Several Southeastern Conference coaches noted the expected strength of the league this year after the SEC put three times in the Elite Eight last year.
“As you look as a whole, last year I thought the league was very underrated. It proved to be true in the end, getting five teams in the tournament and three in the Elite Eight. If you look on paper, we have more top‐100 recruits coming in than in any league in the country,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said Wednesday in Nashville.
“We have more projected lottery picks than any other league in the country according to some draft scales. All indications are that the league should be even better.”
Mississippi State coach Ben Howland uses the word “monster” to describe the league.
“When you look at our league right now it’s really trending upward. You go up and down the league. Our league is loaded with NBA prospects, and a number of guys are going to get drafted. Top to bottom nobody is an easy game,” Howland said.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy agrees.
“Top to bottom it’s as good as the league has been in my tenure. The top has always been strong. There have been national champions come out of this league for a long time. The middle has always been good. The difference now is the back has gotten better,” Kennedy said.
Florida coach Mike White took his team to the Elite Eight last year and had the Gators picked to finish second this season. He thinks that might be too high for his veteran team.
“We lost a lot. I think our league is as good as it’s been since I’ve been a part of the SEC; I don’t think the SEC has been from top to bottom any stronger than it is right now. It’s a pretty lofty expectation there, but I’m more concerned with internal expectations,” White said.
Cuonzo Martin is back in the SEC leading Missouri after previously coaching at Tennessee before leaving for California.
“There is a lot of talent and great coaching. In my opinion just watching the SEC from afar, it’s probably the best it’s been in the last 20 years top to bottom talent and the level of skill on the perimeter as well as big guys. I think it will be a fun year,” Martin said.