BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) The Latest on Southeastern Conference media day (all times Eastern):
The LSU Tigers are still worried about more than preseason practice and predictions.
The Tigers are coping with the death of 20-year-old teammate Wayde Sims, who was shot and killed on Sept. 28.
”That’s something that our team is still working on and moving forward and trying to get better as we take it day by day,” coach Will Wade said Wednesday at SEC media day.
The coach says, ”We’re going to miss him. He was our ultimate glue guy, which is about as good a compliment as you can give as a head coach. He was dependable, consistent.”
A 6-foot-6 forward, Sims averaged 5.6 points and 2.6 rebounds. He grew up in Baton Rouge, where his father, Wayne, also played for LSU.
LSU guard Tremont Waters says Sims was the kind of guy who would give him rides and that he could talk to about anything off the court. Sims’ family also embraced Waters’ parents when they came to town for games.
Walters says ”losing a brother like that, it hit us all hard.”
Mississippi State coach Ben Howland says the media picked the wrong team to win the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball title.
Nothing against Kentucky, he just sees the returning talent at defending co-regular season champion Tennessee – and believes the Volunteers are the team to beat.
”They’re the best team in our league going into the season, in my opinion, because of all the experience returning,” Howland said Wednesday at SEC media day.
Howland says ”there’s no doubt they’re the team to beat in our conference.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari brought in a different kind of one-and-done player: Stanford graduate transfer Reid Travis.
The Wildcats blend promising freshmen with the veteran Travis and returning players like PJ Washington, Quade Green and Nick Richards. One clear sign of that maturity shows up in less yelling at practice.
”I literally haven’t raised my voice since we’ve started and I’ve had probably three or four teams that I haven’t had to raise my voice all season,” Calipari said at Wednesday’s SEC media day.
Travis is a two-time All-Pac 12 Conference pick who averaged 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last season. Kentucky’s only preseason first-team All-SEC pick definitely hasn’t needed the hard talking-tos.
Calipari says, ”He’s my age. What am I going to say to him?”
He says Travis isn’t trying to instantly take over leadership of the team, but is letting his role in that regard evolve naturally.
Alabama has a tough task: The Crimson Tide need to replace point guard Collin Sexton, who led them back to the NCAA Tournament in his lone season in Tuscaloosa.
Sexton declared for the NBA draft after his freshmen season and selected eighth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He led Alabama in scoring and assists.
”I wouldn’t say we were a one-man team,” guard John Petty said Wednesday at Southeastern Conference media day. ”Collin carried most of the load but I feel like we’ve got players that contributed and also helped him win games.”
Dazon Ingram is likely to take over at point guard along with freshman Kira Lewis and backup Avery Johnson Jr., the coach’s son.
Texas transfer Tevin Mack could pick up much of the scoring load.
Kentucky is once again the preseason favorite to win the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball title. The Wildcats were picked to win in a poll of SEC and national media members.
The same paned has named Tennessee forward Grant Williams as the SEC preseason player of the year. Williams was the SEC coaches’ choice as player of the year last season.
Tennessee is picked to finish second. Kentucky and Tennessee are followed in order by Auburn, Mississippi State, Florida, LSU, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Arkansas, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Georgia and Mississippi.
Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford, Kentucky’s Reid Travis, LSU’s Tremont Waters and South Carolina’s Chris Silva join Williams as preseason first-team all-SEC picks. The second team includes Auburn teammates Bryce Brown and Jared Harper, Florida’s Jalen Hudson, Kentucky’s PJ Washington, Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon, Missouri’s Jontay Porter and Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield.
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