SEC Conference Wrap Up

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 6:45pm

SEC Player of the Year

Grant Williams, Tennessee

Grant WilliamsGrant WilliamsTo find the last player to win back-to-back SEC Player of the Year awards you have to go back to the ’93 and ’94 season where Arkansas standout "Big Nasty" Corliss Williamson accomplished the feat. Grant Williams accomplished that this year while leading Tennessee to a No. 2 seed and primed for a run at the national title in Minneapolis. Williams led the SEC in scoring with 19.9 points per game to go with 7.7 rebounds per game which ranked fifth in the conference. Williams is a load down low and improved his jumper during the offseason where he shot 34% from three. The country has been down on the Vols all year while thinking they were overrated and not in the same class as Duke. After last year’s heartbreaking loss to Cinderella Loyola Chicago, expect Williams and company to avenge their loss and make a deep run in the tourney.

Coach of the Year

Rick Barnes, Tennessee

I am well aware that Kermit Davis won the SEC Coach of the Year award, but I believe it deserves to go to the coach at Rocky Top. I am also aware that Tennessee returned all of their talent from last year, the same team that won a share of the SEC regular season title. But, Barnes has had the Volunteers in the conversation for a one seed all year, and had his squad ranked as the No. 1 team in the country for the second time ever in the history of Tennessee’s program. The pairing of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield is terrific. Like they call themselves, PB&J. But, let’s not act like Barnes is coaching lottery type talent in Knoxville. Schofield and Williams are great college players, but Barnes does not have the talent of Duke, UNC, or Kentucky and had them in the conversation all year and even beat the Wildcats twice. I understand Ole Miss was selected to finish last in the conference, and the fact that they got to the tournament is amazing. But, I think we need to appreciate the two year stretch that Barnes has put together at Tennessee.

Defensive Player of the Year


Tremont Waters, LSU

The choice came down to the two co-champions of the award, Tremont Waters and Ashton Hagans. Both are terrific on the ball defenders and always make the opposing point guard work to get into their offense. But, Waters finished second in the country in steals per game and you have to respect his work ethic on the defensive side of the floor while just standing 5’11. Waters is the first LSU Tiger to win the award since Tyrus Thomas did it in 2006. Factor in Waters losing head coach Will Wade and think of the leadership role he will be playing in March. LSU has plenty of talent to make a deep run in March, but the loss of Will Wade will hurt. Guards win in March, so let’s see if Waters can handle the role of star point guard and the more intensive responsibilities of floor general since Wade is watching from home.

Biggest Surprises

Ole Miss

Like I said earlier, I do not want to slight the job that Kermit Davis did at Ole Miss this season. The media had them pegged as finishing last in the SEC this season and Davis turned the Rebels into a tournament team as a No. 8 seed. Breein Tyree can score and watching him try to lead the Rebels to the next round should be fun. Davis overachieved with his squad and he does deserve the recognition of SEC Coach of the Year. With the addition of Davis and the job he has done, the SEC coaching pool is deep and it’s leading to a stronger conference. The SEC finished tied for second with seven teams getting spots in the tourney.

Auburn

Just the fact that Bruce Pearl pulled off an SEC Tournament Championship was astounding. After underachieving with this group after a year where the Tigers were SEC co-champions, Pearl gets to the SEC title game and knocks off Tennessee from a potential No. 1 seed. Auburn has the pieces to make a run in the tourney. They can get hot from deep and have talented guards. Bruce Pearl is not done just yet.

Biggest Disappointments

Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt came into the year with high expectations after bringing in 5-star recruits Darius Garland and Simisola Shittu. I understand you lose Garland to a season-ending injury, but to follow that up without winning a single game in league play is tough. And it’s not like Garland will be back next year, he’ll be in the NBA. Bryce Drew has a lot to figure out to be competitive next year.

Florida

After a year where Florida was ranked in the top five then continued to fall out and finish with a 21-13 record, the Gators did not impress again this year. Let’s not act like Mike White is putting up sub. 500 records, but its weird to see Florida not continually in the top-2 of the conference alongside Kentucky. They snuck into the tourney this year as a 10 seed, but have a tough matchup against Nevada and the Martin Twins.

Most Improved Player

PJ Washington, Kentucky

The difference between PJ Washington just a year ago, and now is light and day. Washington was neck and neck with Grant Williams for SEC Player of the Year and has improved his game enough where he will be selected in the first round in the 2019 NBA Draft. After shooting just 24% from deep last year, Washington leads the Cats in 3-point shooting percentage at a 42% clip. Apparently Washington is a little banged up heading into the tournament so we’ll see if that limits Kentucky’s chances on a potential Final Four run.

First Team

Grant Williams, Tennessee
Admiral Schofield, Tennessee
PJ Washington, Kentucky
Tremont Waters, LSU
Breein Tyree, Ole Miss

Second Team


Jordan Bone, Tennessee
Chris Silva, South Carolina
Daniel Gafford, Arkansas
Jared Harper, Auburn
Keldon Johnson, Kentucky

Third Team

Tyler Herro, Kentucky
Bryce Brown, Auburn
Quinndary Weatherspoon, Miss. State
Skylar Mays, LSU
Terence Davis, Ole Miss

Power Rankings

1. Kentucky
2. Tennessee
3. LSU
4. Auburn
5. Mississippi State
6. Ole Miss
7. Florida
8. South Carolina
9. Arkansas
10. Alabama
11. Texas A&M
12. Missouri
13. Georgia
14. Vanderbilt

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