The SEC returns plenty of key talent and adds a number of impact recruits for the upcoming college basketball season. Andy Katz chooses five players from the conference who will make a big splash this winter. 

1. Ashton Hagans, 6-3, So., Kentucky: The Wildcats have a rare returning point guard and that’s why Kentucky is one of the teams projected to go on a Final Four run. Hagans emerged as the leader midway through the season and embraced the role. His numbers in all areas should increase, and as long as turnovers don’t as well, Kentucky will have the lead guard it needs to shepherd in another elite recruiting class.

AWARD CONTENDERS: Cousy Award | West Award | Erving Award | Malone Award | Abdul-Jabbar Award

2. Andrew Nembhard, 6-5, So., Florida: Nembhard, like Hagans, decided to return to school for his sophomore season. Nembhard is a big shot-maker, proving it with an SEC tournament win over LSU. The Gators are the top challenger to Kentucky in the SEC, and the Nembhard-Hagans matchup should be one of the best at a particular position in the conference. The Gators have the talent at each spot to make a run for the SEC title, but no role is more valuable than the point.

3. Anthony Edwards, 6-5, Fr., Georgia: Edwards arrives as the most heralded recruit in Athens in years. Tom Crean has a one-and-done talent and a player who can potentially alter the fate of the Bulldogs. He will have to shoulder a mighty load without NBA draft prospect Nicolas Claxton. Edwards’ arrival will make Georgia must-see throughout the season.

4. Skylar Mays, 6-4, Sr., LSU: Mays will be the leader of the Tigers this season. He averaged 13 a game but the rest of his tools could see a stark improvement as he embraces more responsibility. The Tigers also brought in another highly-touted recruiting class. So Mays will be be the one to mentor the newcomers and get LSU back to the NCAA tournament.

5. Austin Wiley, 6-11, Sr., Auburn: The Tigers aren’t going away from their identity; they are still a 3-point shooting offense. But the perimeter will be relatively new while the frontcourt stays experienced. Wiley has a chance to be the most effective big man in the SEC. And if he is, the Tigers should be back in the NCAA tournament.

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