SEC seeking to build off its strong 2017 NCAA performance

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Southeastern Conference teams should have plenty to boast about at their annual event to meet with media and discuss the upcoming season.

Long derided for its lack of postseason success, the SEC responded last year by sending three teams to regional finals, including Final Four participant South Carolina.

Defending league champion Kentucky should garner much of the preseason attention at this year's Tipoff event. The Wildcats continue their annual tradition of welcoming one of the nation's most highly touted freshman classes. Kentucky's freshmen will help restock a roster that lost first-round draft picks De'Aaron Fox, Marcus Monk and Bam Adebayo from last year's team.

Kentucky isn't the only SEC team with a heralded freshman class. Missouri, which finished last in the SEC each of the past three years, has higher hopes under new coach Cuonzo Martin thanks to a crop of newcomers that includes Michael Porter Jr., regarded as the nation's No. 1 prospect in the freshman class.

South Carolina is coming off its first Final Four appearance but must replace the nucleus of that team, including SEC player of the year Sindarius Thornwell.

The Gamecocks beat Florida in one regional final last year. Kentucky also reached a regional final before losing to eventual national champion North Carolina. Arkansas and Vanderbilt also are coming off NCAA Tournament appearances.