2022-23 College Basketball Conference Preview: SEC Fantasy Outlook

2022-23 College Basketball Conference Preview: SEC Fantasy Outlook

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

The SEC was one of the most competitive conferences in all of college basketball last season. Four teams contended for the title, but it was ultimately Auburn being crowned champion. As good as Auburn was last year though, it underachieved significantly in the NCAA Tournament, getting ousted by Miami (FL) in the second round. Similarly, Kentucky looked prone to reach the Final Four, but were terribly beaten by Saint Peter's in the first round. Tennessee, who finished tied for second in the conference and won the SEC Tournament, lost to 11-seed Michigan in the second round. However, Arkansas, who finished fourth in the conference, saved its best for March. The Razorbacks nearly made it to the Final Four, only to be narrowly beaten by Duke in the Elite Eight. 

Looking ahead to 2022-23, there were many teams in the conference that rebuilt through the transfer portal, while others retained their veterans and also built through recruiting. The conference will have a full array of stars on display, as reigning SEC Player of the Year and National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe returns to try to lead Kentucky to a National Championship. Colin Castleton also returns, who finished eighth in the conference in scoring and sixth in rebounding, and will undoubtedly be the Gators go-to player. Intriguing transfers including KJ Williams, Johni Broome, Mark Sears and Isiaih Mosley will also try to lead their respective squads to the NCAA Tournament. Also, don't count out the freshman, as the

The SEC was one of the most competitive conferences in all of college basketball last season. Four teams contended for the title, but it was ultimately Auburn being crowned champion. As good as Auburn was last year though, it underachieved significantly in the NCAA Tournament, getting ousted by Miami (FL) in the second round. Similarly, Kentucky looked prone to reach the Final Four, but were terribly beaten by Saint Peter's in the first round. Tennessee, who finished tied for second in the conference and won the SEC Tournament, lost to 11-seed Michigan in the second round. However, Arkansas, who finished fourth in the conference, saved its best for March. The Razorbacks nearly made it to the Final Four, only to be narrowly beaten by Duke in the Elite Eight. 

Looking ahead to 2022-23, there were many teams in the conference that rebuilt through the transfer portal, while others retained their veterans and also built through recruiting. The conference will have a full array of stars on display, as reigning SEC Player of the Year and National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe returns to try to lead Kentucky to a National Championship. Colin Castleton also returns, who finished eighth in the conference in scoring and sixth in rebounding, and will undoubtedly be the Gators go-to player. Intriguing transfers including KJ Williams, Johni Broome, Mark Sears and Isiaih Mosley will also try to lead their respective squads to the NCAA Tournament. Also, don't count out the freshman, as the conference has once again attracted to top talent in the nation including Nick Smith, Yohan Traore, Cason Wallace, GG Jackson and Brandon Miller.

On paper, Kentucky looks to be the team to beat followed by Arkansas and Tennessee. After the top three, Auburn, Alabama, Texas A&M and Florida all appear to make a bid for March Madness. LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri are also capable of competing with top teams in the conference, but they appear to be at least another year away from contending in March. The bottom five teams -- Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Georgia -- appear to be building foundations for the future and may experience growing pains this year. 

Top Players

Overall: Oscar Tshiebwe, C, Kentucky

Last year's National Player of the Year and SEC Player of the Year returns to Lexington after a breakout campaign. Tshiebwe led the nation in rebounding with a phenomenal 15.1 boards per contest after averaging 8.6 in two seasons with West Virginia. In addition to rebounding, the double-double machine also led the Wildcats in points, steals and blocks. With Kentucky rebuilding with two top-15 prospects and a strong incoming transfer class, as well as Sahvir Wheeler returning to school, Tshiebwe will lead a hungry squad looking to bounce back from their early exit in the Big Dance last season. The center should once again be a frontrunner National POY.

Also Considered: Colin Castleton (FLA), Nick Smith (ARK), KJ Williams (LSU)

Scoring: Colin Castleton, C, Florida

In what was a surprising move, Castleton chose to return to Gainesville and forgo the NBA for another year of collegiate eligibility. If it wasn't for Tshiebwe electing to come back for another run, Castleton would arguably be the frontrunner for the best overall player in the conference. The center can not only score consistently (he scored in double figures in all but one matchup), but also rebound and defend at a high rate. Expect the Michigan transfer, who averaged 16.2 points and 9.0 rebounds in 2021-22, to lead the Gators offensively again and continue to pile up double-doubles night in and night out.

Also Considered: Nick Smith (ARK), Isiaih Mosley (UM), Hayden Brown (USC), Mark Sears (ALA)

Rebounding: KJ Williams, C, LSU

Transferring from Murray State, Williams decided to withdraw from the NBA Draft and follow his longtime head coach, Matt McMahon, to LSU. As a dominant post presence for the Racers in his career, Williams grabbed at least 8.4 rebounds per game in each of the past two campaigns. The center grabbed double-digit rebounds in 13 games, and also secured 11 double-doubles. With 18.0 points per matchup last year, the senior led his team in scoring.

Also Considered: Johni Broome (AUB), Josh Mballa (MISS), Theo Akwuba (MISS), Tulo Smith (MSU)

Assists: Sahvir Wheeler, G, Kentucky

This is a no brainer, as Wheeler has led the conference in assists in each of the past two seasons. The 5-9 point guard averaged 6.9 assists per game with his new team last year after transferring from Georgia. Wheeler was able to dish out at least seven assists in 16 matches and finished with two double-doubles. Wheeler, along with Tshiebwe, form a dynamic 1-2 punch for the Wildcats. 

Also Considered: Kyle Lofton (FLA), Justice Hill (LSU), Dashawn Davis (MSU)

Center: Johni Broome, C, Auburn

A former Morehead State star, Broome is arguably the best transfer of the conference. The forward/center averaged a double-double of 16.8 points and 10.5 rebounds across 34 starts and also swatted away a superb 3.9 blocks per matchup. Although the SEC is filled with many great centers, Broome's constant success at Morehead State will likely transfer over despite playing against better competition and opponents. 

Also Considered: Makhel Mitchell (ARK), Braelen Bridges (UGA)

Freshman: Nick Smith, G, Arkansas

Not only is Smith the highest-ranked recruit of the conference, but better yet, Smith is the highest-ranked recruit in the history of Arkansas' basketball program. That being said, the 6-4 shooting guard still has to prove himself, but his wide array of NBA-ready offensive skills, including his ability to drain a three from steps outside the arc, should help him succeed immediately. Smith joins a hungry Arkansas squad that will look to contend for the conference title and try to revenge their Elite Eight loss this past March. 

Also Considered: Yohan Traore (AUB), Cason Wallace (UK), GG Jackson (USC), Brandon Miller (ALA) 

Sleepers

K.D. Johnson, G, Auburn  

Johnson was the Tigers' second leading scorer last year behind Jabari Smith, who was selected third overall in this years' NBA Draft. Although the sharpshooter struggled offensively in a variety of matchups (he was held to seven points or below eight different times), Johnson has the capability to reach the 20-point mark on any given night. The guard accomplished that feat three times this past season, but also managed to score in double figures in 25-of-34 contests. With Smith and Walker Kessler both gone, the Tigers will likely rely on Johnson to lead a talented squad. 

Santiago Vescovi, G, Tennessee  

Tennessee returns four of its top-five scorers from a season ago, so Vescovi may get overlooked. However, just like K.D. Johnson, Vescovi also finished as the Vols' second-best scorer during the 2021-22 campaign. As a starter for the past three years, the shooting guard will likely be able to take the next step forward and lead a squad that is hungry to contended not only for the SEC title, but to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament. Aside from being a lethal shooter from three, the senior can contribute across all categories. Vescovi averaged a career-best 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game, along with a not-too-shabby 3.2 assists. 

Jacob Toppin, G, Kentucky  

Toppin toyed with the idea of going pro this past offseason but ultimately elected to return to the Wildcats. Although his numbers aren't too alarming, and Kentucky returns a squad that is filled with frontcourt depth, Toppin possess the talent and capability to break out offensively. The forward played like a future significant contributor during the team's summer exhibition trip to the Bahamas, posting scoring totals of 27 and 20 points in two games. Toppin also converted a solid 40 percent of his threes last year and scored in double figures in seven matchups. If given the opportunity, Toppin won't disappoint. 

Also Considered: Adam Miller (LSU), Myreon Jones (FLA)

Transfers

Kyle Lofton, G, Florida

Right after transferring to the Gators, Lofton tested the NBA waters before electing to return for a fifth year. The 6-3 guard had a stellar four-year run with St. Bonaventure, having averaged at least 12.8 points per game in every season while leading the team in assists the past three years. The Gators lost three of their top four scorers from a season ago, so there should be a plethora of opportunities for the senior. Lofton teams up with star center Colin Castleton and will likely form one of the best guard-center duos in the conference. 

Mark Sears, G, Alabama

Sears posted a breakout campaign with Ohio last year, having averaged a team-best 19.7 points and 4.1 assists. He was also one of the best rebounding point guards in the nation (6.0 rebounds per matchup). Sears is an instant three-point threat, as the guard shot a career-best 40.8 percent from distance across 35 starts last year for Ohio. Losing his top four scorers, Coach Nate Oats snatched up a proven scorer on the transfer portal, and he'll likely count on the veteran presence of Sears to lead the his offense right away.  

Isiaih Mosley, G, Missouri

The Tigers may have gotten a steal on the transfer wire in Mosley. A gifted scorer who has the talent to play professionally, Mosley has averaged at least 19.8 points per contest the past two seasons with Missouri State. The senior can also contribute elsewhere, as the forward has grabbed at least 6.2 rebounds in each of the past two campaigns. Across his three-year career, Mosley has proven that he's a threat from deep nailing a super 40.5 percent including a career-high 42.7 percent in 2021-22. Missouri had just two double-digit scorers during the 2021-22 campaign and lost four of its top five scorers. However, the Tigers did rebuild almost entirely on the transfer wire, but Mosley should still be the focal point of an offense that has struggled to score in recent years. 

Also Considered: Dashawn Davis (MSU), Hayden Brown (USC), Ezra Manjon (VAN)

Top-10 Players*

  1. Oscar Tshiebwe, C, Kentucky
  2. Colin Castleton, C, Florida
  3. KJ Williams, C, LSU
  4. Nick Smith, G, Arkansas
  5. Sahvir Wheeler, G, Kentucky
  6. Kyle Lofton, G, Florida
  7. Kario Oquendo, G, Georgia
  8. K.D. Johnson, G, Auburn
  9. Mark Sears, G, Alabama
  10. Santiago Vescovi, G, Tennessee

*Note: These rankings are at the discretion of the article author, and may not necessarily correspond with RotoWire's official 2021-22 player rankings.

Projected Team Standings

  1. Kentucky
  2. Arkansas
  3. Tennessee
  4. Auburn
  5. Alabama
  6. Texas A&m
  7. Florida 
  8. LSU
  9. Mississippi State
  10. Missouri
  11. Ole Miss
  12. Vanderbilt
  13. South Carolina
  14. Georgia

Projected Team Rotations

First NameLast NameSchoolPosition
JahvonQuinerlyAlabamaG
MarkSearsAlabamaG
RylanGriffinAlabamaG
BrandonMillerAlabamaF
CharlesBediakoAlabamaF
NimariBurnettAlabamaG
NoahGurleyAlabamaF
JadenBradleyAlabamaG
NickSmithArkansasG
DavonteDavisArkansasG
TrevonBrazileArkansasF
AnthonyBlackArkansasG
JordanWalshArkansasF
MakhelMitchellArkansasC
RickyCouncilArkansasG
KamaniJohnsonArkansasF
JalenGrahamArkansasF
ZepJasperAuburnG
WendellGreenAuburnG
JaylinWilliamsAuburnF
YohanTraoreAuburnF
JohniBroomeAuburnF
K.D.JohnsonAuburnG
AllenFlaniganAuburnG
ChanceWestryAuburnG
DylanCardwellAuburnC
KyleLoftonFloridaG
WillRichardFloridaG
AlexFudgeFloridaF
MyreonJonesFloridaG
ColinCastletonFloridaC
KowacieReevesFloridaG
JasonJitobohFloridaC
TreyBonhamFloridaG
CJFelderFloridaF
TerryRobertsGeorgiaG
KarioOquendoGeorgiaG
BraelenBridgesGeorgiaC
JustinHillGeorgiaG
JabriAbdur-RahimGeorgiaF
JailynIngramGeorgiaF
FrankAnselemGeorgiaC
MardrezMcBrideGeorgiaG
JaxonEtterGeorgiaG
JacobToppinKentuckyF
CasonWallaceKentuckyG
SahvirWheelerKentuckyG
OscarTshiebweKentuckyF
ChrisLivingstonKentuckyF
DaimionCollinsKentuckyF
CJFredrickKentuckyG
AntonioReevesKentuckyG
JusticeHillLSUG
AdamMillerLSUG
KJWilliamsLSUF
JalenReedLSUF
TyrellWardLSUF
MwaniWilkinsonLSUF
CamHayesLSUG
TraeHannibalLSUG
ShawnPhillipsLSUC
DeaeshunRuffinMississippiG
TyeFaganMississippiG
TheoAkwubaMississippiC
JoshMballaMississippiF
JayveousMcKinnisMississippiF
JaemynBrakefieldMississippiF
MatthewMurrellMississippiG
JamesWhiteMississippiG
AmareeAbramMississippiG
DashawnDavisMississippi StG
EricReed Jr.Mississippi StG
D.J.JeffriesMississippi StF
TylerStevensonMississippi StF
ToluSmithMississippi StC
ShakeelMooreMississippi StG
JamelHortonMississippi StG
WilliamMcNairMississippi StF
IsiaihMosleyMissouriF
KobeBrownMissouriF
NickHonorMissouriG
NoahCarterMissouriF
D'MoiHodgeMissouriG
DeAndreGholstonMissouriG
AidanShawMissouriF
RonnieDeGrayMissouriF
SeanEastMissouriG
MeechieJohnsonSouth CarolinaG
ChicoCarterSouth CarolinaG
HaydenBrownSouth CarolinaF
JoshGraySouth CarolinaC
GGJacksonSouth CarolinaF
JacobiWrightSouth CarolinaG
BenjaminBosmans-VerdonkSouth CarolinaF
DanielHankins-SanfordSouth CarolinaF
SantiagoVescoviTennesseeG
Josiah-JordanJamesTennesseeG
ZakaiZeiglerTennesseeG
JulianPhillipsTennesseeF
TyrekeKeyTennesseeG
OlivierNkamhouaTennesseeF
UrosPlavsicTennesseeC
JonasAidooTennesseeC
WadeTaylorTexas A&MG
TyreceRadfordTexas A&MG
MannyObasekiTexas A&MG
HenryColemanTexas A&MF
JuliusMarbleTexas A&MF
AndreGordonTexas A&MG
KhalenRobinsonTexas A&MG
AnderssonGarciaTexas A&MF
EthanHendersonTexas A&MF
EzraManjonVanderbiltG
TreyThomasVanderbiltG
LiamRobbinsVanderbiltC
QuentinMillora-BrownVanderbiltF
JordanWrightVanderbiltG
MylesStuteVanderbiltF
TyrinLawrenceVanderbiltG
EmmanuelAnsongVanderbiltF
LeeDortVanderbiltC

Other College Basketball Resources:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Markus Tobias
Markus started covering fantasy sports in 2017, the same year he joined RotoWire. He currently covers college basketball, the NBA and the WNBA for RotoWire. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 2019 with a degree in Marketing and Supply Chain Management.
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