Player of the Year:
Herbert Jones (Alabama) — The 6-foot-8, 210-pound Crimson Tide veteran is undoubtedly one of the most versatile athletes in the conference in which he split floor time at both the guard and forward positions. Jones edged out Arkansas freshman stud Moses Moody. Despite being fourth on the team in scoring, he led the team in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. In addition, he has the second-best 3-point percentage (35.1%) and is just one-of-two players to have not missed a single game this season. This marks Jones as the sixth Alabama player to earn this honor and the first in 20 seasons. SEC Player of the Year honors and first since Erwin Dudley during the 2001-02 season. Jones is also the third player in SEC history to be awarded with both Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
Coach of The Year:
Nate Oats (Alabama) — Guided Alabama to a 26-7 overall record and a 16-2 mark in SEC play in just his second season at the reins. He led the Tide to clinching the program’s first regular-season SEC title since 2002. At season’s end they were ranked 5th in the nation which is the best ranking they’ve had since 2007 and it’s their first time back in the Top 10 since 2002. The Tide also scored a 2-seed going into the NCAA tournament, matching the highest in program history. Icing the cake with a conference tournament title over LSU (80-79) fulfilled how Coach Oats has completely flipped this organization’s culture for the better, and I believe the Crimson Tide will be a force during March Madness as well as future seasons.
Biggest Surprise (Disappointment):
Kentucky’s Worst Season Since 1926 — To me, this is inarguably the biggest shock out of the whole season. After coming into this season with one of the most-hyped recruiting classes in the nation, nothing has gone in the Wildcats favor. This season’s win percentage and overall record are the worst Calipari has seen since the 1926-1927 season when they went 3-13 as a part of the Southern Conference. They only managed to average 70.4 PPG Those freshmen haven’t necessarily over-impressed for the most part including Brandon Boston in which the freshman class didn’t necessarily impress this season. But don’t count them out moving forward, Kentucky will most definitely be back next season with a vengeance as they are already lining up a loaded recruiting class, including West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshiebwe. We shall see if this season is a one-time thing for the BBN community, or are the Tides beginning to shift in the SEC?
(Second) Biggest Disappointment:
Tennessee — Don’t get me wrong, the Vols looked very skilled at times, but they have simply not met their preseason expectations. With all the hype around this squad coming into this season, I would definitely jot this one down as a disappointment for Tennessee. They were listed as a Top 10 team and were the unanimous preseason pick to win the SEC title. The Volunteers lost to Oregon State in the first round of the tourney. Ultimately, they just did not appear as dominant as they have in past years, making this one a disappointment.
Top 5 Prospects:
1. Moses Moody, Arkansas
Moody helped guide Arkansas further than any SEC team in the tourney. He’s an elite level shooter and has incredible length. Moody led the Razorbacks in scoring at 16.8 ppg. Moody had solid efficiency hitting 42.7 fg%, 35.8 3p%, 81.2 ft%.
2. Keon Johnson, Tennessee
Johnson had a slow start to the season statistically. But had arguably the most spectacular dunk of the college season and by the end of the year was impacting games and had established himself as the Volunteer’s standout athlete, contributing on both ends.
3. Jaden Springer, Tennessee
Springer was the Volunteers leading socrer at 12.5 per game. He’s a tough nosed wing who plays hard on both ends of the floor, outworking opponents and grinding for steals and rebounds. His ball skills are solid and he shows a lot of
4. Cameron Thomas, LSU
Thomas hit the ground running and was one of the nation’s top scorers as a freshman at 23 points per game. While he lacks standout athleticism, he showed in the tourney that he has very good quickness to create shots in space.
5. BJ Boston, Kentucky
Boston was arguably the biggest disappointment of the freshman class. While he didn’t quit on the team like Jalen Johnson at Duke, his performance was inconsistent at best. His shooting efficiency numbers were very underwhelming at 30% from 3 and 35% FG. But he had a strong high school resume and remains an intriguing wing prospect due to his length, athleticism and potential as a scorer.