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After two seasons ago, in which the SEC only received two at-large bids – and no seeds higher than a No. 8 – the league looked it would be on the upswing last season season. Preseason top five Kentucky, top-25 teams in Ole Miss, Tennessee, Mississippi State and threats in Vanderbilt, Florida, South Carolina, etc. Much improved, right? Eh, not so much. Kentucky rolled to a conference title, going 14-2, but Vanderbilt and Tennessee were the only other conferences team to finish better than 9-7 in the SEC. Florida was the only of the bubble teams to get a bid from the SEC, as Mississippi State failed to get a bid despite making a run to the conference tourney final. Vanderbilt and Florida were gone in the first round of the Big Dance, while Tennessee and Kentucky both reached the Elite Eight. The league should be interesting at the top this season.
- 1. Florida: With all five starters returning, plus the addition of freshman Patric Young, the Gators get the edge over Tennessee and Kentucky. Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton have to be more consistent.
- 2. Tennessee: Bruce Pearl’s NCAA problems could prove to be a distraction all season. If not, this team has the talent to make a run. Tobias Harris is one of the best freshmen in the country; can Melvin Goins run the point?
- 3. Kentucky: John Calipari has his team prepared to make another run in the SEC, led by freshmen. Enes Kanter needs to get eligible, while Brandon Knight is immediately one of the top point guards in the nation.
- 4. Georgia: With Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins, the Bulldogs have one of the better and more productive tandems in the country. Tennessee State transfer Gerald Robinson could be an X-factor with his scoring.
- 5. Vanderbilt: This is an NCAA Tournament-caliber team; it just might be stuck in the wrong division. John Jenkins is arguably the best three-point shooter around, and Jeffery Taylor is a match-up problem at both ends.
- 6. South Carolina: Without Devan Downey carrying the offense, the Gamecocks are going to struggle. Sam Muldrow is solid down low, but the key could be freshman point guard Bruce Ellington.
- 1. Mississippi State: If Renardo Sidney is the same player he was in high school, the Bulldogs are going to be a factor. Dee Bost is back, and Ravern Johnson is primed for a big year on the wing.
- 2. Mississippi: Chris Warren is one of the best point guards in the country, but he doesn’t have much help. Indiana transfer Nick Williams and Zach Graham are two players who can score from the perimeter.
- 3. Arkansas: This could be a potential sleeper in the SEC. Rotnei Clarke can really stroke it, and Marshawn Powell is a blossoming sophomore. Iowa transfer Jeff Peterson is solid, and the Razorbacks have plenty on the perimeter.
- 4. Alabama: Here’s another team who will be relying on a newcomer at the point guard spot, this time it being Trevor Releford. Up front, JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell form a very solid forward tandem.
- 5. LSU: When Bo Spencer was ruled ineligible late in the summer, the Tigers took a major hit. The only returning player who averaged more than five points per game is now Storm Warren; the newcomers have to contribute.
- 6. Auburn: With Frankie Sullivan and his injured knee likely out for the season, the Tigers are going to have trouble at both ends. They will rely heavily on newcomers, namely Allen Payne and Josh Langford.
Player of the Year: Trey Thompkins, C, Georgia
Newcomer of the Year: Brandon Knight, G, Kentucky
- G- Brandon Knight, Kentucky
- G/F- Travis Leslie, Georgia
- F- Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt
- F- Chandler Parsons, Florida
- F/C- Trey Thompkins, Georgia
- G- Chris Warren, Mississippi
- G- John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
- F- JaMychal Green, Alabama
- F- Marshawn Powell, Arkansas
- F/C- Enes Kanter, Kentucky
- G- Scotty Hopson, Tennessee
- G- Kenny Boynton, Florida
- G- Dee Bost, Mississippi State
- G- Ravern Johnson, Mississippi State
- F- Tobias Harris, Tennessee