KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Georgia forward Yante Maten is the Associated Press’ Southeastern Conference men’s basketball player of the year.
Maten and Tennessee forward Grant Williams were unanimous first-team picks on the all-SEC team announced Tuesday. Tennessee’s Rick Barnes was named coach of the year and Alabama freshman guard Collin Sexton was selected as newcomer of the year by the 15-person media panel.
Auburn’s Bryce Brown and Arkansas’ Daryl Macon joined Maten, Williams and Sexton as first-team all-SEC selections.
The second team includes Auburn teammates Jared Harper and Mustapha Heron, Arkansas’ Jaylen Barford, Florida’s Chris Chiozza and Missouri’s Kassius Robertson.
Maten leads the SEC in scoring (19.4) and ranks second in the league in rebounding (8.8). Those statistics enabled him to earn player of the year honors even though Georgia (16-14, 7-11) tied for 11th place in the league standings.
This marks the first time an AP SEC player of the year has come from a team that ended the regular season below .500 in conference play since 1971, when Mississippi’s Johnny Neumann won the award while the Rebels went 6-12 in league competition.
There have been four AP SEC players of the year since then whose teams finished the regular season .500 in SEC play: Georgia’s Dominique Wilkins (1981), Tennessee’s Dale Ellis (1983), Vanderbilt’s Dan Langhi (2000 co-player of the year) and Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2013).
Georgia is the No. 12 seed in this week’s SEC Tournament in St. Louis and will face 13th-seeded Vanderbilt in Wednesday’s first-round action. Georgia coach Mark Fox is hopeful Maten will be ready for that game after the 6-foot-8 senior took a shot to the jaw Saturday in a 66-61 loss at No. 13 Tennessee.