SEC deep dive for the 2020-21 season

1.Tennessee Volunteers
Lineup:
PG: Santiago Vescovi
SG: Jaden Springer
SF: Josiah Jordan-James
PF: Yves Pons
C: John Fulkerson

Bench: Keon Johnson, Victor Bailey Jr (Oregon), Uros Plavsic, E.J. Anosike (Sacred Heart), Corey Walker Jr, Davonte Gaines

Additions: Jaden Springer, Keon Johnson, Victor Bailey Jr (Oregon), E.J. Anosike (Sacred Heart), Corey Walker Jr

Departures: Jordan Bowden, Lamonte Turner, Jalen Johnson (Wake Forest)
The Vols had a tough season in 2019-20, which started when Lamonte Turner had a season-ending injury. Vescovi was eligible shortly thereafter the Turner injury and instantly slotted in as the starting Point Guard. Vescovi shot 36% from deep last year and can run the offense pretty well. Jaden Springer is a talented freshman who can score and may lead the Vols in scoring this season. John Fulkerson has a real chance to be an All-American this season with how good the Vols could be. In Fulkerson’s first season starting he broke out in a big way, having 13.7 PPG up from 4.7 in 2018-19. Fulkerson is fantastic on-the-block with his footwork and post-moves, along with on the other side of the ball being an above-average defender. Yves Pons speaking of defense is one of the best defenders in College Hoops. Pons is a tremendous athlete who can defend 1-5, jump out of the building, and can block any shot. Pons also showed the ability to hit three’s last season at a 34% clip. Josiah-Jordan James is an easy call as a breakout pick this season. Jordan James, last season as a freshman that was a top-30 recruit had a solid season with 7.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, with elite defense. Jordan James scoring wise was a bit of a let-down besides his shooting was at 36%. Being the athlete he is the scoring will improve undoubtedly. Keon Johnson is a five-star recruit who is for sure one of the top pure athletes in the entire class and will play a significant role. the Vols have a squad that could be a final-four contender

1.Kentucky Wildcats
Lineup:
PG: Davion Mintz (Creighton)
SG: B.J. Boston
SF: Terrance Clarke
PF: Keion Brooks Jr
C: Olivier Sarr (Wake Forest)

Bench: Devin Askew, Isaiah Jackson, Lance Ware, Jacob Toppin (Rhode Island), Dontaie Allen, Cam’Ron Fletcher

Additions: Davion Mintz (Creighton), B.J. Boston, Terrance Clarke, Olivier Sarr (Wake Forest), Devin Askew, Isaiah Jackson, Lance Ware, Jacob Toppin (Rhode Island), Cam’Ron Fletcher

Departures: Nick Richards, E.J. Montgomery, Johnny Juzang (UCLA), Tyrese Maxey, Nate Sestina, Kahlil Whitney, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley

Year after year, Coach Cal has to re-load more than any other has to. While Duke is similar, you rarely if ever see a player who will undoubtedly go undrafted that doesn’t happen at Duke. For Kentucky, it’s a trend. The most confusing one is E.J. Montgomery. There is no shot he gets drafted and will likely be in the G-League. This season though, B.J. Boston may be the most talented pure scorer to enter College Basketball in recent memory. It’s tough to find someone as good at all three levels at his age. Do the Wildcats lose 94% of their scoring from last season, the other 6 percent? Keion Brooks Jr. With Brooks returning he adds experience along with the top-notch defensive ability and a burly scorer down-low. Davion Mintz will more than likely start to begin the season over freshman Devin Askew. Last season Mintz missed all of last season with an injury that allowed him to RS and transfer. Mintz is a solid shooter and defender, adds a veteran leadership for John Calipari. Terrance Clarke is another top-end recruit that’ll play a huge role this season a super versatile player. Olivier Sarr received a waiver, and that’s huge, but defense is an issue for Sarr. The ability on offense is massive for Sarr, and that’s his calling card, but the defensive ineptitude has to improve before Jackson takes the starting nod and runs away with it. Jacob Toppin, the brother of last year’s NPOTY Obi Toppin decided to transfer to Kentucky. Jacob Toppin is a good defender, a long, wiry athlete, but there’s nothing there in terms of offense. A vastly different player from his brother, and I don’t see him playing a huge role this season. Lance Ware is one of the least talked about freshman that’ll play a role. I don’t think he’ll be a star this season, but there’s immense talent there with Ware. The Wildcats will be a National Championship contender once again.

3.Florida Gators
Lineup:
PG: Tre Mann
SG: Noah Locke
SF: Scottie Lewis
PF: Keyontae Johnson
C: Omar Payne

Bench: Tyree Appleby (Cleveland State), Anthony Duruji (Louisana Tech), Collin Castleton (Michigan), Ques Glover, Samson Ruzhenstev, Jason Jitoboh

Additions: Tyree Appleby (Cleveland State), Anthony Duruji (Louisana Tech), Collin Castleton (Michigan), Samson Ruzhenstev

Departures: Andrew Nembhard (Gonzaga), Kerry Blackshear Jr, Dontay Bassett (Weber State)

The Gators were one of the biggest disappointments in the country last season. This season, I feel like they are underrated. Hopefully, Mike White realizes the kind of talent he has and the speed of the team and plays more up-tempo and use his team to his advantage. Tre Mann had a massively disappointing season last year a-former McDonald’s All-American struggled last season. Mann is a fantastic athlete, but the scoring wasn’t there at all last season. Mann needs to improve on his shooting and hope to have a better season as a sophomore. Scottie Lewis is a sneaky SEC player of the year candidate. Lewis is an elite defender and above-average scorer, one of the best athletes in the game. If the Gators are going to land in this spot at the end of the season, Lewis will need to be a significant part of that. With Keyontae Johnson returning for his junior season he provides a ton on the floor, being one of the better players in the SEC. I’d argue he’s the best defender in the conference, a 6’5 bulky four-man who shot 54% from-the-field, 38% from three. Omar Payne is one of the breakout candidates in the conference this season. Payne showed his phenomenal defense last season while being a very good scorer at the rack. Last season, Tyree Appleby sat after transferring in from Cleveland State. A super crafty scorer who on this team will play a big role as a shooter, sporting a 38% from long-distance in 2018-19. The Gators have one of the best defenses in the nation, and this is a make-or-break season for Mike White.

4.Alabama Crimson Tide
Lineup
PG: Jaden Shackelford
SG: Josh Primo
SF: John Petty Jr
PF: Herb Jones
C: Jordan Bruner (Yale)

Bench: Jahvon Quinerly (Villanova), Keon Ellis, Juwan Gary, James Rojas, Alex Reese

Additions: Jordan Bruner (Yale), Jahvon Quinerly (Villanova)

Departures: Kira Lewis Jr, Jaylen Forbes (Tulane), Javian Davis (Mississippi State), James Bolden

Jaden Shackelford quite possibly was the least talked about guy who had 15 PPG last season. Every time I look at Shackelford I even forget that he was that good as a freshman. Shackelford is a pure-scorer who can shoot at a great clip. Josh Primo is a talented top-60 recruit who can seamlessly scorer and create for himself, set others up. Primo could end up being one of the better players in this class. John Petty Jr took a big-jump as a junior having 14.5 PPG while shooting a staggering 44% from deep, one of the best in the whole nation. Herb Jones is one of the top glue-guys in the nation. Jones is one of the best defenders in College Hoops, but on offense, there’s a lot of inconsistencies. Jones can score at the hoop a-bit, but outside of ten feet, he provides nothing there. Jordan Bruner is a transfer coming in from Yale, was a steady piece for the Bulldogs the past two seasons when he became a starter. Bruner is a great defender, rebounder and, and a big that can hit three’s if you leave him alone. Nate Oats loves running offense fast just like he did at Buffalo, last season the Tide was 4th in Adjusted offensive tempo, and that gives guards a chance to go off and put up gaudy stats. Alabama is a deep and talented team that WILL make the Big dance.

5.LSU Tigers
Lineup
PG: Javonte Smart
SG: Cam Thomas
SF: Charles Manning Jr
PF: Trendon Watford
C: Darius Days

Bench: Josh LeBlanc (Georgetown), Jalen Cook, Bryan Penn-Johnson (Washington), Mwani Wilkinson, Shareef O’Neal (UCLA)

Additions: Cam Thomas, Josh LeBlanc (Georgetown), Bryan Penn-Johnson (Washington), Shareef O’Neal (UCLA), Mwani Wilkinson

Departures: Skylar Mays, Emmitt Williams, Marlon Taylor, Courtese Cooper (Southern Utah), James Bishop (GW)

LSU is due for another STRONG season under Will Wade. Returning is Javonte Smart, who’s a great passer, decent scorer but lacks efficiency, shooting just 41% from-the-field, 32% from deep. That’s going to need to improve. Cam Thomas might be the best shooter in this 2020 class pound-for-pound, smooth stroke, and it goes in often and could lead the Tigers in scoring. Charles Manning Jr played just 19 games last season but is likely to start for the Tigers this season. Manning is a fantastic 3-and-D wing who will be relied on this season. In a surprising move, Trendon Watford opted to return for his 2nd season in Baton Rouge. Watford is a talented scorer, but his shooting struggles were shocking last season shot just a measly 26% from-distance. Watford will be a massive piece for Will Wade this season. Darius Days is another talented offensive-minded player who had 11 PPG last season but shot 48% mainly due to him shooting just 29% from three on just over four attempts-per-game. A group of transfers Josh LeBlanc, Shareef O’Neal, Bryan Penn-Johnson, will all play a fair amount especially LeBlanc. LSU will make the tournament easily.

6.Arkansas Razorbacks
Lineup
PG: Desi Sills
SG: KK Robinson
SF: Moses Moody
PF: Justin Smith (Indiana)
C: Connor Vanover (California)

Bench: Davonte Davis, Jalen Tate (Northern Kentucky), Jaylin Williams, Vance Jackson (New Mexico), J.D. Notae, Bebe Iyola

Additions: KK Robinson, Moses Moody, Jalen Tate (Northern Kentucky), Connor Vanover (California), Jaylin Williams, Vance Jackson (New Mexico), J.D. Notae

Departures: Mason Jones, Isaiah Joe, Adrio Bailey, Reggie Chaney (Houston)

Eric Mussleman has brought the addiction of getting transfers to Fayetteville. Now in season two of the Mussleman era, they lose the top-two scorers off last season’s team in Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe. In Joe’s case, he originally had opted to return to college, but due to the discrepancy of the College deadline and NBA Deadline he had an extra two weeks to make his final choice. Joe then decided to depart, which was a massive loss. Now having to rely on two freshmen, in KK Robinson and Moses Moody. Robinson is a super athletic guard who can shoot and will be asked to do a lot this season. Moses Moody is mostly known as an elite shooter, so he will get plenty of chances and will likely lead the Razorbacks in points. Justin Smith spent three seasons in Bloomington playing for Indiana. Smith was used as a wing mostly, which isn’t his strong suit. Smith better built to play the four, a good defender who’s a fine scorer on-the-block. Connor Vanover is the biggest X-Factor for this team. Vanover is 7’3 and can shoot, coming in from Cal and sat last season. I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to see Vanover go-off and average around 12-15 for Arkansas. Vance Jackson and Jalen Tate are two other transfers who will bring a lot to the table. Eric Mussleman has a tournament team in Fayetteville.

7.South Carolina Gamecocks
Lineup
PG: Trae Hannibal
SG: Jermaine Couisnard
SF: A.J. Lawson
PF: Alanzo Frink
C: Keyshawn Bryant

Bench T.J. Moss, Justin Minaya, Jalyn McCreary, Ja’Von Benson, Seventh Woods (North Carolina)

Additions: Ja’Von Benson, Seventh Woods (North Carolina)

Departures: Maik Kotsar, Jair Bolden (Butler)

Frank Martin’s Gamecocks had an intriguing season. Wins against Virginia, Kentucky, which showed the potential of the team but had two befuddling losses to Stetson and Boston U, who did make the tournament. Trae Hannibal was an awesome find for Frank Martin, future SEC DPOTY. Hannibal struggles on offense early in his career, but it could develop as time rolls on, but the defense is fantastic. A.J. Lawson is a player that’s on the precipice of being a star. The talent is formally evident for Lawson, 6’6 a great athlete, but the efficiency and consistency are still lacking. Jermaine Cousinard, very much like Lawson, has the potential to be amazing but just isn’t fully there. The Gamecocks are a stout defensive team, ranking 50th in KenPom last season, but was rough on offense, ranking 122nd. If a few things go the right way I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Gamecocks go far this season.

8.Ole Miss Rebels
Lineup
PG: Devontae Shuler
SG: Dimencio Vaughn (Rider)
SF: Matthew Murrell
PF: K.J. Buffen
C: Romello White (Arizona State)

Bench: Khadim Sy, Jarkel Joiner, Austin Crowley, Shon Robinson

Additions: Dimencio Vaughn, Romello White (Arizona State), Matthew Murrell

Departures: Breein Tyree, Franco Miller (FGCU), Blake Hinson (Iowa State)

Devontae Shuler could very well be an All-SEC player this season with the departure of Breein Tyree. Last season, Shuler had 11.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.3 APG while shooting 35% from three while providing well above-average defense. Dimencio Vaughn was a steady force for one of the top teams in the MAAC in the Rider Broncs. Vaughn had 14.9 PPG, with 39% from three. That adds a solid dimension this season for the Rebels. Buffen will play a solid role as a guy who can score at-the-rack and play good defense on the block and perimeter. Another big transfer is former Arizona State big-man, Romello White. Kermit Davis has a talented squad on his hands that’ll be on the bubble

9.Mississippi State Bulldogs
Lineup
PG: Iverson Molinar
SG: D.J. Stewart
SF: Jalen Johnson (Louisiana)
PF: Keondre Montgomery
C: Abdul Ado

Bench: Javian Davis (Alabama), Andersson Garcia, Cameron Matthews, Derek Fountain, Deivon Smith

Additions: Jalen Johnson (Louisana), Keondre Montgomery, Javian Davis (Alabama), Andersson Garcia, Derek Fountain, Cameron Matthews, Deivon Smith

Departures: Reggie Perry, Tyson Carter, Nick Weatherspoon, Robert Woodard

The four leading scorers of last season’s Bulldogs team have all departed. The future of this team is in the hands of the talented guard, Iverson Molinar. The Panama born guard played in every game last season but in a reserve role but showed his scoring prowess having 5.9 PPG with 48% from-the-field, 39% from three. D.J. Stewart is the other guard who will be tasked with picking up a big-role, as a freshman Stewart showed his potential on both offense and defense. Abdul Ado is a defensive ace who will make it tough on any offensive player. Ado is limited on offense, but his 6’11 frame allows him to have a good chance of getting put-backs. Ben Howland has a lot of future stars, but this may not be the season.

10.Auburn Tigers
Lineup
PG: Sharife Cooper
SG: Jamal Johnson
SF: Allen Flanigan
PF: J.T. Thor
C: Babatunde Akingbola

Bench: Devan Cambridge, Jaylin Williams, Tyrell Jones, Preston Cook, Dylan Cardwell, Chris Moore, Justin Powell

Additions: Sharife Cooper, Jamal Johnson, J.T. Thor, Preston Cook, Dylan Cardwell, Chris Moore, Justin Powell

Departures: J’Von McCormack, Austin Wiley, Isaac Okoro, Danjel Purifoy, Samir Doughty, Anfernee McLemore

It looks to be a rebuilding season for Bruce Pearl, no hold-overs from the Final Four team of two seasons ago. Losing McCormack, Wiley, Okoro, Doughty, Purifoy, the five leading scorers from last seasons roster will reign heavily this season. Sharife Cooper will have to be a star for this Tigers team, and he can do just that. Cooper is a guy who can drop 20 on any given night. Jamal Johnson didn’t play a huge role last season but has proven to be a good shooter throughout his career, and that’s a dire need for Bruce Pearl. Both Allen Flanigan and Devan Cambridge need to improve in a big way. Two of the few returnees that played somewhat sizeable roles last season will now need to become more than role players. Cambridge has more of an offensive potential than that of Flanigan. Cambridge has a pretty jumper and will look to continue improving. J.T. Thor is more of a project player, he will contribute right away due to his defensive prowess and athleticism, but he won’t add a ton on offense and will need to bulk up to hang in down-low. Cardwell is a massive old-school center who will be able to hang-in with his size and strength ability. The Tigers have a new youth movement and have a lot to prove.

11.Texas A&M Aggies
Lineup
PG: Jay Jay Chandler
SG: Quinton Jackson
SF: Emanuel Miller
PF: Savion Flagg
C: Kevin Marfo (Quinnipiac)

Bench: Cashius McNeily, Hassan Diarra, Jaxson Robinson, LaDamien Bradford, Hayden Hefner, Luke McGhee, Jonathan Aku

Additions: Kevin Marfo (Quinnipiac), Cashius McNeily, Hassan Diarra, Jaxson Robinson, LaDamien Bradford, Hayden Hefner

Departures: Josh Nebo

This Aggies team will be a defensive force this season. Jackson, Miller, Chandler are all outstanding defenders. Jackson can guard 1-3 with ease, a former JUCO product that adds toughness and versatility. Savion Flagg is the best offensive player on this team. A combo-forward who shot 37% from three last season. Flagg could be an All-SEC player this season with the loss of Josh Nebo, someone has to improve. The player charged with the task of replacing Nebo will be the nation’s reigning rebounding champ, Kevin Marfo, from Quinnipiac. While Marfo had 13.3 RPG last season, he’s a below-average defender. Marfo is an adequate scorer inside, shooting 48% from-the-field while averaging double-figures. Buzz Williams can make this squad better than they are, but we’ll have to

12.Missouri Tigers
Lineup
PG: Mark Smith
SG: Xavier Pinson
SF: Dru Smith
PF: Javon Pickett
C: Jeremiah Tilmon

Bench: Drew Buggs (Hawaii), Mitchell Smith, Torrence Watson, Jordan Willmore, Kobe Brown, Ed Chang, Parker Braun

Additions: Drew Buggs, Jordan Willmore

Departures: Reed Nikko, Axel Okongo (Eastern Michigan)

I know it may not look like it, but I like this Mizzou squad. A veteran-laden team that will upset some higher-powers this season. Mark Smith is a fantastic shooter, a smooth stroke that led to him shooting 37% from long-range. Along with Mark Smith, other seniors on the team are Tilmon, Buggs, Mitchell Smith, Dru Smith. One of those players I’ve thought would breakout for several years now, but it just hasn’t happened. That player being Jeremiah Tilmon, a former top-40 recruit, has had a solid but stagnant career for Mizzou. Tilmon has struggled with injuries and fouls limiting his potential. There’s no hiding the talent, but he just needs to be able to stay on the floor for it to come to fruition. Pound-for-pound, Dru Smith is the best player on Cuonzo Martin’s Tigers team. Smith showed a solid 12.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.9 APG with elite defense in his first season after transferring from Evansville. Something that could improve? his shooting took a massive step-back last season in the shooting department. Smith Going from 48% as a sophomore at Evansville to just 29% last season. Smith is a sure-fire candidate to improve his shooting, and his 89.9% from-the-line shows he can do it. The backup center, who has to play a lot due to Tilmon’s inability to play in long-spurts, adds a ton to the team with his top-notch defensive ability. The Tigers will surprise people despite where this ranking has them.

13.Georgia Bulldogs
Lineup
PG: Sahvir Wheeler
SG: Justin Kier (George Mason)
SF: Toumani Camara
PF: P.J. Horne (Virginia Tech)
C: Jonathan Ned

Bench: Andrew Garcia (Stony Brook), Christian Brown, Tyron McMillan, Tye Fagan, Jaykwon Walton, K.D. Johnson

Additions: Justin Kier (George Mason), P.J.Horne (Virginia Tech), Jonathan Ned, Andrew Garcia (Stony Brook)

Departures: Anthony Edwards, Rayshaun Hammonds

Year three of the Tom Crean era looks to be another step in the wrong direction. Just one season after being subpar with the number one recruit of the 2019 class in Anthony Edwards, they somehow got worse. This team does have some players that have talent without a doubt, but still just a below-average team. One bright spot is Sahvir Wheeler who can be a future star. Wheeler had 9.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.0 APG last season for the Bulldogs 47% from-the-field. Wheeler is just 5’10 but can be a building block for Tom Crean. There’s a lot of temporary players via the transfer market coming in headlined by Justin Kier. Last season Kier played just nine games that gave him the chance to graduate and transfer. Kier shot 45% from three in those nine games only two seasons ago he shot 37% from three along with having 14.5 PPG. A hometown kid also returns in the form of P.J. Horne, who spent three seasons in Blacksburg for the Hokies. Horne is a solid defender and an undersized big that can shoot the three. Andrew Garcia, the other player, the former Stony Brook guard, had 13.4 PPG last season while shooting 47% from-the-field. Jonathan Ned is a JUCO transfer who’s a stout defender, and that’s what Tom Crean wants out of him. The Bulldogs will struggle once again.

14.Vanderbilt Commodores
Lineup
PG: Scotty Pippen Jr
SG: Maxwell Evans
SF: D.J. Harvey (Notre Dame)
PF: Dylan Disu
C: Clevon Brown

Bench: Ejike Obianna, Issac McBride (Kansas), Trevon Thomas, Tyrin Lawrence, Myles Stute, Jordan Wright, Quentin Millora-Brown (Rice)

Additions: D.J. Harvey (Vanderbilt), Issac McBride (Kansas), Trevon Thomas, Tyrin Lawrence, Quentin Millora-Brown

Departures: Saban Lee, Aaron Nesmith

The Commodores continue to be the bottom-dweller of the SEC. Aaron Nesmith was fantastic last season in his 14 games before ending his season due to injury. Saban Lee, who averaged 16-per-game, is also out for the NBA. In a season in which you finish last and lose your two best players, things look rough. Scotty Pippen Jr showed talent, mostly in his ability to drive and play on-ball defense. D.J. Harvey and Issac McBride, each coming in from other power-five programs try to rejuvenate their career with the Commodores. Dylan Disu is a solid breakout candidate, a super athletic forward who should be able to stretch his range and hit three’s often at some point. Year two of the Jerry Stackhouse will be much like year one, a disappointment.

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