Monday, March 10, 2008

And the winner is...

With the regular season over, it's time to hand out some SEC awards. While stats are important, they aren't the determining factor, which is why I didn't value players like South Carolina's Devan Downey and LSU's Marcus Thornton (great numbers on horrible teams) as highly as guys like Kentucky's Ramel Bradley or Arkansas' Sonny Weems (key players on winning teams). Disagree with the choices? Feel free to leave your comments below.

G: Shan Foster (Vanderbilt, Senior)
20.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists
No words needed. In case you need convincing, just click here and then here.
G: Jamont Gordon (Mississippi State, Junior)
17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists
Try finding a player you can compare Gordon to. You can't, which is why he is one of my favorite college basketball players of all time.
F: Richard Hendrix (Alabama, Junior)
17.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks
One of the lone bright spots for the Crimson Tide, Hendrix was also the lone SEC player to average a double-double.
F: Patrick Patterson (Kentucky, Freshman)
16.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks
The Wildcats may be winning without him now, but there's no way they'd be on the brink of a NCAA Tournament bid if not for Patterson's stellar play from November to February. Still, every time I hear people talk about the "Booger Eater," only one image comes to mind.
F: Tyler Smith (Tennessee, Sophomore)
13.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists
Smith's game-winner against Memphis is one of the best moments of the college basketball season. While his numbers may not be phenomenal, Smith is the main reason the Vols are in line for a No. 1 seed.


G: Ramel Bradley (Kentucky, Senior)
16.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists
Forget about points, Bradley played at least 37 minutes in 13 SEC games, and 40+ in 10.
G: Devan Downey (South Carolina, Junior)
18.3 points, 5.2 assists, 3.0 rebounds
The lone bright spot for the Gamecocks, the explosive Downey was a pest on defense (3.2 steals per game) and virtually impossible to guard on offense.
G: Chris Lofton (Tennessee, Senior)
16.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists
While he may not have lived up to the preseason hype, Lofton still put together a fine campaign, particularly in league play.
F/C: Charles Rhodes (Mississippi State, Senior)
16.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks
The steady, if unspectacular, Rhodes picked it up down the stretch, averaging 23.6 points and 10.0 rebounds over his last five games.
F: Sonny Weems (Arkansas, Senior)
14.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists
The versatile Weems was terrific in SEC play, averaging 17.3 points and 5.1 rebounds, while playing great defense for an Arkansas squad that finds itself very much on the bubble.

Picking this team was easy as all five players are very much deserving.
G: Nick Calathes (Florida)
G: Chris Warren (Ole Miss)
F/C: A.J. Ogilvy (Vanderbilt)
F: Patrick Patterson (Kentucky)
F: Anthony Randolph (LSU)

SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Shan Foster (Vandy)

Like Kevin Stallings, I'm not a fan of the argument that the award should go to the best player on the best team. There is no question that The Truth deserves this honor. It hurts to even think where the Commodores would be without him.

SEC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jarvis Varnado (Miss. State)

The numbers say it all: 7.9 rebounds and 4.8 blocks per game. And's he only a sophomore.

SEC SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR: J.P. Prince (Tennessee)

Don't forget that Prince would have been a Commodore had Vanderbilt allowed mid-year transfers. Prince opted for the Vols instead and is averaging an impressive 8.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists off the bench.

SEC COACH OF THE YEAR: Bruce Pearl (Tennessee)

In three years, Pearl has gotten a football school to care about basketball and turned a SEC bottom-feeder into one of the nation's elite. While the Vols are undoubtedly talented, Pearl deserves credit for acclimating Tyler Smith and J.P. Prince to his up-tempo offense. For those of you who think that Billy Gillespie should get the nod, ask yourself this question: Did he ever feel up Erin Andrews? I don't think so.

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