The Southeastern Conference announced its 2009 men’s basketball postseason awards Tuesday, and Tennessee had three players honored with All-SEC recognition.
Tyler Smith headlined the trio by earning unanimous selection to the All-SEC first team while Wayne Chism and Scotty Hopson garnered All-SEC second team and freshman All-SEC laurels, respectively.
Smith, a junior forward who became the 42nd member of Tennessee’s 1,000-point club last week, has started all 30 games for the SEC Eastern Division co-champion Volunteers this season and leads the team in scoring (17.1 ppg) and assists (3.6 apg). The Pulaski, Tenn., native has led the Vols in scoring 16 times, rebounding16 times and assists 10 times this season.
Smith is one of five league standouts to earn unanimous first-team recognition, joining Florida’s Nick Calathes, Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks, LSU’s Marcus Thornton and South Carolina’s Devan Downey. Smith was also a first-team All-SEC pick by the league coaches last season.
Chism’s second-team award was well deserved, as the junior center/forward displayed improvement in nearly every phase of his game this season. He entered the season as a 57-percent career free-throw shooter but has shot 70 percent (85-of-121) at the line this season while setting season-highs for both attempts and makes. His 8.1 rebounds per game lead the Vols, as do his 30 blocked shots. Chism also ranks among the SEC leaders with a career-best 13.3 points per game.
The Jackson, Tenn., native has recorded seven double-doubles this season and also became a member of UT’s 1,000-point club. He has led the Big Orange in scoring eight times and rebounding 15 times on the year.
This is the third season in which fourth-year UT head coach Bruce Pearl has seen multiple Vols land on the coaches’ All-SEC first and/or second teams.
Hopson has been arguably the most improved player on Tennessee’s roster from the start of the year through the conclusion of the regular season — particularly on defense. The two-time SEC Freshman of the Week is averaging 9.3 points per game this season but upped that average to 10.3 points in SEC play.
The Hopkinsville, Ky., native amped up his play during the second half of the season, showing off his scoring prowess vs. South Carolina (19 points), vs. Florida (20 points), at Kentucky (14 points) and vs. Mississippi State (21 points).
Hopson is Pearl’s fourth SEC All-Freshman Team honoree in four years.