BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- South Carolina was picked 12th in the preseason poll.
Thats about where it should be picked, considering the circumstances.
The Gamecocks have not been a contender in quite some time. They have brought in eight newcomers. While USC may finish substantially higher than 12th, right now, theres no way of knowing how those seven freshmen and a transfer will perform when the bell rings. The SEC media thinks USC will be better than a perennially under-achieving Auburn team and a Mississippi State squad that is still a year or two away after the carnage that defined the end of the Rick Stansbury era, but probably under other teams that lost a lot of personnel from last year Georgia and Vanderbilt.
This isnt the first time USC has been picked low. Its happened quite often. The Gamecocks contingent, when they arrive here tomorrow, will doubtless say the same thing that Im about to write.
Nowhere to go but up.
You can see the entire poll here.
7. Ole Miss
9. Texas A&M
10. South Carolina
13. Mississippi State
Preseason All-SEC team
Johnny OBryant III, LSU
Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss
Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
Jordan McRae, Tennessee
Player of the Year: Johnny OBryant III, LSU
Hey Dave, how come you didnt pick Julius Randle from Kentucky as Player of the Year, like many others did?
As a matter of principle, I never vote for freshmen to be preseason Player of the Year. Its ridiculous to think that a freshman who has never played college basketball is automatically better than guys who have already been in it, playing a full season, proving what they can do on the big stage. I do think Randle and Harrison will be All-SEC at the end of the year, and I think Harrison will be the better of the two.
My POY vote came down to Tennessees Jarnell Stokes, who was 15th in scoring and second in rebounding last year, and LSUs Johnny OBryant III, the Tigers leading scorer and rebounder. I couldnt consider Marshall Henderson, even though hes the most dangerous scorer in the league, because I simply dont know if hell be on the court the whole season.
OBryant III won my vote, simply because if Stokes has a bad day, the Volunteers have plenty around to pick him up. I think LSU is going to have a marvelous season, but how good it can be is going to depend on OBryant III doing what he does every night. He has a supporting cast as well, but they all know that everything flows from him.
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