2012-2013 SEC Basketball Preview
By Dennis Berry
As the weather turns colder, it means that basketball is starting. This year could be an outstanding one for the SEC. The SEC could be looking at six or seven NCAA Teams – or more if you listen to John Calipari.
Speaking of John Calipari, you cannot talk about the SEC without first beginning with the Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky won their eighth national championship last season. This year they start the season as the only Division I team with no returning starters. They do, however, bring in the top recruiting class – again – to build with. That group is led by Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress.
This season’s Kentucky squad is not like last years. Think of this group more like the 2010-11 Wildcats, who took some losses in the regular season before going on a run late in March. It is unknown if this team will do the same, but they will be a more dangerous team come March than they are now.
The big news is that the SEC has added two new members in the Missouri Tigers and the Texas A&M Aggies. They come over from the Big 12 where both schools have had success on the hardwood.
Missouri comes and many believe they can compete right away for a SEC Title. They have a roster full of transfers, who have to gel as a team, though. They do have Phil Pressey, who should be the best player in the SEC this year. They should make the NCAA Tournament.
Texas A&M is still in rebuilding mode under Bill Kennedy who took over last season. Before last year they had made six straight trips to the NCAA Tournament.
So who else are NCAA Tournament teams from the SEC?
After Kentucky and Missouri the next for sure NCAA Tournament team is Florida. They are a veteran team that has plenty of NCAA Tournament experience. They have been to two straight Elite Eights. They will be led by the core of Kenny Boynten, Patric Young, and Erik Murphy.
Next up is the Tennessee Volunteers. Last year Cuonzo Martin took over a Volunteer team that was not expected to do much in the SEC. All they did was finish second in the regular season with a 10-6 conference record. The key was the addition of Jarnell Stokes. Along with Stokes, Martin returns a great core with Jeronne Maymon and Trae Golden.
The Crimson Tide have already began working on their NCAA Tournament resume by winning the 2K Sports Tournament. This year’s Alabama team will still be a defense team, but it looks like it might be a better offensive team. Trevor Releford and Trevor Lacey led this team on offense. It appears that Lacey – a five star recruit in 2011 – may be ready to have a breakout year this season.
Year two of the Mike Anderson era should see the Razorbacks return to the NCAA Tournament. The Razorbacks get Marshawn Powell back after he missed almost all of last year because of an injury. They have N All-SEC player in BJ Young who is back after an early season suspension. The key for the Razorbacks getting back into the “Big Dance” will be improving their defense.
The only other team that has a shot at making the NCAA Tournament is Ole Miss. They have been to the NIT five of the six years that Andy Kennedy has been the coach. So far it appears that Marshall Henderson could be their go-to scorer. He is averaging 22 points through the first three games of the year. The Rebels will still need big numbers from Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner to win many games this year. If they are going to make the NCAA Tournament they are going to have to be impressive in the SEC, because they're out-of-conference schedule is not impressive.
After those teams the rest of the SEC is not that impressive. As we talked about earlier, Texas A&M is still rebuilding. The Vanderbilt Commodores – last season’s SEC Tournament Champions – are rebuilding after losing every key player from last season. The LSU Tigers are on the upswing, but have a new head coach in Johnny Jones – but he does have Johnny O’Bryant to build around.
Frank Martin takes over at South Carolina and, while the Gamecocks will be better; they still have a long way to go. Georgia has a great player in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but there is not much else there for Mark Fox to work with. Could Mark Fox's seat be getting hot in Athens?
Finally at the bottom of the SEC are Auburn and Mississippi State. Both schools have a long way to go before they are relevant in basketball again.
- Kentucky Wildcats
- Florida Gators
- Missouri Tigers
- Tennessee Volunteers
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- Arkansas Razorbacks
- Ole Miss Rebels
- Texas A&M Aggies
- Vanderbilt Commodores
- LSU Tigers
- Georgia Bulldogs
- South Carolina
- Auburn Tigers
- Mississippi State Bulldogs
- Player of the Year: Phil Pressey, Missouri
- Coach of the Year: Cuonzo Martin, Tennessee
- Freshman of the Year: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
All-SEC 1st Team
- Phil Pressey, Missouri
- Kenny Boynton, Florida
- B.J. Young, Arkansas
- Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
- Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
All-SEC 2nd Team
- Elston Turner, Texas A&M
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
- Marshawn Powell, Arkansas
- Alex Poythress, Kentucky
- Patric Young, Florida
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