All-SEC choices include Parsons
ATLANTA ó Chandler Parsons arrived at Florida expecting to go right to the Final Four, maybe play one season for the Gators before heading off to stardom in the NBA.
Turns out, his journey took a little longer than expected.
But it all paid off Monday when Parsons was picked as player of the year on The Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference team.
Florida claimed another award, as well. Billy Donovan was selected as coach of the year for leading the Gators to the regular-season championship.
Kentucky freshman Terrence Jones was chosen as the top newcomer, beating out teammate Brandon Knight.
Parsons, a 6-foot-10 senior forward, was a unanimous choice to the first team despite ranking 24th in the league in scoring ó and third on his own team ó at 11.5 points a game. That was a tribute to his all-around game; he ranks among the SECís top 10 in five other categories: rebounding (third at 7.8), assists-to-turnover ratio (fifth at 1.6), assists (seventh at 3.5), field-goal percentage (eighth at .496), and 3-point percentage (10th at .381).
ěChandlerís made an incredible jump mentally, an incredible jump,î Donovan said. ěAs big of a jump as Joakim Noah made as a player, that is the jump that Chandler has made going into the games and understanding what he needs to do.î
When Parson joined the Gators in 2007 after their second straight national title, he expected things to carry on just as they had before he arrived, with a team led by Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer.
The freshman certainly expected big things from himself.
ěIím leaving after my freshman year, NBA, All-Star, just all that stuff,î Donovan recalled.
It didnít quite work out that way. The Gators didnít even make the NCAA field his first two seasons, and Parsons wound up staying four years.
ěI think he would tell you, ëI thought it was going to be a lot easier,íî Donovan said. ěHis mental approach from his freshman year going into his sophomore year, he couldnít have been more poorly prepared. What I mean by that is just the way he was talking, just what he thought he could do, what he was going to do. He had this whole plan of how this year was going to go for him. And I think he really, really got humbled after his sophomore year.î
After two straight NCAA misses, Parsons began to realize what was important ó team success, not individual stats. The Gators claimed a No. 2 seed in the upcoming tournament.
ěIt took two years for the bulb to go off,î Donovan said. ěHe was probably a guy that was maybe a little bit more wrapped up in his stats, and winning wasnít quite as important. He was more concerned about, ëWhat am I doing?í ó points, rebounds, assists, and missing out on what winning can actually do for you.î
Vanderbiltís John Jenkins, a sophomore guard, also was a unanimous choice to the first team. He led the SEC in scoring (19.5) and was the leagueís most prolific 3-point shooter. Rounding out the elite five were Kentuckyís Jones, Alabamaís JaMychal Green and Chris Warren of Mississippi.
The 6-8 Jones was one of three freshmen starters at Kentucky, which quickly rebuilt after three key freshmen from the previous season bolted for the NBA, including 2010 SEC player of the year John Wall.
Jones stepped right in, leading the league in rebounding (8.9) and placing sixth in scoring (16.5) for the Wildcats, who won the SEC tournament Sunday with a 16-point rout of Florida. He was part of a lineup that included two other freshmen starters, Knight and Doron Lamb.
ěI think Brandon could have easily been the newcomer of the year, but I am honored and want to thank everyone that voted for me,î Jones said.
Knight also had an impressive debut season, ranking fourth in scoring (17.5) and third in assists (4.2).
ěIím so proud of both Terrence and Brandon,î coach John Calipari said. ěLike all individual awards our guys receive, itís really a reflection of our team and how much progress we have all made this season. When youíre a playerís first program like we are at Kentucky, you take a great deal of pride in the accomplishments of these young men.î
Knight was a second-team selection, joined by Georgiaís Trey Thompkins, Tennesseeís Scotty Hopson, Alabamaís Tony Mitchell and Floridaís Erving Walker.
Thompkins, who had an injury plagued season, slipped to the second team after being a first-teamer in 2010. Warren, on the other hand, moved up after being a second-teamer last season.
The 63rd annual AP All-SEC team was selected by a 12-member media panel representing each of the conferenceís nine states.
The Associated Press