Players on the Plains and around the SEC Auburn fans should be watching

Chris Graythen - Getty Images

There's plenty of basketball talent in the SEC this season, and we've come up with several players that are worth knowing

Basketball season is almost here! I polled a few of the writers on the College and Magnolia staff and asked which returning player they are expecting numbers from and which newcomer they have their eyes on.

Dusty Miller (@dmiller1856):

I'm glad Chris Denson is back. There aren't many out there that can match his speed on the court. He's a slasher that can get by just about anyone and get to the basket. As long as he maintains control, he's hard to stop. As for newcomer I'm most excited to see play, it has to be Shaquille Johnson. The guy has springs in his legs, and he might actually be able to jump out of the gym. He will help fill the void left by Kenny Gabriel as the high-flying, crowd-pumping, electric spark plug the team needs.

Thomas Murphy (@murphtl):

I'm looking forward to seeing Frankie Sullivan play as a senior and play at 100 percent. I really think this could be a special year for him. I'm also excited to see Chris Denson continue to dominate in transition. The freshman I'm most excited to see is Shaquille Johnson. The guy can fly through the air and could be one of the freshmen to step in and have an immediate impact this year. It will be interesting to see the play of Asauhn Dixon-Tatum. Just his size alone could really help us inside, and with his experience, I'm looking for him to be the JUCO transfer that has immediate impact.

Peggy Rossmanith (@peggyrossmanith):

I wish I'd replied earlier because Murph stole my two guys. I'm looking forward to seeing Frankie in his last season. He has always been one of the guys with the most fire in his belly, and this year, he really believes. I can't wait to see what he can do.

The newcomer I'm most looking forward to seeing is Shaquille Johnson, but I can't take Murph's entire answer, so my second choice is Shareif Adamu. He put up solid numbers last season in JUCO, and I am looking forward to him contributing this year.

But seriously. Shaquille Johnson. We have a Shaq. How can you NOT be excited about that?!

Chris Fuhrmeister (@WarmBeagle):

Who I'm glad to have back: I'll go with a bit of an off-the-wall answer and pick Rob Chubb. When he first earned major minutes two years ago, Chubb looked like he didn't know how to play basketball -- I think he led the league in off-the-ball fouls. By the end of last season, he had shown a ton of improvement. I'd like to see how much better he can get. If he corrects a couple of fundamental issues, Chubb could be a surprisingly solid player.

Which new player I'm excited to see: I guess everyone will pick Shaquille Johnson, so I'll go with Brian Greene Jr. Greene looks like he could be a dynamic point guard that has the ability to control the game for Auburn. It's been a while since the Tigers have had that. Plus, he can shoot 3s and free throws, two areas in which Auburn has struggled recently.

Kim Hays (@runyogasurf):

I am most intrigued to see what this year brings for Allen Payne. I felt like Allen hit his stride in the Arkansas game -- not just in terms of banking points, but we began to see a much more physical Allen. I expect him to storm in this year with renewed grit and make his number known early. I will also mention that Noel Johnson comes in at 100 percent this year. If he is the shooter I expect him to be, it is going to be a crazy good season. His hair even has its own Twitter account - @noelfro. Gotta love that.

I went in a slightly different direction than most of the staff on the newcomer to watch. I love seeing a slam dunk or an effortless 3-pointer as much as the next person, but what I love the most is a ridiculous block. KG has the most last year with 71, and Chubb followed with 28. My vote for the newcomer to watch is Jordon Granger. Granger, with his 6'8 frame, averaged just under four blocks per game his senior year in high school.

Jared Robertson (@wardamnjared):

I'm most interested to see how Frankie Sullivan does this year. He's had a couple years where he's been good but not quite great. He shot lights out from behind the arc last year, but I want to see him take it to the lane when teams start to run at him on 3-pointers. Someone needs to step up and be a leader for this team now that KG is gone, and I think Frankie is the most qualified guy. If Frankie can turn the corner and be a really good player instead of just a good player with a knockdown 3-pointer, it could mean big things for Auburn.

This has been a very popular answer among most of the staff, but I'm really excited to see Shaquille Johnson play. He is absolute freak of nature athletically and is going to see the court a lot his freshman season. I think he's still a little raw when it comes to overall basketball mechanics, and his jumper does need some fine-tuning, but he's the kind of guy who can get the whole team and home crowd going with a huge dunk. He can attack the basket with force and, hopefully, attract a few more guys in the paint, opening up the 3-ball for the other Auburn guards. Shaquille is an electric player and should be very fun to watch for a few years to come.

We took a preliminary stroll through the rest of the conference and found that these are the guys we will also be watching.

School

Name

Pos.

Ht.

Wt.

Class

Auburn Matchup

Arkansas

BJ Young

G

6-3

180

So

Away: 01/16/13

Home: 02/13/13

Florida

Patric Young

F

6-9

249

Jr

Home: 02/16/13

Erik Murphy

F/C

6-10

238

Sr

Kenny Boyton

G

6-2

190

Sr

Mike Rosario

G

6-3

183

Sr

Georgia

Kentavius Caldwell-Pope

G

6-5

200

So

Away: 01/30/13

Kentucky

Ryan Harrow

G

6-2

170

So

Home: 01/19/13

Nerlens Noel

C

6-10

228

Fr

Away: 02/19/13

Kyle Wiltjer

F

6-10

239

So

Archie Goodwin

G

6-4

198

Fr

Alex Poythress

F

6-7

239

Fr

Missouri

Phil Pressey

G

5-11

175

Jr

Away: 02/02/13

Michael Dixon Jr.

G

6-1

190

Sr

Laurence Bowers

F

6-8

227

Sr

Tennessee

Jarnell Stokes

F

6-8

270

So

Home: 03/06/12

Jeronne Maymon

F

6-7

260

Sr

Trae Golden

G

6-1

205

Jr

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