If the SEC is going to turn its fortunes as a league — Kentucky and Florida are doing just fine, thank you — this may be the season for things to change.
Sophomores could help the SEC locate its elusive depth as Arkansas, LSU and Vanderbilt all provided players for the All-Sophomore team. Kentucky, led by the Harrison twins, and Florida have elite sophomores as well.
In fact, the only non-SEC member on the Athlon Sports first-team all-sophomore team is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of Arizona.
Kentucky hit its stride in the postseason as Andrew Harrison started to look more and more like a point guard. He averaged 5.4 assists in the SEC and NCAA tournaments. While his 33 turnovers during the same span was high, Harrison’s development turned the Wildcats’ fortunes.
Aaron’s maturation late in the season wasn’t as pronounced as his brother’s, but his clutch baskets against Michigan and Wisconsin provided the high points of the Wildcats’ run to the national championship game. Like the rest of Kentucky, he was streaky, but if his late-season form carries into 2014-15, the Wildcats will be a title contender.
Hollis-Jefferson took on a larger role after Brandon Ashley was lost for the season in February. After Ashley’s injury, Hollis-Jefferson averaged 10.8 points and 6.0 rebounds, both third on the team.
Mickey joined exclusive company by becoming only the second player in LSU history with 100 blocked shots in a season. The other is Shaquille O’Neal. After averaging 12.9 points and 7.9 rebounds, Mickey will team with fellow sophomore Jarell Martin for what could be the SEC’s best frontcourt duo.
Portis averaged 12.3 points and 6.8 rebounds as a freshman last season and aims to become a more physical and efficient player in the post in 2014-15.
Photo courtesy of Razorbacks Communications
G Terry Rozier, Louisville
G Isaiah Taylor, Texas
G Marcus Foster, Kansas State
F Austin Nichols, Memphis
F Chris Walker, Florida
G Wayne Selden, Kansas
G Rodney Purvis, UConn
F Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
F Damian Jones, Vanderbilt
F Jerell Martin, LSU