The SEC is going to be a very strong conference in 2016-2017. The 10th ranked team could very well be the first ranked team in any other Mid-Major conference around the league. Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Alabama have made enough adjustments to their roster to be considered to be the favorites to compete for the top of the SEC. However, Kentucky is so much better than any other team in NCAA basketball this coming season. I won’t be surprised if Kentucky goes the entire season without losing more than 1 game. They are also favored to win the National Championship. Then again, this is just an early prediction.

1. Kentucky Basketball

Coach: John Calipari

Off Roster:
Players possibly turning Pro: Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis, Skal Labissiere, and Marcus Lee
Graduated: Alex Poythress

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: Isaiah Briscoe (SG), Derek Willis (PF), and Charles Matthews (SG)
Key Freshmen added: De'Aaron Fox (Ranked #5), Malik Monk (Ranked #6), Bam Adebayo (Ranked #7), Sacha Killeya-Jones (Ranked #26), Wenyen Gabriel (Ranked #17), and Tai Wynyard (RS)

Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis, Skal Labissiere, and Marcus Lee will all be turning Pro this summer. However, Isaiah Briscoe is returning for another season. Brisco was Kentucky’s second best scorer. He was also one of the team’s top three (3) in rebounds and assists, averaging 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Lee played in all thirty six (36) games last season and started in twenty (20). He was the team’s second best rebounder, averaging 6.0 rebounds per game.

Derek Willis and Charles Matthews both contributed greatly to last season’s success. Willis played in 32 games and started in eleven (11). He contributed 7.7 points and 4 rebounds per game last season. Matthews played in all thirty six (36) games and started in only three (3). With limited minutes, he didn’t contribute much in points but his presence off the bench was helpful.

Kentucky should have a good mixture of returning and new talent. They will be adding five (5) top 50 freshmen to the roster next season.

This is a championship capable team. I can’t imagine them losing more than one (1) conference game next season.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 27-9 (13-5) 2nd round exit in NCAA Tournament
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 16+
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: Final Four or Greater

2. Vanderbilt Basketball

Coach: Bryce Drew

Off Roster:
Players possibly turning Pro: Wade Baldwin IV
Graduated: Josh Henderson, Carter Josephs, and Nathan Watkins

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: Matthew Fisher-Davis (SG), Damian Jones (C), Jeff Roberson (SF), Riley LaChance, and Luke Kornet (PF)
Key Role Players Returning: Nolan Cressler (SG), Camron Justice (SG), and Samir Sehic (PF)
Key Freshmen added: Clevon Brown (SF) and Payton Willis (SG)

Vanderbilt has a new head coach who has proven to be a winner in Bryce Drew. Damian Jones had seven (7) double –doubles last season and was the team’s second best point producer behind Baldwin. He will have Matthew Fisher-Davis beside him, who was the team’s third best point producer with an average of 9.7 points per game.

Coach Drew is going to inherit a group of veterans who are eager to show the new coach what they are made of. Several core players from the 2016 NCAA Tournament team are returning. The only big loss to the roster was Wade Baldwin IV, who turned pro and was the leading scorer on the team. Other than that, most of Vanderbilt’s graduates were just role players who saw limited time.

Vanderbilt should respond enthusiastically to the eager new Coach and should improve on last season’s success.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 19-14 (11-7) – finished in the 1st Round of the NCAA tournament
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 12+
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen exit or greater

3. Auburn Basketball

Coach: Bruce Pearl

Off Roster:
Players possibly turning Pro: Kareem Canty
Graduated: Tyler Harris, Cinmeon Bowers, Jordon Granger, Devin Waddell, and Cole Stockton

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: T.J. Dunans, TJ Lang (SG), Horace Spencer III (PF), and Bryce Brown (SG)
Key Transfers: Ronnie Johnson (Houston Graduate transfer, PG), and LaRon Smith (Bethune-Cookman Graduate transfer, PF)
Key Freshmen added: Mustapha Heron (Ranked #21, SG), Jared Harper (Ranked #52, PG), Danjel Purifoy (Ranked #67, SF)

This roster is loaded with talent- probably crowded with talent. There is going to be a fight for playing time, that’s only if there aren’t any eligibility problems along the way. T.J Duncan should be nice and healthy this coming season. Duncan played in only 16 games last season due to injury but averaged 11.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. He is going to fit in well with graduate transfers Ronnie Johnson and LaRon Smith. Johnson averaged 9.4 points and 2.9 assists at the point guard position in Houston last season. Auburn had one of the worst assist records in division 1 basketball last season. The team was ranked 300th overall in the assist category. Johnson should be of help in the department. Smith was Bethune-Cookman’s second best rebounder last season, averaging 6.9 rebounds per game. He will also help to solve some of Auburns defensive problems by protecting the rim. He averaged 3.0 block shots per game last game season. With that said, Auburn should improve in every category this coming season.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 11-20 (11-7) – No Tournament Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 10+
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: NCAA 2nd Round exit or greater

4. Ole Miss Basketball

Coach: Andy Kennedy

Off Roster:
Graduated: Stefan Moody, Tomasz Gielo, Martavious Newby, and Anthony Perez
Transferred: Sam Finley, Terry Brutus, J.T. Escobar

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: Sebastian Saiz(C), Rasheed Brooks (SG), and Marcanvis Hymon (PF)
Key transfers: Cullen Neal (New Mexico Graduate, PG), Justas Furmanavicius (Three Rivers JUCO, SF), and Tyrek Coger (Cape Fear CC, C)
Key role players returning: Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey (SF)
Key Freshmen added: Breein Tyree (PG), Nate Morris (C), and Karlis Silins (C)

Ole miss is going to have a lot of size to their advantage. Their average team height is 6’ 7”, which is 3rd in the SEC behind Kentucky and Texas A&M. With the addition of graduate transfer, Cullen Neal, they’re going to have a 6’5” point guard running the floor. Scoring should also increase with their new additions to the team.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 20-12 (10-8)
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 11+
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: NCAA Tournament 2nd Round Exit or greater

5. Alabama Basketball

Coach: Avery Johnson

Off Roster:
Graduated: Arthur Edwards and Retin Obasohan
Transferred: Michael Kessens (FIU) and Justin Coleman (Samford)

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: Shannon Hale (PF), Jimmie Taylor (C), Riley Norris (SF) and Dazon Ingram (SG)
Key Transfers: Corban Collins (Morehead State Graduate, PG), Ar'Mond Davis (JUCO, SG), Avery Johnson, Jr., and (PG), Nick King (Memphis, SF)
Key Role Players Returning: Donta Hall (PF) and Brandon Austin (SF)
Key Freshmen added: Braxton Key (Ranked #70)

This is a veteran team. What’s going to turn things around for Alabama is the addition of Morehead State Graduate transfer Corban Collins, the return of Donta Hall from a season ending injury,the addition top 100 freshman Braxton Key and JUCO transfer Ar'Mond Davis.

Collins was Morehead’s top point producer before graduating in 2016. He averaged 11 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3 assists per game last season. Ingram started in Alabama’s first seven (7) games of the season before fracturing his left foot in practice. Ingram averaged 7.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game last season before the injury. Freshman Braxton Key (power forward) should help Alabama improve in the two categories where they need it most, Scoring and rebounding. Alabama ranked 304th in scoring and 257th in rebounds last season.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 18-15 (8-10) – finished in the 1st Round of the NIT
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 10+
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: NCAA Tournament 2nd Round exit or greater

6. Mississippi State Basketball

Coach: Ben Howland

Off Roster:
Graduated: Craig Sword, Gavin Ware, Travis Daniels, and Fred Thomas
Transferred: Reggie Patterson, Elijah Staley, and Fallou Ndoye

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: Malik Newman (SG), I.J. Ready (PG), and Quinndary Weatherspoon (SF)
Key role players returning: Aric Holman (SF) and Joseph Struggs (PF)
Key Freshmen added: Abdulhakim Ado (Ranked #73, C), Elijah 'Eli' Wright (Ranked #24, SG), Mario Kegler (Ranked #29, SF), Schnider Herard (Ranked #35), Tyson Carter (Ranked #62), Lamar Peters (Ranked #78), and E.J. Datcher (C).

Mississippi State has the 5th best recruiting class for 2016. If you couple that with the returning talent that they have coming back, Mississippi State should be in a position to compete for the top spot in the SEC. If Mississippi State doesn’t make it to the NCAA Tournament with this group people will start asking questions why.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 14-17 (7-11)
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 10+
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: NCAA tournament 1st Round exit or greater

7. Florida Basketball

Coach: Michael White

Off Roster:
Graduated: Dorian Finney-Smith
Transferred: Brandone Francis-Ramirez

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: KeVaughn Allen (SG), John Egbunu (C), Chris Chiozza (PG), Devin Robinson (SF), Kasey Hill (PG)
Key role players: Justin Leon (PF) and Kevarrius Hayes (C)
Key Transfer(s): Canyon Barry (Charleston, SG)
Key Freshmen added: Eric Hester (Ranked #47, SG), Dontay Bassett (PF), and Gorjok Gak (C)

Florida will have several key players returning in 2016-2017. This team should remain solid. However, they are going to have to pick it up a little on the offensive end to get to the next level. Florida ranked 143rd in scoring last season. Florida added Charleston’s Graduate transfer Canyon Barry to do just that. Barry averaged 19.7 points last season.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 21-15 (9-9) – finished in the NIT Quarterfinal
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 10-
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: NCAA tournament 1st round exit or Less

8. South Carolina Basketball

Coach: Frank Martin

Off Roster:
Graduated: Mindaugas Kacinas, Michael Carrera and Laimonas Chatkevicius
Transferred: Eric Cobb, Jamall Gregory and Marcus Stroman (PG)

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: Sindarius Thornwell (SG), Duane Notice (SG), Perry 'P.J.' Dozier (SG) and Chris Silva (PF)
Key role players returning: Justin McKie (SG)
Key Transfers: Hassani Gravett (PG)
Key Freshmen added: Sedee Keita (Ranked #82, C), Rakym Felder (PG), Maik Kotsar (PF)

Most people believe that South Carolina was robbed by the NCAA selection committee in 2016. If South Carolina does well this season the selection committee will have to make up for that. Unfortunately, South Carolina loses their top scorer Michael Carrera and their fourth best scorer Laimonas Chatkevicius to graduation - but to the most part they still have a strong core group to make a run. The additions of freshman Sedee Keita and JUCO Hassani Gravett should keep them competitive in the SEC.

2015-2016 Record: 25 - 9 (11-7) – finished in the 2nd Round of the NIT
Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 9+
Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: NCAA Tournament 1st round exit or Less

9. Georgia Basketball

Coach: Mark Fox

Off Roster:
Graduated: Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: J.J. Frazier (PG) and Yante Maten (PF)
Key role players returning: Derek Ogbeide (PF), Michael Edwards (PF), Houston Kessler (PF), William Jackson II (PG) and Kenny Paul Geno (SF)
Key Transfers: Pape Diatta (College of Southern Idaho- JUCO, SF)
Key Freshmen added: Tyree Crump (SG) and Jordan Harris (SG)

Georgia had problems moving the ball and putting points on the boards last season. Georgia ranked 236th in scoring and 228th in assists per game last season. Freshmen shooting guards Tyree Crump and Jordan Harris should help in that department next season. Georgia was a great rebounding team. Expect them to be even better in that category with the addition of JUCO transfer Pape Diatta who averaged 8.3 rebounds per game before leaving junior college. He ranked 65th overall in that department.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 20-14 (10-8) – finished in the 2nd Round of the NIT
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 8-
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: NIT 1st round exit or Less

10. Arkansas Basketball

Coach: Mike Anderson

Off Roster:
Transferred: Jimmy Whitt (SMU)
Graduated: Jabril Durham, Anthlon Bell, Keaton Miles, and Willy Kouassi

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: Moses Kingsley (C) and Dusty Hannahs (SG)
Key role players returning: Manuale Watkins (SG)
Key Transfers: Dustin Thomas (Colorado), Jaylen Barford (Motlow State JUCO, SG), and Daryl Macon (Holmes C.C., SF) and Arlando Cook (Connors State JUCO, PF)
Key Freshmen added: C.J. Jones (SG), Brachen Hazen (SF), and Adrio Bailey (PF)


Arkansas was one of the top scoring teams in the country last season, even though their record doesn’t reflect it, the team ranked 54th nationally in that category. Their scoring is only going to get better with the additions of JUCO transfers Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford. Arkansas Native Macon averaged 23.9 points per game at Holmes, making him the 6th best scorer on the junior college level that season. Braford put up 26.2 points per game at Matlow, making him the #1 scorer on the Junior College level that season. Arkansas is definitely going to put a lot of points on the boards. The question is can they play enough defense to hold a lead? Arkansas ranked 247th overall in defense last season.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 16-16 (9-9) – No tournament appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 8+
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: No appearance

11. Texas A&M Basketball

Coach: Billy Kennedy

Off Roster:
Graduated: Alex Caruso, Anthony Collins, Danuel House, Jalen Jones, Juan Aparicio, and Kyle Dobbins

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: Tyler Davis (C), Tonny Trocha-Morelos (SF), D.J. Hogg (SF), and Admon Gilder
Key Transfer(s): J.C. Hampton (SG)

Key Freshmen added: Robert Williams (PF), J.J. Caldwell (PG), and Deshawn Corprew(SF)


Can you say rebuilding! Texas A&M is losing several key players to graduation this season. That means last season role players, D.J Hogg, Tavario Miller and Admon Gilder, may be asked to play bigger roles next season. Hogg played thirty-seven (37) games and started in only three (3). Hog played limited minutes, averaging 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Miller played in thirty-six (36) games and started in only one (1), averaging 2.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Gilder is remembered for his comeback steal in the 2016 comeback win against Northern Iowa. He played in all thirty-seven (37) Texas A&M games but didn’t start in any. He averaged 7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game last season.


NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 28-9 (13-5) – NCAA Sweet Sixteen Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 8-
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: No appearance

12. Missouri Basketball

Coach: Kim Anderson

Off Roster:
Graduated: Ryan Rosburg
Transferred: Tramaine Isabell, Jakeenan Gant and D'Angelo Allen
Dismissed: Wes Clark

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: Terrence Phillips (PG), Kevin Puryear (PF) and K.J. Walton (SG)
Key role players returning: Cullen VanLeer (SG)
Key Freshmen added: Frankie Hughes (SG), Reed Nikko (SF), Willie Jackson (SF) and Mitchell Smith (C)

Wes Clark was kicked off the team. Clark was Missouri’s second best scorer. With the dismissal of Clark, Missouri should look to K.J. Walton to step in his place. Walton played in thirty-one (31) games last season and started in seven (7). Walton averaged 5.3 points per game in an average 13.8 minutes played per game.

However, Missouri still hasn’t made enough improvements to their roster to tackle their scoring deficiency. Kevin Puryear was the only player on the team to average double digits in scoring. Missouri ranked 267th in scoring last season. On top of that they weren’t very good defensively to offset their scoring problem.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 10-21 (3-15)
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 7-
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: No appearance

13. LSU Basketball

Coach: Johnny Jones

Off Roster:
Players possibly turning Pro: Ben Simmons
Graduated: Keith Hornsby and Josh Gray

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: Tim Quarterman (PG), Antonio Blakeney (SG) and Craig Victor (PF)
Key role players returning: Elbert Robinson III (C), Brandon Sampson (SG), Aaron Epps (C)
Key Transfers: Duop Reath (C) and Branden Jenkins

Key Freshmen added: Skylar Mays (Ranked #104, PG), Wayde Sims (SF), and Kieran Haywood (SG)

Let’s just hope that LSU plays better defense than they did last season. They were absolutely terrible in that category, ranking #288 overall. LSU were a disappointment last season. This team had the best basketball player in league but failed to participate in any of the post season tournaments. The growing talent level in the SEC may prove to be a little too much for LSU this coming season.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 19-14 (11-7) – No Tournament Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 5-
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: No appearance

14. Tennessee Basketball

Coach: Rick Barnes

Off Roster:
Transferred: Ray Kasongo
Graduated: Armani Moore, Devon Baulkman, Kevin Punter, and Derek Reese

On Roster:
Key players possibly returning: Robert Hubbs III (SG) and Admiral Schofield (SF)
Key role players returning: Shembari Phillips (SG) and Detrick Mostella (SG)
Key Freshmen added: Kwe Parker (SG), Grant Williams (PF), John Fulkerson (PF), Jalen Johnson (SF), Jordan Bone (G), Jordan Bowden (SG), and Lamonte' Turner (PG)

This team seems to be still in rebuilding mode. In addition, most of Coach Barnes recruits are mid-major level recruits – not saying that this is a bad thing. However, the SEC is getting stronger with each passing year- this team maybe fighting for a spot in the basement.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 15-19 (6-12) – No Tournament Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 4-
NCAA Basketball Projected Post Season Finish 2016-2017: No appearance


 

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Jack Williams, D1CoachCorner.com 6:00am May, 5, 2016: Updated 5-30-16
Kentucky head coach John Calipari reacts to a call during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Indiana in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall).
Kentucky head coach John Calipari reacts to a call during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Indiana in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall).

SEC Conference Basketball: 2016-2017 Very Early Predictions

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