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November 26, 2006

Florida keeps talent advantage in SEC

Winning the National Championship is paying dividends for the Florida Gators on the recruiting trail. The rest of the Southeastern Conference isn't having nearly as much success.

The Gators clearly signed the best 2007 class in the conference during the early signing period. The rest of the conference struggled to land top-flight players. That's why the SEC checks in as the sixth best conference in the land after the early period.

SEC rank
1. Florida
2. LSU
3. Alabama
4. Georgia
5. Mississippi State
6. South Carolina
7. Vanderbilt
8. Ole Miss
9. Tennessee
10. Kentucky
11. Arkansas
12. Auburn
Billy Donovan and his staff were in on several top players after bringing home the title last year. The difficulty was finding players that fit the Gators' style of play. They didn't have to look very far to find the players of the future. Three of the four top-60 players headed to Gainesville are in-state prospects.

Nick Calathes, the No. 11 ranked player in the class of 2007, is the point guard of the future. Calathes convinced Lake Howell teammate Chandler Parsons to come to Gainesville with him. The duo were as productive as any 1-2 punch in the country over the summer. Floridian Adam Allen and athletic power forward Alex Tyus - a Missouri native who is fine tuning his game at Harmony Prep in Cincinnati are also part of the UF class.

LSU also took advantage of its national exposure on the recruiting front. Coach John Brady found a number of guys that should help bring the Bayou Bengals back to the Big Dance. The Tigers' top target, Anthony Randolph, will take his big-time potential to Baton Rogue. He'll take the reigns at the small forward position while junior college transfer Quintin Thornton mans the blocks.

Best of the SEC
Best perimeter scorer: Chandler Parsons, Florida
Best low post scorer: Jeremy Price, Georgia
Best passer: Nick Calathes, Florida
Best shooter: Chandler Parsons, Florida
Best rebounder: Jeremy Price, Georgia
Best shot-blocker: Jeremy Price, Georgia
Best defender: Senario Hillman, Alabama
Most versatile: Anthony Randolph, LSU
Best in the clutch: Nick Calathes, Florida
Best basketball IQ: Nick Calathes, Florida
Best pro prospect: Anthony Randolph, LSU
Best interview: Chandler Parsons, Florida
Best speed: Chris Warren, Ole Miss
Best hands: Jeremy Price, Georgia
Best motor: Jeremy Jacob, Georgia
Best strength: Jeremy Price, Georgia
Best leaper: Senario Hillman, Alabama
Impact player: Nick Calathes, Florida
Biggest sleeper: Sam Muldrow, South Carolina
Sleeper class: South Carolina
California forward Garrett Green might be this year's sleeper for LSU. Or could it be Canadian D.J. Wright, a sweet shooting 6-foot-8 wing? Whoever it will be, Brady and his staff continues to lock up big-timers while doing their homework to find under-the-radar stars like Tyrus Thomas.

Alabama secured it's backcourt of the future by signing in-state combo guard Rico Pickett and Georgia athlete Senario Hillman. Both bring speed, strength, smarts and upside to the Tide. Justin Knox, a Tuscaloosa prep star, rounds out the class and the Tide coaches are excited about the big man's future.

Jerry Meyer's take: Billy Donovan capitalized on his national championship to land five-star Nick Calathes and three four-star prospects. ... Big-time potential prospect Anthony Randolph highlights LSU's four-man class. Alabama climbed into the top 25 by bringing Rico Pickett back into the fold. Pickett and Senario Hillman will form the backcourt of the future for the Crimson Tide.

Justin Young's take: Keep an eye on Georgia's class. The Bulldogs needed interior help and found three high schoolers that should contribute. Jeremy Price, Chris Barnes and Jeremy Jacob form one dynamite frontline. There are a number of head-scratching signees in this year's SEC class.

Biggest story of the recruiting period: The talent is not at a level that most SEC schools have signed in the past. With only two likely McDonald's All-Americans (Nick Calathes and Anthony Randolph), the star power is not coming to the conference this year.

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