SEC basketball rebound on way

Decision by top stars to return will change perception

DESTIN, Fla. - SEC men's basketball is having a better off-season than post-season.

Only three teams qualified for the NCAA tournament, and none made it past the second round. Based on the last two months, the next season looks considerably more promising.

And that's not just because Kentucky hired John Calipari, who quickly assembled the nation's No. 1 recruiting class. The returnees are as significant as the recruits.

Mississippi State center Jarvis Varnado, the nation's leading shot blocker, has decided to return for his senior season. So have Kentucky All-SEC power forward Patrick Patterson; Arkansas' Michael Washington, the SEC's leading rebounder; and Ole Miss point guard Terrico White, who was outstanding as a freshman.

Their return should have a huge impact on the league, which should be much improved in 2009-10. It could be even better if a handful of other players follow the examples of Varnado, Patterson, Washington and White.

So far, only Florida guard Nick Calathes has opted to go pro early. College players have until June 15 to make that decision.

Tennessee star Tyler Smith and Kentucky sharpshooter Jodie Meeks are mulling over early starts to a pro career. So are point guard Devan Downey and forward Dominique Archie of South Carolina.

"I think the league is coming back," UT coach Bruce Pearl said at the SEC spring meetings. "I think everybody will bring the majority of their starters back.

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings agrees.

"I wouldn't be surprised if you had six or more (SEC) teams (make the NCAA tournament next season)," Stallings said.

"Patterson coming back means Kentucky will be better. A.J. Ogilvy coming back will make us better."

The Commodores will return their other four starters in addition to Ogilvy, who led the team in scoring and rebounding.

Arkansas and Mississippi State also will return all of their starters, as will UT and Kentucky if Smith and Meeks decide to come back.

Ole Miss and Alabama will have plenty of experience as well.

New Alabama coach Anthony Grant will return four starters from a team that finished strong in 2008-09. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy will return three starters, plus two former starters - Chris Warren and Eniel Polynice - who were injured last season.

Kennedy said there won't be a problem getting both White and Warren, also a point guard, into the lineup next season.

"Terrico can play any one of three positions," Kennedy said. "He's a guy with a huge upside."

With the return of Varnado, Mississippi State has a huge upside as well.

Not only do the Bulldogs return all of their starters, they have signed one of the nation's top post players, Renardo Sidney, a Mississippi native who played high school basketball in Los Angeles.

Both UCLA and Southern California withdrew scholarship offers to Sidney, and there are questions about his amateur status.

But if he's eligible, this should be coach Rick Stansbury's most talented team.

"Having the most talent doesn't mean you will have the best team," he cautions.

Nonetheless, he has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about his next team after winning the conference tournament in March. He's also optimistic about the conference.

"This has been one of the best leagues in the country," Stansbury said. "For whatever reason, some national media changed their perception of the league (this past season)."

Stansbury said the national perception might have been affected by traditional power Kentucky and recent two-time national champion Florida having off years.

"We need those programs to be good," he said.

There's little doubt Kentucky will be good next season. And so should the entire conference.

"Absolutely," said South Carolina coach Darrin Horn. "Last season was just a perfect storm in the wrong direction."

Get Copyright Permissions © 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2009 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 30

abnerPeabody writes:

Good.

ornglovinyankealum writes:

Surely there is more factual news to report than these predictions.

teampenny#658108 writes:

We are paying the money, we have the arenas-the coaches need to get it done! Go Vols

panties4tebow writes:

Not much mentioned about the lowly geters (you know the one with the has-been coach (bd) that ran most of his players off this year because they didn't make the NCAA Tournament.

I guess they are not worth speaking about, Right Coach Bruce Pearl?

GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, I almost forgot Pearl owns bd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

VOLFORLIFE writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

TarHeelsDrool, are you really going to have to repeat second grade?

"The only way Pearl will SUPRISE is if Pat Summitt has TEACHED him how to be a coach."

Why don't you just run on to beddy bye and let the big boys talk for a while, okey dokey? Bye bye now.

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

tnvolintheboro writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"teached"??? Where did you go to school - North Carolina or Florida?

Orange_Swarm1 writes:

is Tyler coming back or what?

vol1994 writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dude, what is your freakin problem. You are sooooo classless and a disgrace to the Tarheel nation.

I am an avid Tarheel fan but I do not have the blinders on. I can tell you so much phooey that went on and still goes on at UNC that you would be amazed, YES including cheating.

The football and basketball teams both have some thugs on their teams that stay in trouble. Do you not know why coach phil ford left the program? Mcginnis who was a player had an affair with his wife? Phil with a DUI and some recruiting allegations.......

Dean Smith should have had a minimum of 5 titles with all the talent he had over the years.. Grow up little boy!

oldvolsfan writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

you are the stupidest person to post on here if you don't like pearl then just keep out of this numnuts

TommyJack writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bwahahahahaha

old_number1 writes:

in response to Florrible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do! I'm glad to see you didn't 'reply'. We all knew that we would hear 'daniel Hood', over and over again. So you need to get used to it.

Florrible, you are still Elite!

govols26 writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sounds like somebody needs to learn himself a non-UNC edumucation. Did good ol' Roy teach you that?

old_number1 writes:

in response to DCflorida1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's been 20 days sinse I responded to an azzhole- I mean troll.

BTW, Jr. is getting a new crew chief. How 'bout that!

f___fearvolunteer writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Seriously; you said "teached him." Unless and until you can gain some rudimentary understanding of the English language, such as the fact that "taught" would have been the correct word in your obviously mentally challenged composition, I, and many others on here I'm sure, are going to have a hard time giving any creedence whatsoever to your viewpoints.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Go back to elementry school dummy.The word is taught.

kiffownsfla writes:

in response to checkeredpast:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He's tired of reading your mess.

TommyJack writes:

TarHeels is no more a Tar Heel than the gator posers are gators. Simple.

bkgunter writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

TarHoleDrool:
"Teached him ?!"
We can't wait until you learn
us how to sit like a corpse
at the Dean Dome during 90%
of the home schedule. You are
the flag-bearer for the worst
fans in college sports.

murrayvol writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hopefully when she "has teached" him he will be better. Geezamus! KNS needs a loper upgrade......desperately.

PepperGrinder (Inactive) writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The correct word is taught. I guess they dont teach you that in North Carolina schools.

Irwin_Linker writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You must be joking. You have proven to every one of us you are not a Tarheel. My guess would be that you are a Memphis State fan. "Teached", no one would ever be allowed on UNC's campus without having mastered elementary school grammar.(Aside from athletes of course) Good god man, at least the Gator posters can spell and conjugate verbs correctly.

Irwin_Linker writes:

Sorry, I just read the rest of the posts and didn't realize everyone else blasted Tarheels inability to conjugate as well.

Volgrad777 writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good lord fellow what an utter and complete loser you are. You tarnish this site with your stupidity. Judging by the grammar you use im guessing you certainly didnt obtain a UNC degree so im curious why it is they rule?? Im also certain nearly every other UNC fan would be embarressed by you and that is my guess as to why you are here. Pearl is a great coach , your posts are repetitive and moronic and no one cares. Quite frankly youre about as cool as a sandpaper handjob.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Irwin_Linker:

You must be joking. You have proven to every one of us you are not a Tarheel. My guess would be that you are a Memphis State fan. "Teached", no one would ever be allowed on UNC's campus without having mastered elementary school grammar.(Aside from athletes of course) Good god man, at least the Gator posters can spell and conjugate verbs correctly.

And they usually proof their inane blather. I would surmise most of them have opposing thumbs.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Irwin_Linker:

Sorry, I just read the rest of the posts and didn't realize everyone else blasted Tarheels inability to conjugate as well.

It's okay Irwin. He needs constant reminders.

old_number1 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

TarHeels is no more a Tar Heel than the gator posers are gators. Simple.

You have shown excellent vision in this matter. I've thought the same thing for a while.

old_number1 writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm sorry, did I type that somewhere? If so, I apologize. Thought you were done with the Elites. You said you would rather hang with the trolls. Make up your mind, dumbazz.

Suck up to ZZ, DC, checkered, Tarheels, ect. I will not.

I've chosen to take the higher road. You've chosen to take the 'troll road'. Good luck.

old_number1 writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks. First time anyone ever called me a preacher.

I think it's funny that you will not respond to my reasoned points. You just want to call names. You make yourself look small. Just wait, the trolls will be agreeing with you like they did the last time. You are on their side AGAIN!

If that's the bed you want to sleep in, have at it!

BTW, you might want to put 'one' in your first sentence.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ornglovinyankealum:

Surely there is more factual news to report than these predictions.

Adams is not a reporter, he is a columnist. It is his job to make predictions or just talk about whatever he chooses. Actually though, as a Vol basketball fan, info about which of our opponents are returning next year IS significant news to me. On the basis of what Adams reported, his prediction that the SEC will be better next year makes good sense to me.

old_number1 writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ok, I'll bite.

Once again, you have nothing to say about my reasoned argument. So you agree with my point of view. Thanks, it takes a big man to admit it when he is wrong.

what about my typo in hypocrite ??? WTF does that mean??? Please explain.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features