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ESPN unveils SEC Power Rankings, top players to watch

ESPN also looks at some of the biggest questions around the league for next season.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Kentucky fans got their first glimpse of explosive freshman Keldon Johnson during the Bahamas Trip, where he validated a lot of the preseason hype with some jaw-dropping plays and played with incredible energy.

ESPN’s Myron Medcalf thinks Johnson is the top player to watch in the SEC this year. Here is what he had to say about Johnson.

The five-star wing is explosive and efficient. John Calipari could employ a multitude of lineups with his talent pool, but Johnson will be a factor in all of them.

Johnson finished ahead of Jontay Porter (Missouri), Aric Holman (Mississippi State), Daniel Gafford (Arkansas) and Tremont Waters (LSU), all players who had solid seasons last year but returned to college.

Johnson is the only freshman on the list, and his performance in the Bahamas gives plenty of reasons why basketball fans will want to keep an eye on Johnson as the season progresses.

Medcalf also went ahead and include some SEC power rankings, which have Kentucky coming in at No. 1:

1. Kentucky Wildcats

2. Tennessee Volunteers

3. Auburn Tigers

4. LSU Tigers

5. Mississippi State Bulldogs

6. Florida Gators

7. Missouri Tigers

8. Alabama Crimson Tide

9. Vanderbilt Commodores

10. South Carolina Gamecocks

11. Arkansas Razorbacks

12. Georgia Bulldogs

13. Texas A&M Aggies

14. Ole Miss Rebels

Medcalf’s “Five Questions for the SEC” also touched on Kentucky, namely senior Reid Travis and his importance to the Wildcats.

Here’s what Medcalf had to say about Travis:

John Calipari’s Kentucky teams have always possessed the talent to compete with any program in the country. What he’s lacked at times is a reliable, veteran leader. That’s why Travis (19.5 PPG, 8.7 RPG last year), an All-Pac 12 first-teamer at Stanford last season, matters.

He’s a tenacious, disciplined senior who can help these young players stay focused. He’s also a force in the paint, strengthening a frontcourt already featuring NBA prospects like sophomores PJ Washington and Nick Richards and five-star freshman E.J. Montgomery.

Kentucky has been plagued by a lack of veteran leaders at times, and Travis will be able to serve that role, but more importantly, he is a very talented veteran leader. Travis could be a leading scorer and rebounder for many Power 5 programs, but winning is obviously important to him as he chose to join a frontcourt that already has a great deal of talent in Lexington.

Travis will take a little time adjusting to playing at Kentucky. His role will be different and what is expected of him will be different. He likely wants to expand his range some more to increase his appeal to NBA scouts, so there will be some adjustments that come along with those changes, but there is no doubt that Travis will play a major role for this year’s Wildcats squad.

To read Medcalf’s full piece on the SEC, you can find that here.

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