It’s not just Kentucky fans that are picking up on John Calipari’s excitement for this season. On today’s SEC Summer Teleconference, Bruce Pearl said Cal’s summertime swagginess is “scary” for the rest of the conference.
“John [Calipari] likes this team and he likes them in June,” the Auburn head coach said. “That’s scary for the rest of us. He usually doesn’t like them until March.”
Kentucky will be the favorite to win the league heading into the season, but the conference is loaded from top to bottom, with five teams in ESPN’s Way Too Early Top 25 (1. Kentucky; 5. Tennessee; 11. Auburn; 21. LSU; 22. Mississippi State). The SEC sent a record eight teams to the NCAA Tournament last year, but with so many returning players and even more elite talent coming in, Pearl expects the conference to be tougher than ever.
“Top to bottom, the league was the best I’ve ever seen it last year. There truly wasn’t a night off,” Pearl said. “Next year, I think the top is going to be even stronger than it was last year. This is going to be the most competitive year that I can remember in SEC Basketball because the quality at the top of the league is going to be even stronger. You look at Mississippi State and LSU, what those teams have brought in and Vanderbilt, how much they’re improved. Tennessee’s got everybody back. We’ve got a lot of guys back. Alabama’s got a lot of guys back that have a lot more experience.
“Kentucky is loaded again, like they’ve always been, but with a little bit of experience. I think [PJ] Washington coming back was huge. I’m a big fan of him and his toughness.”
We are too.