Sunday, May 09, 2010

Bost + White Stay In Draft: SEC West Will Be Awful

The final NBA Draft decisions were made this weekend, and two final surprising entrants were Dee Bost of Mississippi State and Terrico White of Ole Miss. I talked a bit about the SEC West just a little more than a week ago (see here), and now that we know that Bost and White are gone, we can say for certain that the SEC West is going to be really bad next season.

Back in April it looked like Ole Miss was going to be the class of the SEC West. They were a borderline Top 25 team. But Terrico White is now leaving for the Draft after Eniel Polynice graduated and chose to go pro rather than use his last year of eligibility, and Murphy Holloway transferred out. Those three represent three starters that Ole Miss fans expected to return for another season who will leave. For now I'm dropping Ole Miss out of the Field of 68 (it does appear 68 is what we'll have) altogether.

I had thought that Mississippi State would jump ahead of their intra-state rival if Terrico White went pro, but the loss of Dee Bost might change that. The loss of Jarvis Varnado was already going to put heavy pressure on an offense that really wasn't all that good last season, and Bost was the primary offensive creator. He led the team with 5.2 assists per game, and their top returner will now be Phil Turner and his 1.4 per game. They have no returning scholarship point guards. Like Ole Miss, I'd put Mississippi State on the bubble but on the outside of the Tournament looking in for the time being. They're going to need Renardo Sidney, who should be eligible to play before the SEC regular season begins, to live up to the hype after not playing a competitive game in nearly two years.

And after the two Mississippi schools? The rest of the SEC West is in serious rebuilding mode. Arkansas, LSU and Alabama are probably another year away seriously competing for an NCAA Tournament bid. And Auburn, despite a very strong recruiting class, is probably at least two years away. The SEC West is likely going to have zero NCAA Tournament teams again, and the SEC as a whole is likely to be worse than it was last season.

Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida all look to be safe for the NCAA Tournament, and Vanderbilt is right on the bubble. South Carolina and Georgia could both be pesky, but I don't see either of them being a more serious Tournament contender than Ole Miss or Mississippi State. There's a real possibility of the SEC getting only three Tournament teams.

In fact, I think the SEC will be the worst of the BCS conferences next season. The Pac-10 will be much improved, with Washington, UCLA, USC, Arizona and Oregon all very likely to be improved. Washington State and Arizona State could be better as well.

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