For the second year in a row, Tennessee enjoyed an impressive hardware reap in the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball postseason awards distribution, winning Player of the Year and having a trio of players earn All-SEC recognition.
After an All-America season, junior forward Grant Williams repeated as SEC Player of the Year, becoming just the 10th player in conference history to win the award in back-to-back years and the first since Arkansas’ Corliss Williamson did so in 1994 and 1995.
Others to have accomplished the feat include VFLs Bernard King and Dale Ellis and other all-time greats such as Williamson, Pete Maravich and Shaquille O’Neal. Williams was also tabbed first-team All-SEC after finishing the regular season as the top scorer in the SEC with 19.3 points per game. He has been one of the nation’s most versatile and reliable players this season, averaging 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game, while shooting 57 percent from the field and 83 percent from the free-throw line.
Along with scoring, Williams ranked inside the league’s top 10 in field-goal percentage (2nd), free-throw percentage (3rd), rebounding (5th) and assist/turnover ratio (9th). The Charlotte, North Carolina, native posted seven double-doubles this season and eclipsed the 20-point margin on 14 occasions, including his career-high 43-point effort at Vanderbilt (Jan. 23). He led the Vols in scoring 15 times this season, 20 times in rebounding and 13 times in blocks.
Williams also was named SEC Player of the Year by the Associated Press Tuesday. He is the first Vol since Chris Lofton in 2007 to earn that distinction from league media. The AP also tabbed him first-team All-SEC, and he was the only player to earn unanimous selection.
Senior wing Admiral Schofield earned first-team All-SEC recognition from the coaches after averaging 16.3 points per game, which ranked second on the team and fifth in the SEC, to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Schofield ranked fifth in the conference in field-goal percentage, shooting .476 while leading the Vols in field-goal attempts.
The Zion, Illinois, native also led the team in shooting from beyond the arc with 59 3-pointers on the year. Schofield, a second team All-SEC selection by the AP, dropped a career-high six threes and 30 points to lift Tennessee to a win over No. 1 Gonzaga in December. The Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year finalist was named the 2018 Jerry Colangelo Classic Most Valuable Player and the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week for his efforts against the Zags.
Jordan Bone rounded out the Vols’ All-SEC performers, earning a nod on the second team by both the coaches and the AP. The junior point guard led the SEC in assists per game (6.1), ranked second in assist/turnover ratio (3.0) and seventh in field-goal percentage (.475). On the year, he has dished out 189 assists, which stands as the fourth-most by a Vol in a single season. He ranks third on the team in scoring with a career-best 13.4 points per game.
The Nashville, Tennessee, native joined Tyrone Beaman (1982-83) and Rodney Woods (1974-75) this year as only the third Vol ever to record three points/assists double-doubles in a season, highlighted by a 24-point, 11-assist performance against Samford. In Tennessee’s victory over No. 4 Kentucky at home, Bone carried the Vols to a 19-point victory with a career-high 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting and five 3-pointers.
The trio has Tennessee bound for the NCAA Tournament later this month for the second straight year with a chance to earn the program’s first ever No. 1 seed. The Vols have been ranked in the AP poll’s top 10 for the entire season (first time in program history) and spent four weeks ranked No. 1 in the country. UT finished with one of its best regular-season records of all time, going 27-4 and 15-3 in the SEC.
COURTESY: Univ. of Tennessee