SEC basketball has been mostly awful outside of Lexington and Gainesville for the last decade. Early losses to inferior teams by Ole Miss and Missouri plus a lack of a significant win from any team other than Kentucky have not made the best first impression. However, the bad losses are far fewer than recent years and the league has the most NBA-caliber talent in a decade beyond the Kentucky state lines. Here are five things to be grateful for early in the SEC season:
5…Point guard play has held the SEC back in recent years as the better players were better scorers than distributors. Freshmen Justin Coleman (Alabama), Wade Baldwin (Vanderbilt), Marcus Stroman (South Carolina), and Tyler Ulis (Kentucky) give the SEC young, ready-to-help talent at the most important position in college basketball.
FORE!…We are only 6 weeks from no longer having to nervously check SEC box scores for conference teams being upset by less talented teams. The coroner report on most of these games will show a very athletic SEC team buried under an avalanche of their own bricks. Thankfully, most SEC teams will have significantly improved once the eyes of fans shift from the gridiron to the hardwood.
3D…One of many dunks fans will see from LSU's Jarell Martin this season:
2…Through 5 games, Levi leads Alabama in points (20.6) and rebounds (6.2) while continuing to be one of the best man-to-man defenders in the conference. He is 35 for 35 from the free throw line and has only committed 3 turnovers while playing 35 minutes a game. A solid player on and off the court for his first 3 seasons, Randolph could reach his personal goal of being the Crimson Tide's first Academic All-American in basketball if he can keep carrying the Tide in his senior season.
And 1…Love them or hate them, Kentucky means the SEC will have a team to cheer for deep into the postseason. They also give every school at least one game a year that they know they can sell all of their tickets. While freshman Karl Anthony-Towns is showing a high enough level of skill on both ends of the floor to supplant Jahlil Okafor as the top pick in the draft, Andrew Harrison's improvement in distributing the basketball has been a key development on the other end of their suffocating defense.