Auburn Basketball Dominates SEC Awards – Bruce Pearl, Jabari Smith, Walker Kessler Win

Auburn’s awesome basketball season continued Tuesday.

The SEC regular season champion and fourth-ranked Tigers (27-4, 15-3) swept three major awards by the league coaches as Bruce Pearl won coach of the year, sophomore center Walker Kessler won defensive player of the year, and forward Jabari Smith took freshman of the year.

Pearl led Auburn to a school record for wins in a season and its first outright SEC title since 1999. He also became the first coach in SEC history to take two member schools to a No. 1 ranking – Auburn this year and Tennessee in 2008.

The Tigers play in the SEC Tournament on Friday in Tampa, Florida. The tournament opens Wednesday.

Kessler, a transfer from North Carolina, leads the nation with 4.5 blocked shots a game and holds the school season record for blocks with 140. He is averaging 11.5 points and 8.2 rebounds a game.

Smith is averaging 17.1 points a game and took freshman of the week honors six times this season.

Kentucky junior forward Oscar Tshiebwe was named SEC player of the year. He leads the SEC with 15.3 rebounds a game and is fourth in scoring with 17.3 a game.

LSU sophomore forward Tari Eason won sixth man of the year, as he averages 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds off the bench.

Vanderbilt junior guard/forward Jordan Wright was named SEC scholar-athlete of the year. He averages 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds.

Kessler, Smith, Tshiebwe and Eason made the All-SEC first team along with Arkansas’ JD Notae, Mississippi State’s Iverson Molinar, Tennessee’s Santiago Vescovi and Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen Jr.

All-SEC second teamers were Alabama’s Jaden Shackelford, Florida’s Colin Castleton, Kentucky’s TyTy Washington and Sahvir Wheeler, LSU’s Darius Days, Missouri’s Kobe Brown, Tennessee’s Kennedy Chandler and Texas A&M’s Quenton Jackson.

The All-Defensive team featured Kessler and Tshiebwe, Alabama’s Keon Ellis, Arkansas’ Jaylin Williams and Tennessee’s Zakai Zeigler.

The All-Freshmen team had Smith, Alabama’s Charles Bediako and JD Davison, Kentucky’s Washington, LSU’s Brandon Murray, South Carolina’s Devin Carter and Kennedy Chandler and Zeigler of Tennessee.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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