Ranking the SEC backcourts

24 Jun

Florida's backcourt of Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton anchor the best returning bunch of guards in the SEC. (Getty Images)

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

The SEC is stocked deep with talent in the backcourts for the 2010-2011. How do the teams rank in terms of overall guard play? The National Hoops Report dives into the backcourts.

1. Florida: Billy Donovan’s club has two things that every coach would love to have: tons of talent and plenty of depth. The Gators return their starting backcourt in Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton, who both averaged over 14 points per game last season. While both have a tendency to take some ill-advised shots, they have proved they are willing and able to take and make big shots. When you add Brad Beal, the second ranked shooting guard and number four overall prospect by Rivals.com, and Rutgers’s transfer Mike Rosario, who averaged 16.7 points in his last season with the Scarlet Knights, to the mix and Florida will have plenty of options to turn to on the offensive end. Scottie Wilbekin, who proved to be a solid ball handler and defender as a freshman, will also get some serious playing time as the backup point guard.

2. Vanderbilt: A nice a balance of talent and experience helped to propel the Commodores into the two spot.  Junior John Jenkins and Senior Brad Tinsley have become quite a tandem over the past couple of seasons. Jenkins is one of the best shooters the league has seen in some years, making 100 three pointers a season ago, but last season his game became much more well rounded. He was more aggressive going to the basket leading to him attempting 161 free throws, which is over a hundred more than his freshman campaign, making almost 90 percent of them.  Tinsley is no slouch either connecting on nearly 37 percent of his shots from downtown. To go along with the experience of Jenkins and Tinsley, the Commodores will get a nice infusion of youth next season when shooting guard Dai-Jon Parker and point guard Kedren Johnson come aboard.

3. Kentucky: The Wildcats’ are supremely talented at the two guard spots, probably more so than any other team in the conference, but it is the lack of depth that landed Coach Cal’s bunch in the third spot on the list. Sophomore Doron Lamb, who was known more for his midrange game in high school, showed he knows how to drain it from deep in his first year of college, knocking down 3-pointers down at a 48.6 percent clip. Marquis Teague, the consensus top point guard prospect in the 2011 class, will be the next freshman point guard to master the dribble-drive offense. Kentucky is loaded with wings/forwards  who can help handle the ball, but after Teague and Lamb there is a serious drop off to the next group of true guards. The Wildcats depth will get a slight boost after the first semester, when Mississippi State transfer Twany Beckham becomes eligible.

4. Mississippi State: Dee Bost is back for his senior season and this year he won’t have to sit out roughly half of the year. Despite missing the entire first semester and the first nine games of the spring, Bost managed to earn second team All-SEC honors averaging 15.3 points in 17 games. Jalen Steele will also be back from his knee injury. The true freshman averaged nearly six points a contest before going down in mid-February. Add recruits Deville Smith and D.J. Gardner to that and Mississippi State will once again have a solid group of guards.

5.   Georgia: Now that the crown jewel of Mark Fox’s recruiting class, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, has qualified to play next season the Bulldogs find themselves in the top five. Caldwell-Pope, who is the highest rated recruit to commit to Georgia in several years, will provide a nice scoring punch to an already good backcourt. Dustin Ware and Gerald Robinson both return from last year’s NCAA Tournament squad. Robinson was the third leading scorer at just over 12 points a game, and Ware chipped in with eight per contest.

6. Arkansas: The Razorbacks could have easily cracked the top five, but with the news on Monday that leading returning scorer Rotnei Clarke had indeed received his release to transfer, Mike Anderson’s squad fell a couple of spots. With Clarke, who averaged  just over 15 points a contest, out of the picture the Hogs backcourt will now likely be turned over to incoming freshman B.J. Young and Ky Madden, both highly touted point guards. Julysses Nobles will now be forced into a leadership role for the young guards. Nobles averaged 8.4 points and three assists last season as a sophomore.

7. Alabama: The Crimson Tide lineup took a step back last week, when Andrew Steele ended his career due to concussions (more on this later), but because of the work of Anthony Grant and his staff on the recruiting trail the drop won’t be too far. The Tide will rely heavily on the impressive haul that is highlighted by a trio of shooting guards in Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph, and Rodney Cooper. The only returner to play significant minutes last season is starting point guard Trevor Releford, who averaged 11 points per contest.

8. Tennessee: With the departure of Scotty Hopson to the NBA draft and Melvin Goins graduating, the Volunteers will be starting next season with a couple of fresh faces in the starting rotation. Cameron Tatum will be back for his senior season after averaging nearly nine points a season ago. Trea Golden will look to take over the spot left by Goins, but he will have to beat out incoming freshman Chris Jones and Wes Waspun. It will be interesting to see who emerges to take over the void left by Hopson. In the mix will be returners Skylar McBee, Jordan McRae and freshman Quenton Chievous and Josh Richardson.

9. Ole Miss: Chris Warran and his big uncanny shot making ability are now gone, so it will be up to group of young guards to take control. Dundrecous Nelson is coming off a solid freshman campaign in which he averaged over seven points. He will be joined by incoming freshman Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White.

10. South Carolina: Despite the additions of four-star shooting guard in Damien Leonard and solid point guard prospect Brenton Williams it is still going to be tough sledding for the young Gamecock guards. Coach Darrin Horn will have his work cut out for him this season as he tries to replace starting point guard Bruce Ellington, who opted to try and play football, and fellow starter Ramon Galloway, who chose to transfer to LaSalle.

11. LSU: While the Tigers return their two leading scorers Ralston Turner (12.3 ppg.) and Andre Stringer (11.2 ppg.) in the backcourt, but there is still a lot that needs to improve for Trent Johnson’s club, who averaged more turnovers (14.4) than assists (9.3).

12: Auburn: Frankie Sullivan will be back from his knee injury, but with the loss of Ernest Ross due to transfer the Tiger’s will still struggle in the guard department.

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One Response to “Ranking the SEC backcourts”

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  1. Ranking the SEC frontcourts « - June 29, 2011

    […] SEC has a strong base of guards for the upcoming 2011-2012 season. The frontcourts could be even […]

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