Florida Elite Again Under Billy Donovan
HOOVER, Ala. -- Billy Donovan is entering his golden era in the SEC.He is the longest-serving head coach in the conference, and he continues to produce winners in a variety of ways. Donovan put together a dream team of sorts when the development of the '04s produced consecutive national championships in 2006 and '07. After that, though, he weathered a team that considered itself grandfathered into greatness rather than earning it, which resulted in two NIT bids. Now, it seems, the Gators have caught more of a rhythm. Sure, Bradley Beal turned out to be a one-and-done, but this new wave of success -- which has included back-to-back Elite Eight appearances -- isn't made of quick fixes. Donovan has pursued players who took longer but still flourished under his watch in Gainesville. "I don't think I've really changed," he said. "I've always felt that we go after a certain player that loves to play, a competitive player, one that has passion and loves to win. "Some are ready after a year, some are not. Some stay three years, some stay four. Sometimes you have a special player like Bradley Beal who can make a huge impact and go and be a draft pick. I don't think I've changed the way I've recruited, but it has worked out that way." That's why the Gators must be taken seriously yet again. Florida has an experienced roster with Kenny Boynton, Scottie Wilbekin and Mike Rosario logging significant minutes on the perimeter and a frontcourt of Patric Young, Erik Murphy, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete all seeing time when games mattered.
New Setting Doesn't Dampen Mizzou Expectations
HOOVER, Ala. -- You'd think these SEC folks knew a thing or two about Missouri from the way the media tabbed Frank Haith's Tigers as the third-best team in the conference and selected starting point guard Phil Pressey as the Preseason Player of the Year.All that before Missouri had played a game as league members. Welcome to the SEC, where you're expected to compete right away. "I remind people this all the time because there's some expectations of our team already," Haith said. "There are only two guys on our team that we coached last year -- that's Michael [Dixon] and Pressey. Everybody else is new." While the preseason accolades are nice, Haith said, they're also just awards for something you might do, not something you've actually done. Pressey has to earn the mantle as the top player in the league, just as the Tigers will have to prove they're worthy of being mentioned alongside SEC stalwarts Kentucky and Florida. "He's got to go out and play," Haith said of Pressey. "He understands that. He's talented enough to go out and compete." Pressey will be joined by three potentially pivotal transfers this season: former Pepperdine star Keion Bell, former Oregon guard Jabari Brown and Auburn transfer Earnest Ross. Bell ingratiated himself to Tigers fans by jumping over six people on a dunk at Mizzou Madness.
Plenty Of Unknowns For Rebuilding Vandy
Frank Martin Has A Tall Task At South Carolina
Kentucky's John Calipari
Preseason Media Poll
7. Ole Miss
9. Texas A&M
13. South Carolina
14. Mississippi State
Missouri's Frank Haith
They said it
Alabama: "Trevor [Releford] has an opportunity to take on more of a leadership role from a standpoint of being vocal. He can really make our young guys understand."
-- Anthony Grant on his starting point guard
Arkansas: "B.J. Young's got to be more well-rounded. He had a tremendous freshman year. Maybe this year we can do other things."
-- Mike Anderson on his sophomore guard, who was a second-team All-SEC selection in 2011
Auburn: "I don't know the last time he's missed a shot in practice. He's been playing really, really well."
-- Tony Barbee on Frankie Sullivan, who played most of last season injured
Florida: "He is one of the best defenders in our league. He has two years of good, quality minutes under his belt. He has been in some key situations, but now a bigger role is going to fall on his shoulders."
-- Billy Donovan on Scottie Wilbekin
Georgia: "Marcus Thornton looks as good as he did when he stepped on campus. Last year with two knee surgeries, I have so much respect for him for playing through the pain and working hard to return. He looks good. I am cautious with him to be precautious on his health."
-- Mark Fox
Kentucky: "He has a little bit of Michael Kidd in him, like he just has a fire, a motor that runs hot."
-- John Calipari on freshman Archie Goodwin
LSU: "The great thing for Anthony [Hickey] is he had the opportunity to be thrown into the fire last year and play a lot of minutes, starting all but one game. They say a lot of times the best thing about freshmen is when they become sophomores."
-- Johnny Jones
Mississippi State: "Jalen Steele, Fred Thomas and Colin Borchert -- those guys have done a good job of shooting the basketball so far. But I don't know if they'll get those opportunities to penetrate and get inside and throw the ball inside to Wendell [Lewis] and score."
-- Rick Ray
Missouri: "We signed Keion Bell, who scored over 1,300 points at Pepperdine. He's very athletic. At Mizzou Madness, he jumped over seven, or six players. He's very gifted athletically."
-- Frank Haith
Ole Miss: "My challenge to him is to be a double-double guy. [Reginald] Buckner is the leading returning shot-blocker in the SEC. He's a senior leader. If he doesn't go out and lead our league in blocked shots, in my opinion he hasn't done what he's capable of doing."
-- Andy Kennedy
South Carolina: "It's hard to do one and do it at an elite level. It's impossible to do two. If he's willing to do two, that speaks volumes for the type of kid that he is."
-- Frank Martin on Bruce Ellington, who also plays on the Gamecocks' football team
Tennessee: "He's fun to watch right now. You're talking about a guy 265, almost 270, [with] 8 percent body fat. He's quicker, more explosive.
He's attacking off the dribble like a wing player."
-- Cuonzo Martin on Jarnell Stokes
Texas A&M: "For us to be good, they have to have great years. Not just average years; they've got to have great years."
-- Billy Kennedy on the Turner brothers, Ray and Elston
Vanderbilt: "Kedren Johnson has been that guy of our perimeter players that has essentially stepped forward and identified himself as a guy we can play through and go to."
-- Kevin Stallings
Tennessee's Cuonzo Martin
Preseason Media Picks
Player of the Year: Phil Pressey, Missouri
Ole Miss' Andy Kennedy
Arkansas' Mike Anderson
SEC preview content
For a Blue Ribbon breakdown of every SEC team, click here.
More SEC coverage:
• Video: ESPN.com interviews Georgia coach Mark Fox at SEC Media Day
• Dana O'Neil's with five things she can't wait to see in the SEC
• Jay Bilas answers five burning questions for the conference
• Jason King with an in-depth looks at the pressure surrounding top-ranked recruit Nerlens Noel and the hyped Kentucky freshmen class as a whole
• Our staff of writers gathers to answer questions at the SEC roundtable
• Brennan's Three Big Things on Kentucky and Florida
• Myron Medcalf rates and analyzes the nonconference schedules of the SEC
• Katz on John Calipari's attempt to play down expectations for his Kentucky Wildcats
• Dave Telep identifies the top freshmen and potential recruits in the Big Ten
• Podcast: Katz talks SEC hoops with various coaches at Media Day
• ESPN.com's Summer Shootaround preview of the Big Ten
• Chad Ford on the SEC's best NBA draft prospects
• For more SEC coverage in the Nation blog, click here