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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Early Commitments Keep Rolling In

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxLSU’s 2015 class became more athletic this week.

The Tigers received commitments from running back David Ducre from Lakeshore High School in Mandeville, La., and wide receiver Jazz Ferguson from West Feliciana High School in St. Francisville, La.

“It’s a dream come true,” Ferguson told “My parents knew since I was about seven or eight that I wanted to go there and they told me to go for it. I told Coach (Frank) Wilson I wanted to talk to Coach (Les) Miles and when I told him I was ready to commit, he said thank you and he was happy to have me.”

LSU has nine commitments for the 2015 class, which is tied with Alabama for the No. 1 spot in the Rivals Team Rankings.

The commitments from Ducre and Ferguson followed a pledge from defensive end Isaiah Washington from Edna Karr High School in New Orleans. Washington committed to the Tigers earlier than even he expected.

“At first when Les Miles offered me, I didn’t want to commit,” Washington told Tiger Bait. “But the longer I sat in there and thought about what I was going to be a part of, I was like, ‘I might as well.’ I like the surroundings and everything they have going on. I just committed. I’m a Tiger.”

Washington helped LSU end a short drought at Edna Karr. Highly-touted receiver Speedy Noil (Texas A&M) and defensive lineman Gerald Willis III (Florida) both left Edna Karr for out-of-state schools in the 2014 class. LSU was able to sign Edna Karr linebacker Donnie Alexander.

It’s a good start for LSU’s 2015 class, which has five commitments from in-state prospects. The state of Louisiana will continue to be a high priority for the Tigers.


Rivers switches to ‘dream school’ Georgia

An offer from Georgia was too much for Chauncey Rivers to pass up.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 2/15/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Texas A&M at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt favored by 4.

1. Texas A&M’s first game since losing freshman Devonte Fitzgerald who tore the ACL in his left knee.  Coach Billy Kennedy: “We need guys to step up because Davonte was averaging around 8.5 points a game and for us that’s a lot of points.”

2. Already short-handed Vanderbilt may be down another player.  Freshman Luke Kornet rolled his ankle against South Carolina this week.  ”He’s questionable.”

Mississippi State at Auburn. Auburn favored by 9.5

3. Mississippi State hasn’t won a game since the last time it played Auburn. Bulldogs haven’t scored more than 63 points in any game during current six-game losing streak.

4. Auburn wants revenge.  Tigers forward Allen Payne: ”We feel like every game is pivotal, but this one especially.”

Alabama at South Carolina. Pick/South Carolina favored by 1

5. Chance for Alabama to break out of its road slump.  Crimson Tide 0-10 this season away from home.

6. In SEC play, South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell leads all freshmen in scoring, assists and steals.

Ole Miss at Georgia. Georgia favored by 3.5

7. Key for Ole Miss - contributions from both Jarvis Summers and Marshall Henderson.  

8. At least six Georgia players battling a stomach bug.  Team wore surgical masks en route to Mississippi State earlier this week.

Tennessee at Missouri. Missouri favored by 2

9. Two teams on the bubble are two of the best free-throw shooting teams.  Missouri leads the league while Tennessee is third in free-throw shooting percentage.

10. Missouri has received great production from its guards all year long.  It now needs its supporting cast to step up.

LSU at Arkansas. Arkansas favored by 5

11. When forward Johnny O’Bryant gets in foul trouble, LSU can struggle.  “Sometimes when I go out I think we do a bad job just standing around.”

12. Arkansas could be without forward Moses Kingsley. Suffered an apparent back injury against Missouri and is questionable today.

Florida at Kentucky. Kentucky favored by 2

13. Florida’s 16-game winning streak on the line at Rupp Arena.  Gators haven’t won there since 2007.

14. Kentucky coach John Calipari showed his team a replay of Florida center Patric Young saving the ball against Tennessee this week. “That play is a little microcosm of what it means to really want to win.”


15. It happened twenty years ago today.  “Kentucky pulled off the greatest comeback in college basketball history tonight…”

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Texas A&M’s Continues To Grow

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxIt didn’t seem like a big deal when Texas A&M signed one the nation’s top-ranked classes on Feb. 5.

But it should be considering where the Aggies’ recruiting was earlier this decade.

Texas A&M, which signed 21 prospects in the 2014 class, landed seven of the top 25 players in the state of Texas, according to Texas, which typically signs the best in-state haul, ended up with six of the top 25 in-state players.

How quickly have things changed? Just three years ago, Texas A&M didn’t sign one of the top 25 in-state players in the 2011 class. That was former head coach Mike Sherman’s final class with the Aggies.

It’s clear coach Kevin Sumlin has made a tremendous impact on Texas A&M’s recruiting. And that’s around the country, not just inside the state of Texas.

Texas A&M went to Scottsdale, Ariz., to land quarterback Kyle Allen, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2014 class by Rivals. Sumlin was able to convince New Orleans wide receiver Speedy Noil to turn down an offer from LSU in favor of Texas A&M.

Sumlin has quickly changed Texas A&M’s perception from a program that’s underachieving to a program that’s on the rise.

“I think we’ve been able to get over the hump … with more guys than we probably used to,” Sumlin said on signing day. “As I’ve said to the guys we’re recruiting, ‘There’s a reason why guys are coming here.’ It’s not one thing, it’s a lot of things, which has given us some momentum … Certainly in the state of Texas, we’ve really, really made some strides.”

Those strides have extended to the 2015 class.

Texas A&M has already landed seven commitments for next year’s class. All seven of those prospects reside in the state of Texas.

“It feels like home when I go down there,” 2015 defensive tackle Daylon Mack told Rivals when he committed to Texas A&M in October. “It’s just feels like the right decision in so many ways. In my heart I know it will be.”

The rest of the SEC knows it will have to battle Texas A&M for the nation’s top prospects as long as Sumlin is leading the way.


Bridges chooses Auburn

Auburn received a commitment this week from cornerback Tony Bridges from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston, Miss.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 2/13/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Kentucky 64 – Auburn 56. Video Highlights

1. Kentucky grabs 22 offensive rebounds on the night. Andrew Harrison led UK with 16 points. Julius Randle added 12 points and 12 rebounds.

2. Chris Denson scores a game-high 26 points but KT Harrell fails to hit three-pointer for first time this season. Coach Tony Barbee: “We need Chris Denson and KT Harrell to play big for us at the same time.”

Texas A&M 83 – LSU 73. Video Highlights

3. Aggies get 12 points and 10 rebounds from Kourtney Roberson as Texas A&M wins the battle of the boards 39-32.

4. LSU fell to 1-5 away from Baton Rouge in SEC play. Coach Johnnie Jones: “They were able to stretch our defense. That’s not something they’ve been noted for.”

Georgia 75 – Mississippi State 55

5. Down by 14 points early, Georgia rallies for easy 20-point win.  Charles Mann led the Bulldogs with 19 points.

6. Georgia’s Kenny Paul Geno grew up a Mississippi State fan. Helped ignite a 20-5 run for Georgia in first half.

SEC Thursday Hoops

Vanderbilt at South Carolina

Arkansas at Missouri

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SEC Headlines 2/11/2014

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is proud of the way his team supported Michael Sam last season.

2. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are both prepared if they have a football player decide to announce he’s gay.

3.  MSU has added former Utah assistant Brian Johnson as the Dogs’ new quarterbacks coach.

4. Former Georgia tight end Aaron Lynch, who played against Sam, said Sam showed “courage and inner strength.”

5. Alabama signee Rashaan Evans said the backlash from Auburn fans is getting worse.

6. Alabama linebacker signee Keith Holcombe was encouraged by his father to play like former Tide linebacker Cory Reamer.

7. Auburn signee Jakell Mitchell has high expectations for himself in the Tigers’ offense.

8. Robb Smith said he’s ready for the challenge of running Arkansas’ defense.

9. Georgia’s defense – led by Jeremy Pruitt – will be “varied” and “multiple.”

10. Clemson has been beating South Carolina in recruiting. But the Gamecocks have still won on the field.

11. Tennessee assistant Tommy Thigpen was named recruiter of the year by Rivals.

12. Vanderbilt’s football program is taking a different approach toward strength and conditioning.

SEC Basketball

13. Alabama is preparing to host Marshall Henderson and Ole Miss tonight.

14. John Calipari on Auburn coach Tony Barbee: “He’s coaching as well as anybody in this conference and in the country.”

15. Mark Story looks at renovation plans involving Rupp Arena.

16. Florida is preparing for a tough road stretch. It starts tonight at Tennessee.

17. The Vols will have to play well to beat Florida, which defeated Tennessee by 26 points last month.

18. LSU coach Johnny Jones on rowdy fans: “You don’t look. You don’t say anything back. You don’t entertain it.”

19. Jones praised his team for its support of Malik Morgan, who’s lost for the season with a knee injury.

20. Mississippi State point guard I.J. Ready remains day-to-day as he fights a cold. Flu tests came back negative.


21. LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee are all “on the fence” in Jerry Palm’s latest bubble watch.

22. The joy and hope of Marcus Smart’s sophomore season is gone, writes Barry Tramel.

23. Kansas and Iowa State both fell on Monday, showing the depth of the Big 12.

24. Tom Fornelli looks at the offseason for the Notre Dame football program.

25. Mark Schlabach has his post-signing day top 25 for the 2014 season.

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SEC Headlines 2/5/2014

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Recruiting success at Texas A&M: “The question now isn’t whether A&M is the top destination in Texas, it’s, “How did the Aggies get there?”

2.  Recruits don’t have to sign today.  And they don’t have to sign a National Letter of Intent to play football.

3. ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill: “In this day and age, the likelihood that a prospect will actually play for a position coach, coordinator or coach on the staff that recruited them for a span of three to five years is minimal.”

4. “If you think it was torture watching your son play in high school, it doesn’t compare to college.”

5. Point – former Rivals owner and current 247Sports CEO Shannon Terry: “I believe the recruiting industry has hit a bubble.” Counterpoint - crashes this morning - “insane traffic.”

6. Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer on talent in the Volunteer State.  “I think high school football in Tennessee in general has continued to get better and better, and Nashville and Middle Tennessee in particular, because of population.”

7. “The nagging question: even if (Gary) Pinkel’s recruiting is good enough to win the 2013 SEC East, will it be to win future editions of the SEC East?” Pinkel’s Missouri program makes further inroads in the Southeast this year.

8. Who will be Arkansas’ defensive coordinator  next season? ”Coach B told me that he was getting close to finding his guy.”

9. Razorbacks director of recruiting Chris Hauser: “Our philosophy is, you always have to recruit to what you believe in and the type of culture you want to create in your program.”

10. Florida safety Cody Riggs reportedly transferring. Started every game in 2013.

11. Western Georgia has signed former Mississippi State defensive lineman Quay Evans.

12. Lane Kiffin talks to Sports Illustrated about his first impressions of the Alabama program: ”It’s an absolute machine from when you step into that building until you walk out at the end of the night.”

SEC Basketball

13. Is Kentucky really the “most overanalyzed team I’ve ever seen in the history of the game, at any level, in any sport”?

14. Junior Jordan Green has developed into a leader for Texas A&M.

15. A streak breaks tonight.  A&M has lost five straight.  Mississippi State has yet to win a road game.

16. Alabama travels to Arkansas tonight. Both teams have lost two straight.

17. South Carolina hosts a surging Auburn team.  Tigers have won two in a row in conference play for the first time since the beginning of last year’s conference slate.

18. Tennessee-Vanderbilt won’t be televised tonight.

19. Our earlier roundup of Tuesday night SEC hoops.


20. Charles Barkley on Seattle breaking Denver’s codes in the Super Bowl: ”I went to Auburn. We’re not breaking a lot of codes down there.”

21. Flashback to 2007. Russell Wilson was a 2-star recruit.  Top-rated QB was Jimmy Clausen.

22. NFL strikes a deal with CBS for Thursday Night Football.

23. Want to go to Sochi for the Winter Olympics?  Check out these pictures of hotel rooms that are not exactly ready. But they do have a Putin picture in every room.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 2/1/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Kentucky at Missouri - Kentucky favored by 1 1/2 or 2

1. Kentucky is 2-5 away from Rupp Arena this season.  Team has players-only meeting following loss to LSU this week.

2. Kentucky has never played in Columbia.  Missouri has never beaten Kentucky – Tigers 0-5 against the Wildcats.

Georgia at Auburn - Georgia favored by 4

3. Georgia just 1-7 away from home.  Coach Mark Fox wants his squad to focus on better shot selection.

4. Auburn’s Chris Denson is second in the league in scoring average at 19.6 point a game.  Coming off a career-high 32-point outing against Alabama.

South Carolina at Ole Miss – Ole Miss favored by 9 1/2

5. Rebels won in Columbia by a point when these two teams met two weeks ago.

6. Does anyone in college basketball draw the attention and the wrath of opposing fans more than Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson?

Texas A&M at Florida – Florida favored by 17 1/2

7. Struggling Aggies go to Gainesville trying to break to a four-game losing streak. “It’s kind of gut check time to see how we are really going to finish off the year.”

8. Florida streaking in the opposite direction.  Gators have won 12 in a row and 26 straight at home.

Arkansas at LSU – LSU favored by 5

9. Razorbacks are 2-21 on the road under coach Mike Anderson.  Can Arkansas turn it around in Baton Rouge?

10. LSU knows it needs to be prepared for a pressing defense.  ”They want to speed you up and that’s what we want to do, too.”

Mississippi State at Vanderbilt – Vanderbilt by 6

11. Both of these teams have experienced roster attrition the last few years.  Combined, they have just 15 scholarship players.

12. Vanderbilt has the top three players in the league when it comes to minutes played in conference games.

Tennessee at Alabama – Tennessee by 1 1/2

13. The month of February has been good to Tennessee under coach Cuonzo Martin.  Vols 13-3 in the month the last two seasons.

14. Short turnaround for Alabama after blowout loss at Auburn Thursday night.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 1/31/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Florida 62 – Mississippi State 51. Video Highlights

1. Gators close out a perfect 8-0 January, have now won 12 straight.  Team-high 16 points for Casey Prather.

2. Florida beat Mississippi State by 35 points a year ago in Starkville, 11 this year.  Coach Rick Ray: “Our team is growing. But we still have ways to go.”

Auburn 74 – Alabama 55.

3. Career-high 32 points for Chris Denson.  KT Harrell adds 23 points and 11 rebounds as Auburn snaps the school’s worst SEC losing streak in school history.

4. Alabama never had a lead in the game – falls to 3-4 in SEC play.  Coach Anthony Grant: “We have to accept accountability…If we can’t do that, then we are just fooling ourselves. ”

Saturday SEC Hoops Schedule

Kentucky at Missouri

Georgia at Auburn

South Carolina at Ole Miss

Texas A&M at Florida

Arkansas at LSU

Mississippi State at Vanderbilt

Tennessee at Alabama

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SEC Hoops Roundup 1/25/2014

Vanderbilt at Texas A&M – Aggies favored by 6.5 pointgfx-hoops-round-up2s

1. From student manager to player, Vanderbilt’s Rob Cross has had a memorable senior year.  “It’s been a dream come true.”

2. It’s been a roller coaster ride this season for Texas A&M redshirt freshman Shawn Smith.

Georgia at Kentucky – Wildcats favored by 14 points

3. Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein played a season low nine minutes against Texas A&M this week but teammates insist he’s looking better in practice: ” He looks like the old Willie again.”

4. Surprising Georgia is tied for second in the conference with Kentucky and Ole Miss.  “It feels good to know you’re playing well…”

Mississippi State at Ole Miss - Rebels favored by 12 points

5. Ole Miss familiar with close games this season.  Seven of 18 contests decided by a single basket.

6. Mississippi State knows it will have to contain Marshall Henderson.  Rebels guard was suspended last time these two teams met.

South Carolina at Missouri – Tigers favored by 11.5 points

7. Mizzou guard Jabari Brown averaging 21 points last seven games.  Coach Frank Haith:  ”His numbers are ridiculous for a perimeter player what he’s doing.”

8. Gamecocks, winless in SEC, coming off blowout loss at Georgia.  Coach Frank Martin: “I’m obviously doing a crappy job of coaching because these guys can’t grab a rebound off a free throw and they can’t make a layup.”

Tennessee at Florida – Gators favored by 9 points

9. Cuonzo Martin is 3-0 as Tennessee’s coach against Florida.  Jordan McRae: ”I think Florida’s just a good matchup for us.”

10. Gators know Tennessee’ frontline will pose a challenge.  Casey Prather: “They’re going to definitely be physical with us.”

Auburn at Arkansas – Razorbacks favored by 11.5 points

11. Auburn coach Tony Barbee on Arkansas: “I’ve never seen a team like that, that plays so different from home and the road…”

12. Arkansas has struggled late in games in SEC play.  Coach Mike Anderson: We have to be more assertive.”

LSU at Alabama – Crimson Tide favored by 1.5 points

13. Tigers haven’t won in Tuscaloosa since 2004. Johnny Jones on the Crimson Tide:  ”They’re very quick, fast and strong. ”

14. Alabama guard G Retin Obasohan (hip flexor) will be a game-time decision.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 1/23/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Georgia 97 – South Carolina 76. 

1. Georgia off to its best start in SEC play since 2003.  Bulldogs,  now 4-1 in the conference,  get a career-high 22 points from Nemanja Djurisic.

2. South Carolina drops to 0-5 in the SEC - worst conference start since the 1998-1999 season.

Tennessee 81 – Arkansas 74. Video Highlights

3. Tennessee rallies from eight-point second-half deficit.  Jordan McRae scores 24 of his 34 points in second half.  Five-point possession helps the Vols win the game.

4. Arkansas falls to 1-4 in the SEC.  Razorbacks just 2-21 in true road games under Mike Anderson.

Mississippi State 82 – Auburn 74

5. Mississippi State wins despite just 10 points from its two leading scorers – Craig Sword and Gavin Ware. Bulldogs now 3-2 in the SEC.

6. Yet another close but frustrating loss for Auburn.  Tigers have now lost 15 straight in SEC play.

Ole Miss 63 – Vanderbilt 52. 

7. Ole Miss blows 13-point second-half lead but bounces back to finish strong.  Back-to-back three pointers from Marshall Henderson help turn the tide for the Rebels.

8. Vanderbilt connects on just 3-of-20 three-point attempts, all by Rod Odom.  Coach Kevin Stallings: “I think this game was dictated by their offensive rebounding and our turnovers.”

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