SEC notebook: Best backcourt tandem found in Gainesville

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Florida's KeVaughn Allen answers questions Wednesday during the Southeastern Conference men's basketball media day in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

 

While Florida guard KeVaughn Allen earned All-SEC first team honors, fellow Florida guard Chris Chiozza did not make either the first or second team. But there is thought that together, Allen and Chiozza will form the best backcourt tandem in the SEC.

“I can’t see why not,” said Chiozza, the Gators’ point guard.

Last season, Florida had more depth in the backcourt with Chiozza, Allen and departed senior point guard Kasey Hill. The 6-foot Chiozza will get a chance to run the Gator offense full time this season.

“I think backcourt will be as good or better because there isn’t a guy coming off the bench that’s not sure he’s going to play,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “You know Chiozza and KeVaughn Allen are the two best perimeter players they have, you know who they are going to play like the upperclassmen like they are. I expect they’ll be one of the toughest backcourts in the country.”

The Gators held a controlled intra-squad scrimmage Tuesday with just 10 players. Florida sophomore center Gorjok Gak remains limited in practice due to a knee injury and did not take part in the scrimmage.

“We had the SEC refs come in and help us with a few rule changes, just to get the young guys accustomed to the hand-check fouls,” Chiozza said. “It went pretty well. It was very competitive. There wasn’t a lot of fouls, not as much as I thought there would be. We had a good scrimmage. Last year’s first scrimmage wasn’t that good, but I think we’re looking pretty well right now.”

Not so surprise return

Texas A&M sophomore forward Robert Williams’ decision to return was a surprise to some, but not to his head coach.

“We were excited,” Kennedy said. “We kind of had a feeling he may come back just because he never at once said, ‘Coach I’m leaving.’ He was always open to it … he’s never come in and said it’s all about the league, it’s all about his team, and that’s what makes him a little bit different.”

The 6-foot-10 Williams said it was a family decision and decided to return for his sophomore season because he felt he wasn’t mature enough to play in the NBA yet, despite being a projected NBA Lottery Pick. Williams earned SEC defensive player of the year honors last season and was named SEC co-preseason player of the year with Missouri freshman center Michael Porter Jr. and Georgia senior forward Yante Maten.

“Growth was the thing,” Williams said. “I wasn’t mature in a lot of places that I should have been mature in.”

Williams said he’s explored getting an insurance policy in case of injury, but hasn’t signed one yet.

Shai could start

Kentucky coach John Calipari said point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could start as a true freshman. The 6-foot-6 Alexander, who originally committed to Florida before flipping to Kentucky before national signing day, is competing with Quade Green for the starting job at point guard.

With a wingspan of 6-10, Gilgeous-Alexander has impressed Calipari on the defensive end of the floor.

“With his wingspan, he’s disruptive,” Calipari said. “I mean really disruptive.”

Calipari said Gilgeous-Alexander needs to continue to work on his court vision when he drives in the lane.

“Right now, he’s like this,” Calipari said, gesturing his hands to simulate horse blinders. “We need him to spot guys side to side.”

Etc ..

White said Egbunu, who is recovering from ACL surgery, remains on track to return in January. … Of the 14 coaches at SEC basketball media days, 13 have led teams to the NCAA Tournament at least once. … The SEC’s 20 NBA Lottery draft picks since 2010 are the most of any conference.

 

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