Can Another Elite Recruiting Class Lead Kentucky to the SEC Title?
Six SEC products were selected in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft, so things will look a little different as teams vie for SEC basketball tournament seeding.
Tennessee could be the team to beat when looking at the NCAA basketball lines. However, Kentucky’s John Calipari brought in a star-studded freshman class to challenge for SEC supremacy.
When looking at the college basketball rankings, Tennessee is ninth in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and 10th in the coaches’ poll. Arkansas, Texas A&M and Kentucky are in the top 20 in both rankings, with Alabama coming in at No. 24.
Kentucky (+1400) is tied for fourth in the odds of winning the national title, with Alabama (+2500), Arkansas (+2500), and Tennessee (+3000) not far behind in the championship odds.
Here’s a look at the teams to watch in the SEC during the 2023-24 season.
Leading scorer Santiago Vescovi (12.5 points, 4.6 rebounds), point guard Zakai Zeigler (10.7 points, 5.4 assists) and Josiah-Jordan James (10 PPG) give Tennessee three returning double-digit scorers.
USC Upstate’s top scorer, Jordan Gainey and Northern Colorado’s leading scorer and rebounder, Dalton Knecht, give veteran coach Rick Barnes a college basketball team capable of piling up the points.
The Volunteers lose three players who averaged more than 10 minutes per game, so the rotation will look slightly different. Tennessee should be getting lots of looks from those taking part in NCAAB public betting.
Things will look much different at Kentucky with double-double machine Oscar Tshiebwe among the departed players. Antonio Reeves is the only one who averaged more than 10 minutes per game a season ago to return for the Wildcats.
Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw and DJ Wagner give head coach John Calipari three top-10 recruits to work with.
Wade Taylor, Tyrece Radford, Julius Marble, Henry Coleman and Manny Obaseki are all back from a Texas A&M team that finished in the SEC during the 2022-23 regular season and reached the SEC basketball tournament title game.
Add in Illinois Chicago’s top scorer Jace Carter, Middle Tennessee’s No. 1 scorer Eli Lawrence and UMass post player Wilden Levesque and it could be another impressive season for the Aggies.
Things didn’t quite go as planned, as the arrival of highly touted freshmen Nick Smith and Anthony Black could prevent the Razorbacks from finishing under .500 in the SEC.
They are among the departures for the Razorbacks, and top scorer Ricky Council also embarked on a pro career.
Trevon Brazile is the top returning scorer along with Davonte Davis with transfers Khalif Battle and Tramon Mark expected to make an immediate impact.
Brandon Miller is off to the NBA after leading the Crimson Tide to the regular-season SEC title. Mark Sears is the only one of the top six scorers back for Alabama.
North Dakota State forward Grant Nelson is the highest rated incoming transfer in the SEC. Aaron Estrada, a 20-point-per-game scorer, is another impact transfer for the defending SEC basketball tournament champions.
Will Richard and Riley Kugel lead the returning NCAAB players for Florida as top scorer Colin Castleton is now playing professionally, and five players transferred.
The Gators brought in six incoming transfers, including Seton Hall’s No. 2 scorer, Tyrese Samuel.
Auburn brings back top scorer and rebounder Johni Broome and fellow double-digit scorer Jaylin Williams, but Allen Flanigan transferred to Ole Miss.
Denver Jones, who averaged 20.1 points per game at Florida International, is among the newcomers to keep an eye on, while freshman Aden Holloway is a top 20 national recruit.
The Bulldogs bring back their top five scorers, led by Tolu Smith, so perhaps they can build on a ninth-place finish in the SEC. Andrew Taylor, who averaged 20.2 points per game at Marshall, is one of four incoming transfers.
Getting Allen Flanigan from Auburn, Oklahoma State 7-footer Moussa Cisse and Georgetown’s Brandon Murray to team with last year’s returning scorer could help the Rebels make some noise in the SEC.
All three double-digit scorers are gone from the team that went 11-7 in conference play.
The Tigers added 7-foot-5 Connor Vanover from Oral Roberts, Caleb Grill from Iowa State, John Tonje from Colorado State and Indiana’s Tamar Bates.
There is nowhere to go but up after a last-place finish in the SEC during the 2022-23 college basketball season.
Seven players transferred, and that leaves Derek Fountain as the top returning scorer.
Four of the seven incoming transfers are Louisiana natives, including Vanderbilt’s Jordan Wright, Santa Clara’s Carlos Stewart, and Tulane’s leading scorer Jalen Cook have been added to the LSU roster.
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