Four UK Standouts Named To Preseason Coaches All-SEC Teams
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The league’s coaches agree with the media on one thing: Kentucky men’s basketball’s preseason All-Southeastern Conference players.
The preseason coaches’ All-SEC squads were revealed Tuesday and Kentucky’s honorees were identical to last week’s media selections. Junior guard Sahvir Wheeler was voted to the first team while graduate student guard Kellan Grady and junior forwards Keion Brooks Jr. and Oscar Tshiebwe were tabbed to the second team.
The head coaches from the league were tasked with selecting eight players for the All-SEC First Team and eight for the All-SEC Second Team. With no ties broken, 10 players made the first team and eight were selected to the second team.
Joining Wheeler on the first team were Alabama’s Jaden Shackelford and Jahvon Quinerly, Arkansas’ JD Notae, Auburn’s Allen Flanigan, Florida’s Colin Castleton, LSU’s Darius Days, Mississippi State’s Iverson Molinar, Tennessee’s John Fulkerson and Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen Jr.
In addition to Kentucky’s three picks, Davonte Davis from Alabama, Jabari Smith from Auburn, Xavier Pinson from LSU, Garrison Brooks from Mississippi State and Keyshawn Bryant from South Carolina made the second team.
Unlike the media preseason selections, no vote for SEC Player of the Year or predicted order of finish was conducted.
In the media poll, UK was voted to win its seventh SEC regular-season title under head coach John Calipari. Should Kentucky achieve the feat, it would mark the program’s 50th overall regular-season title. No other school comes close, with LSU in second place with 11 SEC regular-season championships.
Wheeler was an All-SEC Second Team selection by both the league’s coaches and the media as a sophomore at Georgia. He paced the conference in assists per game with 7.4, but he also led the Bulldogs in scoring with 14.0 per game and steals at 1.7 per outing. His 22 games scoring in double figures was also a squad best.
Wheeler was fifth in the country in assists per game and his total assists ranked third.
The Houston native broke Georgia’s single-season assists record with 193 dimes and needed just 24 games to break the record. He was also the league’s best in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.7 to become the fourth player since 2000 to lead the conference in both assists per game and assist-to-turnover ratio. Wheeler recorded eight double-doubles of the point-assist variety during his standout sophomore campaign and also registered the first triple-double in program history with 14 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds against LSU on Feb. 23.
Brooks is one of UK’s leading returning scorers and is the top returning rebounder from the 2020-21 season. He averaged a career-high 10.3 points per game and had the highest rebounding average of 6.8 per game on the team despite missing the first nine games of the season with an injury. Brooks reached double-figure scoring in 11 of his 16 appearances and posted his first two career double-doubles.
Against Ole Miss, Brooks had 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists, and he logged 10 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in the upset win at No. 19/20 Tennessee. Other season highlights for Brooks included grabbing nine boards, dishing out a career-high five assists and blocking a career-best four shots at Vanderbilt, scoring a career-high 23 points and snaring 11 rebounds in the first meeting with Tennessee. He began his sophomore campaign at Florida with 12 points, six rebounds and four assists in a double-digit victory.
Brooks has played in 47 games with nine starts over his first two seasons with Kentucky. He is averaging 6.4 points per game and 4.4 rebounds for his career. On 16 occasions Brooks has reached double-figure scoring throughout his career.
Grady was a prolific scorer at Davidson who scored 2,002 career points on 47.2% career shooting. With 240 career 3-pointers, Grady has made at least 51 treys in all four seasons and shot a career-best 38.2% from behind the arc in 2020-21. He has 21 games with at least four 3-pointers. Grady reached the 2,000-point milestone in Davidson’s final game of 2020-21 and was the sixth player in program history to achieve the mark.
The Boston native has been one of the Atlantic 10’s best players from the very start of his college career. Grady is a four-time All-A-10 selection, including a two-time first-team pick. He won A-10 Player of the Week five times in his Davidson career in addition to five A-10 Rookie of the Week honors in his breakthrough 2017-18 campaign. Grady was named in A-10 Rookie of the Year that season.
Grady averaged 17.4 points in his time at Davidson, scoring 18.0 points per game his freshman season, 17.3 as a sophomore, 17.2 as a junior and 17.1 this past season. With an ability to play either guard position, Grady averaged 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in 2020-21. He has scored in double figures 96 times in his career, 20 or more points 44 times and 30 or more six times. His career high is 39 points, set his freshman season.
Tshiebwe was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team and was a unanimous selection to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team in his freshman season. He also made the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team, the National Association of Basketball Coaches District 8 First Team, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association District II Team and the Academic Big 12 All-Rookie Team.
The Congo native scored in double figures in a team-high 19 games and posted 10 double-doubles. He was first in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds per game with 4.1, second in rebounding and led the country in offensive rebounding percentage (19.0%)
Tshiebwe was off to another solid start this season, averaging 8.5 points on 52.3% shooting in addition to 7.8 rebounds prior to his midseason transfer to Kentucky. Tshiebwe spent the 2021 spring semester with the Wildcats. He practiced with the team but was not eligible to appear in any games.
Kentucky’s first exhibition game is Friday at 7 p.m. in Rupp Arena vs. Kentucky Wesleyan. SEC Network will carry the game. UK will follow with an exhibition game vs. Miles College on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. on SEC Network. The Wildcats open the regular season in New York for the Champions Classic. They will face No. 9 Duke on ESPN.
All-SEC First Team
Jaden Shackelford – Alabama
Jahvon Quinerly – Alabama
JD Notae – Arkansas
Allen Flanigan – Auburn
Colin Castleton – Florida
Sahvir Wheeler – Kentucky
Darius Days – LSU
Iverson Molinar – Mississippi State
John Fulkerson – Tennessee
Scotty Pippen Jr. – Vanderbilt
All-SEC Second Team
Davonte Davis – Arkansas
Jabari Smith – Auburn
Keion Brooks Jr. – Kentucky
Kellan Grady – Kentucky
Oscar Tshiebwe – Kentucky
Xavier Pinson – LSU
Garrison Brooks – Mississippi State
Keyshawn Bryant – South Carolina