This article is part of our Conference Preview series.
College basketball has a short memory. While it may seem that Kentucky has dominated the SEC for a Kansas-like era, the Wildcats have only strung together three straight regular season championships. The squad for coach John Calipari does not have much returning talent, so the freshmen will have to progress quickly. While I could have worked a Wildcat into this SEC preview, there are better options across the board. To further complicate the matter, I am not sure how the Kentucky rotation is going to work out. My guess is Hamadou Diallo and Kevin Knox will be the stars, but Kentucky doesn't even have the top rated freshman in the conference – that title belongs to Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. It could be a year of upheaval in the SEC.
Top Three PlayersYante Maten (F)
Last year, the Bulldogs boasted one of the best 1-2 punches in college basketball with Maten and J.J. Frazier. Maten returns as the top Bulldog and a leading candidate for SEC Player of the Year. Before missing five of the last seven games of the 2016-17 season with a knee injury, Maten showed a complete offensive package. He averaged 18.2 points and hit 48.8 percent of his 3-pointers. The 6-8 senior also anchored the Georgia defense with 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. He may face the teeth of opposing defenses with Frazier gone, but the Bulldogs return an experienced crew with Juwan Parker, Derek Ogbeide, and Jordan Harris. Maten could be a 20-point scorer.