As the league standings begin to shake out better, so, too, do the Sea of Blue SEC Player of the Year Rankings. While we have been impressed with the overall effort of Glen "Big Baby" Davis this year, his team's nosedive to the conference cellar takes its toll this week. Similarly, Vanderbilt's strong season continues, and its leasing senior's star rises with it.
A couple of big games this week could shake things up, as Florida pays a visit to a hungry Kentucky, and a big-time individual performance by any number of players could affect these standings.
Keep in mind the growing disparity between the preseason games, their results, and the statistics for only the SEC games. Some players pick up their games against the league's best, while others who feasted on also-rans are exposed.
For reference, here are last week's rankings. (Results are through games of Friday, Feb. 9)
SEC Player of the Year Rankings(1.) Derrick Byars, Sr., Vanderbilt There is more to being the league MVP than simply putting up points. It's also about consistency, winning games and providing the leadership necessary to win those games. Thus, we elevate Vanderbilt senior swingman Derrick Byars to the top spot this week, after he tallied another 20-point game in a win over East rival Georgia. The Commodores are now 6-3 in the conference, a game back of Kentucky in the East, and nationally ranked. Byars is the SEC's second-leading scorer in conference games, and he has failed to score at least 15 points in league games only once -- the opening loss at Auburn. Byars' consistency gives him the edge in the MVP race.
Numbers: 16.2 ppg (19.1 SEC), 5.1 rpg, 51% FG (SEC), 42% 3FG (SEC)
(2.) Glen Davis, Jr., LSU: We have given Big Baby the benefit of the doubt thus far, but his team's freefall is taking its toll on the preseason POY favorite. Davis had his worst scoring game of the season in Tuesday's loss to Tennessee, the Tigers' sixth straight. While much of the blame for LSU's miserable conference play falls on the coaching staff and Davis' teammates, true MVPs find ways to get their team over the hump, and Davis' insistence on shooting jump shots is now hurting his team. While he may be the best singular talent in the SEC, results matter, especially when the results are as poor as the Tigers' have been this year.
Numbers: 17.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 49% FG, 71% FT
(3.) Joakim Noah, Jr., Florida: While it's true that the Gators' team concept means that a new star seems to emerge every game, it's undeniably Noah that stirs the drink. That, plus the fact that Florida keeps on winning, means that the lanky energetic Noah begins his climb up the SEC MVP rankings. The longer Florida remains undefeated, the more praise a Gator is likely to receive, understandably. Noah is the face of the team, it's emotional centerpiece, and its leading conference scorer. Saturday's contest at Rupp will be the Gators' stiffest test since Ohio State came calling, and what happens in that game could affect the individual awards for both teams.
Numbers: 13.0 ppg (14.1 SEC), 8.4 rpg (8.4 SEC), 62% FG (#2 SEC), team ranked #1
(4.) Joe Crawford, Jr./Ramel Bradley, Jr., Kentucky: In true Tubby Smith-Kentucky fashion, the team game is eclipsing the "me" game as the SEC season winds on. Joe Crawford jumped out of the gate quickly, and is still the league's third-best in-conference scorer. But his fellow junior Ramel Bradley has caught fire of late, with three straight 20-point games. Bradley's assist totals have also peaked in the last three, all wins after a pair of close losses. While one of these guys will probably fade as the other rises, for now both have a shot at the MVP race if Kentucky can surprise Florida and make a run at the conference title. Bradley's play -- positive and negative -- seems directly correlated to the Cats' success, so don't be surprised if his name begins to pop up more, especially if the Big Blue continue winning.
Numbers: [Crawford] 14.7 ppg (18.3 SEC), 4.0 rpg, 53% 3FG (SEC) / [Bradley] 14.0 ppg (15.0 SEC), 4.9 apg (SEC), 4.3 rpg
(5) Tre' Kelley, Sr., South Carolina: No player without a real shot at the hardware deserves it more this year than Tre' Kelley. Simply put, he's played on another level for a team that simply doesn't have the goods to compliment him. Kelley's one-man scoring act against Kentucky was among the best offensive games we've seen all year. It's a shame that such a strong senior season is wasted on South Carolina's poor supporting cast.
Numbers: 17.7 ppg (19.6 SEC), 5.0 apg
Others on the cusp: Chris Lofton (Tennessee), Randolph Morris (Kentucky), Jermareo Davidson (Alabama), Jamont Gordon (Miss. St.), JuJuan Smith (Tennessee)