With one game left in the regular season, we know who the Southeastern Conference champion is.
That would be Florida (though if Alabama beats Georgia and UF loses at Vanderbilt this weekend there will be a tie at the top with the Gator’s holding the head-to-head ‘breaker).
But naming the SEC’s player of the year won’t be so easy. We’ll go ahead and eliminate players who had great years for mediocre-to-bad teams (Mississippi’s Chris Warren), as well as four others who have strong numbers for fringe NCAA Tournament teams (Georgia’s Travis Leslie & Trey Thompkins, and Tennessee’s Scotty Hopson & Tobias Harris).
That brings us to a final seven.
A look at the candidates (listed alphabetically by team):
JaMychal Green, Jr. F, Alabama: One of the league’s most consistent players, Green has scored at least 14 points in every conference game this season. He ranks seventh in scoring (15.9 ppg), is tied for fifth in rebounding (7.5 rpg), is tied for 10th in field-goal percentage (.492), is eighth in steals (1.38 spg), is fifth in blocked shots (2.15 bpg) and 20th in foul shooting (.726). Along with Tony Mitchell, Green helped lead the Crimson Tide to the West title.
Tony Mitchell, Soph. F/G, Alabama: Mitchell scored in double figures in every conference game but one, and he has reached at least 20 points five times in league play. He ranks ninth in scoring (15.6 ppg), is tied for 12th in rebounds (7.1 rpg), is fifth in field-goal percentage (.534), is second in steals (1.72 spg) and at 6-foot-6, is tied for 12th in blocked shots (1.21 bpg). Mitchell helped lead the Crimson Tide to the West title and also leads the SEC in dunks.
Chandler Parsons, Sr. F, Florida: If the league’s MVP race was split based on the two halves of the season, Parsons might run away with the second-half award. He also might be the most dominant player in the country yet to have a 20-point game this year. Parsons is tied for 25th in the league in scoring (11.4 ppg), is third in rebounding (7.8 rpg), is tied for 10th in field-goal percentage (.492), is 13th in three-point shooting (.384), is tied for fifth in assists (3.7 apg) and is tied for 24th in steals (1.00 spg). On a really balanced team, Parsons is one of four players averaging double figures in scoring for the SEC champs.
Erving Walker, Jr. G, Florida: Walker has been UF’s most consistent player this year, but Parsons has earned the majority of the attention since the calendar changed to 2011. Walker ranks 14th in the SEC in scoring (14.8 ppg), ninth in assists (3.3 apg), is tied for 14th in steals (1.21 spg), is 14th in three-point shooting (.377) and is 14th in foul shooting (.781). On a team with four players averaging double-figures in scoring, Walker leads the SEC champs in that category.
Terrence Jones, Fr. F, Kentucky: The Wildcats are led by three freshmen, and Jones is the best inside-outside presence of the bunch. He ranks sixth in the league in scoring (17.2 ppg), first in rebounds (9.1 rpg), 23rd in field-goal percentage (.457), is tied for 29th in assists (1.7 apg), is tied for 14th in steals (1.21 spg) and is sixth in blocked shots (1.93). Jones and Brandon Knight are two of the primary reasons the Wildcats are the SEC’s best home team.
Brandon Knight, Fr. G, Kentucky: Terrence Jones has been UK’s top freshman most of the season, but Knight’s late play may put him past his teammate in the eyes of the Big Blue faithful. He ranks fourth in the league in scoring (17.4 ppg), second in assists (4.1 apg), 29th in field-goal percentage (.494), 12th in free throws (.787) and ninth in three-point shooting (.405). Knight is usually Kentucky’s go-to guy late in games.
John Jenkins, Soph. G, Vanderbilt: The Commodores’ sharpshooter basically has led the SEC in scoring all season and has scored at least 20 points in 10 conference games this year. He ranks first in the league in scoring (19.4 ppg), second in foul shooting (.892), sixth in three-point shooting (.410) and 24th in field-goal percentage (.456). He doesn’t have the all-around numbers as some of the other candidates, but no one in the SEC was a better scorer than Jenkins was for NCAA Tournament-bound Vandy.
One of these players (more likely than not) will be named the SEC’s player of the year. Who would you choose?