"It was a two-hour infomercial for our league, for the University of Kentucky," Kentucky coach John Calipari said during Monday's SEC men's basketball coaches teleconference.
How does Kentucky follow that? By signing another highly regarded class that could see more one-and-done stars, according to Calipari.
Calipari quickly replaced the five departing players with a class headed by point guard Brandon Knight, post Enes Kanter and forward Terrence Jones.
But when it comes to the draft, next year's could still have an SEC feel, just not as much a Kentucky flavor: The website Draftexpress.com is projecting five SEC players to go in next year's first round: Kanter, Vanderbilt junior Jeffery Taylor, Georgia sophomores Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, and Alabama sophomore JaMychal Green.
Of course, that projection doesn't have Knight, Jones or any other Wildcat declaring after their freshman year. Last year, no one predicted Eric Bledsoe or Daniel Orton would be one-and-done, and each was a first-rounder.
"Believe me, we're looking at this saying, if these rules don't change, we're gonna have a young team (basically) every year," Calipari said, referring to the NBA's requirement that draftees be one year out of high school.
Tooted by Horn
Another program eager to welcome in a big freshman class is South Carolina, which signed six players. Coach Darrin Horn, entering his third year at USC, credited the time spent building up relationships for getting the class.
"We're expecting them to have an impact. We recruited them to have an impact," Horn said of the six players. "This is the foundational class in terms of size, as we move forward with our program. We've got a lot of expectations for them. Not necessarily anybody coming in and being a star, but just contributing and helping us win games."
Clemson's loss, Georgia's gain
When Oliver Purnell left for DePaul, Clemson let its lone recruit, Marcus Thornton, out of his letter-of-intent. Thornton ended up signing with Georgia, making its second-year coach Mark Fox a happy beneficiary of Purnell's job change.
"Marcus really gives us a boost," Fox said of the 6-foot-7 forward. "He was a young man who we didn't even have a chance to recruit when we came (last year). He'd already made his decision. ... We were excited to add him to our team. I think he gives us, certainly, a variety of skills on the floor. I think he can play a couple of positions."
Dear John, er, Phil
Mississippi State last week informed senior Phil Turner by letter that his scholarship would not be renewed, according to Turner. That didn't please Turner, who played in every game last season for the Bulldogs, averaging 5.5 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury declined to confirm whether the letter was how Turner was told the news, and referred to an earlier statement simply wishing Turner well.
"I'm not gonna get into the ins and outs of it," Stansbury said. "I've made a statement, he's made a statement. We'll move on with it. There's two sides."
Stansbury also had no word on an eligibility appeal by Dee Bost, who entered the draft without signing with an agent, then failed to withdraw before the new NCAA deadline to return to school. Bost, one of the league's top point guards, claimed he didn't know about the new rule.
Tournament changes considered
At last months' league meetings, coaches considered, but did not pass, a proposal to seed the SEC tournament based on overall finish, rather than divisions. But Florida coach Billy Donovan feels it could still be a possibility down the road, saying coaches reached a "stalemate" in Destin only because it was the first time they considered it.
"When you make a decision like this, you don't want to make it after an hour of conversation," Donovan said.