G: KeVaughn Allen, Florida
F: Michael Porter Jr., Missouri
F: Robert Williams, Texas A&M
C: Yante Maten, Georgia
C: Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky
Only Kentucky could lose their top seven scorers and still come in at the top of a major conference’s standings. Yes, they lose a ton, but never bet against John Calipari. Top ten overall recruit Hamidou Diallo will make a run at the all-conference team. Fellow five star recruits Quadre Green and Kevin Knox will get significant playing time, Quadre will play the point while Knox is a jack of all trades that is a true four that might get pushed to the perimeter due to Kentucky’s lack of depth on the wings. UK’s top returning scorer and rebounder is Wenyen Gabriel (4.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg), and he should see an increased role.
2. Texas A&M
You may wonder how a team that went 16-15 last year that loses its top two scorers could challenge Kentucky. For starters, the Aggies were better than their record implies last year, the team didn’t really mesh, and while Danuel House is gone, that means that potential lottery picks Robert Williams (11.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and Tyler Davis (14.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg) will be taking on bigger roles in the new season. The Aggies add Duane Wilson at guard, Wilson is a grad transfer from Marquette that averaged ten points per game with the Golden Eagles. This is a big team, but an athletic team, and the Aggies are going to play great defense in the high scoring SEC.
Florida loses a lot from last year’s 27 win team, but the Gators do return their most important piece: KeVaughn Allen (14.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg). Allen can score from anywhere, and he seems to be on track for his second All-SEC season in a row. The Gators also add Egor Koulechov, who averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds at Rice. Florida also gets John Egbunu (7.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg) back from injury. Egnunu was an incredibly important piece to the team last year, a shot blocker and an all-around incredible defender. Chris Chiozza (7.2 ppg, 3.8 apg) was the sixth man last year, and the expert distrbutor will take over a starting job.
Alabama had the #10 defense in the country last year according to KenPom, but the Crimson Tide’s 152nd ranked offense dragged them down, causing what could’ve been a tournament team to go 19-15. Practically everyone returns from that squad, and they bring in 247sport’s top point guard in the nation, Collin Sexton. Sexton might move on to the NBA next year, so if Alabama wants to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006, this is the year to do it. Dazon Ingram (10.6 ppg, 3.3 apg) is only a sophomore, but he will have to lead this team alongside fellow sophomore Braxton Key (12.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg).
Vanderbilt went 19-16 last year, losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, this year, the Commodores will have to deal with the loss of stud center Luke Kornet. Outside of Kornet though, almost everybody returns from the NCAA Tournament team, including Matthew Fisher-Davis (13.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg), Jeff Roberson (10.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg), and Riley LaChance (10.5 ppg, 3.9 apg). This is a crazy experienced team that might have some problems with depth behind the three star players. If the Commodores can find a new starting center, this should be a third-straight year in the big dance.
At first I had Missouri as an out on my preseason bracket, we saw how the stud player coming to a terrible team worked out at LSU and Washington, but I reconsidered, and while this is still a bubble team, I decided to put them in. The SEC is better this year, so a one-year turnaround from 8-24 is going to be tough, but if anybody can do it, its the Porter brothers. Michael Porter Jr., the #2 prospect in the country, and Jontay Porter, a top 25 ranked recruit, will lead this team alongside top-50 freshman forward Jeremiah Tilmon. This team will be led by a trio of young guys that might move on to the NBA in a year, but Mizzou has top 25 potential.