This season was a special one for SEC fans. For several seasons now, we’ve talked about how the league was rebounding. The investment was happening, and before the season most media types (including yours truly) said this was the year it would all start to come together. Indeed, it did.
As of today, Joe Lundardi has eight SEC teams in his bracket. Last season there were five. Two years ago there were just three teams.
This season, the SEC went from having a couple of really good teams to having a lot of mostly good teams and no real elite teams. Everyone was between 13-5 and 5-13 in conference play. What will be interesting to track into next season is if anyone can separate themselves.
Another obvious benefit of having so many good teams is that there are a lot of very good players. You could easily pick and choose at least two players from each squad who deserve to be held up for recognition. So we did our best to stick to a strict eight-player first team and eight-player second team, plus and all-defense team to go with our all-freshman team.
You can find the SEC’s official awards here; Mizzou fared well, with Kassius Robertson making the first team and Jontay Porter making the all-freshman team and winning co-sixth man of the year. But without further ado, let’s make our own picks below.
PG: Daryl Macon, Arkansas
A very strong case could be made for Daryl Macon as player of the year. If Arkansas were able to swing another game their way he might’ve been. After starting out slow Arkansas rebounded and their rebound coincided with Macon going a little nuts. The Hogs went 9-3 over a 12 game stretch and Macon was sensational. He averaged 19.8 ppg and scored in double figures in 13 of their final 14 games. Macon was high usage (24.1 %poss) and highly efficient (124.9 ORtg) which led the SEC for players over 23.0 %poss. Macon handled the ball, distributed the ball, and led the Hogs defensive attack.
WING: Kassius Robertson, Missouri
He was supposed to be a support guy. The player who stood in the corner or the wing and waited on kick outs on drives from Michael Porter Jr. When the defense collapsed on the star freshman, the graduate transfer from Canisius would bomb away. Instead, Michael Porter Jr got hurt and sat out the season, and Kassius Robertson carried the weight of expectation of the preseason. Robertson stepped into the lead for the Tigers and averaged more points per game on fewer attempts than he did the previous year in the MAAC, all while playing more minutes. Truly incredible.
WING: Mustapha Heron, Auburn
Auburn’s surprising run and relatively even handed attack means someone was likely to get left out, but Heron was the more explosive scorer and routinely drew the best defender from the opponent. Heron’s ability to attack the rim in the half court and in transition opened up a lot of shots from the perimeter by his teammate Bryce Brown, and his steal percentage proved he was no slouch on defense as well. Heron’s 16.6 ppg led the team and his 5.5 rebounds (16% DR% - very good for a wing) helped Auburns smaller lineups compete against size.
COMBO FORWARD: Grant Williams, Tennessee
Two years ago Williams was an unknown coming into the season. He solidified himself as a freshman, enough to make you think Tennessee was going to be ok this past season. Yet the Vols were picked to finish 13th and they landed tied with Auburn for the league lead with 13 wins. In the middle of the exceeding of expectations was Williams. An undersized forward at 6’5, Williams found ways to impact the game by scoring, by rebounding, by passing, and by defense. Without Williams, the heart and soul of the Tennessee roster, the Vols couldn’t have achieved what they did this year.
POST: Yante Maten, Georgia
Maten finally got his due and respect this season despite being one of the best players in the SEC for the past three years. The only downside is his Georgia Bulldogs struggled to find their footing in a tough league and finished 7-11 and finished 11th. But it wasn’t because of Maten who was dominant all season long. Only one team all season was able to limit Maten (you guessed it, it was Missouri) as he averaged 18.9 ppg in conference play to go with 8.6 boards with a 115.3 ORtg on 28.5 %poss. Yeah, he’s really good.
Reserve: Jeff Roberson, Vanderbilt
In the All-underrated category sits Jeff Roberson. Since he’s been at Vanderbilt Roberson has been a consistent performer and consummate “little things” player. But as a senior he took a big leap forward, going from 10.3 ppg to 17 and his ORtg increased from 105 to 125.3. Roberson went from you to the guy she told you not to worry about. Roberson’s journey had him increase his usage year over year, and his best season to date was his sophomore year, as a senior he took the production of year 2 and amplified his usage to produce of the best seasons of any player in the league. If Vandy hadn’t sunk to the bottom of the league Roberson would’ve been in contention for Player of the year.
Reserve: Collin Sexton, Alabama
Sexton arrived in Tuscaloosa with great fanfare and lived up to every inch of the hype. Perhaps for many the Crimson Tide were a bit of a disappointment this season but it wasn’t for the efforts of Sexton who tied for second in points per game. Sexton’s usage was the 14th highest in the country, and only two power conference players were ahead of him in usage. His assist rate was near 30% and he was in the top 10 in fouls drawn per 40 minutes. Sexton was everything you would want your point guard to be, he just didn’t get enough help.
Reserve: Tyler Davis, Texas A&M
You could give Davis a fair amount of credit for dragging the Aggies dying and depleted roster across the finish line and still in position for an NCAA tournament bid. Attrition disrupted the backcourt but Davis steadied the front court with another all-league level season in the middle for Billy Kennedy. He ticked up his scoring and rebounding in a season the Aggies struggled to find guards who could get him the ball. His rebound rate is probably even more impressive than his pure numbers, and he improved all this while playing more minutes.
- CG: Bryce Brown Auburn | Where would Auburn have been without the dynamic outside and catch-fire-ability of Bryce Brown? He his on nearly 40% of his outside shots and played fantastic defense to set the tone for Bruce Pearl.
- WING: Jalen Hudson, Florida | One of the most balanced teams in the league were the Gators with four players averaging more than 11 ppg, but Hudson led the way with great athleticism and over 40% clip from deep.
- WING: Jaylen Barford, Arkansas | Barford caught fire late last year and carried that momentum into a huge senior season for Arkansas. His 3P% jumped to 43.4% which was good for 3rd in the league behind Kassius Robertson and teammate Darryl Macon.
- CF: Kevin Knox, Kentucky | Knox is arguably the most talented player on the Wildcats and when things started clicking for him he was able to elevate Kentucky’s ceiling significantly. He averaged 19.8 ppg down the stretch run boosted their offensive attack for a team which often struggled to score points.
- POST: Chris Silva, South Carolina | The difference in offensive efficiency when Silva was on the court vs when he was not for the Gamecocks was striking. The team lost a lot from a season ago and Silva was capable of masking many of their deficiencies, including getting to the FT line more than anyone with a FT rate and FD/40 rate the best in the conference.
- RESERVE: Chris Chiozza, Florida | If the Gators have an MVP it’s probably Chiozza. The senior sparkplug excelled defensively and improved his shooting year over year. Chiozza’s penchant for making big plays at opportune time buoyed the inconsistent Gators all season.
- RESERVE: Admiral Schofield, Tennessee | It may be a coin toss for who was more valuable to the Vols with Schofield or Williams, but Schofield was one who never shied away from the big moment. I almost feel bad for having him on the second team considering his value.
- RESERVE: Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State | The Bulldogs are certainly trending up and a big reason is the play of ‘Q’ Weatherspoon. His ability to slide between positions 1-4 gives versatility and his improved shot making around the rim stood out as MSU made their run for an NCAA bid.
- Chris Chiozza, Florida: Florida’s team defense starts with Chiozza’s ball hawking ability 94 feet from the basket
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky: 6’6 with a 7’0 wingspan and he accomplishes a lot with a good steal and block rate.
- Admon Gilder, Texas A&M: Often tasked with defending the best perimeter player for the opponent, Gilder stuck to shooters like glue
- Bryce Brown, Auburn: Brown was daft in the half court and graded out as one of the better defenders according to the analytics.
- Abdul Ado, Mississippi State: Ado was a manchild on the interior with a high% of blocks and second level defense.
- Yante Maten, Georgia: There’s nothing Maten doesn’t do well, he’s a fantastic positional defender and excellent defensive rebounder.