ATHENS – For the first time in seven years, Georgia has a first-team All-SEC men’s basketball player.
Sophomore forward Trey Thompkins received the honor Tuesday by unanimous vote of the league’s coaches, becoming the Bulldogs’ first All-SEC first-teamer since Jarvis Hayes in 2003.
Thompkins hasn’t said whether he’ll return for his junior season next year or possibly enter the NBA draft, but teammate Albert Jackson said he thinks Thompkins will return and make a run at the SEC’s Player of the Year Award.
“Oh, yeah, definitely, I think he’s going to be back next year,” Jackson said. “I can’t say because I’m not him, but definitely he enjoys college. He’s enjoying it up here at Georgia, and I think he’s really excited to keep developing. He’s not satisfied with just coming to Georgia and playing; he wants to achieve a lot of things. And I think until he achieves the success at Georgia that he wants, he’ll be here for a long time.”
Next season, Jackson said, could be special for Thompkins. “If I was to give my vote right now,” said Jackson, a senior, “I’d say Trey Thompkins would be player of the year next year.”
Coach Mark Fox called Thompkins into his office before practice Tuesday to tell him about the All-SEC recognition. Thompkins said later that he was happy and thankful for the honor but keeping his focus on this week’s SEC Tournament. “I try to focus on how we can win games,” he said.
Thompkins credited his success this season to the hard work he put in last summer at getting stronger and better conditioned. And whenever he decides to turn pro, he said, “there’s another level of strength I have to reach, because those are grown men playing in the NBA.”
Of the eight players on the All-SEC first team, five were unanimous choices: Thompkins, forward DeMarcus Cousins and guard John Wall of Kentucky, guard Jermaine Beal of Vanderbilt and guard Devan Downey of South Carolina. The other players on the first team are Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson, Tennessee center Wayne Chism and Mississippi State forward Jarvis Varnado.
“It’s a blessing to be on the same team with that caliber of players,” Thompkins said.
In the coaches’ voting, Wall was named the SEC Player of the Year and Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings the Coach of the Year.
Georgia had no second-team All-SEC players. Fox found it a bit surprising that Travis Leslie didn’t make the second team.
“There were 16 guys named on the first- and second team, and he’s in the [SEC's] top 16 in both scoring and rebounding,” Fox said. “Travis has had a good year but not good enough in those other coaches’ eyes, I guess. But he’ll be back.”