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Calling all superstars . . .

The conference did not give us another Jamal Mashburn or Shaquille O'Neal this season _ although we might have seen sneak previews.

Some would argue that the top prospects in the league in 1993-94 were all teenagers when the regular season began. SEC Player of the Year Corliss Williamson and Scotty Thurman of Arkansas are sophomores, and Mississippi State's Erick Dampier was the league's top freshman.

That list doesn't include freshmen such as Antonio McDyess at Alabama (fourth in the league in rebounding) and Ronnie Henderson of Louisiana State (seventh in the league in scoring).

With apologies to seniors such as Billy McCaffrey and Wesley Person, the bridge between Mashburn and the league's next superstar has not been built. This list of phenoms could be the next place to look.

"There's no question Corliss is the best in the SEC and probably one of the top five players in America," Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson said. "I don't think there's a power forward in the country as good as Corliss. He carried us this time around. He was our go-to guy."

We're No. 8

The results are in, and they're not good for the SEC. The RPI ratings rank the SEC as the eighth-best conference in the nation. Based on the record against major conferences, that's not off the mark.

Check out these marks: 3-5 versus the Atlantic Coast, 1-5 versus the Big East, 2-4 versus the Big Ten and 1-2 versus the Pac-10. Disregarding bogus marks like 10-1 versus the Ohio Valley and 9-1 versus the Trans America, the SEC's most impressive showings are 7-5 versus the Metro and 3-1 versus the Big Eight.

It's over

Barring a run through the conference tournament, Louisiana State's 10 straight NCAA appearances and 17 straight non-losing seasons appear over. Coach Dale Brown is blaming himself, sort of.

"When no one else in the conference has gone to 10 straight NCAA Tournaments and no one else has gone 17 years without a losing season, I don't think I need to question my methods," Brown said.

"When I say I let up at the wheel, what I mean is I don't think I recruited enough good players. I was thinking our reputation would get us better players. I thought we could win 20 games and go to the NCAA Tournament every year. I have no problem saying that's my fault. It's my house and I'm the architect."

Gone to the Dawgs?

To the chagrin of some in Athens, Georgia athletic director Vince Dooley says coach Hugh Durham will return in 1994-95.

Since taking Georgia to the Final Four 10 seasons ago, Durham's team has just four NCAA appearances with just one victory. For the third straight season, the Bulldogs failed to get over .500 in SEC play.

"Basically what people want to do is say, "What have you done for me lately?' " Durham said. "And if you check the record, you'll look and see since I've been at Georgia, only three SEC teams have won more games _ Kentucky, LSU and Alabama. So, are you going to get rid of this guy? Coach Dooley looked at the big picture and said, "No, we don't want to make a change.' "

Nice end to an 8-18 season

South Carolina's upset of Kentucky on Saturday had fans storming the court at Frank McGuire Arena for the first time in decades.

"I was scared," South Carolina forward Jamie Watson said. "All I saw was my teammates at first. Then I felt everybody coming. I had a friend of mine hold me up, then security came and escorted me to the locker room."

_ JOHN ROMANO

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