To say it’s been an odd off-season would be a major understatement, and even after college basketball shut down almost five months ago, a normal 2020-2021 season is still in doubt. Despite all the uncertainty and incomplete end to last season, it seems that the rosters should be set for the upcoming season, whatever it may look like.

I’ve been tracking roster changes all off-season, and now that all turnover should be mostly complete, I thought it was a good time to look at what each team loses and gains from both a personnel and statistical sense. With practice time and the transition to new situations likely looking different this fall, having less turnover could be even more advantageous this year than other years.

Once there is a better sense of what the season will look like and schedules are finalized for each of the teams, I’ll probably end up using this information to form my predictions, but for now, I have just a few general thoughts and observations.

For each team, I have indicated players that have left, newly joined the team, and are continuing with their career. I’ve noted why certain players are leaving, and with the NBA Draft deadline passed (at least as far as the NCAA is concerned) this should be as finalized as can be with everything going on. I’ve noted the recruiting rankings of incoming players as well as whether incoming transfers are immediately eligible to play or currently have to sit out a year (%). I imagine more players will get eligibility waivers this year, but for now, I’ve assumed that everyone other than grad transfers and those that have already received a waiver will have to sit out.

When calculating the returning contributions for each team, I included transfers that had to sit out last year as returning scholarship players because I believe that players that have a year to learn the system are a significant benefit to a team, especially this year. These players are not included in the returning points, rebounds, assists, and minutes, however. Along with each percentage, I have included where that ranks compared to the rest of the SEC.

Recruiting class rankings and player rankings are based on the 247Sports Composite ratings as of August 7th.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 53.85% (8th)

Returning Points: 54.17% (9th)

Returning Rebounds: 53.85% (9th)

Returning Assists: 48.07% (8th)

Returning Minutes: 52.73% (9th)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 12th (6th)

Entering his second season in Tuscaloosa, Nate Oats has to be thrilled to have John Petty back for his senior season. A healthy Herb Jones and young Jaden Shackelford with a quality year of experience under his belt will also help with the transition. The Crimson Tide are right in the middle of the league for all the returning contribution categories, but they still have plenty of talent joining the squad with the 12th ranked recruiting class, key transfers, and Jahvon Quinerly eligible after sitting out last season as a result of his transfer from Villanova.

Nate Oats has plenty of weapons going into the season, and as a result, Alabama is already getting tons of preseason praise and expectations are reasonably high. If the incoming talented backcourt can help offset the loss of a projected first-round draft pick in Kira Lewis and Alex Reese and Herb Jones can help the trio of 4-star forwards get acclimated and create a formidable frontcourt, Alabama certainly has the potential for compete at the top of a very deep league this season.

Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 46.15% (10th)

Returning Points: 33.39% (10th)

Returning Rebounds: 25.05% (12th)

Returning Assists: 23.10% (12th)

Returning Minutes: 32.71% (12th)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 8th (4th)

Mason Jones leaving one year early for the NBA Draft is certainly leaving big shoes to fill, but Isaiah Joe opting to withdraw from the Draft and return gives Eric Musselman plenty of skill and experience in his own right. Similar to Alabama, Arkansas also loaded up with 4-stars and key transfers in the off-season and will hope that they all gel well and can make the most of whatever pre-season practice the current situation allows them.

Having three grad transfers joining the team will help make up for the loss of upperclassmen, but the Razorbacks are going to need their three top-100 recruits to play up to the expectations of their rankings if the Razorbacks want to offset a large amount of contribution that is missing from last season.

Auburn Tigers

Auburn Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 53.85% (8th)

Returning Points: 15.87% (13th)

Returning Rebounds: 18.48% (13th)

Returning Assists: 10.58% (13th)

Returning Minutes: 21.53% (13th)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 9th (5th)

It’s a shame that Auburn’s five seniors and star freshman Isaac Okoro didn’t get the opportunity to make another March Madness run, but not Bruce Pearl has a major rebuilding project on his hands going into a year with a lot of unknowns. While almost all of the contribution is gone, Auburn does have bodies returning from last season’s roster and that should count for something given the benefit of a full year of practice time and flashes of talent in some games down the stretch.

Bruce Pearl did a good job of following up on the 2020 Final Four run, but this challenge will likely be even bigger. A top ten recruiting class led by Auburn’s first McDonald’s All-American, Sharife Cooper, will have a lot of early pressure, but based on the recruiting and talent scouting track record from the last few seasons I wouldn’t doubt at least another freshman having a breakout year similar to Isaac Okoro and Chuma Okeke from the past two seasons. Expectations should stay low for Auburn this season, but low expectations are where Bruce Pearl has thrived almost his entire time at Auburn.

Florida Gators

Florida Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 69.23% (3rd)

Returning Points: 65.62% (4th)

Returning Rebounds: 58.06% (7th)

Returning Assists: 38.04% (10th)

Returning Minutes: 68.03% (5th)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 38th (10th)

In most categories, Florida has a good amount of their contribution from last year returning, but it’s most clear by the assists number that Andrew Nembhard opting to withdraw from the NBA Draft but transfer to Gonzaga will leave a key role open. Mike White still has quite a bit of talent returning and a decent recruiting class paired with two transfers that had to sit out last season.

Florida almost always finds a way to work themselves towards the top of the SEC standings by the end of the year, but in my opinion, Mike White has also struggled to meet high expectations recently, especially at the beginning of the each season. Nothing on Florida’s roster gives me an indication that they’ll be a top team in the conference this season, but maybe a more average expectation is what the Gators need for Mike White to get his team to play to their potential for a full season.

Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 38.46% (11th)

Returning Points: 30.56% (11th)

Returning Rebounds: 27.15% (11th)

Returning Assists: 43.39% (9th)

Returning Minutes: 36.15% (11th)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 33rd (8th)

The Bulldogs finished almost dead last in the league last season and then lost a majority of their contribution with potential top pick Anthony Edwards and Rayshaun Hammonds leaving for the NBA Draft along with three key graduating seniors. Tom Crean did pick up some good grad transfers to help with the transition, but without a major star recruit last year, it’ll be a tough task for Georgia to play for any relevance in the SEC this upcoming season.

I think that the addition of Justin Kier from George Mason and Andrew Garcia from Stony Brook along with a returning Sahvir Wheeler that showed flashes last season, Georgia will have a pretty good backcourt that can help steer the team. However, I don’t see a lot coming in in the frontcourt that can easily offset what the Bulldogs are losing. Tom Crean is a big name that has the potential to keep bringing excitement to Athens, but without a major NBA prospect and almost no real success on the court, it’ll be hard for him to keep his seat from getting perpetually warm…again.

Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 15.38% (14th)

Returning Points: 5.98% (14th)

Returning Rebounds: 8.71% (14th)

Returning Assists: 1.20% (14th)

Returning Minutes: 7.62% (14th)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 1st (1st)

In typical John Calipari fashion, Kentucky once again loses almost every bit of contribution from the previous year, but replaces it with a top-notch recruiting class. With five top-40 prospects coming to Lexington there is once again plenty of talent for the Wildcats, but the biggest question remaining that will determine if this Kentucky team is a national title contender or just an SEC contender is the eligibility of Wake Forest transfer, Oliver Sarr.

The complete roster turnover certainly isn’t an unfamiliar situation for the Wildcats, but with the potential of limited practice time and a possible conference only schedule, it could be interesting to see how it affects the young, talented team. Typically Kentucky has slight growing pains at the beginning of a season and then almost always finds their form when it matters most, but I would expect an atypical schedule could make that an even bigger issue and put more pressure on the young guys to get it going even earlier.

LSU Tigers

LSU Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 38.46% (11th)

Returning Points: 54.43% (8th)

Returning Rebounds: 53.90% (8th)

Returning Assists: 58.79% (5th)

Returning Minutes: 56.22% (8th)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 6th (3rd)

With Emmitt Williams opting to remain in the NBA Draft and Skyler Mays graduating, LSU is losing key pieces, but they got more good news overall with Trendon Watford and Javonte Smart deciding to return. Another top recruiting class will also help Will Wade and the Tigers reload and once again compete for the SEC championship.

At this point, I think Kentucky, LSU, and Tennessee look like the front-runners in the SEC, but depending on how things continue to develop regarding delays and schedule changes, the Tigers will get the added benefit of having key returning pieces from another good team last year to help their young and talented additions have more time to adjust and contribute.

Mississippi Rebels

Mississippi Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 69.23% (3rd)

Returning Points: 54.62% (7th)

Returning Rebounds: 61.39% (5th)

Returning Assists: 64.16% (4th)

Returning Minutes: 60.79% (7th)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 64th (12th)

Ole Miss will be missing quite a bit of scoring with Breein Tyree graduating, but they return a good enough portion of their roster with more experience under their belts. The addition of two graduate transfers will help the Rebels be one of the more experienced teams in the league, and that might end up being an extra benefit this season.

The experience and known talent will be very beneficial, but Kermit Davis also has a top-40 freshman guard, Matthew Murrell, coming in to add even more scoring and hopefully be a quality replacement for Tyree. Kermit Davis has shown signs of being one of the better coaches in the league, so with the addition of a top recruit and plenty of returning talent, Ole Miss might have a chance to take their shot at competing for the top of the league and a chance to return to the NCAA tournament, whatever it may end up looking like.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 30.77% (13th)

Returning Points: 27.87% (12th)

Returning Rebounds: 28.53% (10th)

Returning Assists: 26.51% (11th)

Returning Minutes: 36.97% (10th)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 36th (9th)

Despite having just one scholarship senior last season, Ben Howland finds himself with quite the turnaround after three players elected to declare early for the NBA Draft and four other scholarship players transferred. Given all of the talent and contribution not returning, I’m not sure an average recruiting class with all but one of the five-man group being ranked outside of the top-200 is going to cut it.

Mississippi State had one of their better chances to challenge for the SEC championship last season and ended up finishing fourth. Now with so much turnover and not a lot of incoming talent that immediately stands out, Ben Howland might have his most difficult coaching job since taking over in Starkville five years ago.

Missouri Tigers

Missouri Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 76.92% (2nd)

Returning Points: 88.37% (1st)

Returning Rebounds: 76.35% (1st)

Returning Assists: 94.60% (1st)

Returning Minutes: 88.18% (1st)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 157th (14th)

Missouri is retuning almost everybody and leads the SEC in contribution percentage for points, rebounds, assists, and minutes. There were times last season where it looked like the Tigers were showing signs of finally figuring things out in Columbia, but with every major player other than Reed Nikko returning, Cuonzo Martin’s squad could finally be relevant. At the very least, Missouri has the title as the sleeper on lock for next season.

I’ve mentioned several times throughout this post that I think the experience will be more valuable than talent next season because of the uncertainty and likely loss of practice time, therefore I will not be shocked if Missouri uses that massive advantage to makes some noise this year. Now is the time to make the most of it, because with six seniors and three juniors next season and just a single low ranked recruit adding youth there might not be a better opportunity for the Tigers.

South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 84.62% (1st)

Returning Points: 73.49% (2nd)

Returning Rebounds: 66.67% (3rd)

Returning Assists: 74.38% (2nd)

Returning Minutes: 73.96% (2nd)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 94th (13th)

Like Missouri, South Carolina returns a ton of contribution, but in South Carolina’s case, they’re coming off another signature Frank Martin season where the Gamecocks surpassed expectations and still managed to finish in the top half of the league. AJ Lawson deciding to withdraw from the NBA Draft and return will be a key piece for the Gamecocks to rely on and I trust Frank Martin to make the most of all the returning experience and get them playing together well.

After sitting out last season, Seventh Woods is also now eligible after transferring from North Carolina and he’s also joined by two 3-star recruits as the only newcomers. I believe that the SEC will have even more talent this upcoming season than the last two years, but given South Carolina finished at 10-8 last year and returns almost everyone, I’d lean towards a top-half finish for Frank Martin’s squad being the floor going into the year and if they surpass expectations like they often do, another run in the NCAA tournament is possible.

Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 69.23% (3rd)

Returning Points: 67.68% (3rd)

Returning Rebounds: 69.69% (2nd)

Returning Assists: 56.47% (7th)

Returning Minutes: 68.69% (3rd)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 4th (2nd)

Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner are big losses for the Vols, but they are still in a great position to get back to the top of the league with Yves Pons opting to withdraw from the NBA Draft and return at the last moment to join John Fulkerson to anchor the frontcourt. While Tennessee is another team returning a bunch of talent, they also add the nation’s fourth-best recruiting class that includes two 5-star, top-20 players.

Rick Barnes has probably the most talent returning and adds the second-best recruiting class in the SEC. While the SEC seems to be made up of teams either returning key talent or adding a bunch of new talent this year, Tennessee manages to do both. The SEC will be nothing close to an easy league to predict, but assuming everything goes as planned, I think I’m already fairly confident in picking Tennessee as the preseason favorite.

Texas A&M Aggies

Texas A&M Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 61.54% (7th)

Returning Points: 60.56% (5th)

Returning Rebounds: 60.16% (6th)

Returning Assists: 68.47% (3rd)

Returning Minutes: 65.31% (6th)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 19th (7th)

Buzz Williams joins Nate Oates and Eric Musselman as the most recent batch of highly touted up-and-coming coaches to join the league last season. With all going into their second year in the SEC, Buzz Williams will try to keep up with them through returning talent and a highly ranked recruiting class of his own.

The Aggies won enough games last season to finish at the top of the league after a pretty poor non-conference showing. If Buzz Williams can get this year’s team to match the full season to last year’s conference play success, Texas A&M might have enough to make it back to the post-season. The two top-100, 4-stars joining the squad along with graduate transfer Kevin Marfo should provide a spark to pair with the returning skill and hopefully, the Aggies can get back into conference title conversation if things go their way.

Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt Basketball 2020 Roster Turnover

Returning Scholarship Players: 69.23% (3rd)

Returning Points: 57.12% (6th)

Returning Rebounds: 66.67% (3rd)

Returning Assists: 57.26% (6th)

Returning Minutes: 68.37% (4th)

Incoming Recruiting Class National Rank: 58th (11th)

While Vanderbilt did manage to win three more games last season compared to the season before, it just means the Commodores finished 3-15 and at the bottom of the league once again. To make things worse, they also did that while having two players, Aaron Nesmith and Saben Lee, good enough to leave early after the year and declare for the NBA Draft.

Jerry Stackhouse has returning players such as Scotty Pippen Jr that showed flashes of success last season, but considering how much faster the rest of the SEC seems to be adding significant talent, it’s not looking good once again for basketball in Nashville. Jerry Stackhouse was another big name to be added to the SEC, but if he can’t win on the court and can’t even use the name recognition to land good recruiting classes, his stay in the league might be fairly short, just like his predecessor.

Returning Contribution Overview

SEC Basketball Returning Contribution Summary Table

While it looks less and less likely each day, I’m hoping that 90+ days is enough for the US to get this pandemic figured out and we can have a mostly normal college basketball season. I look forward to basketball season each season seemingly more than the last, but this year, in particular, seems to be looking more like another very competitive year for SEC basketball and I’d hate to see us all miss out on it.

There is once again an influx of young talent with half of the league finishing with top-20 recruiting classes but there are also a ton of guys that decided to keep the NBA waiting and return to the SEC. Those teams that do return a good bit of talent might have a leg up on the rest of the competition assuming things are going to be a little weird this year, but it could also go the other way and young guys might not have as much pressure on them without fans and normal hostile SEC basketball environments.

Here’s to hoping that everyone does their part and keeps thinking of others and wearing a mask and keeping a distance whenever possible. I want SEC basketball and I think the turnover will make for an extra exciting season if we are fortunate enough to get one.