SEC Basketball Season Preview

Story posted November 25, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Austin Groft

The SEC had an impressive performance in March Madness two years ago with four teams making it to the Sweet 16. It is hard to say how SEC teams will compete across the nation this year with the cancellation of March Madness last season.

After the season two years ago, the SEC had a down year last year with only four teams projected to make March Madness.

The SEC looked like the worst of the power five conferences last year, but it should be back on the rise this season with three schools being in the nation’s top six recruiting classes.

The Kentucky Wildcats, defending champions of the SEC regular season title, rank at the top of the conference this year and are the favorites to win it again. They lost star guards Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley to the NBA Draft.

Kentucky also lost Nick Richards to the NBA, who was one of the SEC’s best rim protectors and shot blockers. The Wildcats also lost three players from graduation with one significant player returning from last season, Keion Brooks, who only averaged 4.5 points per game.

Legendary coach John Calipari is known for producing talented players and recruits the nation’s top players every year. For this season, Calipari has brought in two McDonald’s All Americans in BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke.

To compliment this young Kentucky roster, transfer Olivier Sarr will provide a great veteran presence to this roster.

The other favorite to win the SEC are the Tennessee Volunteers. They had a down year last year with a record of 9-9 in the conference and 17-14 overall. With the loss of Grant Williams. Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone to the NBA Draft, the Volunteers had to rebuild last season.

This year, Tennessee has taken advantage of the rebuild season last year and returns four of its top five scorers with two additional five-star recruits in Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson. The mixture of experience and young raw talent will be a recipe for success this season.

LSU will be competing for the SEC title returning Javonte Smart, Darius Days and Trendon Watford, who all averaged double digits last season. They also added five-star recruit Cam Thomas.

Similar to Tennessee, LSU returns key players alongside an impressive freshman class that will add depth to the roster. The only place where head coach Will Wade has struggled in the past is on the defensive side of the ball.

Alabama lost its star guard Kira Lewis Jr. who entered the NBA, but the Tide return four of their top six scorers. They will have Villanova transfer Jahvon Quinerly, a five-star point guard that will have to spark Alabama’s offense this season.

The final team that has the highest chance to contend for the SEC title this season is the Florida Gators. They return Keyontae Johnson, who is projected to win SEC Player of the Year.

Florida had a disappointing season with five-star recruits Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis not living up to the hype. The Gators were ranked sixth overall in the preseason AP poll and were big favorites to win the title last year. Their ceiling is extremely high having one of the most talented rosters in the nation.

Other notable teams in the SEC include Arkansas, Auburn and Mississippi. Arkansas brought in several players in the transfer portal and some young talented freshman. Auburn lost  its entire starting five from last season, but they have a top ten recruiting class. Mississippi had a frustrating season last year, but like many other teams in the SEC, have several new faces.

In the end, the SEC will come down to Kentucky and Tennessee who both have the most talented rosters in this conference. Coach Calipari will use his talented roster and coaching knowledge to overcome some of the more experienced teams in this conference, bringing home Kentucky another SEC title.

 

Austin Groft is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email him at atg5271@psu.edu.

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