BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southeastern Conference released its preseason media poll for women’s basketball on Tuesday, and Tennessee has been picked to finish second in the league in 2015-16.
The Lady Vols, who were 30-6 overall and 15-1 in SEC play a year ago en route to a regular-season co-championship, received 248 points in voting by a select panel of both SEC and national media members.
Holly Warlick’s squad returns three starters (senior forward Bashaara Graves and junior guards Andraya Carter andJordan Reynolds) and nine total letterwinners while adding highly-touted transfer Diamond DeShields and gifted freshman guards Te’a Cooper and Meme Jackson. Mercedes Russell, a 6-foot-6 sophomore center, is back after redshirting last season and averaged 13.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for the USA team that won a gold medal at the World University Games this summer.
South Carolina, the 2014-15 co-champion along with UT, received 265 poll points and was picked to win the crown outright this time around. The Gamecocks return their top three scorers and rebounders from last season, including defending and 2015-16 preseason SEC Player of the Year Tiffany Mitchell.
Mississippi State (215), Texas A&M (207), Kentucky (205), Ole Miss (169) and Missouri (165) round out the top half the league. The bottom half is comprised of Arkansas (138), Georgia and LSU (128), Vanderbilt (80), Florida (78), Auburn (65) and Alabama (34).
South Carolina’s Tiffany Mitchell was the overwhelming choice for SEC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year with 11 votes, Mitchell’s teammates A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates also received votes, as did Tennessee’s DeShields.
Joining Mitchell, Wilson, Coates and DeShields on the All-SEC Team are Victoria Vivians (Mississippi State) and Makayla Epps (Kentucky). A tie pushed the team to six members this year.
Points were compiled on a 14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Each media member also voted for a five-player All-SEC Team and the Preseason SEC Player of the Year.
The SEC Women’s Basketball Coaches Poll will be released the Wednesday prior to the season.PRESEASON MEDIA POLLOrder of Finish
1. South Carolina (265)2. Tennessee (248)
3. Mississippi State (215)
4. Texas A&M (207)
5. Kentucky (205)
6. Ole Miss (169)
7. Missouri (165)
8. Arkansas (138)
T9. Georgia ( 128)
T9. LSU (128)
11. Vanderbilt ( 80)
12. Florida (78)
13. Auburn (65)
14. Alabama (34)Preseason Player of the Year
Tiffany Mitchell, South CarolinaPreseason All-SEC
Makayla Epps, Kentucky
Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State
Alaina Coates, South Carolina
Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina
A’ja Wilson, South CarolinaDiamond DeShields, Tennessee