With the 'Dores playing out the string this season -- this clearly isn't going to be an NCAA team, and even the NIT is a longshot -- it's looking like time to look ahead to next season. With everybody returning for next season, and with Eric McClellan and Damian Jones coming in, it's hard to see how this team doesn't improve. But what about the rest of the SEC? Here's a quick look at how the rest of the SEC stacks up for next season. Obviously, we don't know who all won't be back next season just yet -- some players will leave for the NBA, while some will leave for other reasons. We can, however, take some look at the returning and incoming talent for all 14 teams.
NOTE: Number listed in parentheses is Win Shares, as found at sports-reference.com. Star ratings for recruits are from Rivals.
Possible early entry: Patric Young (6.2)
Obviously, the losses here hurt, but with two talented transfers coming in and a pair of blue-chip recruits, the Gators won't drop off that much. This should still be an NCAA team and SEC contender.
Leaving: Julius Mays (2.4)
Incoming: Aaron Harrison (5* recruit), Andrew Harrison (5* recruit), Marcus Lee (5* recruit), Derek Willis (3* recruit), James Young (5* recruit), Dakari Johnson (5* recruit)
It's Kentucky, so there are going to be some early defections to the NBA, but also some really talented players coming in. Calipari's recruiting class might not be complete yet, and there are whispers that this group could be even better than Kentucky's 2011 recruiting class. This team will be good.
Incoming: Dwight Coleby (3* recruit), Janari Joesaar (3* recruit), Sebastian Saiz (3* recruit)
Marshall Henderson should be back, but Buckner and Holloway are more important to this team than most people give them credit for. Ole Miss will likely take a step back next season, and might be breaking in a new coach, too.
Mizzou loses their top three players (according to Win Shares, anyhow), and also might have to replace Phil Pressey, who doesn't appear on most draft boards but in theory could leave. But there is some talent incoming so I wouldn't write them off; this looks like a borderline NCAA team to me.
Leaving: Andrew Steele (0.6)
Incoming: Jimmie Taylor (4* recruit), Shannon Hale (4* recruit)
The Tide's losses are minimal, and with two incoming bigs and Carl Engstrom returning from injury, there will be much more depth in the frontcourt. This looks like an NCAA team and possibly an SEC title contender.
Leaving: Kenny Hall (1.9), Skylar McBee (0.8)
Getting Maymon back will be huge, and assuming Jarnell Stokes (4.2) doesn't leave, this should be an improved team next year as well.
Leaving: No one.
Possible early entry: B.J. Young (2.6)
Incoming: Alandise Harris (Houston transfer, 3.1 in 2011-12), Moses Kingsley (4* recruit), Bobby Portis (5* recruit)
Another team with a lot of talent back, though the return of Young is an open question, and the Hogs are currently set to be over their scholarship limit so a couple of guys will be gone (we just don't know who), but there's a good chance they'll improve.
Incoming: Jarell Martin (5* recruit), Jordan Mickey (4* recruit), Tim Quarterman (4* recruit), John Odo (3* recruit)
The losses aren't insignificant, but both seniors should be replaceable, and that's a good recruiting class coming in.
Possible early entry: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5.3)
Incoming: Houston Kessler (NR recruit, redshirt), J.J. Frazier (3* recruit), Juwan Parker (3* recruit)
Basically, it all comes down to whether Caldwell-Pope returns or not. If he does, it's easy to see Georgia improving as their other losses are fairly minimal. If he doesn't, it's hard to see how the Bulldogs contend.
Space played a grand total of 30 minutes in one season at FSU, but was a 4* recruit out of high school. The losses here are significant, but there are a couple of talented freshmen and the incoming players could surprise; expect A&M to stay about where they are.
Leaving: No one.
Incoming: Eric McClellan (Tulsa transfer, 2.0 in 2011-12), Damian Jones (4* recruit)
If you're reading this, you're probably familiar with the players Vandy has coming back. (If not, there are plenty here who would be happy to tell you.)
Incoming: Sindarius Thornwell (4* recruit), Desmond Ringer (3* recruit), Justin McKie (NR recruit)
Now, Frank Martin might decide to run some guys off (at this point he's intentionally playing walkons), but inking Thornwell is at least a good start toward improving this team.
Incoming: K.T. Harrell (UVA transfer, 0.2 in 2011-12), Ronald Delph (NR recruit), Benas Griciunas (3* recruit), Tahj Shamsid-Deen (3* recruit)
Sullivan and Chubb seem like significant losses, but it's not like Auburn was any good with them, while Harrell was a highly-regarded recruit out of high school. Auburn could be slightly improved, but I don't really like the looks of this.
Leaving: Wendell Lewis (0.6)
It's hard to see how the Bulldogs could actually be worse than they are this year. Lewis (who hasn't played since December) might get a medical hardship, for all we know, but just having a full roster will be a big plus.
In sum, while we expect Vandy to improve in 2013-14, it's worth pointing out that a lot of the other teams in the SEC are going to be improved as well, so even if the team is improved, moving up in the SEC standings will be a bit more difficult than it would be this year.