This article is part of our Draft Kit series.
When you think about SEC basketball, which teams comes to mind first? My guess is the Kentucky Wildcats. Coach John Calipari's team always seems to get the headlines, particularly heading into the season. While I am not going to argue with the Wildcats place in the nation's heart, Florida has been the most successful team - at least in the regular season. Last year, the Gators pulled off an undefeated romp through the SEC and won the tournament championship to boot. Florida was ousted by eventual champion Connecticut in the Final Four.
With three big seniors gone from the Florida roster, coach Billy Donovan's team may drift back to the pack. Meanwhile, Kentucky, which lost two of their super freshmen, has many players coming back from their team that made it to the NCAA Tournament finals. Florida and Kentucky were shut out of my top three players. Let's take a spin through some SEC players.
Jordan Mickey, forward, LSU Tigers - Last year was supposed to be Jarrell Martin's freshman party in Baton Rouge, but he injured his ankle in the opener. Mickey took advantage of the extra playing time and swatted his way into the hearts and minds of college basketball enthusiasts. The 6-foot-8 Dallas native (and graduate of the now infamous Prime Prep) provided 12.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks. With Johnny O'Bryant (or as some call him, Johnny O'Grady) in the NBA, Mickey may have more room in the paint to operate. Consider Martin an unnamed sleeper as well.
Jarvis Summers, guard, Ole Miss Rebels - If you are looking for scoring, then Summers should be on your shopping list. The 6-3 senior gave the Rebels a shooter when Marshall Henderson wasn't hogging the ball last year. He hit 42.3 percent of his 3-pointers on his way to 17.3 points on 48.6 percent from the field. Since he had barely cracked 40 percent from the field in his first two seasons in Oxford, expect some regression on his shooting. He may get enough volume with Marshall Henderson elsewhere that it might not matter.
Bobby Portis, center, Arkansas Razorbacks - Most fantasy leagues require a center and these big men are hard to find. Even a player of modest stats (12.3 points, 6.8 rebounds) like Portis can attract attention. The 6-11 sophomore was comfortable enough to step out and attempt 3-pointers and hit 27.3 percent from long range. He busted out for 35 points (14-of-17 from the field) on Feb. 25 in a home win over Alabama, but did not score more than 19 points in any other game.
Karl Towns, forward, Kentucky Wildcats - With the Wildcats returning Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, and Alex Poythress, there would seem to be no more playing time for anyone else. The returning players will likely get a good look at Towns, a 7-0 center from New Jersey. He is the latest proof of Calipari's recruiting prowess. Towns can finish with authority and has decent range on his jumper. With three seven-footers with above average athletic ability, opponents are going to be hard pressed to find room to operate in the paint.
Antoine Mason, guard, Auburn Tigers - I like the rule that allows players who have graduated in three years to go elsewhere without sitting out a season. The son of Anthony Mason spent the last three years filling up the hoop at Niagara. He heads south to play at Auburn for coach Bruce Pearl in his return to college basketball. Mason led the nation last season with 25.6 points and went to the free throw line 10.8 times per game (making 72.8 percent). The former Purple Eagle won't get the same kind of green light to shoot as a Tiger, but he should form a solid a 1-2 scoring punch with KT Harrell.
Pair of Sleepers
Tyler Ullis, guard, Kentucky Wildcats - Much like the frontcourt, there wouldn't seem to be much room for anyone to get minutes in the Wildcat backcourt. The Harrisons should command the majority of the minutes. If 2013-14 proved anything, it was that neither Harrison was adept at setting teammates up. Enter the 5-9 Ullis who has not let his small stature keep him from scrapping. The Harrisons can seem too laid back at times, so Ullis may get his fair share of playing time and lead the team in assists (only Andrew Harrison - 4.0 per game - averaged more than 1.9 dimes for the Wildcats last year).
Chris Walker, forward, Florida Gators - For the majority of his freshman season, Walker was held in NCAA limbo as his academic eligibility was being weighed. As such, the 6-10 jumping jack did not make much of an impact on the Final Four squad. He appeared in 18 games and averaged just 4.8 minutes, 1.9 points, and 1.3 rebounds. Walker only played more than seven minutes once. With Patric Young and Casey Prather gone from Gainesville, Walker should get a great opportunity to show what he can do.