- CBS Sports named Missouri point guard Phil Pressey to its preseason All-America first team. “It’s so rare in college basketball today to have a guy like Phil who just makes everyone better,” said college basketball writer Jeff Goodman. “That’s the No. 1 quality of a point guard, someone that heightens the level of play of everyone around him. Phil is a good leader and can be a great defender, but ultimately what sets him apart is his ability to put opposing defenses on their heels and get his teammates open looks.” Pressey averaged an impressive 6.4 assists and 2.1 steals per game last season. The star point guard would also make a good candidate for the All-Blogger team as he wrote for Goodman this summer in an entertaining blog about the Tigers’ trip to Europe. I still vote @rushthecourt for All-Blogger team Player of the Year and first team honors.
- Florida and Kentucky are arguably the two best teams in the SEC (with Missouri, of course, in the mix), but ESPN thinks the two juggernauts also have the toughest non-conference schedules in the league. The Gators face a daunting schedule of Wisconsin, at Arizona, Georgetown, Kansas State and at Florida State. Meanwhile, the Wildcats pair up with foes Duke, Baylor, at Notre Dame, and Maryland. It’s no coincidence that the most consistent teams and dominant coaches in the SEC continue to schedule in a way that challenges their young teams to grow and prepare prior to hitting conference play. Both schools continue to reap the benefits of a strong non-conference schedule when UK and Florida are among the nation’s most prepared teams come tournament time.
- Kentucky coach John Calipari is calling on a familiar name to assess this year’s team. Number one draft pick Anthony Davis played with the current Cats this summer and offered up an observation. “Kyle is way better, way stronger, can do more things. I really like where Kyle is right now,” Davis said. “Kyle” is of course Kentucky sophomore Kyle Wiltjer. Wiltjer averaged just 4.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game on last season’s national championship squad, but he was also relegated to the bench behind several future NBA players — Davis, Terrence Jones, Darius Miller, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. While Wiltjer played only 11.3 minutes per game, surely being the elder statesmen on a young squad this season will have its advantages, or at least some additional time on the court. Wiltjer’s progress will go a long way in determining Kentucky’s success this season.
- It can be difficult to keep up with Kentucky’s revolving door of freshmen talent, so a comparison can help give Wildcat fans an idea of what to expect. Though Calipari cautioned Big Blue Nation to avoid comparing Nerlens Noel to last year’s NPOY Davis, he was less hesitant to compare freshman forward Alex Poythress to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. “Lets not say Michael Gilchrist but somewhere in that category of a Michael Gilchrist,” Calipari said. “That every minute you’re on the floor you’re either diving, you’re going after a ball, you’re attacking the ball, you’re in a defensive stance. You’re bouncing, you’re sprinting, you’re doing something, you’re motor’s moving. You’re never jogging, there is no such thing as a jog. When he gets to that point it becomes a little scary.” In tomorrow’s SEC Morning Five, look for a blurb regarding Calipari’s comparisons of shooting guards Archie Goodwin and Doron Lamb.
- Everybody is chiming in with opinions in anticipation of viewing Kentucky’s fab freshmen next week. Analyst Jimmy Dykes is curious, however, to see one of the less heralded freshmen — Willie Cauley-Stein. “I know about Goodwin, Poythress, Nerlens, Wiltjer, [Jon] Hood,” Dykes said. “Willie is a guy I have not seen and continue to hear high praise about. He probably was not rated as high as he should have been. I am anxious to see how good he looks and how he can potentially be.” If Cauley-Stein’s basketball skills are half as good as his freestyle rap skills in a McDonald’s parking lot, then look out world. You’ve been warned.
Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.