Tennessee’s Grant Williams named AP SEC player of year
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee forward Grant Williams is the Associated Press’ Southeastern Conference player of the year and Mississippi’s Kermit Davis is coach of the year.
Williams earned unanimous first-team all-SEC honors for a second straight season. The 14-member media panel also voted Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford, Kentucky’s PJ Washington, LSU’s Tremont Waters and Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon to the first team, which was announced Tuesday.
The second team includes Tennessee teammates Jordan Bone and Admiral Schofield, Auburn’s Jared Harper, South Carolina’s Chris Silva and Ole Miss’ Breein Tyree. Harper also earned second-team all-SEC honors last year.
Kentucky freshman Tyler Herro was voted SEC newcomer of the year.
SEC coaches also released their own all-SEC team on Tuesday, and they named Williams player of the year and Davis coach of the year as well.
This is the first year since 2007 that no freshman was an AP all-SEC first-team or second-team selection. At least one freshman made the first team every season from 2010-18.
Williams leads the SEC in scoring (19.3) and ranks fifth in the conference in rebounds (7.7) and 11th in assists (3.3). The 6-foot-7 junior has improved across the board from his sophomore year, when SEC coaches selected him as the league’s player of the year while the AP voting panel chose Georgia’s Yante Maten instead.
Last season, Williams averaged 15.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
“I think he’s improved in every area of the game,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “He’s versatile. He worked in the offseason, shooting the ball better, wanted to extend his range, and I think he’s done that.
“You look at it and I don’t think there’s any one part where he hasn’t gotten better. I think even mentally, because he’s had to face double-teams, all kinds of things from game to game, and I think his mental approach has probably been his biggest improvement.”
Williams is the first Volunteer selected as AP player of the year since Chris Lofton in 2007. The other Vols selected as AP players of the year since the award started in 1965 are Ron Widby (1967), Bernard King (1976 and 1977), Ernie Grunfeld (1977), Dale Ellis (1982 and 1983) and Ron Slay (2003.) King and Grunfeld were named co-players of the year in 1977.
Davis earned coach of the year honors for his role in making Ole Miss the SEC’s biggest surprise in his debut season. Davis took over Ole Miss’ program after coaching Middle Tennessee for 16 seasons.
Ole Miss (20-11, 10-8 SEC) tied for sixth place in the SEC and is likely to earn an NCAA Tournament berth. The SEC preseason media poll projected Ole Miss to finish last in the conference.
“It’s been a year that went by really fast with a lot of hard work, but it’s been one of the most rewarding years I’ve ever had as a coach,” Davis said. “To see The Pavilion come to life every game. See these players improve. We had good guards coming back and I just want to see them in the NCAA Tournament and enjoying it.”
Herro, who has scored 14.2 points per game, is the seventh Kentucky player in the last 10 seasons to be named SEC newcomer of the year. Kentucky’s other newcomers of the year during that stretch are John Wall (2010), Terrence Jones (2011), Anthony Davis (2012), Julius Randle (2014), Karl-Anthony Towns (2015) and Malik Monk (2017).
Weatherspoon is the first Mississippi State player to earn first-team or second-team AP all-SEC honors since 2012, when Arnett Moultrie and Dee Bost were both first-team selections.
FIRST TEAM (listed alphabetically)
Daniel Gafford, Arkansas, F, 6-11, Soph., El Dorado, Arkansas
PJ Washington, Kentucky, F, 6-8, Soph., Dallas
Tremont Waters, LSU, G, 5-11, Soph., New Haven, Connecticut
Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State, G, 6-4, Sr., Canton, Mississippi
u-Grant Williams, Tennessee, F, 6-7, Jr., Charlotte, North Carolina
Jordan Bone, Tennessee, G, 6-3, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee
Jared Harper, Auburn, G, 5-11, Jr., Mableton, Georgia
Admiral Schofield, Tennessee, G, 6-6, Sr., Zion, Illinois
Breein Tyree, Mississippi, G, 6-2, Jr., Somerset, New Jersey
Chris Silva, South Carolina, F, 6-9, Sr., Libreville, Gabon
Player of the year - Grant Williams, Tennessee
Coach of the year - Kermit Davis, Ole Miss
Newcomer of the year - Tyler Herro, Kentucky, G, 6-5, Fr., Milwaukee
AP All-SEC Voting Panel
Parrish Alford, Daily Journal (Tupelo, Mississippi); Kayla Anderson, WKRN (Nashville, Tennessee); John Clay, Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader; Richard Croome, The Eagle (Bryan-College Station, Texas) Brian Holland, WVLA (Baton Rouge, Louisiana); Bob Holt, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas); Cecil Hurt, The Tuscaloosa (Alabama) News; Logan Lowery, Daily Journal (Tupelo, Mississippi); Dave Matter, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Andrew Ramspacher, The State (Columbia, South Carolina); Edgar Thompson, The Orlando (Florida) Sentinel; Josh Vitale, Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser; Marc Weiszer, Athens (Georgia) Banner-Herald; Mike Wilson, Knoxville (Tennessee) News-Sentinel
AP sports writer David Brandt in Jackson, Mississippi, contributed to this report.