SEC, ACC reload for winter

Sports column by CHUCK CLEVELAND It's been three months since the conclusion of the 2007-08 college basketball season, and here are some noteworthy comings and goings experienced by ACC and SEC schools. Regrettably, there are more goings than comings. ALABAMA -- The news was mixed in Tuscaloosa. Oft-injured star guard Ronald Steele is returning to school (perhaps ready to play in December), but interior standout Richard Hendrix is off to the NBA. He'll be missed, but Bama will probably still be favored in the SEC West.
FLORIDA -- Center Marreese Speights opted to leave Gainesville for the pros, but two highly-rated freshmen post players (Kenny Kadji and Eloy Vargas) should fill the gap for the Gators. LSU -- The Bayou Bengals lured Trent Johnson away from Stanford to be their head coach, but their top recruit (6-9 center J'mison Morgan) requested and received a release from his scholarship. Doubly discouraging was the decision by freshman Anthony Randolph to bolt Baton Rouge for the NBA. MARYLAND -- Highly-regarded PF Gus Gilchrist (formerly at Virginia Tech) was expected to make a major contribution for the Terps when he became eligible in December. Instead (shortly after Maryland hired a strength and conditioning coach), Gilchrist decided to transfer to South Florida. Interestingly, his personal trainer/adviser Terrelle Woody is the new strength and conditioning coach at USF. [Web Editor's note: As was quickly pointed out to us soon after this article was published, Terrelle Woody is not an employee of USF, in any capacity. The strength and conditioning coach for men’s basketball at USF is Ray Weisenbarger.] MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Star guard Jamont Gordon chose to skip his senior season in Starkville for the pros but that was anticipated. The really bad news for the Bulldogs was that the freshman who was expected to take Gordon's place (Scotty Hopson) reneged on his commitment to MSU and signed with Tennessee. NC STATE -- J.J. Hickson of Marietta went to the NBA after only one year at Raleigh. The Wolfpack faithful, however, are hoping his departure will inspire forwards Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner to return to 2006-07 form this fall. NORTH CAROLINA - Reserve forward Alex Stepheson transferred, but Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green all decided to return to Chapel Hill. UNC thus becomes the overwhelming favorite to capture the 2009 national title. TENNESSEE - Forward Duke Crews and guard Ramar Smith were dismissed from the squad, but the Vols have some positive news as well. In addition to the afore-mentioned Scotty Hopson, UT signed Bobby Maze, a junior college point guard, and acquired a former commitment from Arizona (PF Emmanuel Negedu). Earlier this year compiled a top 20 of the most valuable college basketball programs, and six schools from either the ACC or SEC made the list. The values after the school names are in millions. 1 - NORTH CAROLINA, 26.0 2 - KENTUCKY, 24.9 5 - DUKE, 22.6 13 - NC STATE, 13.6 17 - MARYLAND, 13.1 19 - ARKANSAS, 12.6 (Later this summer we'll look at recruiting for the class of 2009 (Derrick Favors of Atlanta is currently the number one prospect in the country). Until then, be very careful out there.)

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