The regular season is behind us and the Southeastern Conference Tournament awaits, so it’s time for the first annual Fast Break All-SEC awards. As always, we remind you that opinions expressed in this space are the opinion of the Fast Break and not necessarily the SEC or its member institutions.
G-Scotty Hopson, Tennessee
—Hopson came into his own during the SEC season, and though the Vols—the 2010-11 season’s most puzzling team—struggled at times, particularly at home, Hopson did more than his part to keep the ship afloat. Once he realized he could get to the rim pretty much when he feels like it, he became tough to handle because he started getting open looks from three, many of which he knocked down.
G-Chris Warren, Ole Miss
—Warren’s team didn’t win as much as you’d like to see from a first-team all-league guy, but check out the SEC’s statistics. His name is plastered all over them.
G-John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
—Jenkins led the league in scoring all season. What impresses the FB about this guy is that he’s much more than just a jump shooter. The fact he reached double figures in every game this season proves as much. If he were one-dimensional, some team would have figured out a way to shut him down. Now that he’s a threat to take off for the rim, he’s twice as difficult to contain.
F-Terrence Jones, Kentucky
—Jones led the league in rebounding and double-doubles and was sixth in scoring. Where would Kentucky have been if Jones had stuck with his original commitment to Washington?
F-Chandler Parsons, Florida
—The 6-foot-10 Parsons is more versatile than a pair of khakis. Think about it. You’ve got this new purple shirt you want to wear, but no pants to go with it. What’s the answer? Khakis, of course. They go with anything.Parsons is like that. Put him on the floor with a lineup that doesn’t have a true point guard, and you can run offense through him. Need a rebounder? Parsons can rack up boards with the best of them, especially on the offensive glass. Need somebody to hoist three-pointers? Check. Dude does it all.
G-Brandon Knight, Kentucky
—Knight, who racked up more 20-point games than any freshman in the history of the NCAA’s all-time winningest program, was the only player in the league to finish in the top five in scoring (third) and assists (second).
G-Erving Walker, Florida
—You’ve got to love a guy who isn’t afraid to crank up the big shot. The Gators don’t win the Eastern Division going away without the clutch play of Walker, who at 5-8 is more a two guard than a point.
F-JaMychal Green, Alabama
—Green shook off an early-season suspension, filed away the lessons learned from it and then came back and whipped some serious backside as the Crimson Tide won the Western Division. He’s a double-double threat every night.
F-Ravern Johnson, Mississippi State
—Johnson is a dangerous scorer who can rack up points in bunches thanks to a deadly three-point stroke.
F-Trey Thompkins, Georgia
—Thompkins had to shake off a serious ankle injury early, but he still finished eighth in the league in scoring and fourth in rebounding.
ALL-SEC FRESHMAN TEAM
Terrence Jones, Kentucky—
After Kentucky found out freshman post player Enes Kanter wasn’t going to be eligible, Jones had to become the Wildcats’ primary post threat. And he delivered.
Brandon Knight, Kentucky
—Former Alabama star James “Hollywood” Robinson used to have the record for SEC freshman-of-the-week awards all to himself. Now he shares it with Knight, who claimed his six of the season after back-to-back solid performances in two clutch wins over the Tennessee schools last week.
Tobias Harris, Tennessee
—Put it this way: Harris doesn’t play like a freshman. He’s smooth and unflappable.
Doron Lamb, Kentucky
—Kentucky coach John Calipari told Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook that he would do two back flips if Lamb, previously known more as a slasher type, shot 35 percent from three-point range this season. Well, guess what? Lamb shot 47 percent from behind the arc and led the SEC.
Trevor Releford, Alabama
—If you appreciate the finer points of basketball, you’ll love Releford’s game. He’s a true point guard and was a huge part of Alabama’s resurgence this season.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
—See above. Jenkins’ consistency is the reason we think he was the best player in the league this season.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Terrence Jones, Kentucky
—By the slimmest of margins over teammate Brandon Knight.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Sam Muldrow, South Carolina
—Yes, it can be lame to just matter-of-factly choose the leading shot blocker in the league for this award. On-ball defenders, real lockdown guys, deserve consideration, too. But Muldrow can totally disrupt teams with the way he throws the weak stuff out of the paint.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
—Ezeli didn’t even know basketball terminology when he showed up in Nashville four years ago. Now he’s the league’s best true center and a sure bet to advance to the next level.
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR
Doron Lamb, Kentucky
—Though he started nine times, we’ll still count Lamb as a sixth man. Few players in the league can stir things up on the offensive end of the floor the way Lamb can.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Billy Donovan, Florida
—You could make a strong case for Alabama’s Anthony Grant here, considering his team defied preseason expectations. But, and ESPN’s Jimmy Dykes made this point on a recent SEC broadcast, it can sometimes be more difficult for a team to meet its preseason expectations, let alone exceed them. The Gators—the popular choice of prognosticators to win the Eastern Division, won a ton of close games in racking up 13 SEC wins, the most in school history. The man on the bench deserves a lot of credit for that.