UT Vols basketball sweeps SEC honors: Rick Barnes, Grant Williams best in SEC
When Rick Barnes arrived in Knoxville in spring 2015, the Tennessee basketball program was in a state of flux with its fourth coach this decade and only one NCAA tournament bid in four seasons.
Three years later, Tennessee is the SEC co-champion; Barnes is the SEC Coach of the Year; and the Vols boast the SEC Player of the Year in Grant Williams and the co-Sixth Man of the Year in Lamonte Turner.
Tennessee cleaned up the league awards Tuesday, days after claiming its first regular-season title since 2008. Barnes won his sixth career conference coach of the year award, while Williams and Turner garnered their first individual honors from the league’s coaches.
Williams also was named first-team All-SEC by both the coaches and media, while Admiral Schofield earned second-team All-SEC honors from the coaches.
Barnes took a Tennessee team projected to finish 13th in the SEC all the way to being ranked No. 13 in the country in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll heading into the postseason. He and Auburn’s Bruce Pearl — who coached at Tennessee for six seasons — were the front-runners for coach of the year after their teams shared the SEC title.
Barnes swept the award, winning the peer vote and the media vote after leading the Vols to their first SEC regular-season championship in a decade and soon-to-be first NCAA tournament bid since 2014.
Barnes arrived at Tennessee in spring 2015 after 17 seasons at Texas. The Vols went 15-19 in Barnes’ first season, before a slight uptick to 16-16 last season.
Tennessee took a major leap forward this year, with depth and high-caliber play from Schofield and Williams leading the way. The Vols opened the season clicking immediately, going 9-2 through nonconference play and earning a marquee win against Purdue in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
UT dropped its first two games in SEC play but ripped off 14 wins in its next 17 games to earn a share of the conference title and the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament. Tennessee (23-7) plays either No. 7 Mississippi State or No. 10 LSU at 7 p.m. ET Friday (SEC Network).
Barnes was named Big 12 Coach of the Year four times during his tenure at Texas. He also won a Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year award at George Mason.
Williams is the ninth Vol to win the SEC Player of the Year award, earning it a year after being named to the All-SEC freshman team.
He averaged 15.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, pacing the Vols as a largely consistent offensive weapon throughout the season. He scored at least 20 points eight times, including a career-high 37 points at Vanderbilt on Jan. 9, while facing double teams and being the focus of opposing defenses night in and night out.
Schofield elevated his game through February, earning back-to-back co-SEC Player of the Week honors in the final two weeks of the regular season. He scored 13.5 points per game, while leading the Vols with 6.1 rebounds per game. He scored in double-figures in 26 of Tennessee’s 30 games, eclipsing the 20-point mark six times.
Turner provided scoring off the bench, as the team’s third-leading scorer behind Williams and Schofield. He averaged 10.6 points per game and shot a team-best 40.8 percent from 3-point range. He made his name as a clutch shooter in monumental moments, hitting key 3-pointers against Purdue, Kentucky and Georgia.
Turner shared the Sixth Man of the Year award with Missouri’s Jontay Porter.
2018 SEC Men’s Basketball postseason awards
COACHES ALL-SEC TEAM
Coach of the Year: Rick Barnes, Tennessee
Player of the Year: Grant Williams, Tennessee
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Juwan Parker, Georgia
Co-Freshman of the Year: Collin Sexton, Alabama and Kevin Knox, Kentucky
Co-Sixth Man of the Year: Jontay Porter, Missouri and Lamonté Turner, Tennessee
Co-Defensive Player of the Year: Chris Silva, South Carolina and Robert Williams, Texas A&M
First Team: Jaylen Barford, Arkansas; Chris Chiozza, Florida; Yante Maten, Georgia; Kevin Knox, Kentucky; Kassius Robertson, Missouri; Chris Silva, South Carolina; Grant Williams, Tennessee; Tyler Davis, Texas A&M
Second Team: Collin Sexton, Alabama; Daryl Macon, Arkansas; Bryce Brown, Auburn; Jared Harper, Auburn; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky; Quinndary Weatherspoon, Miss. State; Admiral Schofield, Tennessee; Jeff Roberson, Vanderbilt
All-Freshman Team: Collin Sexton, Alabama; Daniel Gafford, Arkansas; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky; Kevin Knox, Kentucky; Tremont Waters, LSU; Nick Weatherspoon, Miss. State; Jontay Porter, Missouri; TJ Starks, Texas A&M
All-Defensive Team: Donta Hall, Alabama; Anfernee McLemore, Auburn; Chris Chiozza, Florida; Chris Silva, South Carolina; Robert Williams, Texas A&M
ASSOCIATED PRESS ALL-SEC TEAM
Coach of the Year: Rick Barnes, Tennessee
Player of the Year: Yante Maten, Georgia
Newcomer of the Year: Collin Sexton, Alabama
First Team: Bryce Brown, Auburn; Daryl Macon, Arkansas; u-Yante Maten, Georgia; Collin Sexton, Alabama; u-Grant Williams, Tennessee
Second Team: Jaylen Barford, Arkansas; Chris Chiozza, Florida; Jared Harper, Auburn; Mustapha Heron, Auburn; Kassius Robertson, Missouri