CHICAGO — The SEC led all conferences with three teams in the Elite Eight in the 2017 NCAA tournament, and the future of the league is promising if the McDonald’s All-American rosters are any indication.
Kentucky’s four McDonald’s All American commits — Jarred Vanderbilt, Quade Green, P.J. Washington and Nick Richards — are joined by Missouri commit Michael Porter Jr. and Alabama commit Collin Sexton.
The SEC’s six representatives are the most of any conference. The Pac 12 is second with 5. Five of the 24 McDonald’s All Americans have yet to choose a school.
“I feel like everybody’s sleeping on the SEC,” Sexton said on Tuesday.
But the league’s perception might be shifting after the recent NCAA Tournament success and South Carolina’s surprise landing in the Final Four.
Kentucky coach John Calipari is an annual bet to sign one of the top classes in the country, but depth past the Wildcats has been the league’s problem. That’s where the emergence of schools like Alabama (No. 4 incoming recruiting class) are important to the league’s basketball well being.
“They be talking all day,” Sexton said of Kentucky’s slew of 5-stars. “They talk how they gonna beat us, but we’re gonna shock a few people next season.”
The SEC has seven of the top 37 incoming classes, according to 247Sports. And perhaps the biggest boost of all was Porter’s commitment to Missouri after de-committing from Washington. Porter is the No. 2 prospect in the 2017 class.
The collection of SEC-bound prospects has led to plenty of trash talk ahead of the McDonald’s All American game on Wednesday in Chicago.
“Oh, there’s arguments all day,” Green said. “All week. Mike (Porter) told me he was gonna win the SEC Championship. I told him, ‘Nope. It’s not gonna happen.’”
On the flip side, Porter has heard plenty of chatter from Kentucky’s commits.
“They definitely talking,” Porter said with a laugh. “It’s cool. I think we’re gonna win that game next year.”
Porter, Missouri’s lone prized prospect, will have to contend with Kentucky’s five 5-star commitments. And Calipari is still looking to add more firepower with the recruitment of Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox. But for now, Kentucky’s four McDonald’s All Americans are feeling just fine.
“It feels like we’ve been playing together for years,” Vanderbilt said. “I think it’s gonna be scary next year.”