Kentucky, Florida's Keyontae Johnson tabbed as SEC's preseason best in USA TODAY Network poll

Mike Wilson
Knoxville News Sentinel

Florida's Keyontae Johnson was voted the preseason SEC Player of the Year and a unanimous All-SEC selection in a poll of 18 writers across USA TODAY Network properties covering the conference.

The junior forward received 12 votes for player of the year.

Kentucky edged Tennessee as the conference's projected champion. The two teams took all first-place votes.

Tennessee coach Rick Barnes was tabbed as the preseason SEC Coach of the Year, an award he won after the 2017-18 season. The sixth-year Vols coach received 11 votes. Alabama's Nate Oats received three and Auburn's Bruce Pearl got two.

Kentucky's B.J. Boston ran away with the SEC Newcomer of the Year award. He got 13 votes and also received two votes for SEC player of the year. Auburn's Sharife Cooper earned four votes, while Tennessee's Jaden Springer received one.

Here are all the preseason award winners, All-SEC selections, projected order of finish and a few observations:


Player of the year

Keyontae Johnson, Florida

Coach of the year

Rick Barnes, Tennessee

Newcomer of the year

BJ Boston, Kentucky 



Keyontae Johnson, F, Florida

B.J. Boston, G, Kentucky

Trendon Watford, F, LSU

John Petty, G, Alabama

John Fulkerson, F, Tennessee


Yves Pons, G/F, Tennessee

Olivier Sarr, C, Kentucky

Javonte Smart, G, LSU

Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn

Scottie Lewis, G, Florida

Projected order of finish

1. Kentucky (11)

2. Tennessee (7)

3. Florida

4. LSU

5. Alabama

6. Arkansas

7. Auburn

8. South Carolina

9. Mississippi

10. Missouri

11. Texas A&M

12. Mississippi State

13. Georgia

14. Vanderbilt


  • Kentucky and Tennessee had the most players receive votes for the preseason All-SEC team with four each. B.J. Boston got the most votes for Kentucky with 17, while Olivier Sarr received 14, Terrence Clarke had six and Isaiah Jackson received one. Boston, Clarke and Jackson all are top-30 recruits that signed with UK. John Fulkerson and Yves Pons each got 16 votes for All-SEC, while Fulkerson won a tiebreaker for first team. UT five-star freshmen Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson garnered four votes and one vote, respectively. 
  • No players from Georgia or Vanderbilt received a vote for All-SEC. Auburn (Sharife Cooper), Arkansas (Moses Moody), Mississippi State (Abdul Ado) and South Carolina (AJ Lawson) each had one player receive votes.
  • Vanderbilt received 13 votes to finish at the bottom of the SEC again. Georgia received four last-place nods and Texas A&M received one.
  • Neither Kentucky nor Tennessee received a vote below third place. The Wildcats had one third-place vote and the Vols received two. The voting showed a clear top two and a clear second-tier of Florida and LSU, with a significant drop before the cluster of Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn.
  • Many teams had a wide range of projected finishes, but none was wider than Arkansas. The Razorbacks were picked anywhere from fourth to 12th. Florida had a wide range — anywhere from second to ninth — but only one voter put the Gators outside the top five teams. Mississippi State, Missouri and South Carolina all were picked to finish between sixth and 13th.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.