This year, SEC basketball consisted of Kentucky and a lot of average-to-bad teams, but there’s good news on the horizon: The Conference is actually bringing in some big-name coaches.
The latest well-known coach to enter the conference? Rick Barnes. Jettisoned by Texas after several underachieving years, Barnes has accepted the Tennessee job. Great recruiter. Not the greatest in-game coach, but motivated to rebound after the last few years at Texas, expect the Vols – who reached the Sweet 16 in 2014 – to be very competitive again in the coming years.
Ben Howland was just added to Mississippi State, and given his history in Pittsburgh, expect the Bulldogs to bounce back quickly. Alabama is big-name hunting and pursing Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, which would be a tremendous addition to a program that has one NCAA tournament win in the last decade.
Florida missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009, but assuming Billy Donovan doesn’t jump to Texas, the Gators will be back next year.
Bruce Pearl had a solid 1st year at Auburn, he is an excellent recruiter and don’t be surprised if the Tigers are in the NCAA Tournament next season.
Mark Fox is building something nice in Georgia, and after reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011, three starters return. Andy Kennedy is a good coach at Ole Miss (NCAA trips two of the last three years), and Frank Martin is a coach on the rise at South Carolina who returns six of his top seven players.
Everyone can agree that the ACC, Big 10 and Big 12 are the three best conferences in the country, with the Big East and Pac-12 right there for 4th. Assuming John Calipari stays in Kentucky, the SEC could be in the discussion for best conference in the country within three years.