Yesterday, the SEC released their end of year awards given to players and coaches and to say it caused a stir amongst the Auburn family would be quite the understatement. These were the awards according to the Coaches.
SEC Coach of the Year went to Tennessee’s Rick Barnes. I think we all thought that Bruce Pearl without a doubt deserved this award but the award went to Barnes instead. To his credit though, Barnes has done a great job of rebuilding at Tennessee with the Vols going 23-7 (13-5) this season. Tennessee was picked to finish 13th in the league this season, while Auburn was picked to finish 9th (WITH Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley).
SEC Player of the Year also belongs to Tennessee as Grant Williams was given the award. Williams averaged 15.6 points and 5.8 rebounds this season. It gets better for Auburn fans as in addition to Player and Coach of the Year, the SEC released the 1st and 2nd teams for All-SEC. For some reason, the SEC has 8 players on each of these teams but here’s the list:
Jalen Barford, Arkansas
Chris Chiozza, Florida
Yante Maten, Georgia
Kevin Knox, Kentucky
Kassius Robertson, Missouri
Chris Silva, South Carolina
Grant Williams, Tennessee
Tyler Davis, Texas A&M
Collin Sexton, Alabama
Daryl Macon, Arkansas
Bryce Brown, Auburn
Jared Harper, Auburn
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky
Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State
Admiral Schofield, Tennessee
Jeff Roberson, Vanderbilt
Noticeably absent from these lists: Mustapha Heron. And there were many people who had something to say about it.
16 players were named All-SEC first and second team and Auburn's Mustapha Heron wasn't one of them? That's beyond comical. Inconceivable.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 6, 2018
Pretty much sums up our season to this point. Mustapha averaged 17.1 Pts ranked 5th, 6th FT %, 10th steals, Top 25 Rebs and leads a Championship Team. Really? https://t.co/wM9ENQ0QfR— Bruce Pearl (@coachbrucepearl) March 6, 2018
Mustapha Heron averaged MORE points AND rebounds than Grant Williams did in SEC play. Guess who won SEC player of the year and who didn't even make the 2nd team?— Will McLaughlin (@wlmcl) March 6, 2018
And from the guy himself:
Lol— Mustapha Heron (@Kingheron5) March 6, 2018
Pardon me for just a moment as I share some of Heron’s best plays of the year.
And my new personal favorite:
The fact that Auburn didn’t have a single player make the 1st team is hard to believe. It’s the first time in league history that a champion of the league has failed to have a player make 1st-Team All SEC and they’ve been doing this since 1956. Heron led the Tigers in scoring with 16.6 points per game. In regards to player of the year, Coach Pearl has said repeatedly that the best player on the best team deserves to win the award. In hindsight, the vote probably was split between Heron, Harper and Brown and seeing that Williams was the only Tennessee player under consideration, I would guess that’s why he got the award.
As for the AP Awards, Auburn fared much better in those. Bryce Brown was named to the 1st team, the first Auburn player to earn a spot on that list since 2000. Jared Harper and Mustapha Heron were on the 2nd team. In addition, Anfernee McLemore made 1st-Team All Defensive Team, a well deserved honor as he led the league with 2.7 blocks per game. I think he might have won SEC Defensive Player of the Year without his injury, but still a great honor for him.
As we look forward to the SEC Tournament and now that the dust has settled, this may have been the best thing to happen to Auburn. Although they have done so all year long, yesterday’s events will motivate the guys and they will continue to play with a chip on their shoulder. At the end of the day, Auburn won a championship and I’ll take that over individual awards any day of the week. While they may share the title with Tennessee, never forget that head-to-head, Auburn went to Knoxville and beat them 94-84. Auburn plays the winner of Alabama/Texas A&M on Friday morning at 11 a.m. in St. Louis. Friday’s game will be Auburn’s first game on ESPN all year long. Can’t wait! War Eagle!