Following the most successful regular season since 2013-14, SEC honors and awards abounded for Florida Gators basketball. The Gators picked up five honors between head coach Mike White and guards KeVaughn Allen, Kasey Hill and Canyon Barry.
Allen earned a spot on First Team All-SEC, while Hill made Second Team All-SEC and the All-Defensive Team. Florida was one of just four teams with multiple players receiving All-SEC honors.
After being named to Second Team All-SEC in the preseason, Allen improved his status over the course of his sophomore year. He stepped up as Florida’s offensive leader this season, leading the team with 13.9 points per game, with 430 total points scored.
Allen was most deadly from three-point range, leading the Gators with a .401 (67-for-167) three-point percentage. His 67 three-pointers made this season were good for the third most in the SEC.
“It’s a great honor to be on All-SEC First Team,” said Allen. “It means a lot just to be honored with the great players on there.”
As a senior, Hill received his first ever All-SEC recognition. He played the most minutes of any Florida player this season, averaging 28.6 minutes on the court. He posted 9.6 points per game, while leading the team with 4.6 assists per game and 1.7 steals per game. Hill was second in the SEC in assists and fourth in steals this season.
Hill was most pleased with his spot on the All-Defensive Team, as he has focused on making himself a better defensive player this year. “It means a lot to me,” he said. “I do take pride in defense and I’m happy I won the award.”
Barry deservingly brought home SEC Sixth Man of the Year. White previously said he would have thrown a fit had Barry not won the award. Surprisingly, White said it was not always a part of his plan to have Barry come in off the bench, but after seeing how well it worked, it just stuck.
“That’s 100 percent Canyon,” said White on how well Barry has accepted his role. “That’s it. I’m not taking one percent credit … Not everyone can handle that, as we know, Canyon has. He had been the best player on the floor in a few games for us. I thought there was a chance he could be an all-league player and I wouldn’t have been surprised at all. I think he’s very deserving in terms of consideration to be an All-SEC player, off of the bench. That’s a special thing to have as a coach, it’s an absolute luxury.”
Barry accounted for 22.1 minutes per game off the bench. He was only behind Allen in points per game (12.5), total points (374) and three-pointers made (41-for-117, .350) this season. He led the Gators by a wide margin in getting to the foul line this season, making 101 of 115 attempts. His 87.8 free-throw percentage was the third highest percentage in the conference.
“It’s definitely an honor and I’m humbled to win the award, especially with so many great players in the SEC,” said Barry. “When I came to Florida, I didn’t envision being a sixth man, but basketball is a team game and the team is always more important than the individual, so I just accepted the role that Coach White gave me. And to be acknowledged for my sacrifice is honoring and it’s an award I’ll cherish for sure.”
Finally, White was named SEC Coach of the Year in his second season, making Florida the only team to have multiple individual award winners. He was the clear-cut choice for the award, leading the Gators to a 24-7 record and a 14-4 mark in conference play to earn a No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament and a guaranteed NCAA Tournament appearance.
White has completely turned around a program that was quickly heading in the wrong direction in a very short amount of time. In his first two seasons, he has posted 45 regular season wins, the most wins in the first two season of any coach in Florida history. Florida’s 24 regular season wins this year tied for the third-most in program history.
When asked about winning the award, White would not take too much credit. As always, he gave all of the praise to his players and staff for putting him in the position he is in.
“It’s a prestigious honor. I’ve always been a fan of the Southeastern Conference and it’s an honor to be a part of this conference. Any time you get an award, and I don’t want to take it lightly, but I also understand awards follow good teams. I have good players. I have a good team. I have a really, really good staff, and when you’re staff is a team themselves, they’re hitting on all cylinders and all pulling in the same direction and you have good talent and you have good kids, you win games. When you win games, guys get awards. I’m really happy for the individual awards our guys achieved. They’re all very well deserved.”