NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes took his team being picked 13th out of 14 teams in the preseason SEC poll in stride, so much so he could joke about it.
“You guys actually did us a favor, I told them they were going to be picked last,” Barnes said on Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena at the SEC Basketball Tipoff ’17. “Now I’m going to have to go back and apologize to them.”
Kentucky was the preseason favorite for the 12th time since the 1998-99 season, followed by Florida, Texas A&M, Georgia and Arkansas.
Barnes said the Vols have their sights set on making the NCAA Tournament, not subscribing to the theory of rebuilding even though Tennessee will have one of the youngest teams in the nation.
“I don’t think you do this with the idea that there’s a timetable,” Barnes said. “You have to be ready to do it, and you have to get your guys to understand that.”
Senior Robert Hubbs said he takes no issue with the Vols being doubted.
“I hope they pick us last so we can make even more of an impact,” Hubbs said. “Most haven’t seen us play together. We’ll be better on defense, and everyone will be on the same page.”
Barnes said his players know it will all be determined on the court.
“Fact is, they read it, they see it … but that’s why we play the games,” Barnes said. “I’ll pick up a magazine with the top 25 teams from a year ago from the preseason, and show (the team) some of those teams did not make it to postseason play, and teams that nobody talked about go to the tournament, teams they thought were gonna be down and out for the count.”
Hubbs said the Vols’ vision for this season goes beyond the SEC Tournament, which will take place back here at Bridgestone Arena.
“We know this time, this coming year, after we get done playing at Bridgestone, we’re not going to be done playing basketball,” Hubbs said. “We’re going to continue to go on.”
Here’s a look at the preseason SEC Media picks for all-conference and order of finish
First Team All-SEC
Moses Kingsley – Arkansas, F, 6-10, 230, Sr., Abuja, Nigeria
J.J. Frazier – Georgia, G, 5-10, 155, Sr., Glennville, Ga.
Edrice “Bam” Adebayo – Kentucky, F, 6-10, 260, Fr., Little Washington, N.C.
De’Aaron Fox – Kentucky, G, 6-3, 187, Fr., Houston, Texas
Tyler Davis – Texas A&M, C, 6-10, 270, So., Plano, Texas
Second Team All-SEC
KeVaughn Allen – Florida, G, 6-2, 183, So., Little Rock, Ark.
Yante Maten – Georgia, F, 6-8, 240, Jr., Pontiac, Mich.
Isaiah Briscoe – Kentucky, G, 6-3, 210, So., Newark, N.J.
Malik Monk – Kentucky, G, 6-3, 200, Fr., Lepanto, Ark.
Antonio Blakeney – LSU, G, 6-4, 190, So., Sarasota, Fla.
Quinndary Weatherspoon – Mississippi State, G, 6-4, 202, So., Canton, Miss.
Luke Kornet – Vanderbilt, F, 7-1, 250, Sr., Lantana, Texas
SEC Player of the Year: Moses Kingsley, Arkansas
Preseason Media Poll
- Texas A&M
- South Carolina
- Ole Miss
- Mississippi State