Mirroring many of the coaches’ selections when the Southeastern Conference announced its postseason awards last week, several Wildcats raked in honors Monday when the Associated Press announced its All-SEC teams.
Headlining the awards were John Calipari and Karl-Anthony Towns, who won SEC Coach of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year, respectively. It’s the third time Calipari has been named the SEC Coach of the Year by the AP and the second time he’s won both the AP honor and the coaches’ pick in the same season.
Calipari has led Kentucky to the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and SEC championships in both the regular season and conference tournament. Among the most notable achievements the Wildcats have notched under Calipari’s watch this season include the best start ever by an SEC team, the longest overall winning streak in school history and becoming one of just three teams ever to go 34-0.
Towns, who has led the Wildcats with seven double-doubles this season, was named the AP’s Freshman of the Year after averaging 9.7 points, a team-high 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks through 34 games so far. The Piscataway, N.J., native has gotten better as the season has gone on, posting five double-doubles over his last 13 games.
Towns joined fellow Wildcat Willie Cauley-Stein on the eight-man All-SEC First Team, which featured three ties for the final spot. Cauley-Stein, who was named a First Team All-American by the United States Basketball Writers Association and Sporting News, is averaging 9.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.3 steals in 25.5 minutes of action.
Capable of guarding all five positions, Cauley-Stein has been at his best against Kentucky’s toughest competition. He leads the Wildcats in scoring (11.6 points per game) and rebounding (8.4) in UK’s seven games vs. ranked competition. The junior from Olathe, Kan., averaged 14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks en route to SEC Tournament MVP honors last week.
Sophomore guard Aaron Harrison was selected for the five-man second team after leading the Wildcats in scoring (11.3 points) this season. Harrison, who has posted a team-leading 21 games in double figures this year, has knocked down 53 3-point field goals on the year and recorded 42 steals, both second best on the team. Harrison has turned up his game for the postseason, averaging 12.0 points in the SEC Tournament.
Freshman guard Devin Booker earned All-SEC Honorable Mention honors from the AP in recognition of his sensational freshman season. Booker is averaging 10.5 points and leads the team with 54 3-point field goals on a 42.9-percent success rate. The coaches’ pick for the SEC Sixth Man of the Year has led UK in scoring a team-high-tying eight times this season.
UK begins its NCAA Tournament run on Thursday when it faces the winner of the Hampton-Manhattan game on Thursday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville. That game is scheduled for a 9:40 p.m. ET tip on CBS.