Saturday, November 5, 2005

SEC Preview


Player of the Year: Ronnie Brewer, G/F, Arkansas

Newcomer of the Year: Tasmin Mitchell, F, LSU

All-Conference Team:
G- Rajon Rondo, Kentucky
G- Ronald Steele, Alabama
G/F- Ronnie Brewer, Arkansas
F- Chuck Davis, Alabama
F- Glen Davis, LSU

Second Team:
G- Patrick Sparks, Kentucky
G- Mario Moore, Vanderbilt
G- C.J. Watson, Tennessee
F- Corey Brewer, Florida
C- Jermareo Davidson, Alabama

Third Team:
G- Chris Lofton, Tennessee
G- Levi Stukes, Georgia
G- Darrel Mitchell, LSU
F- Al Horford, Florida
C- Darian Townes, Arkansas

Eastern Division:
1. Kentucky- Kentucky should once again dominate the SEC. However, this team is not as good as the Wildcats teams of past years. The eligibility of Randolph Morris could have a big impact on the Wildcats. The 6-11 potential star could be suspended for an undetermined amount of games for having SFX agency pay for his travel while he was mulling over the NBA Draft. If he returns, he will give the Wildcats a solid inside game. That is going to be necessary, considering the Wildcats already have one of the best perimeter groups in the country. Rajon Rondo is expected to have a breakout season at the point. He is an excellent defender, but needs to work on his shot. His passing and quickness allows him to be a very good penetrator and distributor. Patrick Sparks is a clutch shooter that is a good all-around player. When he's hot, he is one of the better long-range shooters around. His shooting selection sometimes leaves something to be desired, though. On the wing, Joe Crawford looks to start. He had some problems with Tubby Smith last season and attempted to leave the program. He came back, however, and showed flashes of his potential. Off the bench, Ramel Bradley provides good scoring and production in all aspects of the game. Ravi Moss is a good long-range shooter. Replacing the heart and soul of Kentucky's team for the past few years, Chuck Hayes, will be JC transfer Rekalin Sims. The combo forward can shoot the ball, and can also get some buckets down low. Freshman Jared Carter has shown some promise in practice. Returning seven-footers Shagari Alleyne and Lukasz Obrzut will man the center spot until Morris returns, while Sheray Thomas and Bobby Perry are versatile forwards that saw decent minutes a season ago. The Wildcats are deep and talented. Prediction: NCAA

2. Vanderbilt- The Commodores had a quiet 20-win season a year ago, and look to build on that this season. Mario Moore is streaky, but when he is on, he can carry Vandy. His suspension for the first three games of the season will hinder their development as a team, though. Shan Foster and Virginia transfer Derrick Byars will comprise possibly the best offensive wing combo in the league. Foster looks to be ready for a breakout season, while Byars is very athletic and is a good three-point shooter. Alex Gordon provides scoring and solid point guard play off the bench in what is a very deep and talented backcourt. Wing Dan Cage is another shooter that the Commodores can use. Up front, Julian Terrell leads the way. He needs to continue the way he played down the stretch. Center Ted Skuchas doesn't have very impressive numbers, but he can provide solid defense and rebounding down low. If the frontcourt produces every night, and develops another scoring option in the post, the Commodores will get to the NCAA Tournament. Prediction: NCAA

3. Florida- The Gators are going to have to go through a makeover if they are to repeat their Top-4 seed of last season. They lose key veterans Matt Walsh, Anthony Roberson, and David Lee, who have contributed consistently the past few seasons. Two starters return in forwards Corey Brewer and Al Horford, both potential all-conference players. Brewer is an excellent defender and a 44 percent shooter from long-range. He is also solid at cutting to the basket for buckets. Horford is a good shot blocker and an excellent rebounder. If he can improve his scoring, he is going to be one of the better inside players in the SEC. The third frontcourt position will be filled by either Adrian Moss, Joakim Noah, or Chris Richard. Moss is the lone senior on the Gators; he is a solid rebounder and post defender. Noah is expected to have a big season for Florida. He is a tough match-up for fellow big men because of his athleticism and perimeter abilities. Richard gives the Gators a big body down low. On the perimeter, Taurean Green should start at the point. As the backup to Roberson, he demonstrated that he will be a solid choice to run the team. He plays good defense, is a decent shooter, and can push the ball well. The other returnee in the backcourt is Lee Humphrey, a very good long-range shooter. Two freshman are expected to earn minutes on the perimeter. Walter Hodge is a point guard that can also score in a variety of ways, while Derwin Kitchen is an athletic wing that needs to become eligible in order to play. If the role players from a season develop into go-to-players, the Gators could make some noise nationally. Prediction: NIT

4. South Carolina- The Postseason NIT champs would much rather see their name in an NCAA bracket this season. With the team they have, that is very possible. Although no double figure scorers return for the Gamecocks, several productive role players are back. Tarence Kinsey hit the game winner at the buzzer in the NIT title game, and is the best shooter on the team. He could end up being the leading scorer. Tre' Kelley and Rocky Trice also return in the backcourt. Kelley is a solid playmaker at the point who can play decent defense. Trice was a part-time starter last season, and is an athletic player that can do a multitude of things from the wing. Dwayne Day provides depth on the perimeter. In the frontcourt, they need to replace do-everything forward Carlos Powell. Antoine Tisby, Brandon Wallace, and Renaldo Balkman are all solid players up front, but none stand out. Tisby is a good but inconsistent inside scorer. Wallace is a lanky athlete that is a very good defender, both in terms of steals and blocks. Balkman is another skinny athlete and is a solid shot blocker. If any of the former role players develop into a go-to-guy, the Gamecocks won't have a chance to defend their NIT Title. Prediction: NIT

5. Tennessee- The Volunteers looked like they had some potential a season ago, but that turned into a 14-17 season that ended in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. They do return several solid contributors from a year ago, though, including two potential all-league players on the perimeter. C.J Watson is one of the better point guards in the conference. He is an excellent defender that ranks near the top of the league in steals, and is also a very good distributor and playmaker. Kenny Lofton is one of the best long-range shooters in the country at nearly 47 percent from behind the arc. He also is a decent defender. If he improves his ability to drive to the basket, he can be a poor man's JJ Redick. The perimeter also returns 6-3 Dane Bradshaw, who provides a little of everything. Up front, Andre Patterson and Stanley Asumnu return at forward. Patterson is a good scorer, putting up points off rebounds and mid-range buckets. Asumnu is quick and athletic who will develop into a good defender and scorer. Major Wingate will man the low post. He could double his modest numbers of last season (5 ppg, 3 rpg) this year. Freshman Ryan Childress will see minutes down low. If Watson and Lofton put up big numbers in the backcourt, and a go-to-guy emerges down low, the Volunteers will win some games. Prediction: NIT

6. Georgia- The Bulldogs had an expected rebuilding season a year ago, going 8-20 and winning only 2 games in the SEC. They return all five starters from that team, and bring in one of the best point guard recruits in the country. The backcourt is loaded. Levi Stukes is one of the best guards in the league, and will be an all-conference player. He is very tough to defend on offense. Sundiata Gaines played out of position at the point a season ago. He is a double-figure scorer who is also a surprisingly good rebounder and a decent passer. Channing Toney started last season, but could come off the bench this year. He is a near double-figure scorer that is a very good shooter. The reason that he will likely be the sixth man is freshman Mike Mercer. Mercer is a very good playmaker who can score and distribute once he gets in the lane. His athleticism and leaping ability enable him to be a good finisher. Sophomore Kevin Brophy will provide solid depth on the perimeter. Inside, returning starters Steve Newman and Dave Bliss are back. Newman is a good post player that provides solid rebounding and defense. Bliss could have a breakout season on the low block. Idrissi Younes returns to provide depth, while freshman Rashaad Singleton and Kendrick Johnson will see minutes in the post. The Bulldogs will be improved from last season, but will fall short of the postseason. Prediction: No Postseason

Western Division:
1. Alabama- The Crimson Tide made news over the offseason due to the fact that everyone in the country realized that they were going to potentially start four forwards as a result of the lack of wing players. However, that big lineup will lead the Tide to a decent amount of wins in the weak SEC. Leading the way on the baseline is all-conference forward Chuck Davis. He is one of the best inside players in the country, and is dominant on both sides of the ball. He lead the SEC in blocked shots, and is extremely difficult to stop once he gets the ball down low. Fellow inside player Jermareo Davidson is another all-conference player. He is a lanky big man, but he is athletic and is a very good rebounder. He might see more time away from the basket to make room for all the post players on the Tide. Freshman Richard Hendrix is another post player. He could develop into a dominant big man and is a candidate for SEC Freshman of the year. They also have depth inside. Evan Brock needs to improve his production with increased playing time, while Yamene Coleman seems like he will be the next premier big man for the Crimson Tide as his career goes on. To go with all the frontcourt talent and depth, the backcourt has questions. Who is going to play on the wing? Jean Felix will most likely get the starting nod, mainly by default. He is not a natural two-guard, but he will fit in well. He is an excellent shooter, hitting three-pointers at a 45 percent clip. Felix is also one of best defenders in the SEC, although not too many saw that last season. Returnee Justin Jonus and newcomer Alonzo Gee are also going to see time on the wing. Jonus is a very good shooter and a potentially solid scorer, while Gee will be forced into minutes because of the lack of wings. One position that doesn't have a question mark is at the point. Ronald Steele is one of the best point guards in the country, and should be a first-team All-SEC performer this season. He lead the league in assists and assist to turnover ratio. Steele also shot almost 43 percent from behind the arc. He does not have a very capable backup. If Alabama can get steady production from the wing, they will be tough to beat. Prediction: NCAA

2. LSU- Coming off a surprise season that ended with a disappointing first-round flameout, the Tigers are looking to build upon their success of a year ago. They will have to do without their best player, Brandon Bass, who took his game to the NBA Draft, but went undrafted. They do return Bass' partner down low, though, in Glen Davis. "Big Baby" could become the most dominant big man in the South. He is surprisingly athletic and agile on offense, and is an excellent rebounder. Teaming with him in the frontcourt will be two freshmen, Tasmin Mitchell and Magnum Rolle. Mitchell is my pick for National Freshman of the Year. He is going to start on the wing immediately, and will make a substantial impact with his scoring and passing abilities. Rolle will play beside Davis in the low block. He is a highly regarded recruit. In the bakcourt, returning point guard Tack Minor is suspended for the first four games. He is very quick, and is a good scorer and distributor. However, he sometimes plays out of control and that turns the ball over often. On the wing, Darrel Mitchell is a consistent scorer. He is an excellent three point shooter that also has the ability to drive past any defender. In addition, he is a solid passer and a good defender. Until Minor returns, another freshman will start. Ben Voogd is an outstanding passer that will keep the offense rolling. If the freshman have the expected impact, LSU will return to the NCAA Tournament, but will win a first-round game this time. Prediction: NCAA

3. Arkansas- The Razorbacks ended their season on a sour note, falling in the first round of the SEC Tournament and turning down an invitation to the NIT. If everything goes according to plan, they won't have to even think about an NIT bid this season. The best player in the conference, Ronnie Brewer, returns on the wing. He can play every perimeter position, and might do that this season. He is an excellent scorer and defender, and is also a very solid rebounder and passer. Brewer also shot 40 percent from three-point range. He can do it all. Also on the wing is Jonathan Modica. He averaged over 16 points per game two years ago, but less than 10 last season. He should bounce back this season due to his shooting prowess (43 percent from behind the arc). At the point is Eric Ferguson. He is not much of a scorer, but he can shoot the three with efficiency and is a good distributor. Dontrell Jefferson will provide depth on the wing, while freshman Sean McCurdy will see minutes at the point. Inside, Darian Townes could develop into one of the top big men in the conference. He is a go-to option offensively on the low block, and is a very good rebounder and shot-blocker. Forward Charles Thomas was a part-time starter last season. He is a decent scorer and rebounder. 7-footer Steven Hill is an excellent shot-blocker, but he needs to develop his scoring and rebounding skills. Returning from injury is 6-10 Vincent Hunter, who played well two seasons ago down low. He will see minutes. If the big men down low provide consistent punch, and the perimeter guys around Brewer produce, the Razorbacks will return to the NCAA Tournament. Prediction: NCAA

4. Ole Miss- Coming off three consecutive below .500 seasons, the Rebels look to make a return to respectability with a core of young players to build around. Leading the way is the lone returning starter, Londrick Nolen. Nolen will have a starting job again this season at forward. He is a scoring wing that also is a very solid defender, both with steals and blocks. Another guy who saw extensive minutes last season was post player Dwayne Curtis. He has loads of potential, and showed flashes of that a year ago. Also returning down low is Jeremy Parnell, who should have a big year in the paint after seeing minutes in 26 games last year. The other returnees are on the perimeter. Point guard Todd Abernathy won the league's sixth man award, but should start up top this season. He is a very good three-point shooter and a solid scorer and passer. Brandon Patterson is a good shooter who will develop as a scorer over the course of the season. Bam Doyne will likely provide depth in the backcourt. This year's group of newcomers will also see extensive minutes. Forward Marquis Young could start at forward. He is a highly-ranked recruit. JC transfer Clarence Sanders is a very good scorer who will play. The Rebels are a few years away from NCAA contention, but they could make the NIT as early as this season. Prediction: NIT

5. Mississippi State- The Bulldogs have had a successful past few years, but that will stop this season. They lose their top six scorers and rebounders, including all five starters. Jamall Edmundson is the leading scorer at less than five points per game. He is a good long-range shooter and could be a go-to-scorer on the perimeter. Wesley Morgan returns down low after playing limited minutes a year ago. Dietric Slater is a versatile scorer and defender on the wing, while Piotr Stelmach has some experience in the frontcourt. Also returning up front are sophomores Charles Rhodes and Walter Sharpe. Both can play down low, and will make an impact if they become more disciplined on and off the court. The rest is newcomers. Guards Jamont Gordon, and twins Reginald and Richard Delk are expected to make immediate impacts on the perimeter, while Vernon Goodridge will see extensive minutes right away in the paint. The Bulldogs have the potential to make some noise down the road, but not this season. Prediction: No posteason

6. Auburn- The Tigers had a surprisingly successful 14-win campaign a year ago. That doesn't sound very impressive, but if you look at what they went through, it was a good year for a young team that beat some quality clubs. This season should be more of the same--another 4-5 win SEC season and no postseason. One returning starter is back in wing Daniel Hayles. He had to play the post last season, but will be back on the wing this year. He is a good defender, scorer, and shooter. Frank Tolbert was a part-time starter last year, and will move into the lineup at guard. He could have a breakout season with more minutes. Another forward/wing-type returns in Ronny LeMelle, who is a solid defender who can also score if necessary. The rest of the rotation will be filled out by newcomers. Korvotney Barber is a McDonald's All-American who could start immediately inside. He should make an impact due to his athleticism. Forward Joey Cameron will also see loads of minutes in the frontcourt for the Tigers. Incoming guards Rasheem Barrett and Michael Woodard will play a lot right away in the backcourt. The Tigers have some talent, but not enough to make an impact in the SEC. Prediction: No postseason


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  2. gators nit? we already won the coaches vs cancer tournament over wake and syracuse