BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- UK freshmen Kevin Knox (pictured) and Hamidou Diallo were selected for the preseason All-Southeastern Conference basketball teams by the league’s 14 head coaches, the league office announced Friday, Nov. 10.
Knox was one of nine players selected to the first team, while Diallo is a member of the 10-player second team. Both players were also tabbed to the preseason All-SEC teams as selected by the league’s media members. Diallo, however, was a first-team pick by the media and Knox a second-team selection.
Thirteen of the 14 schools are represented on the two teams with Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Texas A&M all having two selections. In all, 40 different players received votes for the coaches’ teams. The preseason teams consist of a minimum of eight players on each squad. No ties were broken and no predicted order of finish was made.
The 2017-18 season officially tips off Friday evening with 13 SEC teams in action. Kentucky will face Utah Valley at 7 p.m. in Rupp Arena live on the SEC Network. Conference play opens Dec. 30 and the 2018 SEC Tournament is set to begin March 7 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Knox is entering his freshman season at Kentucky as a top-10 prospect in the class of 2017, according to Scout, Rivals and ESPN. He was selected on the first team alongside Florida’s KeVaughn Allen, Georgia’s Yante Maten, Ole Miss’ Deandre Burnett, Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon, Missouri’s Michael Porter, Jr., Texas A&M’s Tyler Davis and Robert Williams and Vanderbilt’s Matthew Fisher-Davis.
The 2017 Mr. Florida winner averaged 28.5 points and 11.3 rebounds a game for Tampa Catholic as a senior, where he finished with 2,760 career points. He led the Crusaders to a runner-up finish in the state tournament.
A 2017 McDonald’s All American, Knox scored 15 points and added three rebounds in the annual high school all-star game. He also scored 12 points in the Jordan Brand Classic and was a 2017 Naismith High School All-American Second Team selection and a three-time All-State First Team member.
Knox, a preseason candidate for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Julius Erving Award (nation’s best small forward), has been a mainstay with USA Basketball, winning gold medals at the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and the 2016 FIBA U17 World Cup. He led the Wildcats in scoring in their three exhibition victories with a 19.3 average, in addition to 6.3 boards per game.
A 6-foot-5 explosive guard, Diallo was a top-10 prospect in the class of 2017 by many national pundits. Both 247 Sports and Scout rated him as the No. 1 overall shooting guard. He is joined on the All-SEC second team by Alabama’s Braxton Key and Collin Sexton, Arkansas’ Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon, Auburn’s Mustapha Heron, Florida’s Chris Chiozza, Ole Miss’ Terence Davis, South Carolina’s Chris Silva and Tennessee’s Grant Williams.
During his final high school season, Diallo led Putnam Science Academy to a 38-3 overall record and an appearance in the state semifinals. He is a two-time all-state honoree and averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists during his senior campaign.
A preseason candidate for the Hall of Fame’s Jerry West Award (nation’s best shooting guard), Diallo has been a mainstay in USA Basketball and traveled to Egypt this summer with to the FIBA U19 World Cup under the direction of John Calipari. He averaged 10.9 points and 3.9 rebounds in 18.4 minutes a game for the United States during seven games. Diallo enrolled at Kentucky in January and spent the spring semester with the Cats becoming a vital practice player during their run to the Elite Eight. He averaged 14.7 points in UK’s three exhibition wins this preseason.
Alyssa Rice Named to Lisa Leslie Award Top 20 Watch List
UK senior center Alyssa Rice has been named one of 20 players nationally to the inaugural Lisa Leslie Award Top 20 Watch List, which will annually honor the top centers in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball. The Lisa Leslie Award is in its first season and is named after the three-time All-American and 1994 National Player of the Year.
The Selection Committee for the Lisa Leslie Award is composed of top women’s college basketball personnel including media members, head coaches, sports information directors and Hall of Famers. By mid-February, the watch list of 20 players for the 2018 Lisa Leslie Award will be narrowed to just 10. In March, five finalists will be presented to Ms. Leslie and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. Fans will also have the opportunity to vote for their favorite finalist at www.hoophallawards.com.
The winner of the 2018 Lisa Leslie Center Award will be announced during ESPN2’s telecast of the national semifinal games in the 2018 NCAA Women’s Final Four in Columbus, Ohio on Friday, March 30. Additional awards being presented include the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Award, the Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard Award, the Cheryl Miller Small Forward Award and the Katrina McClain Power Forward Award, as well as the Wade Trophy, the sport’s oldest and most prestigious national player of the year award.
Rice has started 93 career games at Kentucky with 43 starts. Last season, Rice had her best season yet averaging 21.8 minutes per game, 4.2 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game and shot 41.0 percent from the field. The native of Reynoldsburg, Ohio finished second on the team with 22 blocks last season while leading the team in blocks 12 times. Rice’s best game came against Alabama in the SEC Tournament, scoring 11 points with five rebounds. She followed that performance with eight points and six rebounds against South Carolina the following day.
Rice has shined off and on the court for Kentucky as a three-year member of the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll. She was recently voted by her peers as the chair of the SEC Women’s Basketball Leadership Council and was tabbed by the SEC to the NCAA Division I WBB Competition Committee. Last year, Rice was named to the SEC Community Service Team for her hard work in the Lexington community.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught,