Thursday, November 5, 2009

SEC Preview


The SEC is going to be one of the most interesting conferences in the country this season. They have some of the top freshmen in the country in John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins of Kentucky, Kenny Boynton of Florida and Mississippi State's Renardo Sidney. They made plenty of big-name coaching hires in the offseason, with John Calipari going to Kentucky, Anthony Grant to Alabama and Mark Fox to Georgia. Furthermore, they have a ton of returning talent and potential All-Americans in Kentucky's Patrick Patterson, Tennessee's Tyler Smith and South Carolina's Devan Downey. The SEC East figures to be a dominant division, with five teams in the mix for an NCAA Tournament bid. More likely than not, one of them will have to be left out. The West is going to be the weaker division, but there is a lot of young talent, and Mississippi State and Ole Miss will be contenders. Get ready for a wild season in the SEC.

Player of the Year: Patrick Patterson, F, Kentucky

Newcomer of the Year: John Wall, G, Kentucky

All-Conference Team:
G- Devan Downey, South Carolina
G- John Wall, Kentucky
F- Tyler Smith, Tennessee
F- Patrick Patterson, Kentucky
C- Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State

Second Team:
G- Terrico White, Ole Miss
G- Chris Warren, Ole Miss
F- Tasmin Mitchell, LSU
F- Michael Washington, Arkansas
C- A.J. Ogilvy, Vanderbilt

Third Team:
G- Kenny Boynton, Florida
G- Courtney Fortson, Arkansas 
F- Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt
F- Wayne Chism, Tennessee
C- DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

Projected Order of Finish
1. Kentucky: With the arrival of new head coach John Calipari and the best recruiting class in the country, the Wildcats are a Final Four favorite behind freshman John Wall and junior Patrick Patterson. Prediction: NCAA
2. Tennessee: The Volunteers return everyone from last season, including forwards Wayne Chism and Tyler Smith. However, they need more consistent perimeter play in order to reach their full potential. Prediction: NCAA
3. Florida: The Gators are poised to get back to the Big Dance after settling for the NIT last season. Freshman guard Kenny Boynton and a talented and deep frontcourt will make sure of that. Prediction: NCAA
4. Vanderbilt: The Commodores are ready to make noise after going .500 in the SEC last year. Four double-figure scorers return, including A.J. Ogilvy, and frosh shooter John Jenkins will make an impact. Prediction: NCAA
5. South Carolina: The Gamecocks have the talent to get to the NCAA Tournament, but they will struggle to repeat their division title of a year ago. Devan Downey is an All-American at the point guard spot. Prediction: NIT
6. Georgia: Far and away the worst team in the SEC, the Bulldogs have a lot of work to do in order to make strides in the conference. Trey Thompkins is a bright spot at the forward position. Prediction: No Postseason

1. Mississippi State: If freshman Renardo Sidney is eligible, look out. The Bulldogs return five starters, including Jarvis Varnado, and have the talent and depth to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Prediction: NCAA
2. Ole Miss: The Rebels are now healthy and will be a force to be reckoned with in the SEC. Chris Warren and Terrico White form one of the best backcourt duos in the country. They need inside help. Prediction: NCAA
3. Arkansas: The Razorbacks want to erase their memories of last season's 2-14 SEC campaign. They have plenty of talent across the board, including Courtney Fortson and Michael Washington. Prediction: NIT
4. Alabama: New head coach Anthony Grant hopes to continue the success he had at VCU with the Crimson Tide. JaMychal Green is capable of being a dominant big man, and there is perimeter talent. Prediction: CBI/CIT
5. Auburn: The Tigers won 24 games last season, but they lose three starters from that group. The backcourt of DeWayne Reed and Tay Waller will try to help them stay competitive, though. Prediction: No Postseason
6. LSU: The biggest slide in the conference will belong to the Tigers, who won the division title and got to the second round last season. Tasmin Mitchell is one of the country's best small forwards. Prediction: No Postseason

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