SEC basketball had many great players and a lot of talent throughout the league last season. Coming into the 2022-23 season a lot of that talent has left, but a lot of it is returning. Here are the top 10 SEC basketball returning players.
1. Oscar Tschiebwe
Kentucky | F | Senior
2021-22 stats: 17.4 PPG, 15.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.6 BPG, 1.8 SPG, 60.6% FG, 0.0 3P, 69.1% FT
Oscar Tschiebwe left West Virginia and came to Kentucky with aspirations of being a good college player for a good college team, but NO ONE saw coming what happened in Lexington. National Player of the Year honors from everywhere and pretty much every other accolade you could think of came towards Tschiebwe. There’s no doubt he can repeat as SEC POY again, but can he repeat and win NPOY again?
2. Santiago Vescovi
Tennessee | G | Senior
2021-22 stats: 13.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.2 BPG, 1.7 SPG, 41.3% FG, 40.3% 3P, 79.3% FT
After making All-SEC First Team and helping lead Tennessee to an SEC Tournament title in the 2021-22 season, Vescovi will enter 2022-23 looking to do it again. He will be joined by returning backcourt player Zakai Zeigler, and these two will make up one of the best backcourts in the country. Vescovi is a very efficient and mature player. The Volunteers will likely once again have a good team next season, and Vescovi will be the senior leader. Can he lead them to another SEC title?
3. Colin Castleton
Florida | F | Senior
2021-22 stats: 16.2 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 2.2 BPG, 0.9 SPG, 54.6% FG, 0.0% 3P, 70.3% FT
After little production in his first two seasons at Michigan, Castleton transferred to Florida and has averaged 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in his two seasons with the Gators. He is very efficient in the paint and a terrific rebounder. Castleton was the leading scorer for Florida this past season, and with the Gators losing the three other top scorers, he will likely do it again. Florida is however bringing in three double-digit scoring transfers, so it won’t exactly be an easy feat.
4. Kobe Brown
Missouri | F | Senior
2021-22 stats: 12.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.8 BPG, 1.2 SPG, 48.1% FG, 20.6% 3P, 79.5% FT
Brown was the leading scorer and rebounder last year for Missouri and made the All-SEC Second Team. He can score in multiple ways, is a reliable free throw shooter and he’s a good rebounder. His return is important for the Tigers going into next season. Missouri State transfer Isiaih Mosley who averaged 20.4 PPG last season, along with four more double-digit scoring transfers, will play alongside Brown to help the Tigers have a better season.
5. Sahvir Wheeler
Kentucky | G | Senior
2021-22 stats: 10.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 6.9 APG, 0.1 BPG, 1.1 SPG, 44.1% FG, 30.8% 3P, 78.0% FT
Leading the SEC in assists for two straight seasons, Wheeler is the best old-fashioned point guard in the conference. He has great vision, gets in the driving lanes and is the catalyst for John Calipari’s offense. Wheeler will likely lead the SEC in assists for a third straight year, and be a key member of this Wildcats team. With good three-point shooting around him this year, look for Wheeler to use it to his advantage.
6. Kario Oquendo
Georgia | G | Junior
2021-22 stats: 15.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.5 BPG, 1.2 SPG, 45.3% FG, 27.2% 3P, 71.2% FT
Do NOT contest this guy at the rim; it will not work out for you. Oquendo is the 3rd highest scorer among returning players in the SEC, and will look to be one of the top scorers in the conference this upcoming season, likely with a LOT of dunks. The Bulldogs bring back their top three scorers, and bring in three double-digits scorers from the transfer portal. If the Bulldogs are going to make some noise in the SEC under new head coach Mike White, look for Oquendo to be the driving (and dunking) force.
7. Jahvon Quinerly
Alabama | G | Senior
2021-22 stats: 13.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 4.2 APG, 0.2 BPG, 0.6 SPG, 41.1% FG, 28.1 3P, 74.0% FT
After playing is freshman season at Villanova and averaging just over three points a game, Quinerly chose to transfer to Nate Oats’ Crimson Tide team and has been a double-digit scorer the past two seasons, and one of the flashiest and fun players in college hoops. During his time in Tuscaloosa, Quinerly has had to share the backcourt a lot with other good talents; this season, however, he will be the senior leader on the team and the key in getting the Tide back to the NCAA tournament.
8. Zakai Zeigler
Tennessee | G | Sophomore
2021-22 stats: 8.8 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.1 BPG, 1.7 APG, 38.1% FG, 35.2% 3P, 84.3% FT
Some might not expect this pick, but last season would’ve been the year of Zakai Zeigler in Knoxville if it weren’t for Kennedy Chandler. Zeigler made the SEC All-Freshman Team and the SEC All-Defensive Team last season, and is poised for a breakout year in 2022-23 (if you can even call it that after earning those accolades). Look for Zeigler to be not only one of the best defenders in the SEC, but one of the best players.
9. Tolu Smith
Mississippi State | F | Senior
2021-22 stats: 14.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.4 BPG, 1.0 SPG, 57.6% FG, 0.0% 3P, 65.0% FT
Smith lead the SEC in rebounding in the 2020-21 season and still is one of the best rebounders in the conference. He will be the top returning scorer from last season’s Mississippi St team. Smith is efficient inside the arc and will be down there scoring and pushing the Bulldogs through their SEC schedule this season.
10. K.D. Johnson
Auburn | G | Junior
2021-22 stats: 12.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.1 BPG, 1.9 SPG, 38.6% FG, 29.0% 3P, 72.1% FT
Auburn lost Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler over the summer to the NBA Draft, but the Tigers are keeping a lot of other important pieces from last year’s squad, including K.D. Johnson. Johnson in his third year of school, second with Auburn, has been a consistent double-digit scorer, and the emotional leader for the Tigers. He is one of the most confident and fierce players in the country, although that sometimes hurts him in the decision-making category
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