Around the SEC
The state of Kentucky will be the epicenter of college basketball next season as Kentucky, Louisville, and yes, Western Kentucky University are all set for great seasons thanks to some talented players taking their names out of the NBA Draft. What follows is a breakdown for why each team will be successful, and the biggest roadblocks in their way for the 2019-2020 season.
As long as John Calipari is the head coach at Kentucky, the Wildcats will enter each season with a great deal of hype thanks to a great recruiting class. The 2019-2020 season will be no different. Even with losing its top four scorers from a year ago, Kentucky will enter next season as a consensus top-5 team.
This is in most part thanks to the fact that the Wildcats will return Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery. Both considered entering the NBA Draft, but they pulled their names out of the process earlier this week right before the deadline.
The biggest reason why Kentucky will be great once again is that the Wildcats will be two players deep at every position. Hagans and Quickly also return at the point guard spot, and they will be joined by five very talented freshman who help make up the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation. Add in experienced transfer Nate Sestina from Bucknell and you have one of the deepest teams in the nation. A more precise breakdown looks like this:
PG: Ashton Hagans/Immanuel Quickley
SG: Tyrese Maxey/Johnny Juzang
SF: Kahlil Whitney/Dontaie Allen
PF: EJ Montgomery/Keion Brooks
C: Nick Richards/Nate Sestina
Of course, Kentucky’s 2019-2020 roster is not set in stone just yet. Virginia Tech forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. is still rumored to be considering a possible transfer to UK where he will be eligible to play immediately. If that happens, be prepared to see the Wildcats as a possible preseason No. 1 in some polls.
Also, Dontaie Allen is still a possibility to redshirt his freshman season. If Blackshear comes and Allen redshirts, I would expect Brooks to slide down as the backup small forward (yes, he is versatile enough to play there) and Blackshear to possibly start at either center or power forward.
As far as roadblocks, I see three possible ones for the Wildcats. First, they really need Blackshear to transfer. There is a lack of high-end talent in the frontcourt right now and he would fix that need. Secondly, can the trio of Maxey/Whitney/Juzang provide UK with at least two players who will be stars in March? Finally (and more importantly), can Hagans take that next step as the lead point guard? As we all know, he didn’t exactly end the season great back in March. If Hagans improves and the other potential problems are fixed, then this might be the team cutting down the nets in 2020.
Tyrese Maxey pull-game is certified pic.twitter.com/bhbbp3OYb5
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) September 26, 2018
Somebody pinch me. Its starting to feel like a whole lot like 2013 all over again as the Louisville Cardinals are set to have one of college basketball’s best teams this upcoming season. Yes, this is admittedly a team that just lost 14 games and fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to *checks notes* Minnesota.
However, never underestimate a team that returns the vast majority of its production from the previous season. The Cardinals are returning three starters, 76% of their scoring, and 80% of their rebounding. Add in the fact that they will also be adding Saint Joe’s transfer Fresh Kimble (15.6 ppg) and a top 10 recruiting class and you got a preseason top-10 (possibly top-5) squad.
Chris Mack has done a truly amazing job getting the Cardinals back on track so quickly after just one year at Louisville. I think he is a legitimate top-15 coach on the college level, and this program is back in business as long as he is there.
But what does all this mean for next season? Quite frankly, I still don’t think this roster is as talented as Kentucky’s, but that’s a pretty high bar to meet. On most nights this Louisville team will straight up have the more talented team than anyone else they play. After Virginia, the Cardinals are probably going to finish second in the ACC if they can overcome another talented Duke team.
However, I still have questions about how talented their frontcourt is. While Steven Enoch returning was huge, no other big man stood out last season. Plus, how good will Kimble be? Their depth at point guard seems a bit questionable so it will largely be on his shoulders to lead Louisville far into the postseason. Also, who will step up ad be that true No. 2 option after Jordan Nwora? Will it be Kimble or freshman Samuel Williamson? Who knows.
Louisville commit Samuel Williamson has shown flashes these last two days at 6-7 with polished footwork and soft touch. Strong skill foundation. pic.twitter.com/wJ3xmLR681
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) March 26, 2019
While a Championship or Final Four run still seems unlikely to me, I think this is absolutely a roster that can (and should) make the Elite Eight in 2020.
Surprised by this? You shouldn’t be. Believe it or not, the Hilltoppers will have a genuinely good roster next season that has borderline top-25 talent.
Like Louisville, WKU will be returning just about everything from last season. Not only do the Hilltoppers return four starters who all averaged figures in scoring, but overall WKU will be returning six of its top eight players.
Most importantly, rising sophomore big man Charles Bassey took his name out of the Draft just minutes before the deadline. Make no mistake about this: Bassey is a first round talent. The only reason he fell in the eyes of many scouts is because of his durability. Injuries throughout last season slowed down Bassey and made him look slower and less athletic then he really is. If he can stay healthy and improve upon averaging a double-double and 2.4 blocks per game, then he will be a lock for a top-20 pick.
Charles Bassey flexin’ pic.twitter.com/uUWWqeRQCo
— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) November 17, 2018
The hype does not end there for the Hilltoppers. They will also be adding two transfers who both averaged double figures in scoring for their former Division I teams. First is Cameron Justice who last played for IUPUI where he averaged 18.6 ppg. He is considered the favorite to start at point guard. Carson Williams is also now eligible after sitting out last season. Williams last played for Northern Kentucky where he averaged 12 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. In case you didn’t notice, the addition of both of these players means that the Hilltoppers now have three former Kentucky Mr. Basketball winners on one team: Justice, Williams, and Taveion Hollingsworth.
Point Guard Kenny Cooper from Lipscomb also transferred to WKU in the spring. Cooper started the last two years for Lipscomb as he managed to average 9.8 points 4.5 assists, and 2 steals a game last season. As of now, Copper is still applying for a waiver to play this season as he currently has to sit out this season due to transfer rules.
Also, 4-star and top-100 recruit Jordan Rawls is still considering reclassifying to WKU’s 2019 class. The possibility of either Cooper or Rawls (or both) being able to play in the 2019-2020 season would be the cherry on top for the Hilltoppers.
Considering that WKU will have all of this talent in the relatively weak C-USA, this should be a team that wins around 25 games in the regular season. Can coach Rick Stansbury get this team to finally win the C-USA Tournament and win a game in the NCAA Tournament? Well, if its not this team then I don’t think any squad Stansbury puts together will do it. The pressure is on in Bowling Green to finally deliver.
Overall, the biggest reason why this article exists is to showcase the very real chance that all three of these teams could be ranked in the top-25 at some point during the regular season. Yes, this depends on WKU finally meeting expectations under Stansbury. But I think there is a very real chance that by mid-February the Hilltoppers will join both the Wildcats and Cardinals in the top-25.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 31st, 2019 @ 3:27pm
The Southeastern Conference voted to allow the sale of alcohol at its stadiums beginning this fall, lifting a league-wide ban on booze that stood for over 30 years. However, each individual school will have to decide if it will participate, so we are still not completely sure if beer is coming to Kroger Field and Rupp Arena just yet. The brain trust within the university, namely Eli Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart, will ultimately make that call.
Shortly after the SEC’s ruling, we learned via a press release that UK will “take several months” to consider the issue:
“The SEC has taken the right approach to this important issue by deferring to the individual, member institutions to make decisions about what is in the best interests of each university, their programs, and their fans.
“Led by Director Barnhart, UK will take the next several months to consider this issue. We will, as always, seek to do what is right for the University, our student-athletes, and the experience and safety of our fans.”
— President Eli Capilouto
Tomorrow’s the first day of June, so if “several months” are needed, I wonder if the beer will be iced down and ready for sale by the time Toledo comes to town on August 31, should it get the green light. There is a lot that will go into this and that first kickoff isn’t too far away.
Or will UK even do it at all?
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 31st, 2019 @ 1:45pm
Massive news in the world of college sports this afternoon.
According to Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated, the SEC has officially lifted its ban on stadium-wide alcohol sales, with its effective start date being August 1.
News: The #SEC has lifted the ban on stadium-wide alcohol sales, with restrictions, source says. Effective date is Aug. 1.
? ? ?
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) May 31, 2019
While there will be restrictions, the decades-old bylaw prohibiting SEC schools from selling alcohol in general seating areas at athletic venues is no more. The general guidelines limit sales exclusively to beer and wine. Vendors will be restricted from selling alcohol inside the stands.
Last season, Arizona, Oregon, Boston College, Oklahoma State, and Colorado allowed alcohol sales in both general seating and premium areas, while Illinois, Rutgers, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech will be doing the same this fall. Over 55 Football Bowl Subdivision programs also serve alcohol throughout their respective stadiums.
According to a report by Sports Illustrated last weekend, “many” of those schools and venues made the change due to the opportunity for “an additional revenue stream, fewer reported binge drinking incidents and an enhanced game-day experience that boosts attendance.”
With the SEC’s attendance average of 73,994 being the lowest since 2002 and nearly 5,000 below the conference average in 2015, there were several rumors that this was a strong possibility during the league’s annual spring meetings in Destin, Florida this week.
Now, it’s official, as the SEC will now give member schools permission to sell alcohol to all fans at games. Each school can make its own decision on whether they want to do so.
Ready or not, alcohol is likely coming to Kroger Field, Rupp Arena, Kentucky Proud Park, and the rest of the SEC athletic facilities starting in August.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 29th, 2019 @ 5:16pm
This is not the Kentucky Basketball news you’re waiting for, but the SEC just revealed the home-and-away matchups for each team in the league for the upcoming season.
Kentucky’s permanent home-and-away opponents remain Florida, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. In the 2019-20 season, the Cats will also play Auburn and Georgia twice in the regular season. They’ll also host Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Missouri and travel to Arkansas, LSU, South Carolina, and Texas A&M. That’s a little confusing in words, so here it is in a nifty chart courtesy of UK:
|2019-20 SEC Home Games||2019-20 SEC Away Games|
|Mississippi State||South Carolina|
My main takeaway? Thank goodness we only have to play LSU once. Also, this gives me a chance to knock Baton Rouge off my SEC bucket list.
Dates and additional non-conference opponents will be released at a later time. Here’s the non-conference schedule as we know it:
- Nov. 5 – vs. Michigan State | Madison Square Garden | New York | State Farm Champions Classic
- Nov. 8 – Eastern Kentucky| Rupp Arena | Lexington
- Nov. 12 – Evansville | Rupp Arena | Lexington
- Dec. 18 – Utah | T-Mobile Arena | Las Vegas
- Dec. 21 – Ohio State | T-Mobile Arena | Las Vegas | CBS Sports Classic
And a nifty graphic from Craig Pinkerton so you can see each team’s draw.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey met with the media Tuesday afternoon to kick off the festivities at the Hilton Sandestin resort. After lamenting the failed rule change to add a third paid baseball assistant, Sankey spilled the beans on a few topics that will capture your attention.
1. Alcohol Sales
Before university presidents and athletic directors began discussions behind closed doors, Sankey said alcohol isn’t the “magic fix” for slipping attendance figures in stadiums across the conference.
For those who wish to enjoy an adult beverage at Kroger Field, Sankey’s comments are discouraging. However, one person at the event told Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger “We’ve got the votes.” The only question is whether or not university officials will act.
The SEC hired international accounting firm Deloitte to review its football officiating. Unlike the NFL’s reaction to the missed pass interference in the NFC Championship Game, this move was not in response to one particular play or game.
“I believed then and I still believe we have as good a college football officiating program as there is yet we can still keep improving,” Sankey told The Associated Press. “And we started first looking at how do we communicate about officiating? And it was forward looking to this coming season that the nature of media, the focus on officiating, the fact there are commentators and broadcast booths giving opinions, sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re not correct. You don’t have complete information. Those are game changers for us.”
To improve the communication between officials and the public, the league will consider putting an official on the SEC Network each week to explain various calls from the previous Saturday.
Unfortunately, this official review and potential SEC Network feature only applies to football. College basketball is still stuck with awfully inconsistent officiating.
3. Injury Reports
Injury reports have exclusively been a professional sports phenomenon, until the Supreme Court effectively legalized sports gambling. Now that college sports are in play, injury reports may be too, although Sankey is in no hurry to implement them in the SEC.
“Sometime out there, it may be part of what we do, but I think we should proceed very carefully,” Sankey said. “I’m not in any rush to see that happen. I think it’s a mistake to hurry and not do something correctly.”
Tennessee and Auburn may have lost their point guards to the NBA Draft, but Florida’s is coming back. Andrew Nembhard just announced he’s withdrawing his name from the draft to return to Florida for his sophomore season.
— Andrew Nembhard (@AndrewNembhard) May 29, 2019
Nembhard averaged 8.0 points, 5.4 assists, and 2.9 rebounds while starting all 36 games as a freshman. Having him back will be a big boost for the Gators, who also return Keyontae Johnson and Noah Locke and add five-star recruit Scottie Lewis and two other top 50 prospects in Tre Mann and Omar Payne.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 29th, 2019 @ 3:00pm
Bruce Pearl’s rebuilding job just got a little tougher. Earlier today, Jeff Goodman reported that Jared Harper is expected to remain in the NBA Draft, ending his career as an Auburn Tiger.
As a junior, Harper averaged 15.6 points and 5.8 assists. He and Bryce Brown combined for 50 points to lead the Tigers past the Cats in the Elite Eight, absolutely owning Kentucky’s backcourt in the second half and overtime. A strong performance in the G-League Elite Camp earned Harper a spot in the Draft Combine; obviously, he feels the feedback he received was enough to keep his name in. Jonathan Givony ranks him as the No. 64 prospect and the No. 10 point guard available.
Also staying in the draft: Auburn forward Chuma Okeke, who tore his ACL vs. North Carolina in the Sweet 16. The Tigers also lost Bryce Brown, Horace Spencer, and Malik Dunbar to graduation. Combine all five players and 66.9% of the Tigers’ production from last year is gone.
We’ve seen the last of Jordan Bone in a Tennessee uniform. The Volunteers point guard just announced he will keep his name in the NBA Draft, ending his career in Knoxville.
— Jordan Bone (@JordanBone23) May 29, 2019
Bone was a key part of Tennessee’s run this past season, averaging 13.5 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game. He was particularly pesky vs. Kentucky, averaging 21.3 points and 4.7 assists in three games vs. the Cats, including 27 points in the Vols’ rout in Knoxville.
Tennessee has now lost four starters from last year’s team: Bone; Grant Williams, who decided to forego his final year of eligibility; and Admiral Schofield and Kyle Alexander, who graduated.
Emmitt Williams and his short shorts aren’t done with college basketball yet. Williams’ AAU coach told Jon Rothstein that the big man will return to LSU for his sophomore season, which is big, big news for Will Wade.
Last season, Williams averaged 7.0 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Tigers, and with Naz Reid off to the NBA, his role will expand. Guards Javonte Smart, Skylar Mays, and Marlon Taylor will also return after testing the draft waters, while Tremont Waters elected to keep his name in. Five-star forward Trendon Watford will also join the fold, making LSU a formidable foe once again.
Get ready to see those thighs!
By Drew Franklin on ©May 28th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
As I told you earlier today, the SEC spring meetings are underway down in Destin, Florida, with sports gambling, the sale of alcohol, and the NCAA transfer portal as three major issues on the agenda. Several other new problems and potential changes will be addressed throughout the week, and though no one cares what I think, I have five issues I find very important for the future of the conference.
Bruce Pearl’s Profuse Sweating
After leading Auburn to its first ever Final Four, Bruce Pearl is one of the faces of the Southeastern Conference. And with Pearl being one of the faces of the Southeastern Conference, the league must find a way to get his sweating under control.
Someone better save Pearl before it is too late. I worry about him.
Will Wade’s Blatant Cheating
LSU is embarrassing the conference in college basketball, just as the conference climbed to new heights and became more than just Kentucky the last couple of years. Wade is obviously cheating — the whole word can see that — yet LSU kept him around in the midst of a huge scandal to remain the head coach of its basketball program.
Someone tell Wade to chill if he is sticking around, please.
How To Stop Tennessee From Sucking At Football
Tennessee sucks at football. It’s sad, really. Vols fans have convinced themselves Jeremy Pruitt will return the program to its glory days of the 90s, like they do every year no matter who the coach is, but things are really looking bad for Tennessee after losing to Vanderbilt three straight years and in five of the last seven meetings.
Maybe the collective minds of SEC football can gather around the Hilton Sandestin bar one night to help save Tennessee. If not that, maybe they’ll gather around the Hilton Sandestin bar one night to laugh at Tennessee.
Keeping Alabama Out Of The SEC Championship For A Year
We get it: Alabama is good at football. Nick Saban has taken his NFL factory to Atlanta four out of the last five years, winning the league’s football title all four of those years. But it’s time it mix it up a bit, don’t you think? Let’s level it out in the West a little bit. Give someone else a turn.
Moving The SEC Tournament Championship Game To Saturday
Until you’ve sat in Nashville traffic on the Sunday of the SEC Tournament’s championship game, you don’t understand the importance of moving the game. 65-North is a parking lot back to Lexington, everyone is hungover, and work is waiting on Monday. I say move the game to Saturday so the winning fan base can party into the night (or go on home if they’d like) with a full day of recovery on Sunday. Exiting traffic will be staggered based on how late everyone stayed out and we will all be better versions of ourselves when the alarm goes off Monday morning. Then there’s the ‘the game doesn’t matter on Selection Sunday’ argument but really I just hate leaving town right after the game.
I’ll catch the next flight to Destin if the league wants to hear me out. I’ll even fly Allegiant to cut costs.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 28th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Auburn forward Danjel Purifoy has missed over an entire season of his college basketball career due to various NCAA violations he has been involved in since signing with the school in 2014.
Now, he might be in trouble yet again.
You see, the picture shown above isn’t a collage we made here at KSR or one the Auburn basketball team released on a social media. It’s actually a collage of images Purifoy’s mother, Waukesha Blevins, decided to put on t-shirts and sell to her friends on Facebook.
According to AL.com, Blevins, who also allegedly accepted money and violated NCAA rules in the past leading to Purifoy’s previous suspension, made multiple posts on the social media outlet advertising the shirts she was selling for prices ranging from $10 to $12.
In response to Blevins’ posts, several individuals commented their requested shirt sizes, with the former four-star athlete’s mother responding “got you down” to each of them.
The posts have since been deleted.
According to official NCAA rules, as found by AL.com, student-athletes are not allowed to profit off of their name and likeness, and if a third party attempts to do so, the student-athlete is required to “take steps to stop such an activity.”
If not, his or her eligibility is on the line.
NCAA Bylaw 12.1.1(h) states that “any commercial items with names, likenesses or pictures of multiple student-athletes … may be sold only at the member institution at which the student-athlete is enrolled, institutionally controlled … outlets or outlets controlled by the charitable or educational organization. … Items that include an individual student-athlete’s name, picture or likeness … other than informational items (e.g., media guide, schedule cards, institutional publications), may not be sold.”
Per, NCAA Bylaw 12.2.2, “In the event that a third party (such as a store) were to sell an image with a student-athlete, that student-athlete “is required to take steps to stop such an activity in order to retain his or her eligibility for intercollegiate athletics.”
On May 14, the NCAA announced the creation of the “NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group,” with the organization’s ultimate goal being to consider whether or not athletes should be able to profit from their likeness.
Unfortunately for Purifoy and his inner circle, that rule has still not been overturned, meaning Blevins’ actions are in violation of NCAA rules.
Add another case to the docket for the NCAA to look into.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 28th, 2019 @ 11:45am
The beautiful white sand from the beaches of Destin will be stuck between the toes of the most powerful people in the Southeastern Conference this week. Beginning today, league coaches, administrators and officials will gather at the Hilton Sandestin for a fun week of conversations about the future of the SEC.
Sports gambling will be one of the hottest topics on the agenda. The Supreme Court passed a bill allowing sports gambling last year, but the move was made right before the spring meetings, so it was tabled until this year for discussion. You can bet it will be high on the priority list, especially with states like Tennessee all set to legalize sports gambling this summer. The SEC will have to address how it may impact basketball and football.
Part of the sports gambling talk will include injury reports. With so much money on the line via gambling, coaches may be required to release a detailed and official injury report prior to games. No more hiding the actual playing status of the star quarterback for gamesmanship.
Alcohol sales may also appear on the agenda; it usually does. Last year it was discussed, but no steps were taken toward opening up the sale of booze at SEC games. Unless several people had a change of heart in the last 365 days, it is unlikely this week does anything for bringing alcohol sales to games.
Mitch Barnhart and Eli Capilouto released a joint statement last summer to say there was no vote on alcohol sales at last year’s meetings:
Maybe they’ll put it to vote this year?
Other potential topics this week include the growing rate of transfers by way of the NCAA transfer portal, football scheduling, the FBI’s investigation into college basketball and the most important item on the agenda, according to Greg Sankey: “We’re doing really, really well.”
We could get Coach Cal and Rick Barnes versus Bruce Pearl and Tom Crean in sand volleyball too, if we are lucky.
The upcoming NBA Draft deadline has produced a couple of decisions that will improve the quality of SEC basketball in 2019-20.
Jon Rothstein reports both Skylar Mays and Marlon Taylor have withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to LSU next season.
As a sophomore Mays averaged 13.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Taylor, a 6’6″ wing, scored 6.7 points on 46.3% shooting from the field in 2018-19. Along with Taylor and Mays, Javonte Smart will return to LSU and Trendon Watford will make the move to Baton Rouge.
LSU is one step closer to becoming the frontrunner for a second consecutive SEC regular season title. If Emmitt Williams returns and Will Wade does not put them on probation, the Tigers will be in the driver’s seat.
With the NBA Draft quickly approaching, the Wildcats will make their presence known once again at the event. P.J. Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson all are slated to be selected in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the best (and worst) landing spots for all three prospects.
Best Landing Spot: Miami Heat at pick No. 13
While this may be a bit low for Washington considering that I’ve seen some mock drafts have him selected in the 9-11 range, this is still easily the best spot for him. Plus, he is still a lottery pick which isn’t all that bad. The Heat are a franchise with a well-respected head coach and front office. Living rich in Miami is also pretty ideal for anyone.
However, this is a franchise in transition. The Heat’s best players (Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic) both have player options as free agents this summer. Plus, Dwayne Wade is retiring and Udonis Haslem will probably join him as well. This is a team that needs an influx of young talent. The bad news is that at pick No. 14, who knows who will be left over by then. Washington may be the best player available.
Whiteside might finally be on his way out of Miami, which means the frontcourt will need added depth. James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk underwhelmed last season as well. Who knows, if Washington goes here and Whiteside leaves, we could be seeing an all-Kentucky frontcourt in Miami with Bam Adebayo and Washington. It doesn’t get much more ideal than that.
Could PJ Washington end up in Miami with Bam at No. 13? https://t.co/AGXdlQKcVq
Not if Charlotte snags him at No. 12, where he went in our NBA beat writers' mock draft: https://t.co/hSWBTFKrtX
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) May 16, 2019
Worst Landing Spot: Charlotte Hornets at pick No. 12
The Hornets are notorious for picking blue-chip college talent only to completely waste their talents. Remember Malik Monk? Cody Zeller? Frank Kaminsky? Michael Kidd Gilchirst? The list goes on. Point is, if you get picked by Michael Jordan you are probably going to be misused and turned into a bust of a pick. Also, don’t forget that star Kemba Walker is probably on his way out of Charlotte as a free agent in the offseason. The Hornets are about to be a very, very bad team next season.
Fit-wise, picking Washington would also not make much sense. They already have Zeller and Kaminsky who will be returning. The Hornets badly need a guard considering that Walker and Jeremy Lamb are unrestricted free agents. This is a franchise that has been poorly ran the past decade, could be terrible next season, and it features a roster with several terrible contracts. Personally, I’m tired of seeing Charlotte ruin talented players from Kentucky. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.
Best Landing Spot: Boston Celtics at either pick No. 14 or No. 22
I know this may seem a bit too obvious, but I really think Boston is the best fit for Herro. First off, this is another great front office and good head coach that a Kentucky player would be going to. Danny Ainge was an incredibly cocky and intensely competitive player in his playing days. Him and Herro seem like they were destined to be together.
More importantly, the Celtics need better three-point shooting from their guards. The entire basketball world knows that both Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier will most likely be on their way out of Boston this summer, so the need for shooting in the backcourt should skyrocket. Herro seems like a guarantee to be selected somewhere between Boston’s mid first-round picks so it makes a ton of sense that the Celtics will select him. That city in particular will love Herro’s spunkiness. It’s up to Ainge to make it happen.
Tyler Herro to Boston confirmed pic.twitter.com/YCJ7dGBBt2
— Sirius Steve (@15YearOldSteve) March 29, 2019
Worst Landing Spot: Brooklyn Nets at pick No. 17
Brooklyn may be an up and coming team in the league, but Herro going here would make no sense at all. The Nets are stacked with talented guards who are all good shooters. What they badly need are wingmen and depth in the frontcourt. It seems like a sure thing that Brooklyn won’t take a guard here, but any team in the league could possibly pick the best player available when they pick. The Nets could love Herro and want to stash him away on the bench for a few seasons. The fit just isn’t right here at all.
Best Landing Spot: San Antonio Spurs at pick No. 19
Of course, going to one of the best franchises in NBA history seems a bit too obvious as an “ideal landing spot.” However, I really do think it’s the perfect location for Johnson who has became a bit of a divisive prospect over the past few months. Some mock drafts have him going towards the very end of the first round which would be quite the fall for a player that started out the season as a unanimous top-ten guy. Going to play for the Spurs would be an amazing situation to fall into not only because of the organization but because of the fit as well.
Rudy Gay is an unrestricted free agent this summer and will surely leave a big hole at that hybrid 2/3 position. That’s exactly what Johnson is as a player. Shooting guard Quincy Poindexter also will probably be leaving this summer so at the very least Johnson will be able to provide depth for the Spurs at that swingman position. The Spurs usually only pick players who showcase solid defensive potential which is great news for Johnson. As a playoff team, San Antonio is pretty stacked everywhere except for its frontcourt depth. But at this point in the draft, teams don’t get their choice of who they want. All the good big guys should be picked by now, plus Johnson is probably going to fall to here. For his sake, staying in the top 20 and going to the Spurs is more than any young player could ask for.
Kentucky wing Keldon Johnson showing off his explosiveness today. Powerful athlete when he gets downhill. pic.twitter.com/RIDOhwhfYF
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) May 22, 2019
Worst Landing Spot: Cleveland Cavaliers at pick No. 26
Yuck. To be fair, this would be a terrible franchise for any young player to land at. The front office is incompetent at the moment, and they have a rookie head coach from Michigan in John Beilein. The Cavs had no idea how to handle rookie guard Collin Sexton last season. Also, they earned the fifth pick in the draft which means they are going to miss out on a lot of the top prospects. Johnson is versatile enough to be a “fit” on any team he goes to. That means that it all comes down to which franchise will get the most out of him. Cleveland is not that team. Considering that he might fall to the high 20’s, the Cavs might have a chance to pick Johnson. For his sake, hopefully Cleveland goes in another direction.
The cupboard is bare for Jerry Stackhouse. The former North Carolina Tar Heel and new Vanderbilt head coach lost a former McDonald’s All-American from his roster.
Friday afternoon Simi Shittu announced he will keep his name in the 2019 NBA Draft.
In his only season at Vanderbilt, the 6’10” Canadian forward averaged 10.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Recruited to play alongside Darius Garland, following the point guard’s injury Shittu could not carry the Commodores to even one SEC victory.
ESPN ranks Garland as the No. 4 overall prospect in the draft. Shittu falls in at No. 89 overall.
Without Shittu, the only recognizable player returning to Vanderbilt is Saben Lee. Stackhouse signed the No. 48 recruiting class in America this year. It features the names Kenyon Martin and Scotty Pippen, but these three-star prospects aren’t comparable to their Hall of Fame namesakes.
Jerry Stackhouse brings plenty of name recognition to Nashville, but without Shittu, it’s going to be another long year for the Commodores.
After following the SEC and the rest of college basketball all season, here is my top 30 prospects for the 2019 NBA Draft. The first 14 prospects on this list, who deserve to be headed for the lottery, have more in-depth breakdowns while prospects 15-30 receive shorter descriptions. And yes, this is just one man’s opinion who watched way too much college basketball last season.
1. Zion Williamson, Forward, Duke
I’m all in on Mr. Williamson. Yes, we all know he is a hulking behemoth who can jump put of a gym. However, he is so much more than that. Combining that athleticism with his endless motor and defensive potential easily makes him the best overall prospect since Anthony Davis in 2012.
Zion Williamson's 62 dunks at Duke!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 14, 2019
As far as weaknesses, his mechanics on his jump shot are still funky and he doesn’t get much lift underneath him when he shoots. He also needs to add a few more offensive moves to his game besides that Julius Randle spin move (which is very effective). But these are still nitpicks. Williamson actually shot better than his other talented teammates last season and his current offensive moves are borderline unguardable. Who knows just how good Zion will be, but he is a once in every decade type of talent. He is the prize of this draft.
2. Ja Morant, Point Guard, Murray State
I think there is a clear second-best player in this draft, and that title belongs to the best college player from the state of Kentucky last season. Morant is an uber-athletic point guard and an elite playmaker. “Skinny John Wall” is actually a relatively close comparison. He is in the mold of De’Aaron Fox from a body-build perspective, but I think his game is closer to that of a healthy Wall due to Morant’s flashiness.
Ja Morant comparison breakdown from today’s NBA Draft Combine show. pic.twitter.com/O8OLfdnth9
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) May 17, 2019
While that is certainly high praise, Morant is not the generational prospect that Williamson is. His weaknesses are much more apparent. Morant needs to refine his jump shot as well, but more importantly, he is just straight-up bad on defense. This will make him a liability against the several great point guards in the league today. Overall, despite those critiques I do think his complete offensive game makes him a guaranteed non-bust at the next level. If he can learn behind Mike Conley Jr. in Memphis, I think he will end up being an all-star in the NBA.
3. Jarrett Culver, Shooting Guard, Texas Tech
Many say this is a three-player draft. I just don’t see it that way. After Zion and Ja, I think there is a large drop off. I’m not suggesting that there aren’t any good players after them, but I just don’t see any sure-fire all-stars. Many scouts have Duke’s R.J. Barrett here and for good reason. However, I think the more complete player is Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver.
Jarrett Culver's offensive skill set is real enticing, man. pic.twitter.com/9xeVjSNJ6e
— ? (@LifeOfABruin) May 15, 2019
Culver is easily the better shooter, arguably the better playmaker, has a better personality on the court, and is the better defender. While I’m not sure just how high his “ceiling” really is, I think his bust potential is smaller than any other player on this board. Culver also carried the Red Raiders all the way to the championship even while being the guy every team concentrated on. His role will be dependent on the team that is smart enough to pick him, but Culver is going to be good at whatever is asked of him at the next level.
4. R.J. Barrett, Forward, Duke
Before the college basketball season started, I had Barrett as the best player in this draft. I still really like his overall talent level despite him falling to No. 4 on this list. I actually think his greatest attribute is his play-making ability. Barrett brought the ball up the court many times for Duke and made some outstanding passes for his teammates. He has the ability to make those around him better.
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) May 15, 2019
However, there are two big questions facing him. The first being his three-point shooting. For a guy that shoots a lot of 3’s, he is not very good at it at all which is a problem in a league that has made a shift to that style of play. But the biggest problem I have with Barrett is his inclination to play hero-ball at the end of games. Barrett can become an all-star in this league. However, if he doesn’t fix his shot and that over-alpha mentality then he could be someone that no one likes to play with.
5. Brandon Clarke, Power Forward, Gonzaga
I have zero idea why more scouts do not have this guy higher on their boards. Clarke was easily the most underrated player in college basketball this season. Not only did he average 17 ppg and 8.6 rpg, but he also was fifth in the entire sport in blocks per game (3.8). He is an incredibly explosive athlete who is already an elite-level defender because of his timing in blocking shots.
The only thing holding him back from being higher on my board is that his midrange jumper needs more work for a guy that is just 6’8. Its “alright” right now, but it needs more consistency in order to make him a good offensive player at the next level. Worst-case scenario I see him being a Kenneth Faried-type at the in the league due to his high motor and competitiveness, but he has the potential to be much, much better than that.
6. Nassir Little, Forward, North Carolina
From here on out, I think there is another big drop off as far as guaranteed “good picks.” I’m confident that the top 5 players here will be good NBA players, but after that….oh boy. Good luck finding a quality starter. That’s just how the draft is this year.
This leads me to put Little here at No. 6. This is pretty controversial as some scouts truly hate him and won’t touch him with a ten-foot pole. The reason is that at times for UNC he seemed genuinely uninterested in playing hard when it didn’t matter. This is a huge red flag. However, when he is engaged like he was in the NCAA Tournament, Little is easily the best one-on-one defender in this draft. I see him right now as Jaylen Brown but with a weaker jump shot. Not the most attractive sentence, but at such a young age with an NBA ready body, Little is worth the risk. Either he turns into Stanley Johnson, or his offensive game improves and he turns into a poor man’s Kawhi Leonard. In this draft, that makes him my sixth best prospect. Always. Gamble. On. Defense.
Nassir Little gets it. Really enjoyed diving into his game yesterday on ESPN2. His understanding of where he excels and where he can still improve will allow him to maximize his potential. pic.twitter.com/mAMadKfWCY
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) May 17, 2019
7. Darius Garland, Point Guard, Vanderbilt
The first SEC player to make an appearance on this list just so happens to have played only five games of collegiate basketball due to injury. Like I said, its not a very deep draft. However, I do really like what very little I saw from Garland. At the point guard position, I think he is far and away the best shooter in this draft. His release is incredibly quick and natural. His handle is elite, and while he is a shoot-first PG he is still a good passer.
Those positives came against extremely weak competition, however. Garland’s frail frame also makes him a potential defensive liability. Also, we don’t know how good of a finisher he is at the rim. Basically, all that we for sure know about Garland is that he can shoot. That’s not enough for me to move him up higher on this list, but in a make-or-miss league it’s definitely a good attribute to have.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 17th, 2019 @ 9:54am
Rejoice, college basketball fans! Grant Williams just announced he is staying in the NBA Draft, ending his career as a Tennessee Volunteer. The 6’7″ forward/flopper extraordinaire shared the news with the help of Shams Charania at Stadium:
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 17, 2019
Last season, Williams averaged 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Volunteers, hitting 56.5% from the floor. He averaged 20 points and 7.3 rebounds in his games vs. Kentucky. This is obviously a big blow for Tennessee, but really, it’s a win for college basketball because we never have to endure his shenanigans again.
Tennessee lost the game — and sole possession of first place in the SEC — because of this play by Grant Williams.
Like they say, “live by the flop, die by the flop.” pic.twitter.com/X0AJejvAb1
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) February 24, 2019
Seriously though, best of luck to Williams. Flopping aside, he’s a good kid.
With only a handful of uncommitted prospects left in the 2019 high school basketball recruiting class, each SEC team has most of their own classes filled out. Here are the top 5 teams in the conference who pulled the best group of recruits for this coming Fall. (Teams are ranked in descending order starting with the No. 1 class)
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Wildcats will be bringing in the best crop of recruits this year. Not only is this the best class in the SEC, but its now the best in the entire country after the commitment of four-star Johnny Juzang who is a consensus top-35 prospect.
Headlining this class are three five-star players who will all get significant playing time in Lexington this coming season: Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, and Keion Brooks. Maxey is the star of this class. He is what scouts call “a complete guard”, and he is the betting favorite to lead Kentucky in scoring next season. Whitney is a hyper-athletic slasher who is also a decent jump shooter. Think of Brooks as a max-potential Wenyen Gabriel with more of an alpha mentality. Depending on the lineup, Brooks can play the 3 or the 4.
Rounding out the class is sharp-shooting Juzang at the small forward position, Kentucky’s own Dontaie Allen (4-star recruit), and grad transfer Nate Sestina from Bucknell (15.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg). Going off of ESPN’s top 100 ranked recruits, Kentucky will have 4 players in the top-35 coming to Lexington and that’s not even counting Allen and Sestina.
Where things really get scary is that the Wildcats are projected to land Jaden McDaniels who is a consensus top-10 prospect. Many scouts say that he will be a top-5 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Adding McDaniels to what’s already the best class in the nation is a scary thought for the rest of the SEC. It’s safe to say that Coach John Calipari is still one of the most dangerous recruiters in the country.
— Al Ward (@AWProductions1_) May 2, 2019
Make fun of him all you want, but the truth is that Tom Crean is pretty awesome at recruiting high-level basketball players. 247sports considers Florida to have a slightly better class than Georgia, but I have to disagree. While the margin is very close between the two (more on that later), the fact is that the Bulldogs have Anthony Edwards and the Gators do not.
While James Wiseman is widely viewed as the best player in this class, I believe that title should belong to Edwards. The 6’4 five-star shooting guard is a highlight reel dunker who possesses game-changing athleticism. He is a complete scorer who gets incredible lift on his jump shots. I see him as a mesh between Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo. I believe Edwards will be the first overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Anthony Edwards is drawing comparisons to James Harden.
— UGA Hoops Fans (@UGAHoopsFans) May 9, 2019
Georgia’s class isn’t all about Edwards. Crean was also able to net four other top 100 recruits (based off 247sports’ list). All four are ranked between 65 to 100, but there is some real talent here. After Edwards, small forward Christian Brown is considered the Bulldogs’ next best prospect. Georgia will also be adding two more forwards with the commitments of Jaykwon Walton and Toumani Camera. However, the most interesting player here is 5’8 point guard Sahvir Wheeler. Despite his small size, Wheeler will probably be the starting point guard for the Bulldogs in 2019.
I’m not sure how good Georgia will be this upcoming season, but I can guarantee that they will be marginally better thanks to this outstanding class.
While I do like Georgia’s class just a smidge better than Florida’s, the Gators will be welcoming in two five-star prospects which is very impressive. Scottie Lewis is the headliner as the 6’5 small forward is very athletic but also very defensively sound. He will be asked to do a lot for Florida as their best defender and possibly as their best scorer.
Scottie lewis feet are so fluid, he vaporizes those screens, and wiseman so good with those weak side shot blocks pic.twitter.com/QiSp7jFkKy
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) April 14, 2019
The other five star player is point guard Tre Mann. Depending on how you feel about LaMelo Ball, Mann is widely viewed as the second-best true point guard in this class. Remember his name because he will be the starting point guard for the Gators in the 2019-2020 season.
— Overtime (@overtime) April 29, 2019
Rounding out the class is four-star center Omar Payne who is a consensus top-50 prospect. Florida also added two other three-star prospects to their class as well. Overall, netting two McDonald’s All Americans is very impressive, and this would be seen as the best class in most conferences.
New Head Coach Nate Oates has put together a pretty nice haul for 2019. While there are no All Americans or five star players coming in, the Crimson Tide will be adding three top-100 players. These three consensus four-star prospects are Juwan Gary, Jaylen Forbes, and Jaden Shackelford.
Gary is considered to be the best prospect coming in as he is ranked as the 63rd best player in the class by ESPN. Shackelford and Forbes are scoring guards who will be asked to try and improve the Crimson Tide’s offense. They will also be joined by three-star center Raymond Hawkins from Findlay Prep.
Oates also did some work on the transfer trail as former West Virginia and Covington Catholic star James Bolden will be suiting up for Alabama in 2019. Overall, I’m impressed by the depth here in this class. There isn’t a big-time star here, but adding in four quality players for Oates’ first season is great news for Crimson Tide fans. Oates will be a significant improvement over Avery Johnson.
Bruce Pearl is getting another good recruiting class as he will be welcoming in three four-star players along with two three-star prospects. The headliner is small forward Isaac Okoro who is viewed as a top-40 prospect across multiple recruiting websites.
Okoro is a high-energy slasher who can play both the 2 and the 3. Where his potential will truly shine will be on the defensive end. Okoro already has a chiseled frame and great athleticism which will allow him to become very important defender on the wing for the Tigers.
— Overtime (@overtime) February 22, 2019
Joining Okoro are fellow four-star prospects Tyrell Jones and Jaylin Williams. All three of these players will be asked to play a lot in the upcoming season as Auburn will have substantial losses coming off of March’s impressive Final Four run. Overall, Okoro is a nice addition, but I think this class is just a little underwhelming.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 09th, 2019 @ 1:30pm
The top recruit in Florida’s ninth-ranked 2019 recruiting class is already getting out of Gainesville before ever playing a down in a Gators uniform.
Chris Steele, a top-50 prospect in Dan Mullen’s most recent signing class, entered the NCAA’s transfer portal this week. Steele enrolled at Florida in January to get a jump on his first season, but is already leaving town only five months into his stay.
According to The Gainesville Sun, Steele had requested a new roommate because the one he had made him uncomfortable:
The decision stems from a request Steele made to the staff during his first month on campus, the source said. He asked to be moved to a different dorm because he was uncomfortable rooming with quarterback Jalon Jones, his classmate.
The staff did not plan to move Steele until the summer, which upset Steele and his parents, according to the source.
Then two female students accused Jones of sexual assault in the players’ dorm rooms on April 6. That prompted Steele to seek a transfer.
Jones has not been charged but has left the school. [Gainesville Sun]
Steele did not have an offer from Kentucky during his recruitment, but it wouldn’t hurt to give a call because he is a cornerback and UK is desperate for those. The 247Sports Composite had him as the fifth-best corner in his class and Florida expected him to contribute in its secondary right away.
I assume he will seek immediate eligibility after participating in only the 15 spring game practices.
In another amazing NFL Draft for the SEC, a record 64 players were taken from the conference. While there were surprises and some players unfortunately fell in the draft, some of these athletes landed in awesome situations. Here are the 10 best landing spots for players from the SEC in 2019 NFL Draft. (Players are in order of their selection in the draft)
1. Josh Allen-Kentucky, Seventh Overall Pick, Jacksonville Jaguars
This was a brilliant pick by the Jaguars. While some may say that their already great defense did not need to draft more help on that side of the ball, a player of Allen’s talent is an absolute steal.
While they are 4th in the league in scoring defense, Jacksonville still needs a linebacker that can really get after the quarterback. Telvin Smith and Myles Jack are very good do-everything linebackers, but they only had 3.5 sacks in between each other last season. Putting Allen next to them in their 4-3 defense forms one of the most complete linebacker cores in football. I would not be surprised at all if he finishes with 7-10 sacks this season.
On Allen’s end, what better situation to fall into than this one? He gets to play in sunny Florida for an already defensively dominant squad with a spot carved out for him. All he has to do is run straight at the quarterback all season long while the stalwarts on that side of the ball take care of everything else. Falling to seven was a tough look for Allen, but it may have been a blessing in disguise.
— Cian (@Cianaf) April 30, 2019
2. Montez Sweat-Mississippi State, 26th Overall Pick, Washington Redskins
Very similarly to Allen, another SEC edge rusher who surprisingly fell in the draft found a team with a defensive spot already carved out for him. The Redskins play a very suitable 3-4 defense for a hybrid defensive end prospect like Sweat.
Washington actually has a pretty decent defense with studs like Ryan Kerrigan, Mason Foster, and Josh Norman. However, they are just one more great edge rusher away from being a elite unit. That’s exactly what Sweat could potentially provide.
This is a no-pressure situation for the former Bulldog. Like Allen, there is no pressure on him to be elite right off the bat. Any positive plays he gives the Redskins will be a welcome addition to a defense just a player away from being one of the best in the league. Putting his 4.4 speed on the opposite side of the field from Kerrigan should be huge trouble for opposing NFC teams.
Credit where it's due: #Redskins have put together an immensely talented defensive front seven:
LE: Matt Ioannidis
RE: Jonathan Allen
NT: Daron Payne
ROLB: Montez Sweat
LOLB: Ryan Kerrigan
ILB: Mason Foster
ILB: Reuben Foster
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) April 26, 2019
3. DeAndre Baker-Georgia, 30th Overall Pick, New York Giants
It’s no secret that I’m a very big fan of Baker’s skillset. No defensive back had more of a dominant year this past season in college football than he did. And yet, he found himself slipping all the way down to pick No. 30.
After getting rid of Landon Collins in the offseason, the Giants badly needed defensive back help for a unit that was already 23rd in passing yardage allowed per game. Baker has the talent to excel right away and the personality to handle the New York spotlight.
While the Giants are going to be a very, very bad team this year, this could actually work in Baker’s favor. Any player who has a good season on a terrible team will get more recognition than he probably deserves. That may just be Baker this season, and I expect him to be in the running for DPOY.
4. Irv Smith Jr.-Alabama, 2nd Round 50th Overall, Minnesota Vikings
This pick absolutely rocks because of its simplicity. Everyone knows that Minnesota has one of the best tight ends in the game with Kyle Rudolph. However, they do not have anyone of major significance behind him. This is especially worrying because it prevents the Vikings from ever going to a trustworthy two tight-end set.
Enter Smith Jr. His rare combination of speed and athleticism will make a dangerous on-field combo with his pro-bowl counterpart. All of the attention in this draft towards tight ends has been mainly geared towards the two great pass catchers from Iowa and rightfully so. But it’s a joke that Smith Jr. fell all the way to the 50th pick considering he is on the same level as them.
Despite the fall, it’s a perfect situation. He is on a pretty good team, has no pressure on him, and will be learning behind one of the best in the league. Give it 2-3 years and the former Alabama star will be a top-10 tight end in the league.
#Vikings GM Rick Spielman addressed why they selected TE Irv Smith Jr. and the trade rumors surrounding TE Kyle Rudolph…
"They're going to have to defend one or the other & then if you put our 2 WR's out there with them…it makes defenses try to pick their poison."
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) May 1, 2019
5. A.J. Brown-Ole Miss, 2nd Round 51st Overall, Tennessee Titans
Filling team needs in a draft is huge for franchises. However, sometimes you just have to take the best player available. Whenever you can do both at once, you get a home-run pick. That’s exactly what happened when the Titans selected A.J. Brown in the second round.
In my opinion, I thought Brown had a great case as the best receiver in this draft and he somehow fell to the middle of the second round. I’m not sure what happened here, but the Titans really lucked up here.
Tennessee ranked 29th in total passing yardage per game, and that wasn’t because Marcus Mariota is a bad quarterback. Besides Corey Davis, the receiving core was very disappointing last season. Brown is an instant upgrade to the unit, and I would not be surprised to see him overtake Tajae Sharpe as the secondary receiver for this franchise by the end of the year.
— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) May 1, 2019
6. D.K. Metcalf-Ole Miss, 2nd Round 64th Overall, Seattle Seahawks
I have been on record saying that D.K. Metcalf might be a huge bust in the NFL. He has amazing size and speed, but he is coming off an injury and is bad route runner. Pretty much the only thing I see translating to the next level is his ability to run straight down the field and make athletic catches.
Well, if there is a team that utilizes this type of play more then the Seahawks do, I would like to see it. Russell Wilson may just be the best deep-ball thrower in the entire league as he is able to put insane arch on deep passes down the middle of the field.
Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett both had above average seasons last year benefiting off of Wilson’s playing style, and I think Metcalf will as well. It’s also important to note that Baldwin’s career may actually be over due to an unfortunate injury. Metcalf has a lot to improve upon, but being the potential No. 2 receiver with Wilson at quarterback is an awesome position for him to be in.
Seattle grabs DK Metcalf with the last pick of the 2nd round ? pic.twitter.com/GtxNv5xuhA
— ESPN (@espn) April 27, 2019
7. Jace Sternberger-Texas A&M, 3rd Round 75th Overall, Green Bay Packers
Here is another very smart tight end pick for a team that needs better offensive skill players. It was an incredibly rough season last year for Aaron Rodgers and company as the Packers missed the playoffs. While Davante Adams recorded 1,300 yards, no other receiver on the team had more than 636 receiving yards (Jimmy Graham).
Yes, Graham is still on the team, but he has taken several steps back in his career. He is not the player he once was which will give Sternberger valuable playing time this season. The Texas A&M star is an awesome RedZone target as he caught 10 TD’s last season. Just imagine what he can accomplish with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
This is another situation where a very talented player will be learning behind an all-pro and catching passes from a star quarterback with little pressure on him. Sternberger is one lucky guy.
— Jace Sternberger (@_Jstern) April 27, 2019
8. Benny Snell Jr.-Kentucky, 4th Round 122nd Overall, Pittsburgh Steelers
This guy has been underappreciated by so many (including me) for so long. He was easily one of the best running backs in college football this season, and Snell Jr. was easily the best back in the history of Kentucky football.
Yes, he ran a 4.66 40-yard dash at the combine which is, of course, not great to say the least. However, falling to the fourth round is a bit disrespectful. The awesome news is that he fell to a pretty great situation at Pittsburgh where his talents have the best chance to succeed.
What’s impressed me the most about Snell Jr. is his ability to be patient and let holes open up for him to then use his great strength and quickness to barrel over defenders. That’s exactly how Le’veon Bell and James Connor have played the position at Pittsburgh over the last few seasons. The offensive line is used to blocking for these types of backs, and Snell Jr. is bound to get valuable reps as the probable second-string back in this high-octane offense.
— Blitzburgh (@SteelBlitzburgh) April 27, 2019
9. Jarrett Stidham-Auburn, 4th Round 133rd Overall, New England Patriots
Let’s be honest: You all knew this pick was making this list. Before the draft, the Patriots backup quarterback behind legend Tom Brady was…. *checks notes*…..Brian Hoyer.
Stidham was a terrible fit in Auburn’s offense which also could never adequately block for him anyways. At Baylor as a freshman quarterback is where Stidham truly showcased his talent. I’m actually quite high on this guy, and I think the Patriots got an absolute steal here.
I think it’s a stretch to say that Brady will still be around three years from now which means Stidham has at least two full seasons to learn behind the greatest quarterback and coach in NFL history without any pressure to rush his development. Situations don’t get any better than this for a quarterback. Keep Stidham’s name in mind, folks. He will have his day sooner than you think.
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) April 28, 2019
10. Trayveon Williams-Texas A&M, 6th Round 182nd Overall, Cincinnati Bengals
Finally, we have Trayveon Williams who fell all the way to the 6th round of the draft. Like with Snell Jr., I think this fall was completely unwarranted. Williams was easily the second best running back in the SEC this year and for whatever reason he was overlooked.
He will most likely have to compete with Rodney Anderson for the right to be the third string running back once the season starts. However, Williams could easily beat out second string back Giovanni Bernard for his spot. Bernard’s time in the league seems to have went and gone already due to his long injury history.
Trayveon Williams cold af pic.twitter.com/mOPlmVLXvj
— Sant (@Worldsfinest26) September 18, 2016
With his elite speed and quickness, he is a great offset to starter Joe Mixon’s physical play. I would not be surprised that when we look back on this draft, we will be utterly surprised at how far Williams fell. This guy plays hard 100% of the time, and Bengals fans are going to love his effort.