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Kentucky isn't the only program adding big-time players
The new faces around the SEC illustrate a major problem that could develop in the league.
Kentucky brought in its historic haul of six top-10 prospects and five of the top-10 prospects in the 247Composite rankings. Florida was no slouch, adding two elite transfers and two five-star prospects of its own.
After the Wildcats and Gators, the rest of the SEC is reaching for scraps.
Tennessee, Missouri and LSU all signed key freshmen and transfers. The Volunteers are getting one of their best players back from injury. Even then, it may be tough for the rest of the league to keep up with the conference’s top two programs.
Our look at the transfers, freshmen and players returning from injury last season continues with the SEC. Earlier, we profiled the new faces in the ACC, American, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten and the Pac-12.
Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison, Kentucky
The Harrison twins are the foundation of Kentucky’s record recruiting haul. Point guard won’t be the issue for Kentucky it was last season with Andrew Harrison on board. He’ll be a good fit in John Calipari’s system with his ability to score in transition. The 6-5, 210-pound guard also has great size. Aaron Harrison is, naturally, an idea backcourt mate at shooting guard with his ability to hit jumpers.
Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida
Transfer from Virginia Tech
With his versatility and 6-9, 205-pound frame, Finney-Smith comes to Florida in the mold of ex-Gator wing Corey Brewer. Expectations are already sky high for the sophomore who averaged 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game as a rookie at Virginia Tech two seasons ago. The McDonald’s All-American signed with Seth Greenberg out of high school but elected to transfer after the Hokies’ coaching change.
Julius Randle, Kentucky
An intimidating power forward at 6-9 and 225 pounds, Randle will be a high-effort cog in the frontcourt. He’ll be a force with his ability to drive to the basket from any spot on the court. Randle was the No. 2 prospect in the country after Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins in the 247Composite rankings.
James Young, Kentucky
Another lefty in the Kentucky frontcourt along with Randle, Young is a versatile wing. He’ll be able to shoot from outside and get to the free throw line.
Kasey Hill, Florida
Point guard Scottie Wilbekin remains suspended for a violation of team rules. If he’s not available or if he remains in Billy Donovan’s doghouse, Hill is the only other point guard on the roster. Florida kept possessions low last season, but Hill’s speed may allow the Gators to push the pace.
Jordan Clarkson, Missouri
Transfer from Tulsa
Frank Haith has taken in a handful of transfers, but at least Clarkson will be available for two seasons. The 6-4, 193-pound guard averaged 14.2 points and 2.3 assists per game at Tulsa. He’ll be the top candidate to replace Phil Pressey at point guard.
Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee
Injured last season
Maymon and Jarnell Stokes were supposed to be bash brothers up front for Tennessee last season, but Maymon missed all of last year when he struggled to return from knee surgery. Maymon averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds in 2011-12, but it may take a while before he’s ready to contribute at that level again.
Damontre Harris, Florida
Transfer from South Carolina
Harris is a rare intra-conference transfer, coming to the Gators from South Carolina. Along with Finney-Smith, Harris will lead a big, physical frontcourt. Harris averaged 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds with 71 blocks in 2011-12, earning a spot on the league’s all-defensive team at South Carolina.
Jarell Martin, LSU
Alum Johnny Jones was welcomed back to LSU as a coach who would be able to recruit the local area. That happened with the signing of five-star power forward Martin from Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep Academy. The Tigers expect Martin to rebound both sides of the court and form a strong frontcourt duo with Johnny O’Bryant. The 6-9, 220-pound Martin could flourish in the pick-and-pop game.
Antonio Barton, Tennessee
Transfer from Memphis
Barton steps in to replace Trae Golden at point guard after the starter transferred to Georgia Tech. Per NCAA graduate transfer rules, Barton will be immediately eligible. Barton lost out on the starting point guard job at Memphis with the return of Joe Jackson, but he’ll be a welcome addition on the other side of the state. He averaged 5.6 points and 1.1 assists in 16.7 minutes per game with the Tigers last season.
Alandise Harris, Arkansas
Transfer from Houston
Harris averaged 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in two seasons at Houston. The Hogs hope the 6-6, 230-pound forward from Little Rock will provide Arkansas with toughness in the frontcourt.
Eric McClellan, Vanderbilt
Transfer from Tulsa
The Commodores were put in a bind when their best player, Kedren Johnson, was suspended for the season. McClellan was expected to be a difference-maker after the combo guard averaged 8.5 minutes as a freshman at Tulsa, and more will be on his shoulders with Johnson out.
Johnathan Williams III and Wes Clark, Missouri
A 6-9 power forward out of Memphis, Williams was Missouri’s top recruit, but he’ll need to add to his 210-pound frame before he’s ready to contribute at a high level. The same could be said of 6-foot freshman guard Wes Clark, who weighs in at 170 pounds.
Bobby Portis and Moses Kingsley, Arkansas
Portis is a 6-10 McDonald’s All-American. He and the 6-9 Kingsley will lead a reformed Arkansas frontcourt after the departure of Marshawn Powell. Those are two big bodies for a team that ranked 12th in the SEC in defensive rebound percentage and 11th in offensive rebound percentage.
Other new faces to watch in the SEC:
Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee, Kentucky
The Wildcats continue their embarrassingly good haul with two more five-star prospects who are the fifth- and sixth-ranked recruits on their own team.
Robert Hubbs, Tennessee
The five-star rookie is a big-time scoring prospect for a Volunteers team that already returns guard Jordan McRae.
Dwight Coleby and Sebastian Saiz, Ole Miss
The two 6-9 forwards need to contribute immediately to replace the Rebels’ underrated frontcourt of Murphy Holloway and Reggie Buckner.
Eli Carter, Florida
Transfer from Rutgers
Another Rutgers transfer to land in Gainesville, Carter is awaiting a decision from the NCAA on his request to be eligible immediately.
Jacoby Davis and I.J. Ready, Mississippi State
The two newcomers will vie for Mississippi State’s point guard spot with returning starter Trivante Bloodman. Davis missed last season with a knee injury and redshirted.
Antwan Space, Texas A&M
Transfer from Florida State
The former Seminole will give the Aggies toughness and rebounding to go with Kourtney Roberson.
Sindarious Thornwell, South Carolina
A top-50 national recruit, Thornwell will be a key building block as South Carolina attempts to remake its roster after another round of transfers.
Tim Quarterman, LSU
The rookie can play point guard, shooting guard and the wing for the Tigers.