SEC preview: Experience, talent to highlight league
The SEC got crushed last season — and for good reason.
The league was "down," "weak" or whatever term you want to use to try and describe a conference that just didn't have enough experience, healthy bodies or talent to compete with the handful of other BCS leagues.
Can't wait for the college hoops season to start? We get you ready for 2009-10 with our preseason guide
But all that will change this season.
Patrick Patterson is back at Kentucky and new coach John Calipari has brought in a ton of young talent to Lexington. Tennessee should be improved with the return of Tyler Smith. Florida may have lost Nick Calathes, but the Gators have brought in one of the nation's elite freshman in Kenny Boynton.
Ole Miss is healthy and guard-heavy. And the Rebels' in-state rivals, Mississippi State, are huge on the frontline, and could be as good as anyone if talented freshman Renardo Sidney is cleared by the NCAA.
SEC coaches won't have to be defensive this season — not with all the talent that's returning.
5. South Carolina
1. Ole Miss
2. Mississippi State
Small forward: Tyler Smith, 6-7, 215, Sr., Tennessee
2008-09 Stats: 17.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg
Power forward: Patrick Patterson, 6-8, 225, Jr., Kentucky
2008-09 Stats: 17.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg
Center: Jarvis Varnado, 6-9, 230, Sr., Mississippi State
2008-09 Stats: 12.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 4.7 bpg
Shooting guard: Devan Downey, 5-9, 175, Sr., South Carolina
2008-09 Stats: 19.8 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.9 spg
Point guard: John Wall, 6-3 ½, 193, Fr., Kentucky
2008-09 Stats: N/A
Player of the Year: John Wall, 6-3 ½, 193, Fr., Kentucky
Newcomer of the Year: John Wall
Five frosh to watch
John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky): It's not out of the question that all three could be starting for the Wildcats to open the season. Wall may be the most highly touted, but Bledsoe and Cousins are both impact guys as well.
Kenny Boynton (Florida): He's a scoring machine, plain and simple. Boynton should quickly become the go-to guy for Billy Donovan with his ability to create virtually whenever he wants.