Post-Free Agency SEC Power Rankings - Part 1
After a 2 week hiatus, I’m back! Things have slowed down in CBB. The portal isn’t the wild west anymore and teams look to have their rosters set. So let’s dive into what the SEC looks like post-free agency(yes, you heard me) and draft!
Today’s piece is part 1 as we look at the bottom half of the SEC as I see it right now. In the next week, I’ll recap the top of half of the league.
#14 Georgia Bulldogs
Record Last Year: 14-12 (7-11 in SEC)
SEC Finish: 10th
Returning: P.J. Horne(8.5ppg), Jonathan Ned(1.6ppg), Josh Taylor(0.3ppg), and Tyron McMillian(1.9ppg)
Transferring: Sahvir Wheeler to Kentucky(14.0ppg), KD Johnson to Auburn(13.5ppg) Toumani Camara to Dayton(12.8ppg), Justin Kier to Arizona(9.5ppg), Tye Fagan to Ole Miss(9.2ppg), Andrew Garcia to Kent State(8.7ppg), Christian Brown to Tennessee State(4.0ppg), Jaykwon Walton to JUCO(1.0ppg), and Mikal Starks to Portland State(0.2ppg).
Newcomers: Jabri Abdur-Rahim(transfer from Virginia), Braelen Bridges(transfer from UIC), Aaron Cook(transfer from Gonzaga), Noah Baumann(transfer from USC), Jailyn Ingram(transfer from Florida Atlantic), Kario Oquendo(JUCO Transfer), Dalen Ridgnal(JUCO transfer), Tyrone Baker(3-Star #257), Christian Wright(3-Star #204), and Camron McDowell(3-Star #223)
I’ll put it plainly…The seat could not be any hotter for Tom Crean. Fans were already upset with how 2019-20 went, but then last season lit a new fire. In 2019-20, Georgia had the future #1 overall pick in Anthony Edwards and future G-Leaguer RayShaun Hammonds on the roster, but only mustered up a 16-16 record.
Last season wasn’t any better, but Crean had a solid core of player to build upon. Sahvir Wheeler was one of the most exciting players to watch in the SEC and even recorded a triple-double last year. Toumani Camara was as good of a 4 as there was in the SEC. K.D. Johnson could score from anywhere on the floor. But one problem….They all transferred away. Actually, Georgia top 6 scorers all transferred away. Fans were sick of Tom Crean before, but this offseason has rendered them rabid.
There’s no way around it. This team will be bad. The incoming transfers never established themselves as consistent contributors at their previous schools and the high school guys don’t project to add much as freshmen.
It will be a long season in Athens that will likely lead to another coaching search. Georgia fans deserve better.
#13 Missouri Tigers
Record Last Year: 16-10 (8-8 in SEC)
SEC Finish: 7th
Returning: Kobe Brown(8.0ppg), Javon Pickett(6.2ppg), and Jordan Wilmore(0.8ppg).
Graduating: Dru Smith(14.3ppg), Jeremiah Tilmon(12.4ppg), and Mitchell Smith(4.5ppg).
Transferring: Xavier Pinson to LSU(13.6ppg), Mark Smith to Kansas State(9.7ppg), Parker Braun to Santa Clara(2.8ppg), Torrence Watson to Elon(1.8ppg), and Drew Buggs to Winthrop(1.8ppg).
Newcomers: Amari Davis(transfer from Green Bay), Jarron Coleman(transfer from Ball State), Ronnie DeGray(transfer from UMASS), DaJuan Gordon(transfer from Kansas State), Anton Brookshire(3-Star #140), Trevon Brazile(3-Star #178), Yaya Keita(3-Star #199), Sean Durugordon(3-Star #228), and Kaleb Brown(3-Star #322).
If you have a heart, you feel for Cuonzo Martin. His entire tenure at Missouri has been marred by things totally out of his control. The injuries to Michael Porter Jr. and then his brother, Jontay Porter, the following season really ruined what could have been special years for Missouri.
In 2019-20, the Tigers had a bit of a down year, but missed sharpshooter Mark Smith and productive big man Jeremiah Tilmon who were both out a lot of games for injury. 2020-21 was the year that everything was supposed to come together. Then the pandemic happened. Obviously, every team was effected by that weird season of college basketball. Mizzou Arena is a place that can get rocking when cheering for a good team, but that didn’t happen. As a result, Missouri underperformed. They finished .500 in the SEC and 7th overall.
So now Missouri begins a total reset. They don’t bring back much and will rely on mid-major players to make a transition to arguably the best conference in college basketball next year. Cuonzo can coach. Not a great recruiter, but the man can coach. I just don’t like the overall talent level here and that’s why I see it being a real struggle in 2021-22 for Missouri.
#12 South Carolina Gamecocks
Record Last Year: 6-15 (4-12 in SEC)
SEC Finish: 12th
Returning: Keyshawn Bryant(14.4ppg), Jermaine Couisnard(10.1ppg), Wildens Leveque(6.1ppg), Tre-Vaughn Minott(2.5ppg) and Ja’Von Benson(2.0ppg).
Going Pro: A.J. Lawson(16.6ppg)
Transferring: Justin Minaya to Providence(7.0ppg), Trae Hannibal to Murray State(6.0ppg), Seventh Woods to Morgan State(5.4ppg), Jayln McCreary to USF(5.1ppg), T.J. Moss to McNeese State(4.3ppg), Alanzo Frink to East Carolina(3.3ppg), and Trey Anderson to San Jose State(2.5ppg).
Newcomers: James Reese V(transfer from North Texas), Chico Carter Jr.(transfer from Murray State), Josh Gray(transfer from LSU), Brandon Martin(transfer from USC Upstate), Erik Stevenson(transfer from Washington), Devin Carter(4-Star #82), TaQuan Woodley(3-Star #253), and Jacobi Wright(3-Star #124).
2020-21 was the season everyone thought would do Frank Martin in, but alas, he is back again. The Gamecocks really struggled and the defense was worse than that. Martin’s teams were known for a lot of size, but they have really gone to a small ball of sorts. The added pace brought a ton of 3PA, but SC ranked near the bottom of NCAA in 3P%. Not exactly a recipe for success to be terrible at shooting, but wanting to do more of it.
A.J. Lawson is off to the NBA, but the Gamecocks return Keyshawn Bryant and Jermaine Couisnard. Both are more than serviceable in this league, but what is around them is uninspiring.
With this roster it’s like Martin has totally abandoned any sort of post presence. Another long season in Columbia should be expected. A season like that would mark 10 seasons with just 1 NCAA tournament appearance in the Martin era.
I’ll say this is another coaching search we see in the SEC next offseason.
#11 Vanderbilt Commodores
Record Last Year: 9-16 (3-13 in SEC)
SEC Finish: 14th
Returning: Scotty Pippen(20.8ppg), Jordan Wright(8.7ppg), Trey Thomas(6.0ppg), Myles Stute(3.9ppg), and Quentin Millora-Brown(3.1ppg).
Transferring: Dylan Disu to Texas(15.0ppg), Maxwell Evans to TCU(8.5ppg), D.J. Harvey to Detroit Mercy(6.3ppg), Isaac McBride to Oral Roberts(4.7ppg), Clevon Brown to Florida International(3.4ppg), Akeem Odusipe to Kent State (0.5ppg), and Ejike Obinna to St. Joseph’s(1.9ppg).
Newcomers: Terren Frank(transfer from TCU), Jamaine Mann(transfer from Garner-Webb), Liam Robbins(transfer from Minnesota), Rodney Chatman(transfer from Dayton), Shane Dezonie(4-Star #95), Peyton Daniels(3-Star #166), and Gabe Dorsey(3-Star #218).
I am bit higher than most on Vanderbilt. 11th isn’t saying a whole lot, but I thought Vanderbilt made some progress last year. Star Scotty Pippen missed 3 games and Dylan Disu missed 8 games. They would have finished higher with a healthy Disu. They lost 5 games by 4 points or less. They were close to being much better.
But Disu is off to Texas to play for Chris Beard near his hometown. Losing Disu really hurts. I think could have taken a much bigger step this year with him.
Jordan Wright is set to take a step up after a solid sophomore year. Transfers Rodney Chatman and Liam Robbins will be expected to contribute. Look out for freshman Shane Dezonie too.
What Vanderbilt cannot afford to do is lose non-conference games at home to lesser opponents. They’ve done it for 5 straight years. We all know how wild Memorial Gym can be, but when you push the fans away before you really need them then you are in for a long season.
Look to see Vanderbilt gain a little consistency and defend home court in non-conference play. Fans will come back and help them in SEC play. Scotty Pippen is too good to have him play in front of empty seats.
#10 Texas A&M Aggies
Record Last Year: 8-10 (2-8 in SEC)
SEC Finish: 13th
Returning: Quenton Jackson(10.4ppg), Andre Gordon(8.3ppg), Hassan Diarra(5.8ppg), and Hayden Hefner(2.1ppg).
Transferring: Emanuel Miller to TCU(16.0ppg), Savion Flagg to Sam Houston State(8.8ppg), JayJay Chandler to South Alabama(8.2ppg), Kevin Marfo to Quinnipiac(2.6ppg), Jaxson Robinson to Arkansas(2.1ppg), Jonathan Aku to Stephen F. Austin(1.8ppg), and LaDamien Bradford to Louisiana Tech(0.3ppg), and Cashius McNeilly to TCU(0.0ppg).
Newcomers: Henry Coleman(transfer from Duke), Javonte Brown-Ferguson(transfer from UCONN), Marcus Williams(transfer from Wyoming), Ethan Henderson(transfer from Arkansas), Aaron Johnson-Cash(JUCO transfer), Manny Obaseki(4-Star #31), Wade Taylor(4-Star #114), and Ashton Smith(3-Star #209).
The first 2 years of the Buzz Williams era have been underwhelming. Very underwhelming. A&M went entire month last season without playing a basketball game. They couldn’t kick COVID. It was odd. Almost too odd. Either way, what another meh year for A&M, but that’s part of rebuilding.
Now in year 3, Buzz has some talent coming in. Coleman should play right away. Marcus Williams will contribute. Quenton Jackson is a great shooter and is back for another year. Andre Gordon is a pesky guard who will need to take a step up in contribution.
A&M really lacks depth, but Buzz really needs to make some head way this season. It’s year 3 already! They may rely on stud recruit Manny Obaseki to take them there. What hurt A&M this offseason that they had St. Joseph’s Jordan Hall on the way after he committed while in the transfer portal. Hall was also testing the NBA waters. Once he decided to return to college, he de-committed from A&M and returned to St. Joseph’s. Had Jordan Hall stayed with his commitment to A&M, the Aggies could have been in play for a Bubble Bid to the NCAA Tournament.
#9 Ole Miss Rebels
Record Last Year: 16-12 (10-8 in SEC)
SEC Finish: 6th
Returning: Jarkel Joiner(12.0ppg), Luis Rodriguez(7.6ppg), Matthew Murrell(4.2ppg), Robert Allen(3.6ppg), Austin Crowley(2.4ppg), and Sammy Hunter(2.2ppg).
Graduating: Devontae Shuler(15.3ppg) and Romello White(11.4ppg).
Transferring: K.J. Buffen to UAB(8.4ppg), Khadim Sy to Wake Forest(3.1ppg), Dimencio Vaughn to Rider(1.7ppg), Shon Robinson to San Jose State(1.3ppg), and Antavion Collum to Cal State Bakersfield(1.1ppg).
Newcomers: Jaemyn Brakefield(transfer from Duke), Nysier Brooks(transfer from Miami), Tye Fagan(transfer from Georgia), Daeshun Ruffin(4-Star #49), James White(3-Star #206), Eric Van Der Heijden(3-Star #212), and Grant Slatten(3-Star #221).
Ole Miss is one of the harder teams to figure out this offseason. I like the pieces they have added. I like the core players returning, but how good can they be?
Hometown kid Jarkel Joiner is back. Luis Rodriguez had good sophomore campaign and they’ll look for him to take the next step. Matthew Murrell is a former top 50 player who is ready to contribute at a higher level. Add in 3 solid transfers and another top 50 incoming freshman and you have yourself a team!
Though depth will definitely be a concern. Kermit Davis needs a good run this year. I would understand if they make an NIT trip, but fans already were getting impatient with him after some head scratching losses last year. And yet they still finished 6th in the SEC.
Take care of business at home. Beat the teams you are supposed to beat. Be competitive when playing the big dogs. Build momentum.
#8 Mississippi State Bulldogs
Record Last Year: 18-15 (8-10 in SEC)
SEC Finish: 9th
Returning: Iverson Molinar(16.7ppg), Tolu Smith(12.6ppg), Derek Fountain(5.4ppg) Cameron Matthews(2.7ppg), Javian Davis-Fleming(2.6ppg), and Andersson Garcia(2.3ppg).
Going Pro: D.J. Stewart(16.0ppg)
Transferring: Abdul Ado to Cincinnati(5.9ppg), Deivon Smith to Georgia Tech(5.2ppg), Jalen Johnson to TBD(5.2ppg), Quinten Post to Boston College(2.8ppg), and Keondre Montgomery to Alcorn State(2.3ppg).
Newcomers: D.J. Jeffries(transfer from Memphis), Garrison Brooks(transfer from North Carolina), Shakeel Moore(transfer from North Carolina State), Rocket Watts(transfer from Michigan State), Camryn Carter(4-Star #105), KeShawn Murphy(3-Star #142), and Alden Applewhite(3-Star #161).
2020-21 was an average year for MSU, but they were losing a lot from the year before. Now they look to build around some key pieces.
Leading scorer Iverson Molinar returns and Tolu Smith, who broke out last season, is back for another year.
Where Ben Howland won in huge ways in the transfer portal! Rocket Watts from Michigan State, Garrison Brooks from North Carolina, D.J. Jeffries from Memphis, and Shakeel Moore from North Carolina State. Every one of those players should be key rotation pieces or starters.
There’s zero question that Ben Howland has raised the floor of the MSU program, but it is safe to say that the Bulldog fans are ready to see the ceiling. MSU had 3 straight seasons of 20+ wins from 2017-18 to 2019-20, but only 1 trip to the NCAA Tournament with it(thanks, COVID). But even in their one trip, they were upset by 12-seeded Liberty in the 1st round.
I really like this team, but the SEC will be an absolute bloodbath this year. Because of that, MSU will likely be fighting for a spot on the bubble!
As always, thanks for reading! Check back in the next week for Part 2 to see who I have winning the SEC right now.
For all things Arkansas Basketball, give me a follow on Twitter @BenBrandonHoops