With the end of college basketball season, let’s review the state of SEC hoops:
Record: 19-15, 8-10 SEC
Record last year: 13-19, 7-11.
How it ended: Alabama won an NIT game then lost to Miami in the second round.
Upshot: Anthony Grant got fired after his sixth season. His tenure included only one NCAA tournament trip and zero wins. After a prolonged coaching search that included a no-thanks from Gregg Marshall, the Tide hired NBA veteran Avery Johnson. An interesting hire.
What’s next: The Tide lose their two best players, Levi Randolph (15.4 ppg) and Rodney Cooper (11.1). Ricky Tarrant won’t be back either. The talented (but injured) guard is transferring. On the bright side, Jimmie Taylor is a promising big man. The top signee so far is big man Donta’ Hall, No. 146 in the 247sports.com composite.
Record: 27-9, 13-5 SEC.
Record last year: 22-12, 10-8.
How it ended: The Razorbacks lost to Kentucky in the SEC tournament finals. An NCAA bid ended a seven-year drought. Arkansas beat Wofford then lost to North Carolina in the second round.
Upshot: Mike Anderson’s fourth team finally woke up the echoes of the old days. The 27 wins were the most since 1994-95.
What’s next: Senior starters Alandise Harris and Rashad Madden depart, but the bad news is the two best players on the team are leaving for the NBA draft. That would be SEC player of the year Bobby Portis (a sophomore) and No. 2 scorer Michael Qualls (a junior). Sustaining the Razorbacks’ resurgence just got really hard. The signing class includes top-50 big man Ted Kapita and shooting guard Jimmy Whitt.
Record: 15-20, 4-14.
Record last year: 14-16, 6-12.
How it ended: The Tigers got to the SEC tournament semifinals, a preview of things to come.
Upshot: The first year of the Bruce Pearl era showed more advancement in ticket sales and excitement level than on the court. The first losing season of Pearls’ career as a head coach was a foregone conclusion due to the roster he inherited.
What’s next: Pearl will have to build an almost new team in his second year. He loses four seniors who played a ton of minutes, including SEC scoring leader K.T. Harrell. Big man Cinmeon Bowers will be back to post more double-doubles in the post. Pearl’s first full recruiting class includes top-100 prospects Horace Spencer and Danjel Purifoy. Transfer guard Kareem Canty (from Marshall) has been on campus a year and will be an impact addition.
Record: 16-17, 8-10 SEC.
Record last year: 36-3, 18-0.
How it ended: At the SEC tournament. The Gators missed the Big Dance for the first time since 2009.
Upshot: Injuries and suspensions played a role in sabotaging what was expected to be another credible season for the Gators, who were coming off the 2014 Final Four. The result was an early tumble out of the top 25 and the program’s first losing season since 1998.
What’s next: The Billy Donovan era is over after 19 years. He’s moved on to the NBA. Michael White of Louisiana Tech takes over a roster that will suffer some attrition. Guard Michael Frazier has opted for the draft and grad transfer Jon Horford is done. Eli Carter says he’ll transfer and Chris Walker has had enough of college. Who’s left? Dorian Finney-Smith, Kasey Hill and Devin Robinson. Signee Kevaughn Allen is a top-60 point guard. Noah Davidson, Keith Stone and KeVarrius Hayes are top-100 caliber additions.
Record: 21-12, 11-7.
Record last year: 20-14, 12-6.
How it ended: In a first-round NCAA tournament loss to Michigan State. Drawing Tom Izzo was tough luck.
Upshot: Mark Fox has put together back-to-back 20-win seasons, indicating he’s got the program at least on solid ground. This was Fox’s second NCAA bid (the other 2011) but he still hasn’t got a W.
What’s next: Big men Marcus Thornton and Nemanja Djurisic must be replaced but a capable perimeter group of Kenny Gaines, Charles Mann and J.J. Frazier return. The signing class is fair, but without star power.
Record: 38-1, 18-0 SEC.
Record last year: 29-11, 16-2.
How it ended: In a Final Four semifinals upset to Wisconsin.
Upshot: The Wildcats took Big Blue Nation on a helluva journey, even if the ending was a heartbreaker. John Calipari deserves credit for keeping his all-star roster happy with limited minutes in subservience to the big picture.
What’s next: Another mass exodus to the NBA draft — Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker, Dakari Johnson and the Harrison twins. Of course, a little help is on the way. Skal Labissiere (6-10) is a top-5 recruit. Guards Isaiah Briscoe and Charles Matthews are blue-chippers. Alex Poythress returns from an injury season, Tyler Ulis and Marcus Lee are sticking around. The Wildcats will be very good again but (probably) no fans will be getting 40-0 tattoos in October.
Record: 22-11, 11-7 SEC.
Record last year: 20-14, 9-9.
How it ended: The Tigers choked big time in a first-round loss to N.C. State.
Upshot: Modest improvement for Johnny Jones in his third year. Fair or not, the come-from-ahead loss to N.C. State did nothing to enhance Jones’ rep as a floor coach. At times throughout the season, the Tigers looked like an Elite Eight team. But at others they looked rudderless.
What’s next: Big men Jarrell Martin and Jordan Mickey are leaving for the draft. Perimeter starters Keith Hornsby, Tim Quarterman and Jalyn Patterson return. Arriving for one season, probably no more, is Ben Simmons, generally regarded as the nation’s top recruit. Shooting guard Anthony Blakeney is also a big-timer.
Record: 21-13, 11-7 SEC.
Record last year: 19-14, 9-9.
How it ended: The Rebels got a First Four win over BYU but were eliminated by Xavier in the first round.
Upshot: The arrival of junior-college shooter Stephan Moody propelled the Rebels to a nice season and a second NCAA bid in three years. Success was important in coach Andy Kennedy’s ninth season because Ole Miss is moving into a much needed new arena next winter. This was Kennedy’s seventh 20-win season in his nine years.
What’s next: Three key players depart, guards Jarvis Summers and Ladarius White and big man M.J. Rhett. Moody and his 16.6 ppg average are back, along with starters, Martavious Newby and Sebastian Saiz. Kennedy is going to have to find scoring help somewhere. Guard Donte Fitzpatrick is a top-150 recruit.
Record: 13-19, 6-12 SEC.
Record last year: 14-19, 3-15.
How it ended: Coach Rick Ray was fired shortly after a first-round SEC tournament loss.
Upshot: Ray came to Starkville an unknown and is gone after three years that showed little progress. Ben Howland is a splashy hire, with the three Final Four trips at UCLA on his resume. He’s an acknowledged floor master but we’ll see if he can recruit in Starkville.
What’s next: Almost everyone returns, including guard Craig Sword and big man Gavin Ware. But Howland needs an injection of talent more than he needs some of the Bulldogs’ veterans. Landing in-state blue-chip guard Malik Newman was huge. Watch the transfer wire in the coming weeks.
Record: 9-23, 3-15 SEC.
Record last year: 23-12, 9-9.
How it ended: Mercifully, in a first-round SEC tournament loss.
Upshot: Mizzou knew it was in for a rebuilding job but an opening-night loss to Missouri-Kansas City was a wake-up call. Things never got much better in Kim Anderson’s maiden voyage. The Tigers were last in the SEC in scoring and shooting.
What’s next: Forward Jonathan Williams, the team’s best player, is transferring. Most everyone else is back, including a handful of freshmen who saw extensive action. As of this writing, there have been no recruiting headliners.
Record: 17-16, 6-12 SEC.
Record last year: 14-20, 5-13.
How it ended: At the SEC tournament.
Upshot: Frank Martin’s third team showed modest progress and produced (barely) his first winning season since arriving with fanfare from Kansas State. After three years, Martin is 47-54 overall, 15-39 SEC. More was expected.
What’s next: Most everyone returns, including guards Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice and the two Lithuanian bigs (whose names I don’t feel like looking up). Guard Perry Dozier is a top-40 signee who should provide needed scoring pop. Big man Chris Silva is another nice pick-up.
Record: 16-16, 7-11 SEC.
Record last year: 24-13, 11-7.
How it ended: A second-round SEC tournament loss to Arkansas.
Upshot: Donnie Tyndall was a good floor coach. But ultimately he will be remembered as the guy who got fired after one year because of the NCAA investigation he brought with him from Southern Miss. Josh Richardson had a terrific senior season but the absence of any credible post presence made the Vols fatally one-dimensional.
What’s next: Rick Barnes brings instant credibility after a long run of success — and a clean slate — at Texas. However, he inherits a Richardson-less roster that is worse than the one Tyndall played with. Freshman bigs Tariq Owens and Willie Carmichael are leaving, replaced by Barnes signees Kyle Alexander and Ray Kasongo, both Canadians. If Barnes can get to .500 next year it’ll be an accomplishment.
Record: 21-12, 11-7 SEC.
Record last year: 18-16, 8-10.
How it ended: In the NIT second round.
Upshot: The Aggies turned in their best effort as an SEC member, their first winning SEC slate in three tries. Transfers Danuel House (14.8 ppg) and Jalen Jones (13.7 ppg) elevated the program.
What’s next: Things are looking up. House and Jones return, along with SEC assist leader Alex Caruso at the point. Coach Billy Kennedy has a stellar recruiting class on the way that includes three top-50 big men.
Record: 21-14, 9-9 SEC.
Record last year: 15-16, 7-11.
How it ended: Vandy won two NIT games before a quarterfinal loss at Stanford.
Upshot: A nice bounce-back year for coach Kevin Stallings. Vandy led the SEC in shooting and 3-point percentage.
What’s next: Other than tough forward James Siakam, everybody returns. Big man Damian Jones is top shelf and the freshmen who surround him should be tougher next year. The signing class offers no McDonald’s All-Americans but four 3-star prospects who could fill needs.