The SEC freshman of the year race appeared to be narrowing down to Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson and Florida guard Nick Calathes.
Calathes further made his case with a 22-point effort Wednesday night against Georgia. And now comes word that Patterson will miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his foot.
Patterson finished his freshman season averaging 16.4 points and 7.7 rebounds as Kentucky’s lone low-post offensive threat. Calathes is averaging 15.5 points per game and leads the SEC in assists at 6.1 per game.
Cases can also be made for Vanderbilt center A.J. Ogilvy (16.6 ppg) and LSU forward Anthony Randolph (14.8 ppg). But Ogilvy’s scoring (13.6 ppg) isn’t as impressive in conference games. Calathes, meanwhile, has scored 16.4 points per game in league play.
Even before Patterson’s injury, some writers throughout the conference were leaning toward voting for Calathes because of his added responsibility of making decisions on the floor. With 170 assists, Calathes is 20 shy of matching the UF single-season record of 190 held by Ronnie Montgomery in the 1987-88 season.
Calathes can cement the award with a few more solid games down the stretch, which in turn would help Florida extend its NCAA Tournament appearance streak to 10 in a row. The last Florida player to win SEC freshman of the year honors was Anthony Roberson in 2003. That year, freshman teammate Matt Walsh also made the All-SEC freshman team.
Corey Brewer was the last Florida player to make the All-SEC freshman team in 2005.