The Georgia men’s basketball program is moving up in the eyes of the media.
The Bulldogs are picked to finish third in the SEC’s Eastern Division this season, according to a media vote announced by the SEC office on Monday. That would be a marked improvement for the Dogs after three consecutive seasons of finishing sixth –- last -– in the division.
More impressively, Georgia junior forward Trey Thompkins is the media’s overwhelming preseason pick to be the SEC’s player of the year.
Georgia junior guard-forward Travis Leslie joined Thompkins on the preseason All-SEC first team, making UGA the only school with two players on the first team.
The new respect for Georgia basketball surfaced in a vote by a panel of 20 regional and national media members.
Thompkins, who averaged 17.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season, drew 18 of the 20 votes for preseason player of the year. Ole Miss senior guard Chris Warren and Kentucky freshman guard Brandon Knight each received one of the remaining two votes.
Thompkins, Leslie, Warren, Knight and Vanderbilt forward Jeffery Taylor formed the media’s preseason first team.
Florida, with all five starters back from an NCAA tournament team, plus a highly ranked recruiting class, was the media panel’s pick to win the Eastern Division, followed in order by Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and South Carolina.
Florida got 13 of 20 votes to win the East, while Kentucky got three, Georgia two and Tennessee two.
In the Western Division, the panel picked Mississippi State to finish first, followed by Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas, LSU and Auburn. Mississippi State got 18 first-place votes in the West and Ole Miss the other two.
Florida got the media’s nod over Mississippi State to win the overall SEC title. One voter picked Georgia as SEC champion.
Georgia opens the season, the Bulldogs’ second under coach Mark Fox, in Athens on Nov. 12 against Mississippi Valley State.
Here are the results of the vote by the SEC’s panel of media members:
Eastern Division predicted order of finish (first-place votes in parentheses, followed by points total):
1. Florida (13) 110
2. Kentucky (3) 95
3. Georgia (2) 72
4. Tennessee (2) 71
5. Vanderbilt 52
6. South Carolina 20
Western Division predicted order of finish (first-place votes in parentheses, followed by points total):
1. Mississippi State (18) 118
2. Ole Miss (2) 84
3. Alabama 82
4. Arkansas 72
5. LSU 41
6. Auburn 23
Predicted SEC champion:
First-team preseason All-SEC:
Player, school, position, height, weight, class, hometown
Brandon Knight, Kentucky, G, 6-3, 195, Fr., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Travis Leslie, Georgia, G. 6-4, 205, Jr., Decatur, Ga.
Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt, F, 6-7, 225, Jr., Norkopping, Sweden
Trey Thompkins, Georgia, F, 6-10, 245, Jr., Lithonia, Ga.
Chris Warren, Ole Miss, G, 5-10, 168, Sr., Orlando, Fla.
Second-team preseason All-SEC:
Kenny Boynton, Florida, G, 6-2, 183, So., Pompano Beach, Fla.
JaMychal Green, Alabama, F, 6-8, 228, Jr., Montgomery, Ala.
Scotty Hopson, Tennessee, G, 6-7, 200, Jr., Hopkinsville, Ky.
Chandler Parsons, Florida F 6-10 218 Sr. Casselberry, Fla.
Marshawn Powell, Arkansas, F, 6-7, 220, So., Newport News, Va.
Trey Thompkins, Georgia