BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- South Carolina was picked 12th in the preseason poll.
That’s 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, there’s 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 isn’t the first time USC has been picked low. It’s happened quite often. The Gamecocks’ contingent, when they arrive here tomorrow, will doubtless say the same thing that I’m about to write.
“Nowhere to go but up.”
You can see the entire poll here.
My picks:1. Kentucky
7. Ole Miss
9. Texas A&M
10. South Carolina
13. Mississippi State
Preseason All-SEC team
Johnny O’Bryant III, LSU
Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss
Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
Jordan McRae, Tennessee
Player of the Year: Johnny O’Bryant III, LSU
Hey Dave, how come you didn’t 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. It’s 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 Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes, who was 15th in scoring and second in rebounding last year, and LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant III, the Tigers’ leading scorer and rebounder. I couldn’t consider Marshall Henderson, even though he’s the most dangerous scorer in the league, because I simply don’t know if he’ll be on the court the whole season.
O’Bryant 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 O’Bryant III doing what he does every night. He has a supporting cast as well, but they all know that everything flows from him.
Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState