It’s crunch time for the Kentucky Wildcats.
The defending national champions are sitting directly on the bubble, but the Wildcats are fresh off their biggest win of the season against Florida this past weekend. Kentucky likely still has some work to get done, so they cannot sit back and gloat about their most recent accomplishment against the Gators.
They can however, take a moment to reflect on some of their regular season accolades that rang down from the SEC offices on Tuesday morning and despite their up and down year thus far, the Wildcats were pretty well represented among the conference’s larger awards.
Freshman sensation Nerlens Noel, who was scheduled to undergo surgery on Tuesday afternoon to repair the torn ACL that he suffered the first time that Kentucky played Florida, was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the SEC Freshman of the Year. In addition to the individual accolades, Noel was also named to the first-team All-SEC squad.
Sophomore forward Kyle Wiltjer was tabbed as the SEC Sixth Man of the Year. In addition, to the three big awards, Kentucky freshmen Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stien were named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. Noel was also chosen to the all-freshman team.
It’s a disappointment that Noel’s season came to a close with such a horrific injury, especially considering the pace that he was on. Wiltjer has had a terrific sophomore season and the accolade is proof to that. He will now look to add that “veteran” presence as Kentucky hopes to lock up a spot within the NCAA Tournament.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS