Daniel Gafford, who was one of the top freshmen in the SEC last season but doesn’t have much else around him.
South Carolina also returns a top player in forward Chris Silva, who has elevated himself to SEC’s elite level. But like Arkansas, South Carolina does not have much to surround its star.
Finally, Ole Miss and Georgia are at the very bottom of the SEC, and both will be looking to rebuild their programs.
David Saggio is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To Contact him email email@example.com.