SEC Post-Season Awards

Tim PollockSenior Writer IMarch 1, 2008

Here is the way I see the SEC Honors for the 2007-2008 basketball season: 

Player of the Year:

The leading candidates:

- Devan Downey (South Carolina): 19.2 points (second in SEC), 5.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 3.2 steals (league-leading), and 37 percent from three-point range. Downey’s stats are great, but the Gamecocks have an overall record of under .500 and an awful conference record. 

- Shan Foster (Vanderbilt): 19.8 points (leading scorer in SEC), 5.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 45 percent from the three-point line, and 81% percent from the FT line. Foster’s overall stat line is solid, but more importantly, he’s the key player on a team that is currently 23-4. 

- Jamont Gordon (Miss State): 17.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists. Gordon’s stats are unbelievably well-balanced and impressive—and his team is going to win the West; however, Gordon turns it over four times a game and shoots a low percentage from everywhere on the court. 

- Richard Hendrix (Alabama): 18.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks. Hendrix is the centerpiece of his Alabama team, and he is the most sure double-double in the SEC. But the Tide’s current 4-9 conference record is difficult to overcome.  

- Interestingly enough, for the second year in a row, there is no individual from the conference-leading roster who can make a case for POY. The Vols, much like last year’s Gators, get production from everyone. 

My pick:  Shan Foster 

Foster’s overall season has been excellent, but his 32-point performance on 9-13 shooting against top-ranked Tennessee sealed the deal for me. 

Freshman of the Year

The leading candidates: 

- Nick Calathes (Florida): 15.5 points, 6.1 assists (first in SEC), 5.1 rebounds, and 1.6 steals. Calathes’ biggest downfall is that he only shoots 43 percent from the field, but he is a triple-double waiting to happen, falling either an assist or rebound short of a triple-double in six games this year. 

- AJ Ogilvy (Vanderbilt): 16.6 points on 58 percent shooting, 6.8 rebounds, and 78% from FT line. Ogilvy is an extremely efficient player, but after scorching non-conference opponents, his point and rebound numbers took a dip in conference play. 
- Patrick Patterson (Kentucky):  Due to Patterson’s season-ending injury, his final numbers end up being 16.4 points on 58 percent shooting, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in nearly 36 minutes a game.

- Anthony Randolph (LSU): 14.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks (second in league). Again, great numbers, but Randolph is a 6-11 big man shooting 46 percent from the field on a bad team. 

- Chris Warren (Ole Miss): 15.6 points and 4.5 assists, but Warren shoots only 39 percent from the field and his team has taken a nose dive at the end of the year. 

My pick:  Co-winners, Nick Calathes and Patrick Patterson

The injury to Patterson eliminates the chance for these two to face each other in the regular season finale, which could have very well decided the winner. Ogilvy has had a great season, but he simply doesn’t mean as much to his team as Patterson and Calathes do. 

Defensive Player of the Year

The leading candidates: 

- Devan Downey (South Carolina): Downey is one of the quickest guards in the country, as his 3.2 steals per game show. This guy is a nightmare to match-up with. 

- Richard Hendrix (Alabama): 10.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game—have fun posting up against this big body. The blocked shots aren’t out of this world, but Hendrix affects the paint like nobody else in the league.  

- Jarvis Varnado (Miss State): 8.0 rebounds and 4.8 blocks per game. Getting nearly five blocks a game is unheard of, but Varnado is more of leaper and his 210-pound frame can be moved around down low too easily. 

My pick:  Richard Hendrix

Varnado’s blocked shots average is insane, but nobody owns the middle like Hendrix.

Coach of the Year
I see this is a two-man race between the two division winning coaches, Bruce Pearl (Tennessee) and Rick Stansbury (Miss State). 

My pick:  Bruce Pearl

Coaches of the best teams are often overlooked for Coach of the Year awards. While Stansbury’s team has improved dramatically, Pearl has vaulted Tennessee into one of the most feared teams in only three years.