Monday, August 24, 2009

Billy Donovan Grabs Another Guard.... Maybe

Billy Donovan is trying to pick up some of the slack from the loss of Nick Calathes by grabbing Israeli guard Nimrod Tishman. Tishman has enrolled at Florida, and is waiting a decision from the NCAA on eligibility. I don't have any personal knowledge of Tishman, but he was supposedly one of the better players at the European U-18 Championships last year, and he played on Maccabi Tel Aviv's youth team. For those that don't know, Maccabi Tel Aviv is one of the top teams in Europe. They are one of only 13 teams to receive a Euroleague "A" license, which means a free pass to Euroleague (the top league in Europe) for a full three years. The current senior team includes Stephen Lasme and Maciej Lampe, and recent players include Carlos Arroyo, Anthony Parker and Omri Casspi. If Tel Aviv and the Israeli national team view him as a star of the future, then he's probably good enough to contribute in the SEC right away.

Of course, there's no assurance that Tishman will be eligible. The NCAA will investigate whether he ever got paid at Tel Aviv. Most likely he was smart enough not to take money if he had any thoughts about playing in the NCAA, but you never know. This should get settled before any games happen.

I've talked about the SEC quite a bit, most recently here. As everybody knows, Kentucky will enter the season as the SEC favorite. But Tennessee will be close behind, and the Vols will be much more experienced and proven. If Kentucky's freshman class doesn't live up, or can't handle the hype, then I really wouldn't be too surprised to see Tennessee steal the conference title. After that, the next tier is likely Florida and Mississippi State. I also include LSU and Vanderbilt in the discussion as teams that will most likely make the Tournament, and could potentially be an SEC darkhorse. But if Tishman is eligible and turns out as good as Florida fans hope he will be, that could be the difference that makes Florida the clear third best team in the SEC. I still don't see a path to the SEC title, but they could at least make it competitive.

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