The strength of this Kentucky team will be the frontcourt. Leading the way is the top recruit in the country in Nerlens Noel. Noel is almost the same player that Anthony Davis was minus the offensive skills. He is just a freakish athlete with great length that is a dominant rebounder and shot blocker.For a big man Noel is an excellent passer. He needs to get a little stronger. At power forward will be Kyle Wiltjer (5 ppg), the only real contributor off last year’s team. Even at 6’9” Wiltjer will be the best shooter on this Kentucky team; he shot 43% from three last season. He is highly skilled which allows to have some pretty good post moves. The question is can he defend and rebound? At small forward will be another five star recruit is Alex Poythress. His biggest strength is his explosiveness and athletic ability. What will make him tough to defend is that he is such a versatile scorer; he can score inside and out. He needs to improve his ballhandling. Poythress will remind fans of Terrence Jones. The top option off the bench will be Willie Cauley-Stein another talented freshman. He is basically the same player as Noel a dominant rebounder and shot blocker but offensive game still needs improvement. A problem for Kentucky could be depth here because the really don’t have any other options here.
Coach: Billy Donovan (16 seasons at Florida 386-158) Overall 421-178, 18 years
2011-12: Record 26-11 overall, 10-6 in SEC (Tie/2nd)
Starters Returning (3) Kenny Boynton, Patric Young, Erik Murphy
Preseason Tournament: Global Sports
Top Non-Conference Games: vs. Georgetown, vs. Marquette, vs. Wisconsin, at Arizona, vs. Kansas State, at Florida State
Transfer Out: Walter Pitchford (Nebraska)
Transfer In : Damontre Harris (South Carolina), Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech)
Early Departure: Bradley Beal
The Gators had an up and down regular season last year but turned it on at the end of the season and were 4 points away from the final four. The Gators have reached the elite 8 the last two seasons. The Gators do lose 2 of their top 3 scorers but they got news when 2 players decided to come back to school. The Gators bring back 3 starters and all their key reversed; they also bring in a solid recruiting class. Donovan has coached 14 consecutive 20 win seasons.
Leading the way for the Gators will be guard Kenny Boynton (15.9 ppg), who turned down the NBA. Boynton is the returning leader scorer in the SEC. Boynton is just a flat our scorer. He is a great athlete that can drive to the hole and shoot the three. Last season he made 110 threes while shooting 41 %. Don’t be shocked to see Boynton running the point at times he was second on the team in assists last season. Joining him in the backcourt will be former Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario (6.6 ppg). Rosario is ready for a bigger role this season after coming off the bench last year. He should average in double figures this season because he cans score in a variety of ways. Look for Scottie Wibekin (2.2 ppg) to start at point guard for the Gators. He has been the backup point guard the last two seasons. He is a good three pointer shooter shooting 46 % from three last season. The depth here will be inexperienced but talented. Freshman Braxton Ogbueze, Michael Fraizier and Dillion Graham will provide the depth. Ogbueze is a top 50 recruit that should see plenty time at the point this season.
The Gators will have a strong frontcourt led by Patric Young (10.2 ppg), who also turned down the NBA. Young is a physical specimen for the Gators in the paint. He is extremely athletic and a dominant rebounder. He can finish around the basket as he shoot 62 % from the field. Joining him in the frontcourt is Erik Murphy (10.5 ppg). Murphy biggest strength is his shooting ability. He shoot 42 % from three last season. He is extremely skilled for a big; he got a lot tougher last season improving his rebounding. He also led the team in blocked shots. The top option off the bench will be Will Yeguete (4.4 ppg). He is a tough rebounder. Also adding quality depth are Cody Larson (.5 ppg), Casey Prather (2 ppg) and freshman DaVon Walker. This unit will get better next season with the addition of two transfers that are sitting out this season.
3. Ole Miss
The strength of this team will be in the frontcourt led by power forward Murphy Holloway(11.2 ppg). Though undersized Holloway almost averaged a double double last season. Holloway is already in the top 10 in Ole Miss history in rebounds, double doubles, steal and field goal percentage. Joining him upfront will be the excellent defender Reginald Bucker(6.9 ppg). He already has the Ole Miss record for career block shots. The top option off the bench will be Demarco Cox( 3.2 ppg). Also providing depth will be JUCO transfer Jason Carter , Aaron Jones (1.4 ppg) and freshman Terry Brutus.
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