Similarly to Kentucky, the rest SEC is returning a large load of prolific talent from a year ago; and some spectacular freshmen recruits as well.
John Calipari holds one of his finest rosters ever, but winning what would be a 5th consecutive SEC Championship might be harder to do than it ever has been. Primarily because of these 5 players that make the conference as highly-regarded as it is.
It’s only right the first player to be mentioned is the reigning SEC Player of the Year. Tennessee’s Grant Williams returns for his junior season after a spectacular year, averaging 15.2 points and 6 rebounds per game.
The 6’5” 235 lb beast of a down-low forward rejoins practically everyone else from the Volunteers team that won a share of the regular season SEC title and played Kentucky in the SEC Tournament Championship. Williams is the leader of the group, and his prescience makes Tennessee a formidable team for next season.
Tremont Waters originally committed to Georgetown, then backed out and signed with LSU; a team that was expected to be near the bottom of the conference a year ago. While they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, Waters was one of the best freshmen in the entire country.
Waters averaged 15.9 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals per game as a freshman while leading the SEC in total steals and steal percentage. He made 72 threes, including an incredible game winner against Texas A&M, and scored 20 points or more in a game 10 times.
Waters is the head of a dragon that includes two outstanding freshmen recruits in Javonte Smart and Naz Reid for LSU. Will Wade is one of several young head coaches in the SEC that have been rebuilding their team’s spectacularly.
Another one of those young head coaches in the SEC is Bryce Drew for Vanderbilt, who have a phenomenal recruiting class in that features both #3 and #4 on the list. Simply because, they’re going to be that good together.
Darius Garland will be the point guard and likely the face of the team, being the highest ranked recruit in Commodores history, and Simisola Shittu is a powerful threat on the low block. They are perhaps the best freshmen duo in the SEC, and will be very difficult to deal with as Kentucky plays them twice this season.
Chris Silva was an absolute nightmare for Kentucky to deal with in their loss at South Carolina last season, scoring 27 points. Silva returns for his senior season after an All SEC First Team campaign. After averaging 14.3 points and 8 rebounds while leading the SEC in free throws made and attempted, SEC teams should have plenty to fear when they face the Gamecocks.