David Cloninger

Ranking the SEC men’s basketball recruiting classes

PJ Dozier (15) with his dad and head coach at Spring Valley, Perry Dozier
PJ Dozier (15) with his dad and head coach at Spring Valley, Perry Dozier tdominick@thestate.com

1. KENTUCKY

The Wildcats routinely lead the league in five-star freshmen and this year is no different. Although they missed on some late targets, No. 1 overall player Skal Labissiere leads a four-man class of three top-50 recruits and one four-star junior-college transfer.

2. LSU

The Tigers lost Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey, but reloaded with Ben Simmons (the No. 1 overall recruit, or No. 2 behind Labissiere, depending on who you read), No. 13 Antonio Blakeney, No. 42 Brandon Sampson – and former top-50 recruit Craig Victor, who transferred from Arizona and is eligible mid-year.

3. TEXAS A&M

Hiring Rick Stansbury as head of recruiting was one of the best decisions Billy Kennedy ever made. Four players, all rated from 28 to 65 by Rivals.com, are heading to Aggieland, and USF transfer Anthony Collins is eligible right away.

4. FLORIDA

Tough row to hoe when Michael White was hired and had to try to keep the class intact, but outside of the loss of No. 81 Noah Dickerson, he did. Kevaughn Allen (No. 67) leads a three-man class of Top-150 recruits.

5. MISSISSIPPI STATE

Ben Howland made an immediate splash, luring No. 8 recruit Malik Newman to Starkville. He joins No. 70 four-star Aric Holman, Top-150 pledge Quinndary Weatherspoon and three-star Joseph Struggs.

6. AUBURN

You knew it wouldn’t take long for Bruce Pearl to do what he does best. Two top-75 players, led by Danjel Purifoy (No. 69), headline a six-man class.

7. SOUTH CAROLINA

Frank Martin kept Top-40 McDonald’s All-American P.J. Dozier home and added four pieces around him, led by a budding star in Chris Silva.

8. ARKANSAS

Tough to lose Michael Qualls and Bobby Portis, but Mike Anderson added two Top-60 players.

9. VANDERBILT

The Commodores are going to be picked top-four in the league next year and didn’t need to recruit future NBA-ers, but the four three-star players they got will supply needed depth.

10. GEORGIA

Big blow to lose Marcus Thornton, but Mark Fox signed No. 91 recruit Derek Ogbeide and added three pieces around him.

11. OLE MISS

Tomasz Gielo transferred from Liberty and is immediately eligible, helping frontcourt depth, and five other players keep the Rebels in line for a second straight NCAA tournament trip.

12. MISSOURI

Kim Anderson basically had to start over after a disastrous season, and landed six players. Only one – K.J. Walton – is a four-star, but it was always going to be baby steps to instill his mark on the program.

13. TENNESSEE

Rick Barnes and Alabama’s Avery Johnson basically had to beat the bushes to find anyone after changing jobs and coming to teams coming off bad stretches. The Vols have five three-star recruits.

14. ALABAMA

See above. Johnson’s passion for the game will sell in the future, but this year he had to settle for three three-star recruits and a lot of hope.

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