2009-2010 SEC Basketball Preview
The SEC East looks to be fairly topsy-turvy from the SEC East of the 2008- 2009 season. This division offers some of the finest coaching in the country with Billy Donovan at Florida, Bruce Pearl at Tennessee, Kevin Stallings running Vanderbilt and Darrin Horn coaching South Carolina. To add to the mix, John Calipari comes on board with Kentucky and Mark Fox with Georgia. Here’s the way it looks.
Kentucky looks to move up, possibly to first-place, in the SEC East. The team possesses three of the best players in the league and depth to spare. Patrick Patterson upfront and John Wall in the backcourt are both dynamite players.
Tennessee, which finished second last season, will most likely be in the same spot this year. Since Pearl came in to coach this team, the Vols have been a consistent winner. The frontcourt is solid with seniors Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism controlling the boards. Freshman Kenny Hall joins the team as a top-50 recruit and a true inside-outside threat.
The Commodores of Vanderbilt welcome freshman guard John Jenkins, who may be the best new shooter in the college game. Vandy has a solid group of starters that includes a frontcourt manned by junior center A.J. Ogilvy and sophomore forward Jeffery Taylor. This team has a shot at second or third in the division and should be at the Big Dance this year.
The South Carolina Gamecocks finished first in the SEC East last season. This year, with more competition in the division, this club looks to be a third or fourth-place team. Guard Devan Downey and forward Dominique Archie are both major talents with solid experience. The NCAA tourney is not out of the question.
The team that continues to lose gas in this division is the former two-time National Champion Florida Gators. The good news is that Florida welcomes freshman Kenny Boynton to the team. He’s a proven clutch shooter. And the Gators certainly have a talented roster of players. But not enough to be a top team in the division.
For coach Mark Fox the Georgia Bulldogs represent his next challenge. He did fine work with the Nevada Wolf Pack and will need to do the same with a basketball program that is basically in a shambles. The centerpiece of this rebuilding effort is sophomore forward Howard Thompkins, who has both fine scoring and defensive chops.
Calipari at Kentucky will make a big difference and Pearl will
put a fine team on the court. Vandy is ready to move up while
South Carolina and Florida move down the ladder. Georgia has got
a long way to go.
This season in the SEC West last year’s top looks like the bottom and last year’s middle looks like the top. Two teams from the state of Mississippi could be one and two. While the best from last season, the LSU Tigers, will most likely plummet. There are definitely some works-in-progress, including the Auburn Tigers and the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The top of the SEC West will either be won by he Mississippi State Bulldogs or the Ole Miss Rebels. The Bulldogs were third in the Wets last season and the Rebels finished next to last. State is led by senior center Jarvis Varnado. He is the best defensive player in the league. There are also some decent freshmen who will contribute and good overall depth on this team.
Ole Miss puts one of the best teams its seen in years on the court. The perimeter guys, which include sophomore standout Terrico White at point and junior Chris Warren in the two spot, are fine point producers. But in the SEC you need guys upfront who can bang and that particular attribute is lacking on this club.
New coach Anthony Grant will try to help the often under achieving Alabama Crimson Tide into a bunch of guys who finally realize their potential. Grant is a master at this and he has a team that is athletic and talented.
The Hogs of Arkansas welcome Top 100 big man Marshawn Powell. He could be scoring points and rebounding immediately for this team. Guard Courtney Fortson is an excellent backcourt player and point man. Senior forward/center Michael Washington can score points.
Finally, the LSU Tigers don’t have half of what they had in their tank last season. Senior forward Tasmin Mitchell is back and that is simply huge. Although LSU has talent, it’s young and lacks experience and depth. Expect a lot of growing pains from this team.
The best of the best in the West would be the Mississippi State
Bulldogs. They’ve got an all around fine team and the best
incoming class in the division. Watch out for the Rebels and the
Tide. Both will be contenders.
2009-2010 SEC Basketball Predictions
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