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UK, UL, and WKU Ready for Huge Seasons

UK, UL, and WKU Ready for Huge Seasons

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.

Kentucky

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.

Louisville

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.

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.

Western Kentucky

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.

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.


BREAKING: The SEC has lifted ban on stadium-wide alcohol sales

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.

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.

@RossDellenger

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.

(Sports Illustrated)


Auburn forward Danjel Purifoy might be in trouble with the NCAA… again

Auburn forward Danjel Purifoy might be in trouble with the NCAA… again

Facebook: Waukesha W-Blevins

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.

Screenshot retrieved by AL.com

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.

Screenshot retrieved by AL.com

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.

(AL.com)


Best NBA Landing Spots for UK Prospects

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.

P.J. Washington

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.

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.

Tyler Herro

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.

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.

Keldon Johnson

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.

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.


Big Board for the 2019 NBA Draft

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Top Recruiting Classes in the SEC for 2019

(Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

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)

1. Kentucky

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.

2. Georgia

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.

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.

3. Florida

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.

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.

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.

4. Alabama

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.

5. Auburn

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.

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.


Best Picks from the SEC in the NFL Draft

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.