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Post season SEC Awards and Breakdowns

With the conference season wrapped up, it's time to look back and see where things landed in the Southeastern Conferece.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015-16 SEC Basketball season has come and gone. Since I did a season preview of each team and conference, I thought it would be fun to see how right, and how very wrong I was about this conference. Overall this season was a bit of a dud. The Conference strength took a step back from last season when the conference had five NCAA teams with a legit reason for six. This season they were a three bid league with a legit argument for a fourth. With all that said, the league turnover in coaches the last few years (six in the last two years) could actually mean that the SEC brings back all of it's coaches next season. Stability is a nice thing. Weirdly enough, six of the bottom seven teams in the league have hired new coaches over the last couple years, the seventh team (Arkansas) lost just about everyone from the year before, so a slip was expected.

For the most part, the league held serve on what most of us thought would happen. Texas A&M, Kentucky, LSU and Vandy were all challengers, Missouri and Tennessee were not. But the middle of the league is what causes so much fluctuation. Craziness happened in the form of Kentucky losing to both Auburn and Tennessee, and South Carolina dropping a game in Columbia may have sunk their NCAA chances with such a weak non-conference schedule.

But let's break this down by each team, and add in some post season awards:

1. Texas A&M AGGIES 13 - 5

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: Experience and talented youth boost the Aggies to the top
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
12.4 - 5.6 14 - 4

My Take: Aside from a puzzling four game losing streak, the Aggies were consistently good all year. Maybe not the top 5 or 10 level that they reached the week they played Missouri and Arkansas, but a top 20 team easy. Billy Kennedy won coach of the year, which for my money meant that the SEC couldn't figure out who to give the award to, so they gave it to the guy with the best record. The Aggies got really great play from the expected seniors in Danuel House, Jalen Jones and Alex Caruso, but the game changer for them was Freshmen Tyler Davis, whose 11 points, 6 boards and 65% field goal shooting proved invaluable for their regular season conference win. The four losses in a row stand out, but only two of them were questionable. I was a bit higher on the Aggies than the rest of SBNation, and realistically I think the Aggies should have been 14-4. Stupid Crimson Tide.

2. Kentucky WILDCATS 13 - 5

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: The Wildcats are again poised and ready to make another run towards a #1 seed
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
15.2 - 2.8 15 - 3

My Take: It's always tough to bet against any team from Lexington, and this group certainly had their moments where they didn't look like the normal Kentucky Wildcats. Losses to Tennessee and Auburn were huge blemishes on the schedule, and even early season losses to UCLA and Ohio State were puzzling, but as usually happens they picked things up down the stretch and have looked the part of a National Title contender leading up the NCAA tournament. With my pick for Player of the Year, Tyler Ulis, leading the way, and dynamic freshman Jamal Murray on the wing, the Wildcats have overcome the disappointing play of Skal Labissiere, who wasn't as much of a dud as many have made him out to be, but still not the impact that we all expected. Still, outside of a couple weird losses to bad teams, Kentucky was Kentucky again this year.

3. So Carolina GAMECOCKS 11 - 7

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: Mixture of experience and talent could push South Carolina towards a big season
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
6.7 - 11.3 11 - 7

My Take: Nobody was in on South Carolina, except for me, and Garnet&BlackAttack. The Gamecocks played a terrible non-conference schedule and only had Kentucky & Texas A&M once each, as well as Vanderbilt and Florida. So not only did they have an agreeable non-conference schedule, but they also had a softer conference slate. The Gamecocks had two bad losses to Missouri and Tennessee, and that likely kept them out of the NCAA tournament this year, but overall this was a solid year for Frank Martin and his team. Big seasons from Sindarius Thornwell and Michael Carrera propelled them upward, and Martin continues to recruit well so I'd expect them to stay a lot higher in the standings than they've been the last 3-4 years.

4. LSU TIGERS 11 - 7

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: LSU has the talent to be contenders, but can the Tigers find consistency?
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
13.3 - 4.7 10 - 8

My Take: While everyone else was buying into the Ben Simmons hype, I was trying to pump the Johnny Jones caution. The Tigers jumped out to an 8-2 start after an uneven non-conference performance, but couldn't sustain it as they proceeded to five of their last eight games against a pretty pedestrian schedule. As usual with Jones teams, they seemed to play to their competition, and then when they lost senior leader and one of their only outside shooters in Keith Hornsby, LSU looked lost the rest of the season. It all culminated with a 30+ point blowout to Texas A&M in the SEC tournament and the end of the Ben Simmons era at LSU came to a ceremonious end. The Tigers never quite put it all together on a consistent basis despite mountains of talent on the roster. It will be interesting what happens with the roster in the offseason as Simmons is expected to head to the NBA, but what other sort of turnover might happen ?

5. Vanderbilt COMMODORES 11 - 7

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: Vanderbilt is ready to continue the momentum it created last season
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
11.7 - 6.3 13 - 5

My Take: Possibly my biggest disappointment was the Commodores. They were so close to being good, and every time they seemed to turn the corner on their season they'd lose, inexplicably, to a team from Mississippi. With so much talent and youth on the roster I felt like Vandy was a dark horse favorite to win the league, and they barely squeaked into the NCAA tournament after a dud loss to Tennessee in the SEC tournament. Damian Jones and Wade Baldwin IV were great for most of the year, but Riley LaChance took a bit of a step back as his shooting percentages dropped all the way around and he dropped his points in half from a season ago. It wasn't the season we all thought we'd see, but squeaking into the tournament likely gets Kevin Stallings a reprieve for another season if he wants one.

6. Ole Miss REBELS 10 - 8

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: Andy Kennedy and Ole Miss always surprise, but have a tall task and a tough schedule this year
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
8.0 - 10.0 7 - 11

My Take: I think we can call the Rebels a mild surprise from this season, looks like most of the SBN crew, including myself thought they'd be okay, and you can even see in the headline above that we should probably start to expect the Rebels, and Andy Kennedy to surprise us. The Rebels were a bit of a simple recipe, take a giant dose of Stefan Moody and see where it gets you. Sebastian Saiz's eye injury through the middle of the conference slate definitely hurt the Rebels ability to surprise us further, but in the end Ole Miss was a pretty average team with one great player who had a pretty soft schedule and were able to capitalize on it en route to ten conference wins. Even in my own preview I thought their ceiling was 10 wins, but I also underestimated how below average the rest of the league would be. With all that said, I think it's time we all stopped underestimating the job Andy Kennedy has done at Ole Miss. I know I have.

7. Georgia BULLDOGS 10 - 8

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: Georgia will rely on guard play, maturation of young bigs to be successful
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
10.1 - 7.9 12 - 6

My Take: I sort of missed on the Bulldogs, but by the end of the year they were playing like I thought they could. Georgia was a team that got exactly what I thought they needed when I listed the key to their season as Yante Maten. Maten was a monster throughout the season and a 2nd team All SEC pick from yours truly. What they didn't get was consistency from Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann, and their inconsistency, particularly on offense, cost the Bulldogs enough to keep them from where I thought they could go. Ultimately they ended up in the NIT, which isn't bad, but two more wins puts them into the NCAA tournament, so I'd say this season is a bit of a letdown.

8. Florida GATORS 9 - 9

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: Mike White inherits a talented, potentially inconsistent Florida Gators squad
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
8.4 - 9.6 10 - 8

My Take: Welp, the dark horse spoiler pick of many, including myself, turned out to be a pretty average team. Mike White had a lot of pieces, but a disjointed collection of players delivered a season of almosts. Florida never turned a corner and they lost a few too many games to ever be considered a contender, but they also never really lost badly. It was sort of a balanced season of slight underachievement. Because of the Gators tough non-conference schedule, it's likely that they'd have been an NCAA team with a few more conference wins, any one of the Tennessee, Alabama or LSU losses could have easily gone the Gators way. First year coaches do tend to have a moderate amount of struggles, mostly because there's rarely coaching turnover unless the team is bad. But nobody was looking to run off Billy Donovan, he just chose to pursue the NBA, leaving behind a roster that wasn't quite coherent enough for the Gators to overcome their deficiencies.

9. Arkansas RAZORBACKS 9 - 9

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: Mike Anderson and Arkansas start to rebuild after a wild offseason of exits
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
6.0 - 12.0 3 - 15

My Take: I'll be honest, I thought Arkansas was going to be pretty bad, and they ended up okay. Mike Anderson maxed out his roster as best he could, because there really wasn't much there. He needed Moses Kingsley to become an All SEC level player, and that happened. He needed Dusty Hannahs and Anthlon Bell needed to shoot the lights out, and they did. And Jabril Durham also had to step up and have his best year, and he did. Basically the Hogs got a lot to go right for them, and it was a .500 conference season. Exceeding expectations probably buys Anderson some more goodwill, but I doubt one NCAA appearance in five years is what most Razorbacks fans had in mind when he was brought in.

10. Alabama CRIMSON TIDE 8 - 10

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: As Avery Johnson takes over, Crimson Tide fans might have to wait
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
5.7 - 12.3 5 - 13

My Take: Avery Johnson gets my coach of the year because the Crimson Tide turned out to not be terrible. Honestly for Johnson to make the NIT with the roster he had is pretty spectacular. I doubt anyone expected the kind of year from Retin Obasohan that we got, it was spectacular to see him raise his game to the level he did, I thought Shannon Hale and Justin Coleman were going to have to be the guys but Retin became the man and he elevated the Tide to a level I didn't expect. They still weren't very good, but they would a much tougher team with more coherent offensive approach that kept them in games they otherwise shouldn't have been in. Things should only get better as Johnson adds a influx of talent to the roster in the coming years.

11. Mississippi St BULLDOGS 7 - 11

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: Ben Howland has brought excitement and Malik Newman to Starkville. Is that enough?
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
9.7 - 8.3 9 - 9

My Take: The record doesn't show it, but the Bulldogs were a much better team this year than they were a year ago. The Ben Howland expectation and reality were a little apart. I thought they'd be better, and that nine wins was certainly closer to the ceiling than the floor, but the Bulldogs improved by more than 100 spots in the KenPomeroy rankings, and that says a lot. Malik Newman didn't quite have the breakout season that most had expected, but Gavin Ware and Craig Sword certainly lived up to their end, and Quinndary Weatherspoon had himself a season as a stretch forward in the Bulldogs smaller lineup. In all, it wasn't the season some expected, but it had more to do with heightened unrealistic expectations. The reality is that Mississippi State exceeded what they should have accomplished, and the future looks pretty bright in Starkville.

12. Tennessee VOLUNTEERS 6 - 12

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: The Tennessee Volunteers have a long road up, but a steady hand at the helm
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
5.7 - 12.3 6 - 12

My Take: Looks like we all nailed the Vols. Rick Barnes coaches his ass off this season and still only got them to six wins. The truth is that Tennessee just didn't have enough talent on the roster to be competitive this season. If Kevin Punter hadn't fixed his shot it would have been so much worse on top of that. There's a little bit to build on, but Barnes has a slow rebuild ahead of him, but if this season is of any indication, he looks energized and ready to take it on.

13. Auburn TIGERS 5 - 13

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: Bruce Pearl might have one more season of rockiness while rebuilding Auburn
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
7.9 - 11.1 4 - 14

My Take: I'm honestly stunned that Auburn won five games. I thought they'd have a tough season, then the injuries hit and the Tigers just looked awful. The SBN types love them some Bruce Pearl, and with good reason. He did some miraculous things at Tennessee, but Auburn needed more than a miracle for them to suddenly become good. I think they could have been okay had everybody stayed healthy, but once the injuries hit, and without Danjel Purifoy, Auburn became a borderline disaster. Cinmeon Bowers was the point guard! Kareem Canty declared for the draft in February! It was a weird wild season, but things are trending upwards the way Pearl has been recruiting.

14. Missouri TIGERS 3 - 15

ORIGINAL PREVIEW: Missouri embarks on Kim Andersons second season with hope that things are going to get better
SEC SBN Projected Record My Projected Record
4.7 - 13.3 7 - 11

My Take: To be clear, I've always felt that seven wins was the ceiling for this team. And they fell far short. Things haven't been great in Columbia the past couple years, but I guess the bright side is that Kim Anderson still has the kids playing hard. I don't know, I'm not going to spend too much time talking about this team here, I've done plenty already. Anderson will be back for year three, we'll have plenty to talk about this offseason.

SEC Player of the Year

Sophomore | Guard | Kentucky

Ulis was sensational this year. Amidst all the hype of the Ben Simmons show, Ulis quietly went about his business leading Kentucky, and in some cases dragging Kentucky to a share for first place in the league. Ulis averaged nearly 17 points per game plus 7.2 assists a contest which is pretty terrific. All the while playing some of the best defense in the country. Whether Ulis turns pro or not (he likely will) remains to be seen, but this year he was one of the best point guards in Kentucky history.

Photo credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

ALL SEC First Team

Jamal Murray
Ben Simmons
Danuel House
Texas A&M
Stefan Moody
Ole Miss

ALL SEC Second Team

Wade Baldwin IV Vanderbilt
Jalen Jones Texas A&M
Yante Maten Georgia
J.J. Frazier Georgia
Michael Carrera South Carolina

ALL SEC Honorable Mention

Alex Caruso - Texas A&M, Sindarius Thornwell - South Carolina, Damian Jones - Vanderbilt, Moses Kingsley - Arkansas, Kevin Punter - Tennesee, Retin Obasohan - Alabama, Alex Poythress - Kentucky, Craig Victor - LSU, Dorian Finney-Smith - Florida, Tyler Davis - Texas A&M, Gavin Ware - Mississippi State,

ALL SEC Newcomers

Ben Simmons LSU
Tyler Davis Texas A&M
Jamal Murray Kentucky
Isaiah Briscoe Kentucky
Quinndary Weatherspoon Texas A&M
Honorable Mention

Keyvaughn Allen - Florida, P.J. Dozier, South Carolina,  D.J. Hogg - Texas A&M, Antonio Blakeney - LSU, Kevin Puryear - Missouri,

SEC Coach of the Year
Avery Johnson


This was a tough award to hand out. Usually the coach of the year goes to a guy who had a good team and they won the league or got close. Billy Kennedy won the award from the league itself, but I didn't really feel that he deserved it. Honestly, A&M was a bit of a letdown in the middle of the conference slate, and that roster was so loaded that I felt they should have won more games considering the struggles of the rest of the conference. Calipari did a great job getting his team together at the end. But, in my opinion, no coach did more to boost his roster up than Johnson did with the Crimson Tide. There's a reason why they were picked towards the bottom of the league, and it had to do with so much lost, and so little coming back. Johnson helped make Retin Obasohan a top level player, and had Alabama in the NCAA discussion far long than they should have been.

Photo credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images