South Carolina basketball: SEC projections for 2020 season

Frank Martin of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Frank Martin of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /
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Jermaine Couisnard #5 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

#5. South Carolina

Many will say that this projection is too high for the Gamecocks, but that’s probably folks just looking at the name on the jersey, rather than the team itself. As mentioned before, South Carolina has finished in the top six of the league standings four of the last five years, despite the typical hum-ho media predictions that list them near the bottom of the league. This season will be no different.

Coach Martin brings back his most experienced team since the 2017 Final Four run. Expect the Gamecocks to build upon the 10-8 conference record from a year ago and stick around the top of the standings late into the year.

#4. Florida

Florida underperformed a bit last season, as they seemed primed to make a run in the SEC ahead of 2019. Still, the Gators ended the year with an 11-7 record and a fifth-place conference finish. They were a likely tournament team prior to the postseason being shut down.

The Gators enter 2020 with the same expectations, especially with star guards Keyonte Johnson and Scottie Lewis back in the fold. Florida loses big men Andrew Nembhard and Kerry Blackshear, but should be talented enough to make some noise in the SEC and the NCAA tournament.

#3. LSU

Skylar Mays and Emmitt Williams are gone, but a trio of talented players opted out of the NBA draft and plan to return to Baton Rouge. Trendon Watford, Javonte Smart, and Darius Days are back following productive 2019 seasons.

The returners at key spots give the Tigers a chance to improve upon their 12-6 finish from last season. A strong core should set LSU up for a run at the SEC title.

#2. Tennessee

The Vols bring back a heap of talent with the return of Josiah James, John Fulkerson, and defensive player of the year Yves Pons. Tennessee does lose Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden, but the incoming freshman class could help ease the pain.

Rick Barnes has done a fantastic job with the Volunteer program since his arrival in 2015. You can bet on Tennessee hanging around the top half of the league, with a chance at a conference championship if a few things go their way.

#1. Kentucky

Hard to go against the Wildcats, here. They’ve won the league six times over the last decade, including another top finish in 2019. They do lose a ton of talent, but it’s a situation that John Calipari’s had to address nearly every year since he took over in Lexington.

Gone are SEC player of the year Immanuel Quickley, Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey, and Nick Richards, but they also bring in the league’s top freshman class. Transfer center Olivier Sarr could be a difference maker if he’s ruled eligible. He was an all-ACC performer at Wake Forest in 2019.

Gamecocks all-time starting 5. dark. Next