ATLANTA -- Ansu Sesay of Mississippi was an obvious choice for Southeastern Conference player of the year. The coach and newcomer of the year weren't so clear.
Sesay was chosen unanimously as the league's top player in The Associated Press All-SEC team released Wednesday. Also on the first team for the second-straight year was South Carolina's BJ McKie, while the Gamecocks' Melvin Watson, a first-team selection a year ago, was named to the second team this year.
Sesay, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, was the conference's top scorer at 19.2 points a game and tied for fifth in rebounding at 7.5, leading the Rebels to their second straight Western Division championship.
The other individual awards were split in voting by a regional panel of sports writers. Kentucky's Tubby Smith and Tennessee's Jerry Green, both in their first season at their schools, shared coach of the year, while a couple of freshmen, Jumaine Jones of Georgia and Tony Harris of Tennessee, tied for newcomer of the year.
Sesay, also named player of the year by the league's coaches last week, made the AP's All-SEC first team for the second year in a row.
"I think Ansu has had a tremendous year," said coach Rob Evans, whose team will play this week in the NCAA Midwest Regional. "He is very deserving of every award he has received. It is because of his work ethic that he is receiving all of these honors."
McKie, a guard, was named on all 10 ballots. He was the league's second-leading scorer (18.4) and helped the Gamecocks finish second in the SEC Eastern Division.
Smith and Green shared the coaching award for contrasting reasons.
After two seasons at Georgia, the 46-year-old Smith replaced Rick Pitino at Kentucky and managed to keep the Wildcats among the nation's top programs even though they lost two of their best players, Ron Mercer and Derek Anderson, to the NBA.
Kentucky (29-4) won its 39th regular-season title, finishing two games ahead of Ole Miss, and followed up by romping to its 21st SEC tournament championship, winning three games by an average of 22 points.
"It was certainly a tribute to the outstanding players and coaches I have the good fortune to work with," Smith said. "Coaching at Kentucky has afforded me the unique opportunity to coach one of the greatest programs in all of college basketball."
Green, 54, came to Tennessee after five years at Oregon and revitalized a program that had suffered five straight losing seasons, had not been to the NCAA tournament since 1989 and had not won 20 games in 13 years.
Those ignominious streaks came to an end as the Volunteers (20-8) earned a spot in the West Regional, opening up tonight against Illinois State.
"I'm truly appreciative of the fact that somebody would consider me in the same thoughts as Tubby Smith," Green said. "This team has gone beyond the expectations of a lot of people. I'm just real pleased about the outlook of Tennessee basketball."
Jones, a 6-7 forward, was one of the bright spots in a disappointing season for Georgia, leading the Bulldogs in scoring (14.1) and rebounding (8.3). He also was named to the All-SEC third team.
Harris, a 6-0 point guard, teamed with Brandon Wharton to give Tennessee one of the league's most electrifying backcourts, ranking second on the team in scoring (13.9) and leading in assists (4.0). Harris made the All-SEC second team.
In addition to Sesay and McKie, the first team also included Vanderbilt guard Drew Maddux, the SEC's third-leading scorer (17.1); Kentucky center Nazr Mohammed, who tied with Sesay for fifth in rebounding (7.5); and Arkansas forward Nick Davis, the top rebounder (10.5) and shot-blocker (2.5).
Harris and Watson were joined on the second team by Horatio Webster of Mississippi State, Keith Carter of Mississippi and Pat Bradley of Arkansas.
The third team was comprised of Jones, Jeff Sheppard and Scott Padgett of Kentucky, Tyrone Washington of Mississippi State and C.J. Black of Tennessee.
© 2017. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us