SEC Conference play is quickly approaching us, and to put this nicely, I am not sure how many teams they will send to the Big Dance. Most of the teams have about two or three non-conference games left before the conference slate starts.
I am going to delve into the First Team Preseason All-Conference picks and how they have performed thus far and even throw in a couple guys who might deserve some recognition.
Trevor Releford: Guard, Alabama
Releford has been everything Anthony Grant could have wanted this far. It is not his fault the team is performing at under a .500 clip right now. Releford scores more than your average PG and his assist to turnover ratio shows that. At the moment, the senior has 27 assists to his 29 turnovers. If (when) Releford cleans that part up, look for Alabama to have a little bit more success.
Patrick Young: Center, Florida
Young, another senior, has not played his best basketball this year. He is averaging ten points and six rebounds per contest. Those numbers are not the worst, but it cannot be what he expected coming into his senior year. His field-goal percentage has dropped below the 50 percent clip which is not good for big guys inside. He is floating along at the moment, but look for a jump in his numbers as he gets deeper into the season.
Julius Randle: Forward, Kentucky
Not too much to critique about this Diaper Dandy(I think that this phrase is outdated these days, and you/we need to come up with a better tagline). Randle is running away with not just the Newcomer of the Year, but flat out Conference Player of the Year Award. Randle is averaging a double-double, and leading the Wildcats to another successful season. He is fulfilling the hype.
Johnny O’Bryant III: Forward, LSU
O’Bryant is not far behind Randle as far as numbers go. He is not averaging a double-double like Randle, but he is dang close. Not going to lie, I underestimated the Tigers ability to play and you all let me hear about it. O’Bryant will be the key to this team’s success down the road.
Marshall Henderson- Guard, Ole Miss
You never know what you are going to get out of Henderson, except a lot of shots. Henderson started the season under suspension, and has just recently earned his way back into a starting role. Henderson has already hoisted up 117 three pointers this year and do not look away, because he is just getting warmed up. He is averaging just less than 19 points per game which puts him at fourth in the conference. It would not surprise me one bit to see him at the top of the PPG category come the end of the season.
Jabari Brown: Guard, Missouri
He put up enough good numbers last year to garner the First Team Preseason All-SEC accolades for this season and he is living up to them so far. This guy is the marathon man averaging just a little over 37 minutes a game. He knocks down 42 percent of his shots from behind the arc, which makes him a sharpshooter in my book. With his frame and weight, Brown is able to create shots for himself. He is having a very impressive first full year in the league. P.S. - I know actual ‘league’ play has not started yet.
Jordan McRae: Guard, Tennessee
McRae was my pick for SEC POTY, and he has not disappointed yet. He is still in the running, and I think you might even see him pick up some momentum as SEC play begins. If you all remember last year, McRae was pretty much unstoppable throughout the last couple of weeks of the season. He did his best to try and land Tennessee a spot in the tourney. Look for the same out of him this year. He is averaging just under 19 PPG right now. McRae and Henderson will compete for the scoring title.
Jarnell Stokes: Forward, Tennessee
At first glance of the Preseason All-SEC First Team, I thought Stokes might be playing the worst. But after looking at his stats, I would not go that far. He is doing what his team needs him to do. Nearly averaging a double-double and playing significant minutes. Stokes might not get to shine as much with McRae, but he knows his role and does it to the best of his ability.
Jordan Clarkson: Guard, Missouri
Clarkson is leading the lead in scoring right now with nearly 20 points per contest. The tall, lanky junior guard from San Antonio is filling up the box score. Anytime a player leads the league in scoring, he has to be up there.
Aaron Harrison: Guard, Kentucky
Harrison has outshined his brother to this date. But who is to say the coaches did not mean to vote for Aaron instead of Andrew and just got mixed up. We will never know. Regardless, a very impressive season this far from a freshman.
Chris Denson: Guard, Auburn; KT Harrell: Guard, Auburn
Both of these guys have come out of nowhere. They are both averaging 19 PPG and are leading the Tigers. Neither of these guys averaged over 12 a game last year, so they have made improvements. Keep an eye on these two and see how well they can make the Tigers click.
None of these four guys were mentioned on the 1st or 2nd Preseason All-SEC teams and I felt like they deserved a little bit of recognition.
At this point in time, I am not going to ‘kick anyone off the first team’ yet. I do not think any of them have played poorly enough to deserve that. Then again, these were just predictions, and these players have to earn the awards. So, I think it would be crazy to say that all these guys make the first team. Somebody will get left out, and that is just the nature of it.