Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Preseason SEC power rankings : College Basketball

Published on November 11, 2011 by Scott Shirley   ·   1 Comment

Here are my preseason SEC power rankings for the 2011-12-college basketball season.

Big East


Big 10

Big 12

Pac 12

# 1. Kentucky

Coach: John Calipari (Two seasons at Kentucky 64-12). Overall 509-152, 19 years

2010-11: Record: 29-9 overall, 10-6 in SEC (2nd, East)

Starters Returning (2) Terrence Jones, Darius Miller

John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats made the final four last season with a six-man rotation. Now 3 of those players are gone and once again Calipari brings in the nation’s best recruiting class. Power forward Terrence Jones (15.7 ppg) does a little bit of everything for the Wildcats. He led Kentucky in rebounds and blocks, and almost led them in steals. Jones can also shoot the three. Joining him in the frontcourt will be the best true freshman in the country Anthony Davis. Davis has guard like skills as a big guy. Providing the depth in the frontcourt will be Eloy Vargas (1.5 ppg) and another highly thought of freshman Kyle Wiltjer. Darius Miller (10.9 ppg) is a deadly shooter at small forward. Backing him up will be another talented freshman Michael Kidd Gilchrist. He is very athletic and should see some time and power forward also. Kentucky will have another talented freshman point guard in Marquis Teague. Teague is real quick and can get to the rim; he needs to work on his shooting. Doron Lamb (12.3 ppg) will be the man at shooting guard. He almost shot 50 % from three last season. Depth at guard could be an issue. Leading the way is Mississippi State transfer Twany Beckham; he won’t be eligible until the second semester. Guard Stacey Poole might transfer away from Kentucky.

# 2. Vanderbilt

Coach: Kevin Stallings (12 seasons at Vanderbilt 326-148), overall 359-211, 18 years

2010-11: Record: 23-11 overall, 9-7 in SEC (Tie/3rd, East)

Starters Returning (4) Jenkins, Tinsley, Taylor, Ezeli

The Commodores have been a disappointment in the NCAA tournament recently. That shouldn’t be the case this year as Vanderbilt brings back their top 9 scorers from last year. Shooting guard John Jenkins (19.5 ppg) leads Vanderbilt. He is a high percentage three-point shooter that can also get to the rim. Joining him in the backcourt is point guard Brad Tinsley (10. 6 ppg). Tinsley has a very good assist to turnover ratio and can score when needed. Providing the depth in the backcourt is Kyle Fuller (1.9ppg), Jordan Smart (.4 ppg), and freshman Kedren Johnson and Dai-Jon Parker. Both freshman are highly rated. The very athletic Jeffery Taylor (14.7 ppg) will start at the small forward position. He is a very versatile player that needs to be more consistent. The leader in the frontcourt will be center Festus Ezeli (13 ppg). Ezeli is a top shot blocker who’s offensive game improved a lot last season. However Ezeli will miss some time with an injury to start the season. Look for Steve Tchiengang (4.8 ppg) to take his spot. Starting at power forward will be Lance Goulbourne (6.9ppg). Providing the depth in the frontcourt is Rod Odom (3.9ppg), redshirt freshman James Slakam and Josh Henderson and freshman Shelby Moats.

# 3. Florida

Coach: Billy Donovan (15 seasons at Florida 360-147), overall 395-167, 17 years

2010-11: Record: 29-8 overall, 13-3 in SEC (1st, East)

Starters Returning (2) Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker

The Gators do lose their starting frontcourt, but they do return their top 2 scorers both of which play in the backcourt. Point guard Erving Walker (14.8 ppg) and Kenny Boynton (14.2 ppg) lead the way in the backcourt to form one of the best backcourts in the nation. Both are super quick guards that can get to the rim. Both also make their share of threes, but they need to make a better percentage. Walker is a very clutch player while Boynton is a lockdown defender. Also starting on the wing will be one of the best freshman in the nation Brad Beal. Beal will be one of the best shooters in college basketball. Mike Rosario, a Rutgers transfer will be a top option off the bench; he averaged 16.7 ppg his last season at Rutgers. Also providing depth is Scottie Wilbekin (2.4 ppg) and Casey Prather (1.2 ppg). Center Patric Young (3.4 ppg) is the leader of the frontcourt; he is very athletic. He should put up a lot better numbers with more playing time. Power forward Erik Murphy (4.3 ppg) is more of a shooter. Providing the depth here is Will Yeguete (1.3 ppg), freshman Walter Pitchford, and redshirt freshman Cody Larson.

# 4. Alabama

Coach: Anthony Grant (Two seasons at Alabama 42-27), overall 118-52, 5 years

2010-11: Record: 25-12 overall, 12-4 in SEC (1st, West)

Starters Returning (3) JaMychal Green, Tony Mitchell, Trevor Releford

In Anthony’s Grant’s second year at Alabama not much was expected, but they made it the whole way to the NIT finals. The Crimson Tide return their top 3 scorers from last year’s team. Leading the way is center JaMychal Green (15.5 ppg). He is a beast for the Crimson Tide in the middle. He led them in points, blocks, and rebounds last season. Joining Green up front to give the Tide one of the best frontcourts in the country is Tony Mitchell (15.2 ppg). Mitchell, besides being good around the basket; he can also shoot the three. The depth in the frontcourt is very thin. Providing the depth is Carl Engstrom (.4 ppg) and freshman Nick Jacobs. Point guard Trevor Releford (11 ppg) is the leader of the backcourt. He led the teams in steals and assists last season, but he needs to shoot better from outside. Backing Releford up is Ben Eblen (.6 ppg), and freshman Retin Ojomoh. Two freshman Levi Randolph and Trevor Lacey will likely start on the wing for the Tide. Both are highly touted. Providing the depth here will be freshman Rodney Cooper and Charles Hankerson (2.3 ppg).

# 5. Mississippi State

Coach: Rick Stansbury (13 seasons at Mississippi State 272-154)

2011-12:Record: 17-14 overall, 9-7 in SEC (2nd West)

Starters Returning (2) Dee Bost, Renardo Sidney

What a crazy year last season was for the Bulldogs. They had teammates fighting in the stands, and players calling coaches out via twitter. Now things seem to be quiet. The Bulldogs return 2 of their top 3 scorers. Dee Bost (15.3 ppg) is a playmaker at point guard. He can score as well and gets his teammates involved at the same time. Jalen Steele (5.7 ppg) and Brian Bryant (4.9 ppg) will battle for the starter at shooting guard. Shaun Smith (1.0 ppg) and freshman Deville Smith will provide depth in the backcourt. Deville Smith is a flashy backup point guard. Leading the way in the frontcourt is Renardo Sidney (14.2 ppg). Sidney is a big body that can score in the low post. At times he can also be a dominant rebounder. Sidney could be a whole lot better if he got into better shape. Joining him in the frontcourt is UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie; he averaged 9.8 ppg his last season there. Providing depth here are Wendell Lewis (3.7 ppg), and freshman Roquez Johnson and Shawn long. Highly touted freshman Rodney Hood will likely start at small forward. Kristers Zeidaks will not play this season.

# 6. Ole Miss

Coach: Andy Kennedy (Five seasons at Ole Miss 105-64), overall 126-77, 6 years

2010-11 Record: 20-14 overall, 7-9 in SEC (Tie/3rd West)

Starters Returning (3) Terrance Henry, Nick Williams, Reginald Buckner

The Rebels do lose their 2 scorers, but they return their starting frontcourt and add some talented transfers. Terrance Henry (9.7 ppg) is the Rebels best player at power forward; he is very athletic, and he finished the season strong recording many double doubles. Center Reginald Buckner (6.8 ppg) is one of the best-shot blockers in the nation. Murphy Holloway transferred away from Ole Miss after averaging 10.1 ppg, now he is back at Ole Miss and their top big guy off the bench. Steadman Short (3.2 ppg), Demarco Cox (1.6 ppg), and freshman Aaron Jones and Jamal Jones, provide depth in the frontcourt. Dundrecous Nelson (7.2 ppg) will be the man at point guard; he put good numbers in limited minutes last year. Nick Williams (6.2 ppg) is a very solid player on the wing. The depth in the backcourt will come from three freshman Jarvis Summers, Ladarius White, and Maurice Aniefiok. Also in the mix is transfer Dale Hughes. The very talented Memphis transferJelan Kendrick will start at small forward once he is eligible in December.

# 7. Arkansas

Coach: Mike Anderson (First season at Arkansas), overall 200-98, 9 years

2010-11 Record: 18-13 overall, 7-9 in SEC (Tie/3rd West)

Starters Returning (2) Marshawn Powell, Julysses Nobles

Welcome back, Mike Anderson now takes over the Razorbacks program. He was an assistant head coach under Nolan Richardson. Arkansas does lose 2 of the top 3 scorers from last season, but they do bring in a top 10 recruiting class. Marshawn Powell (10.8 ppg) is Arkansas best returning player at power forward. Foot problems slowed him last year but look for him to put up more points this season. Michael Sanchez (3.5 ppg) will likely start at center, but look for freshman Hunter Mickelson to challenge him. Marvell Waithe (3.6 ppg) and freshman DeVonta Abron will supply solid depth at power forward. In the backcourt they are led by Julysses Nobles (8.4 ppg); he shoots the ball very well. Joining him in the backcourt is the very highly touted freshman B.J. Young. Young is a flat out scorer. Providing the depth here are Rickey Scott (3.3 ppg) and Mardracus Wade (4 ppg). Rashad Madden is also a highly thought of freshman that will get some time at the 3. Wade could start at the 3 if they wanted to go small.

# 8. LSU

Coach: Trent Johnson (three seasons at LSU 49-49), 208-170 12 years

2010-11 Record: 11-21 overall, 3-13 in SEC (Last in West)

Starters Returning (4): Ralston Turner, Andre Stringer, Storm Warren, Malcolm White

In Trent Johnson’s first two seasons at LSU they have finished last in the SEC West, but they were young, and now he has his most experienced team with his top 4 scorers coming back. There is no question that the strength of the Tigers is their backcourt. Wing Ralston Turner (12.3 ppg) and point guard Andre Stringer (11.2 ppg) lead the backcourt. Both are great athletes that can get to the rim, and both make a fair amount of threes but need to make a better percentage. The backups here are Chris Bass (1.8 ppg) and freshman Anthony Hickey and John Isaac. Leading the way in the frontcourt for the Tigers at small forward is Storm Warren (7.7 ppg). He led the team in rebounds, steals, and assists last season. Malcolm White (7.6 ppg) also returns inside; he is also a good rebounder. Look for either highly touted freshman Johnny O’Bryant or Iowa State transfer Justin Hamilton to be the other starter up front. Eddie Ludwig (3.8 ppg) and Jalen Courtney (1.8 ppg) will both provide depth in the frontcourt.

# 9. Georgia

Coach: Mark Fox (Two seasons 35-29), overall 158-72, 7 years

2010-11 Record: 21-12 overall, 9-7 in SEC (Tie 3rd/ East)

Starters Returning (2) Dustin Ware, Gerald Robinson

The Bulldogs played well late to reach the NCAA tournament, but now 3 of their top 4 scorers are gone. The Bulldogs best returning player is versatile guard Gerald Robinson (12.2 ppg). He knows how to get assists and he can attack the basket. Joining him in the backcourt is point guard Dustin Ware (8 ppg). He has led the SEC in assist turnover ratio the last two seasons. The primary backups here will be Sherrard Brantley (2.9ppg) and Vincent Williams (.7 ppg). Starting at the three for the Bulldogs will be highly touted Kentavious Caldwell. He is a very deadly shooter. Backing him up will be Connor Nolte (1.7 ppg). Georgia does not have a lot of experience returning upfront. Marcus Thornton (1.5 ppg) will have to score more at power forward. The starting center spot is up for grabs. The options are Donte’ Williams (.8 ppg), JUCO transfer John Florveus and freshman John Cannon and Tim Dixon. Fellow freshman Nemanja Djurisic will get some minutes at small forward.

# 10. Auburn

Coach: Tony Barbee (first year at Auburn 11-20), overall 93-72,5 years

2010-11 Record: 11-20 overall, 4-12 in SEC (5th West)

Starters Returning (3): Allen Payne, Josh Wallace, Adrian Forbes

Auburn would have been a lot higher on this list but their top 2 returning leading scorers and leading rebounder decided to transfer elsewhere. The Tigers best returning player is power forward Kenny Gabriel (10.3 ppg). Gabriel is a strong rebounder and can even shoot the three. Rob Chubb (7.6 ppg) will start at center and he is a very hard worker inside. The Tigers have a lot of depth inside led by Josh Langford (4.6 ppg), Adrian Forbes (3.6 ppg) and true freshman Willy Kouassi and Bernard Morena. Look for Kouassi to get a lot of quality minutes. Allen Payne (5.6 ppg) will get most of the minutes at the 3. Leading the way in the backcourt for the Tigers is Frankie Sullivan (8.2 ppg), who took a medical redshirt last season. He is a very dynamic player. Also in the backcourt is Texas transfer Varez Ward. The Tigers also have three quality back ups here in Josh Wallace (5.7 ppg), Chris Denson (5.9 ppg), Tony Neysmith (2.4 ppg). Cedrick McAfee, a freshman should also get some playing time. Clemson transfer Noel Johnson may also help out.

# 11. Tennessee

Coach: Cuonzo Martin (This will be his first season at Tennessee), overall 61-41,3 years

2010-11 Record: 19-15 overall, 8-8 in SEC (5th East)

Starters Returning (1) Cameron Tatum

Gone is head coach Bruce Pearl, although he got them to 6 NCAA tournaments in a row he could not stop from committing NCAA violations. In comes Cuonzo Martin, I like this hire but it will take some time. Gone for the Vols are 5 of their top 6 scorers from last season. Their best returning player is Cameron Tatum (8.8 ppg). Tatum will play at the 3 and will be called upon to score a lot more; he is very athletic. Trae Golden (3 ppg) will be at  point guard; he put up go assists numbers last year as a back up. Skylar McBee (3 ppg) will start at shooting guard; he is capable of being a deadly shooter. The back up at all these positions are Jordan McRae (1.8 ppg) and freshman shooting guards Quinton Chievous and Josh Richardson and point guard Wes Washpun. Jeronne Maymon (2.6 ppg) will start at power forward and Kenny Hall (2.0 ppg) will start at center. Renaldo Woolridge (1.6 ppg) will be the primary back up at both positions. Also providing depth are Pitt transfer Dwight Miller and project Yemi Makanjuola.

# 12. South Carolina

Coach: Darrin Horn (three years at South Carolina 50-42), overall 161-90 8 years

2010-11 Record: 14-16 overall, 5-11 in SEC (last in SEC West)

Starters Returning: (3) Bruce Ellington, Lakeem Jackson, Brian Richardson

The Gamecocks were having a pretty good season last year until they lost 9 of their last 10 games.  They also lose 2 double-digit scorers and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.  Making matters worse for the Gamecocks is that their returning scorer and assist man from last year Bruce Ellington (12.8 ppg) is playing football this fall.  Ellington won’t join the team until sometime in December or January.  Look for true freshman shooting guard Damien Leonard to start; he is a very good shooter.  Providing depth in the backcourt is the very athletic Brian Richardson (5.9 ppg), JUCO transfer Brenton Williams, and point guard Eric Smith(2.4ppg).  South Carolina is small up front but they get the job done.  Malik Cooke (9.4 ppg) is the leader in the frontcourt ; he is an excellent rebounder for his size.  Lakeem Jackson (7.8 ppg) is a versatile player at small forward. Look for Damontre Harris (3.7 ppg) to start at center; he played well last year in limited minutes.  The depth will come from highly touted freshman Anthony Gill, R.J. Slawson(2.3ppg)and the biggest player on their roster redshirt freshman Carlton Geathers.

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