We continue our "New Guys" series (it started last week with our All-Freshmen team for 2012-13) by spotlighting some key newcomers in the SEC for next season.
We chose eight players who, for various reasons, should make an immediate impact in their first season with their new team. These are not the best eight players signed by league schools; instead, they are guys who should receive ample opportunity to make a splash.
Each of these eight (three are four-year transfers, three are freshmen and two are junior college transfers) will play important minutes right away. We have listed them in reverse order of their expected impact.
We'll continue our "New Guys” series with a look at the key newcomers outside of the Big Six leagues on Tuesday.
8. Ole Miss G Marshall Henderson
• Particulars: 6-2/180, Jr.; 3-star transfer from South Plains College (Texas), preceded by Texas Tech, Utah and Hurst (Texas) L.D. Bell
• Buzz: The well-traveled Henderson is a good shooter, a trait the Rebels desperately need. He starred for his dad in high school, then had a productive freshman season at Utah (12.2 ppg) in 2009-10. He transferred to Texas Tech but left without playing a game after coach Pat Knight was fired. He had a big season at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas (one guess as to how the town got its name; James McMurtry wrote a song about it), averaging 19.6 points and shooting 41 percent from 3-point range and 87 percent from the line, before signing with Ole Miss. The Rebels tossed up a lot of bricks from 3-point range this past season (31.6 percent), and Henderson should help in that regard.
7. Florida G Braxton Ogbueze
• Particulars: 6-1/185, Fr.; 4-star prospect from Charlotte (N.C.) United Faith Christian Academy
• Buzz: Florida lost starting guards Bradley Beal and Erving Walker, so there will be ample minutes available for Ogbueze. While he's a combo guard, he could earn himself more minutes at point guard. The question is whether his ballhandling skills are good enough to survive at the point in the SEC. Regardless, he can put the ball in the basket which is always key in coach Billy Donovan's perimeter-oriented offense. Ogbueze is physical despite his lack of height and has an excellent mid-range game.
6. Texas A&M PG Fabyon Harris
• Particulars: 5-10/165, Jr.; 3-star prospect from College of Southern Idaho, preceded by Chicago Hyde Park Academy
• Buzz: The Aggies didn't get much from their backcourt this past season and starting point guard Dash Harris was a senior, so there will be minutes for Harris, whom most consider the best junior college point guard in the nation. Harris replaced Pierre Jackson in CSI's starting lineup, and if Harris provides A&M with the same type of impact that Jackson made with Baylor, Aggies coach Billy Kennedy will be ecstatic. Harris signed with Houston out of high school after previously committing to Northern Colorado, then SMU. But he was released from his letter of intent with Houston for personal reasons, then signed with Howard College, a junior college in Big Spring, Texas. He had off-court issues, including an arrest, and left Howard for CSI during the 2010-11 season.
5. Missouri SG Earnest Ross
• Particulars: 6-5/222, Jr.; transfer from Auburn, preceded by Cary (N.C.) Panther Creek
• Buzz: He's one of four four-year transfers expected to play key minutes for Mizzou next season. When Ross left Auburn, he transferred to a Big 12 school. Now, though, Ross will be back in the SEC and going against the same teams he saw at Auburn. That is good for Missouri, as Ross led Auburn in scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounds (6.6 rpg) as a sophomore in 2010-11. Ross is physical and athletic, but he was a poor shooter at Auburn, hitting just 36.3 percent of his field-goal attempts and 29.9 percent of his 3-pointers in two seasons. Ross won't be asked to do quite as much with Mizzou as at Auburn, which should enable him to focus on his strengths.
4. Kentucky PG Ryan Harrow
• Particulars: 6-2/175, Soph.; transfer from North Carolina State, preceded by Marietta (Ga.) Walton
• Buzz: Harrow is a former five-star recruit. He had an inconsistent freshman season with the Wolfpack in 2010-11 before deciding to transfer to Kentucky. With NCSU, he showed good quickness and athleticism. He is expected to start at point guard for the Wildcats next season but will be a different type of point man than Kentucky has employed of late. He is not physical, and one of the bigger stories of the season will be how he is utilized in UK's dribble-drive offense.
3. Missouri C/F Alex Oriakhi
• Particulars: 6-9/245, Sr.; transfer from Connecticut, preceded by The Tilton (N.H.) School
• Buzz: Oriakhi had a disappointing junior season at UConn, averaging 6.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. He and touted freshman center Andre Drummond never seemed to truly be comfortable with each other on the floor. He will be eligible immediately at Missouri because of UConn's 2013 postseason ban. While Oriakhi is not necessarily a gifted offensive player, he will give the Tigers an experienced frontcourt player who can hit the boards and provide a defensive presence. He also should be the most physical big man in the SEC right away. If forward Laurence Bowers is fully recovered from a knee injury that sidelined him in 2011-12, he and Oriakhi will provide an upgrade over last season for the Tigers' front court.
2. Kentucky PF Alex Pothyress
• Particulars: 6-8/215; 5-star prospect from Clarksville (Tenn.) Northeast
• Buzz: Kentucky famously lost its top six players from its national title team, meaning Pothyress should slide right into the starting power forward role left vacant by Terrence Jones. The explosive Pothyress is a big-time athlete and runs the floor extremely well for a big man. He possesses a solid all-around offensive game; he can hit the 15-footer and also can put the ball on the floor and slash to the rim. Though he could stand to add some weight to handle opposing big men, he puts his athleticism to good use on the defensive end.
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1. Kentucky C Nerlens Noel
• Particulars: 6-10/200; 5-star recruit from The Tilton (N.H.) School
• Buzz: The NCAA is investigating Noel's ties with two men from the Boston area, where he grew up, for potential illegal benefits. Regardless of the inquiry, Noel is a defensive difference-maker. While he lacks bulk, he is athletic and already has advanced shot-blocking skills. His offense is raw, but his defense and rebounding make up for that. Noel reclassified as a senior during the school year, and his decision to sign with UK during the spring signing period was yet another recruiting coup for coach John Calipari. Noel is considered more advanced defensively coming out of high school than Anthony Davis, who was the national player of the year this past season.
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