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SEC Basketball Season Preview: Kentucky, Arkansas Cream of Crop

Nine Top-20 Recruits Landed in the SEC

Eight SEC products are being touted as potential first-round picks in the 2023 NBA Draft and that list doesn’t include the conference’s preseason player of the year – Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe.

Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee are all in the top 10 in the preseason national polls.

Oscar Tshiebwe #34 of the Kentucky Wildcats
Oscar Tshiebwe #34 of the Kentucky Wildcats | Andy lyons/getty images/afp

Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Auburn all have incoming freshmen rated among the top 20 players in their class.

According to the college basketball playoff odds, Kentucky (+275) has the second-best odds to reach the Final Four. Arkansas (+500) and Tennessee (+800) are next among SEC teams.

Here is a team-by-team look at the SEC heading into the 2022-23 season.

Let’s check the latest NCAAB picks, stats, injury reports, and NCAAB predictions. We’ve plenty of NCAAB expert picks for you to consider. As well explore a variet y of other basketball odds here to win!

As well explore a variety of other NBA odds here to win!

Kentucky Wildcats

  • Conference Odds: +170
  • National Title Odds: +850

The rest of the SEC must have cringed when Kentucky leading scorer and rebounder Oscar Tshiebwe decided to return to college.

According to the college basketball betting lines, Tshiebwe (+650) trails only North Carolina’s Armando Bacot in the national player of the year odds.

Guard Sahvir Wheeler also returns along with forward Jacob Toppin and forward Daimion Collins.

A key with Kentucky is always the one-and-done players who suit up for the Wildcats as freshmen and then head to the NBA.

Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston are the top NBA prospects among the group of incoming freshmen.

Arkansas Razorbacks

  • Conference Odds: +325
  • National Title Odds: +1400

Davonte Davis and Kamani Johnson are the only returnees for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas lost its top four scorers in JD Notae, Stanley Umude, Jaylin Williams, and Au’Diese Toney, along with Chris Lykes, who all either graduated or declared for the NBA draft.

Nick Smith is one of the top incoming freshmen in the country while Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh are also top-20 recruits. The addition of the freshmen has attracted the attention of those who bet online. Smith is a preseason All-SEC selection.

Smith and Black are being touted as potential top-five selections in the 2023 NBA Draft while Walsh isn’t far behind. All the freshmen are expected to play significant roles.

Tennessee Volunteers

  • Conference Odds: +325
  • National Title Odds: +3300

Point guard Kennedy Chandler is now with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. Five players transferred while forward John Fulkerson graduated.

Double-digit scorers Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James return along with Zakai Zeigler, Olivier Nkamhoua and Uros Plavsic.

Tyreke Key and Colin Coyne have transferred in from Indiana State and Mary Washington.

Julian Phillips is the most highly rated player among the fourth incoming freshmen.

Alabama Crimson Tide

  • Conference Odds: +800
  • National Title Odds: +4000

The 2022-23 team will have a much different look from last season with five players transferring out and three others beginning their professional careers.

Leading scorer Jaden Shackleford is now with the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder. That could pave the way for a larger role for Jahvon Quinerly.

Look for more from Noah Gurley and Charles Bediako, a 7-footer from Canada.

Alabama used the transfer portal to add Mark Sears, who averaged 19.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists as a sophomore at Ohio, as well as Dominick Welch, a four-year starter at St. Bonaventure who was a double-digit scorer in each of his last three seasons.

Alabama added a top-five recruiting class. Forward Brandon Miller and guard Jaden Bradley were top-25 recruits.

Auburn Tigers

  • Conference Odds: +800
  • National Title Odds: +4000

Auburn saw Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler selected in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft, and that leaves the Tigers without two of their four double-digit scorers from a season ago.

Look for more from guards K.D. Johnson and Wendell Green figure to be the headliners this season. Allen Flanigan is another perimeter scorer to keep an eye on while Jaylin Williams is the top returning player in the frontcourt.

Transfer Johni Broome was a double-double machine in his two seasons at Morehead State.

Florida Gators

  • Conference Odds: +1800
  • National Title Odds: +5000

Former Auburn assistant coach Todd Golden was hired away from San Francisco after head coach Mike White left to take over at Georgia.

Colin Castleton is back after leading Florida in scoring (16.2 points per game) and rebounding (9.0 per game).

However, three of the top four scorers off last season’s team have moved on. Phlandrous Fleming Jr. and Anthony Duruji graduated while Tyree Appleby transferred to Wake Forest.

The key to the season could be the impact of incoming transfers Trey Bonham (Virginia Military Institute), Alex Fudge (LSU), Will Richard (Belmont), and Kyle Lofton (St. Bonaventure).

Texas A&M Aggies

  • Conference Odds: +2200
  • National Title Odds: +12500

While leading scorer Quenton Jackson graduated, the Aggies do return double-digit scorers Henry Coleman and Tyrece Radford. Guards Wade Taylor and Andre Jordan are also back.

Marcus Williams and Hassan Diarra transferred to San Francisco and UConn, respectively.

Wichita State guard Dexter Dennis, Arkansas guard Khalen Robinson, Mississippi State guard/forward Andersson Garcia, and Michigan State forward Julius Marble are among the incoming transfers.

Tyrece Radford #23 of the Texas A&M Aggies
Tyrece Radford #23 of the Texas A&M Aggies | Andy lyons/getty images/afp

Louisiana State Tigers

  • Conference Odds: +3300
  • National Title Odds: N/A

Former Murray State head coach Matt McMahon takes over at LSU. Will Wade was fired after the school received notification of significant NCAA violations alleged to have been committed during Wade’s tenure.

Eight of the top nine scorers have moved on. Tari Eason was a first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft while Darius Days and Shareef O’Neal went undrafted. Brandon Murray (Georgetown), Xavier Pinson (New Mexico State), Eric Gaines (UAB), Efton Reid (Gonzaga), and Alex Fudge (Florida) all transferred.

Mwani Wilkinson and Justice Williams are the only returnees who played at least 10 minutes per game for the Tigers last season.

Tyrell Ward leads the four-member class of incoming freshmen. Trae Hannibal, Justice Hill, and KJ Williams all followed McMahon from Murray State. Hill was the big catch as he averaged 13.4 points and 5.1 assists per game. Guard Cam Hayes comes in from North Carolina State. Kendal Coleman (15.4 points, 10.1 rebounds at Northwestern State) and Mississippi State’s Derek Fountain are other incoming transfers.

Ole Miss Rebels

  • Conference Odds: +5000
  • National Title Odds: +15000

Ole Miss saw leading scorer Jarkel Joiner transfer to North Carolina State while center Nysier Brooks graduated. The Rebels also saw starting guard Luis Rodriguez head to UNLV.

The good news is that Daeshun Ruffin and Matthew Murrell are returning.

Ruffin only played in 14 games as a freshman but averaged 12.6 points and 3.4 assists. Murrell averaged 12.1 points. Jaemyn Brakefield (7.7 points, 4.2 rebounds), Tye Fagan, and Robert Allen also return.

Forward Theo Akwuba, who averaged 9.1 points and 7.9 rebounds as a junior at Louisiana, Jackson State forward Jayveous McKinnis (12.4 points, 10.3 rebounds), Buffalo forward Josh Mballa (13 points, 8.6 rebounds), and Myles Burns, a forward from NAIA Loyola (LA), are all transferring to Ole Miss.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

  • Conference Odds: +6600
  • National Title Odds: +N/A

Mississippi State loses its No. 1 and 3 scorers so they will need to replace the 28 points and 10 rebounds from Iverson Molinar and Garrison Brooks.

Tolu Smith is back after averaging 14.2 points and 6.5 rebounds, as is D.J. Jeffries (8.9 points per game) and Shakeel Moore.

Rocket Watts, Javian Davis, Andersson Garcia, and Derek Fountain are among the outgoing transfers.

Jamel Horton (12.8 points per game as a junior at Albany), Dashawn Davis (10.9 points, 5.5 assists at Oregon State), Eric Reed (16.1 points at Southeast Missouri State), New Mexico State’s Will McNair Jr. and Southern Miss forward Tyler Stevenson (14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds) transferred to Mississippi State.

Missouri Tigers

  • Conference Odds: +8000
  • National Title Odds: +N/A

There’s plenty of movement when it comes to the Missouri roster with nine players transferred out and nine coming in.

Missouri does bring back top scorer Kobe Brown, who averaged 12.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

Missouri hired Dennis Gates away from Cleveland State and he brought guards Tre Gomilion (10.5 points, 2.9 assists) and D’Moi Hodge (15.4 points, 102 3-pointers in two seasons) along with center Mabor Majak with him. Nick Honor, who averaged 7.7 points as a junior at Clemson, is another newcomer.

Javon Pickett, Amari Davis, Jarron Coleman, DuJuan Gordon, Trevon Brazile, Sean Durugordon, and Jordan Wilmore headed elsewhere after combining for 42.3 points last season.

South Carolina Gamecocks

  • Conference Odds: +15000
  • National Title Odds: N/A

It would be an understatement to suggest that this South Carolina team will look much different. The top six scorers have moved on.

Jermaine Couisnard is now at Oregon, Erik Stevenson is at West Virginia, Devin Carter transferred to Providence, Keyshawn Bryant landed at South Florida and Wildens Levesque moved on to UMass. Add in the graduation of James Reese and that is 54 points that the Gamecocks need to replace.

The top returning scorer is Chico Carter Jr., who averaged 4.2 points in 9.5 minutes per game. Jacobi Wright and Ja’VOn Benson are other returning players who were in the South Carolina rotation a season ago.

Citadel forward Hayden Brown (18.8 points, 9.5 rebounds) and Coastal Carolina guard Ebrima Dibbe (8.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists) are among the four incoming transfers.

 Jacobi Wright #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks
Jacobi Wright #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks | Michael chang/getty images/afp

Georgia Bulldogs

  • Conference Odds: +20000
  • National Title Odds: N/A

Georgia brings back its top three scorers – Kario Oquendo, Braelen Bridges, and Jalyn Ingram. Oquendo and Bridges combined for 28 points and 10 rebounds per game. Ingram averaged 10.7 points, 6 rebounds and 2.1 assists in seven games during an injury-shortened season.

Jabri Abdur-Rahim (6.9 points, 3.2 rebounds) and Jaxon Etter 95.1 points) are other rotational players returning?

Aaron Cook graduated while Noah Baumann (Grand Canyon) and Christian Wright (Oregon State) were among nine players who transferred.

Georgia landed six transfers, including Longwood guard Justin Hill (14.2 points, 4.1 assists), Oklahoma State forward Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe, and North Texas guard Mardrez McBride (11.3 ppg).

Vanderbilt Commodores

  • Conference Odds: +20000
  • National Title Odds: N/A

Vanderbilt has to replace leading scorer Scotty Pippen Jr., who averaged 20.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. He is now with the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers.

Fellow double-digit scorer Jordan Wright is returning along with Myles Stute, Liam Robbins, Trey Thomas, and Tylin Lawrence.

Five players transferred, led by Shane Dezonie, Jamaine Mann, and Peyton Daniels, who are now at Temple, Georgia State, and Jacksonville State.

Emmanuel Ansong, who averaged 11 points and five rebounds last season at Green Bay, and Eza Manjon, who contributed 15 points and 3.4 assists as a sophomore at UC Davis, will be joined by five incoming freshmen.

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