Exploring the Class of 2023: SEC
For years it has been Kentucky and everyone else in the SEC. Is that the case still for the class of 2023? There are some football powers creeping up the list in this year’s wave of players. Let’s get into it.
TOP DOG Justin Edwards, Kentucky
Right now, the basketball world is enamored by big wings, and Kentucky has one of those coming in their 2023 class.
Ranked No. 3 overall, Justin Edwards is the best prospect in this SEC class because of how in demand his skill set is. The 6-foot-7 wing is one of the more versatile overall players in this 2023 group.
He’ll endear himself to Big Blue Nation with his multi-positional, switchable defense and well-rounded offensive attack.
Edwards is going to be another in a long line of star freshmen to only spend a few months honing his craft in Lexington before going off to the NBA.
TOP OF THE CLASS
So, there’s this school in Lexington, Kentucky that usually does a pretty good job when it comes to this basketball thing, and they’re just keeping the machine rolling with this 2023 class.
Kentucky currently has the No. 2 overall class in the country but could bump up to the top spot if our fortune-telling is as good as we think it is.
The Wildcats are currently bringing in a four-man class with all of them ranking in the top 40.
They bolstered their guard depth with Robert Dillingham and Reed Sheppard while adding the No. 8 player in the class in 7-footer Aaron Bradshaw to hold down the post.
And, of course, the top dog is wing Justin Edwards.
Where the Cats are likely to add to their elite group is with a potential commitment from No. 7 DJ Wagner.
THREE CLASSES I LOVE
- Alabama: With four players on tap in the group, Nate Oats and staff have addressed needs - particularly shooting - and nailed it. Sam Walters and Davin Cosby are terrific as perimeter threats and should benefit by the hard-driving play of RJ Johnson. Mouhamed Dioubate, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward is the perfect kind of bruiser you’re gonna need in the SEC.
- Tennessee: This three-man class currently rates as the third best in the SEC. Rick Barnes and company have recruited to their needs well on ole Rocky Top, and this group looks like one that can help right away while also forming a multi-year core that should keep the Vols operating as one of the best programs in the league. This group’s well-balanced upside will be fun to track as it develops before our eyes.
- Missouri: The former FSU tandem of Dennis Gates and Charlton Young clearly have brought the Leonard Hamilton recruiting philosophy with them to Columbia, Missouri. With as many pros that the Seminoles have produced in recent years, I’d say that’s as good of a philosophy as any to follow. Mizzou is bringing in an Athletic guard from Tallahassee in Anthony Robinson and developable bigs in Trent Pierce and Jordan Butler. This is a good first full recruiting class for the Tigers’ new regime to bring in. They can usher in a new era of prominence for Missouri basketball.
THE OUTSIDE OF THE TOP 100 PLAYER THAT I LOVE
South Carolina’s big man at Wasatch Collin Murray-Boyles could be a real steal for new Gamecock head coach LaMont Paris. Murray-Boyles is buried way outside of the top 200 composite rankings for the class of 2023 nationally. But rest assured he’s going to level up during his time at Wasatch Academy in Utah. The South Carolina native has SEC size for a four man and every conference has a player who outperforms his ranking. Why can’t it be him?
Alabama? Tennessee? The choice of best frontcourt is truly in the eye of the beholder when it comes to these two.
I’m giving the honors to those down in the Tennessee hills. JP Estrella and Cade Phillips are a pair of forwards who can develop into the kinds of upperclass bigs that we’ve seen go through Knoxville in recent years. This groups thrives around the rim. Estrella is savvy and has good footwork while Phillips is more of an athletic finisher. Both have shown upside in terms of perimeter scoring.
Let’s check back in on this late in the signing period because we may have some reevaluation to do as some of the top available bigs announce their college decisions. *cough* Arkansas might get someone *cough*.
No matter what happens on the DJ Wagner front, Kentucky will still have the best backcourt coming into the league. Robert Dillingham and
Reed Sheppard are going to provide a little bit of fire and ice when they get to Lexington.
Dillingham is flashy, he exudes swagger. He very much mirrors John Calipari in that regard. Dillingham is going to be a big-shot taker and a big-shot maker. His knack for being able to hit traditionally bad shots will be the difference-maker in a couple of games while he’s in Lexington.
On the other side, Reed Sheppard is a fundamentally sound player. He’s the type of guard that BBN has been clamoring for years, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s a legacy player in Lexington.
HEY, I HAVE A HOOPSEEN CHAPTER
As a company headquartered in Georgia, the Bulldogs are a pretty big deal around these parts. Mike White kept former Dacula (GA) HS and current Norcross (GA) HS wing Mari Jordan’s commitment locked in when he took over as UGA head coach.
Go to Jordan’s page on HoopSeen.com, and you’ll see that his story dates back far. I mean, Jordan and HoopSeen have been locked in since before he was in middle school.
He doesn’t have a chapter written with HoopSeen. No, he has his own floor in the HoopSeen library.
While we won’t revisit his time as an elementary school hooper here, Justin Young had this to say about Jordan after the 2022 Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions: “From start to finish. The future Georgia Bulldog looked like a guy ready to take another jump with his game as a promising prospect. With a college frame and an aggressive style of play, Jordan played like a player that is comfortable in his own skin. The 6-foot-5 wing looks good now as a player at the prep level and ready for what awaits him in the SEC. He’s a threat to explode for 20 a game at this level every game and he will do it in a variety of ways. His perimeter game was on point and that allowed him to take advantage on closeouts for drives to the rim, where he finished in traffic and got to the foul line. The Georgia Stars won the Orange bracket of the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions because of a team balance. But let’s be clear on this - he was a stud over the weekend.”
TOP PG: Robert Dillingham, Kentucky
TOP SG: Reed Sheppard, Kentucky
TOP SF: Justin Edwards, Kentucky
TOP PF: JP Estrella, Tennessee
TOP C: Aaron Bradshaw, Kentucky
TOP CLASS: Kentucky
TOP SLEEPER: Jordan Burks, Ole Miss
TOP SHOOTER: Sam Walters, Alabama
TOP SCORER: Robert Gillingham, Kentucky
TOP DEFENDER: Aaron Bradshaw, Kentucky
TOP PRO PROSPECT: Justin Edwards, Kentucky
Ranking the classes
5. Ole Miss
11. Mississippi State