Mizzou picked fifth in SEC, Porter tied for league’s top player
NASHVILLE • After three last-place finishes in the Southeastern Conference, the rebuilt Missouri men’s basketball team was picked to finish fifth in the SEC this season as voted on by a panel of reporters who cover the league.
The heightened expectations come with the arrival of freshman forward Michael Porter Jr., who finished tied with two others for the SEC preseason player of the year. The 6-10 rookie, winner of multiple national player of the year honors as a high school senior, shared the top honor with Georgia senior forward Yante Maten and Texas A&M sophomore forward Robert Williams.
For the 13th time since 1998-99, Kentucky was picked to win the conference, followed by Florida, an Elite Eight team last year, Texas A&M, Alabama and Mizzou.
After the Tigers, voters picked Arkansas sixth, followed by Vanderbilt, Georgia, Auburn, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Louisiana State.
Mizzou finds itself in the top half of the league projections despite winning just nine, 10 and eight games the last three seasons under former coach Kim Anderson, who was fired after a third straight last-place finish in the conference. The Tigers’ best finish in the SEC standings came in their first season, 2012-13, when they tied for the SEC’s third-best conference record and had the sixth overall seed in the SEC tournament.
Joining Porter, Maten and Williams on the preseason first team were Florida junior guard KeVaughn Allen and Kentucky freshman forward Hamidou Diallo. Seven players made the All-SEC second team: Alabama freshman guard Collin Sexton, Kentucky freshman forward Kevin Knox, Ole Miss senior guard Deandre Burnett, Ole Miss junior guard Terence Davis, Mississippi State junior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, Texas A&M junior center Tyler Davis and Vanderbilt senior guard Matthew Fisher-Davis.
SEC Tipoff 2018 starts today in Nashville, where first-year Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin will meet with the media, along with Porter and junior forward Kevin Puryear.
Here’s how I filled out my preseason ballot:
3. Texas A&M
10. South Carolina
11. Mississippi State
13. Ole Miss
1. Yante Maten, Georgia
2. Michael Porter Jr., Missouri
3. Collin Sexton, Alabama
4. Robert Williams, Texas A&M
5. KeVaughn Allen, Florida
SEC Player of the Year: Michael Porter Jr., Missouri