NCAA Basketball Tournament - Norfolk St v Missouri

Kentucky picked to win SEC, Phil Pressey tabbed preseason POY

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Ah, the glorious days that are the preseason, where everyone fawns over media and coaches polls. Preseason all-conference teams and players of the year.

Today, the Southeastern Conference released their preseason media poll. And in the biggest non-shocker of the day, Kentucky was tabbed to repeat as regular season champions.

The Wildcats received 17 of a possible 24 first-place votes, with Florida coming in second with five. Missouri and Tennessee received one each.

In probably the biggest shocker of the day (kinda), Mizzou’s Phil Pressey was tabbed as the conference’s Preseason Player of the Year. He was joined on the all-conference team by Arkansas’ B.J. Young, Florida’s Kenny Boynton, Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes. None of which are surprising.

The six-player second team featured Marshawn Powell from Arkansas, Florida’s Patric Young, Alex Poythress of Kentucky, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Georgia and Missouri’s Michael Dixon, Jr.

I’m still not understanding why there’s no love for Ole Miss forward Murphy Holloway. The senior forward averaged 11.2 points and nine rebounds last season for an NIT team that returns a ton of talent and could make an NCAA Tournament run. He’s a bonafide second-teamer.

It also speaks to Mizzou’s team that they have two returning players that played last season, and both made the all-conference team. Laurence Bowers returns, but missed all of last season with a torn ACL.

Other that that, this is a blatant representation of the look of the SEC in 2011-12. Besides Caldwell-Pope, who is probably playing in his final college season, all selected for awards and honors are players on teams at the of the conference. Alabama is a wild card, but for the most part, it’s a top-heavy league.

Texas A&M has to deal with the loss of Khris Middleton. Darrin Horn left the the program empty at South Carolina. Mississippi State is depleted from transfers after Rick Stansbury “retired”. Vanderbilt was blasted by graduation and John Jenkins going pro. Auburn is still on the uptick, but Tony Barbee still has a long way to go and LSU is incredibly young in Johnny Jones’ first season.

John Calipari’s bunch are holding court again, and it’s going to be fun to look at these picks in March and see how it played out.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
AP Photo
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.


PHOTO: South Carolina gets new uniforms

Frank Martin
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South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.

They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.