Looking At The SEC’s 10 Best Recruits.

July 1, 2009

1. John Wall

Kentucky

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 184lbs

Rivals: ***** (5)

Scout: ***** (5)

Position Rank:

Rivals: #1 PG Scout: #1 PG

John Wall has blazing speed, and excellent ball handling. He is good at finishing around the rim but isn’t as creative as some others in the class like Boynton. He can find his teammates with very good passes, and can at times pass with flair. He isn’t the best scorer or the best passer, but he is great at both. In the Dribble Drive Motion offense he will excel at attacking the rim and also in finding his open teammates. Has the speed to cover the floor before anyone else on the fast break. He really needs to work on his outside shooting. His outside shot is the one glaring weakness on his game. Opposing teams will already be looking to zone the DDM, and Wall isn’t really a threat to bust it. Is a one and done player.

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2. Renardo Sidney

Mississippi State

Height: 6’10”

Weight: 250

Rivals: ***** (5)

Scout: ***** (5)

Position Rank:

Rivals: #4 PF Scout: #2 PF

Sidney is probably the most impressive of all the recruits coming into the conference this year. At 6’10” he can put the ball on the floor, knock down the outside shot, or score with his back to the basket. There have been comparisons to Kevin Garnett, and when you see Sidney play it is easy to see the similarities. He finishes well, plays facing the basket and can score in ways not many his size can. His ability to handle the ball is probably the most impressive thing he brings to the table, but he will make his living scoring a few feet outside of the lane. He has the size to play the 5, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Varnado stay in the Center spot, allowing Sidney to use his abilities out in “no man’s land”. He does needs to work on his post skills; and there is question if he will qualify.

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3. Kenny Boynton

Florida

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 185lbs

Rivals: ***** (5)

Scout: ***** (5)

Position Rank:

Rivals: #5 SG Scout: #4 SG

Boynton is going to score his point, regardless of whom he is playing against. He has a solid jumper, albeit with a slow build up, and is great at shooting off the dribble. He is a bit undersized for the 2 spot, and he doesn’t have all of what it takes to be a true PG, but his scoring ability makes up for most of his deficiencies. He is creative at the rim and can finish even with contact. Can score in a variety of ways. If he plays the PG at Florida he should be able to adequately perform the role of PG in the Spread Pick And Roll offense. His passing ability should be up to par with that needed to run the point in the Spread Pick And Roll, but his decision making with the ball could be his biggest hurdle. Regardless, he has the ability to score in about 15 different ways coming off the screen. He is probably a one and done player.

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4. Demarcus Cousins

Kentucky

Height: 6’9”

Weight: 245lbs

Rivals: ***** (5)

Scout: ***** (5)

Position Rank:

Rivals: 1#PF Scout: #2 C

Cousins comes into college with an NBA ready body. He is a great low block scorer who plays facing the basket. He can run the floor. Has tremendous upside. Should electrify crowds with his ability to throw it down while running the floor. He can step out from the basket, be he doesn’t have the perimeter shot to be an effective Wing the Dribble Drive Motion. While he is a good low block scorer, what little I have seen has been against smaller opponents on rebound put backs. I think he won’t be quite as effective from the low block against college defenders. Is a one and done player who would probably benefit from several years in college.

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5. John Jenkins

Vanderbilt

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 180lbs

Rivals: ***** (5)

Scout: **** (4)

Position Rank

Rivals: #6 SG Scout: #9 SG

Jenkins is a shooter. He has been called the best shooter in the class, and he will probably be the best shooter in the conference from the start. His ball handling is a weak spot. He is in the mold of a Jodie Meeks or Stephen Curry type of player- and lighting up the score board from deep certainly seemed to work for those two. You cannot give Jenkins even an inch of space, as he will make you pay for it. He is a good student with high basketball IQ. Jenkins should be a perfect fit for Vanderbilt and a key component in them having a tremendous year. If he stays four years he could be one of Vandy’s All-Time leading scorers.

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6. Daniel Orton

Kentucky

Height: 6’10”

Weight: 260lbs

Rivals: ***** (5)

Scout: ***** (5)

Position Rank:

Rivals: #4 C Scout: #4 C

Orton is a true Center, and a good defensive player- he is a deceptively quick shot blocker. Though not super athletic he runs the floor well when rewarded, and has an instinct to hustle that isn’t found much these days. Daniel has a solid, though awkward looking, jumper around the lane. He also has a Patrick Patterson-esque ability to turn and seal out his defender on the lob pass. He has an incredibly strong body. Orton could go pro after one year, but my money would be on him staying at least 3. In the end I think he stays more than one year and outshines his much more hyped teammate Cousins; finishing his career rivaling Patterson in popularity as a modern UK Big Man.

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7. Marshawn Powell

Arkansas

Height: 6’7”

Weight: 225lbs

Rivals: **** (4)

Scout: **** (4)

Position Rank:

Rivals: #20PF Scout: #15 PF

I haven’t been able to see much of Marshawn Powell. Granted watching Youtube clips isn’t a perfect way to judge a guy, but it is better than nothing- and when it comes to Powell there is basically nothing out there. From what little I have seen though he appears to be a bit of a hybrid player. He has the size and quickness of a 3, but the skills and strength of a 4. He is a good rebounder and can score with his back to basket. He can also hit the face up jumper, but isn’t a consistent enough threat to pull the defense out. He is the type of player that can dominate against teams that try to make up for their lack of a dominant post player with speed. With the big men that are entering the SEC this year Powell probably isn’t going to get top billing, but in four years he should be considered one of the leagues best low block scorers.

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8. Reggie Buckner

Ole Miss

Height: 6’8”

Weight: 210lbs

Rivals: **** (4)

Scout: ****(4)

Position Rank

Rivals: #5 SF Scout: #25 PF

Buckner is a long and athletic combo player who is probably best suited for playing the 3 in college. His post game isn’t quite strong enough to be a reliable Power Forward; from the Small Forward spot though Buckner is a defender’s nightmare because he can get to the rim with ease. He rebounds in traffic very well; as a defender you have to keep a body on him at all times or he will clean up every miss with a put back. With more of an outside game he could be considered one of the better recruits in this class. He should be a solid four year player who has more positives than negatives if used right.

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9. Kenny Hall

Tennessee

Height: 6’9”

Weight: 215lbs

Rivals: **** (4)

Scout: ****(4)

Position Rank

Rivals: #21 PF Scout: #11 PF

Kenny Hall is a bit of an enigma to me. There isn’t much footage of him on the net that I have found and none of the free scouting sites, for what they are worth, have much about him. The few minutes of footage I have seen though makes me understand why Bruce Pearl recruited the kid: he is perfect for Pearl’s offense. Hall fits the mold of Tennessee big man perfectly, coming in as a slightly taller Tyler Smith and a lighter Wayne Chism. He is athletic, runs the floor very well, rebounds with a spring in his step, and can hit a face up jump shot. If you leave him open he will make you pay for it most of the time. He can also guard the 3-5 positions. In four years he should be playing the role of Wayne Chism and leading Pearl’s Volunteers into the NCAA Tournament.

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10. Erik Murphy

Florida

Height: 6’10”

Weight: 220lbs

Rivals: **** (4)

Scout: ****(4)

Position Rank

Rivals: #22 PF Scout: #12 PF

I put Murphy here in the last spot not necessarily because he is more talented than Eric Bledsoe or John Riek, but because he is a perfect fit for Billy Donovan’s system. While Bledsoe will benefit from the DDM and be a huge part of UK’s success, with Wall also on the roster he isn’t as key of a component. The same can be said for Riek, who is coming in more as a project player and with Varnado and Sidney on the roster won’t see the same playing time that Murphy will. Erik Murphy is a face up Power Forward who has the quickness to work in the Pick And Roll offense, and the necessary ability to drain the long distance jumper. He might even be better suited to the offense than Noah was. He has a good ability to play in the paint and score off the pivot. He needs to improve his ball handling, defense, and ability to pull down the rebound in a crowd.

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This leaves off a lot of talented players like Eric Bledsoe, John Riek, Lakeem Jackson, and Shawn Kemp Jr.; but these are the 10 guys that I see having the biggest immediate impact on the league.

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2009/10 SEC Predictions

June 23, 2009

Here are my very, very early SEC predictions. Individual team profiles will come later.

SEC East:

Kentucky

Tennessee

Vandy

South Carolina

Florida

Georgia

SEC West:

Mississippi State

LSU

Arkansas

Ole Miss

Alabama

Auburn

Overall SEC:

Kentucky

Mississippi State

Tennessee

LSU

Vandy

South Carolina

Arkansas

Florida

Ole Miss

Alabama

Auburn

Georgia

Kentucky and Mississippi State are obviously the two front-runners this year. Both have legitimate shots at deep runs in March. Kentucky has gotten the most media attention this off-season, but if things click for the Bulldogs then they can be just as legitimate of Final Four contenders as the Wildcats. It isn’t often that talk of the nations best frontcourt begins and ends in the same conference, but between Patterson/Orton/Cousins and Varnado/Riek/Sidney no other team in the country is going to have the same talent under the rim as UK or MSU. (And that is leaving out both teams reserves like Perry Stevenson from UK and Romero Osby from MSU- both of whom were four-star players coming out of high school.)

Tennessee checks in next. They basically return the same super athletic team that was a bit of a let down for Vol fans this past season. If you look at the Volunteers 13 losses last year as a bolt of lightning, then I’m betting lightning won’t strike the same team twice.

Not far behind UT is LSU. LSU doesn’t have the same firepower a lot of the SEC teams, including several other West teams; but what LSU does have is coach Trent Johnson and small forward Tasmin Mitchell. Both of those guys are the real deal. I’m not sure if they are just that good, or just that lucky, but when you put one of them on the sidelines and the other on the floor they are going to beat good teams going away.

I have LSU picked to finish fourth in the league, but nipping on their heels—and probably with more media attention—is Vanderbilt. Kevin Stallings may look like Bill Kirchenbauer from “Just The Ten Of Us” but he coaches at times like Red Auerbach. With returning experience and incoming talent (most notably shooting talent) Vandy is a team that should stay in the polls all year.

South Carolina is an X-factor type of team. They have the talent in the backcourt to be a great team, but the question is can they produce the wins consistently enough? Even with a season similar to last season they will receive a bit more national respect simply because the perception of the conference is up.

Arkansas, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama, and Auburn are the logjam of the conference. I personally thing Arkansas and Florida will rise above the rest and be bubble teams at the end of the year. That said I honestly couldn’t pick Ole Miss, Alabama or Auburn to have bad seasons. Ole Miss might have the best guard duo on the conference. Alabama has a solid talent base and a coach who could work magic. Even perennial last place pick Auburn had success last year under Jeff Lebo.

Georgia sits solidly in last place. As a team without much talent and a new coach they will have to win games with heart and effort. Mark Fox should spend most of the year simply recruiting. With the recruiting hotbeds of Atlanta and Birmingham right at his doorstep a quick turnaround isn’t out of the question for Fox, but this year is going to be pretty rough.