A traditional pre-season top 25? They’re fairly ubiquitous this time of year. Everyone has one, but from Duke to Mississippi Valley State and in between, there’s a lot of intriguing teams for the upcoming college basketball season.
In ascending order of squads that pique our interest, our list consists of teams with a rare chance to make noise, have a lot to prove, quirky schedules, or are just named Kentucky.
Follow along. Story lines aren’t just for the nation’s elite.
The deadline for underclassmen to withdraw their names from the NBA Draft is officially on May 8th at five o'clock sharp. Hundreds of players, coaches and agents knew this. Apparently, Mississippi State junior Dee Bost never got the memo. Who cares that Bost sent a text message to a local paper on the eve of the deadline saying that he was "staying in"? Maybe he simply forgot to add the word "school" at the end, and really wanted to come back to college all along? Of course he did.
Whatever the case, Bost's lack of a timely decision caught the eye of a certain SEC head coach. Since his eligibility was technically voided by failing to remove his name, Kentucky's John Calipari recently compared Bost's situation to his own Enes Kanter fiasco. Confident that his player made an honest mistake and that Coach Cal's words were utter blasphemy, MSU coach Rick Stansbury vehemently disagreed:
He's not a pro. For any kind of comparison to be made, I don't think Dee is a good one to make it on. Everybody across the landscape of college basketball understands what that situation was.
The NCAA opted to suspend Bost for the fall semester, and Calipari is desperately hoping that Kanter's mess will be resolved in a similar fashion. Whether or not that actually happens is a different story. At the very least, the friction between these two coaches adds plenty of drama to the upcoming SEC season. With their emotional battle for the SEC title still fresh in our minds, the next meeting between these budding rivals can't can't come soon enough...
What happened this summer?
Shot-blocking machine Jarvis Varnado went 41st overall to the Miami Heat. Former UTEP Miners big man Arnett Moultrie (6'11", 230lbs) transferred to Starkville with two years of eligibility left. Rick Stansbury thinks he's found the next Barry Stewart.
Games that really matter
- 11/22 vs. Detroit
- 12/18 vs. Virginia Tech
- 12/22 vs. Washington State
- 12/29 vs. St. Mary's
- 1/13 @ Ole Miss
- 1/22 @ Georgia
- 1/29 vs. Florida
- 2/2 @ Alabama
- 2/15 @ Kentucky
2/19 vs. Ole Miss
Most intriguing player
(6’10" center; sophomore) – Once as heavy as 320 pounds, the former 5-star prospect has trimmed down considerably in an effort to get his once-promising career back on track. Sidney won't be eligible to return until December, but as long as he avoids the buffet tables during that span then it appears the Bulldogs are finally getting to see the most hyped prospect in school history. A dominating post presence at the prep level, Sidney's athleticism and rebounding ability will be much more of an asset in his current 275 lb. frame. His durability remains a question mark however. We're still going to pencil him in for a 2nd Team All-SEC selection, but make sure to keep the eraser handy.
What’s on the line?
A shot at their fourth SEC West title in five years. Another chance for Dee Bost to impress NBA scouts with his on-court, rather than off-court, decision making.
The SEC West will once again be the little brother of the two divisions. After the Bulldogs and rival Ole Miss, there isn't enough talent or experience to warrant a contender rising from the depths. Getting Sidney and Bost back in action before the conference season kicks off will be huge for this club. Because of that sneaky non-conference schedule on their plate, it really might take another West title to lock up an at-large bid. This team could be a force in March if Sidney lives up to the hype, but that's a big if.
- Conference: 4th
- Postseason: NCAA first round