The Kentucky men’s basketball team led the Southeastern Conference with four players on the coaches’ preseason All-SEC teams, which were announced by the conference Thursday.
Sophomore guard Tyler Ulis and freshman forward Skal Labissere were named to the All-SEC First Team while senior forward Alex Poythress and freshman guard Jamal Murray made the All-SEC Second Team.
Nine of the SEC’s 14 teams were represented among the two preseason all-league teams, but Kentucky doubled the picks of any other school.
The coaches’ preseason All-SEC teams consist of a minimum of eight players on each squad, as voted on by the league’s coaches. No ties were broken.
Both Labissiere and Ulis were tabbed to the media’s preseason All-SEC First Team while Poythress also made the media’s preseason All-SEC Second Team.
Ulis, who starts the season on the Bob Cousy Award watch list as well as the Lute Olson Award watch list, appeared in 37 games during the 2014-15 season. The Chicago native led the Wildcats in assists in 20 contests while posting five or more dimes in 12 games. He did not commit a turnover in any of UK’s final four games of the season during the NCAA Tournament and concluded his freshman campaign ranked third in the country and first among league competition with a 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.
In Kentucky’s two exhibition games, Ulis averaged 16.0 points and 7.0 assists, including a 10-assist performance vs. Ottawa.
Labissiere joined Kentucky as one of the top prospects in the country. The consensus five-star recruit was ranked as the No. 1 overall player in his class by both Rivals and Scout. The Port-au-Prince, Haiti native poured in 11 points and 12 rebounds in 19 minutes of action in the Jordan Brand Classic to highlight his prep career.
Already named to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award watch list, an award given annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the nation’s top center, Labissiere averaged 20.0 points and 7.0 assists in UK’s two exhibition wins, including a 22-point second half vs. Kentucky State.
Poythress will return to the floor following a season-ending ACL injury that forced him to miss the final 29 games of the season a year ago. A powerful presence in the post, he is just 90 rebounds shy of becoming the 52nd player in program history to snatch 500 or more career boards. With 649 career points, he’s seeking to become the 61st player in school history to top 1,000 career points.
The 6-foot-8 forward looked like his old self in the final preseason tune-up with 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Poythress was named to the watch list for the Julius Erving Award, awarded by the Hall of Fame to the country’s best-performing small forward.
Murray, a five-star point guard out of Kitchener, Ontario, was rated a top-15 prospect by nearly every major recruiting service before reclassifying to the 2015 class. The 6-4 freshman scored 30 points against the United States in the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit, where he was named the most valuable player. Later, he guided the Canadian National Team to a victory over the United States National Team with 22 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Murray led UK in scoring in the two exhibition games with a 21.0 average, including a near triple-double vs. Ottawa.
Kentucky opens its season Friday at 7 p.m. vs. Albany in Rupp Arena. That game will be televised by the SEC Network.
Here are how the ALL-SEC Teams shook out...
All-SEC First Team
Dorian Finney-Smith – Florida, F, 6-8, 220, Sr., Portsmouth, Va.
Kenny Gaines – Georgia, G, 6-3, 205, Sr., Atlanta, Ga.
Charles Mann – Georgia, G, 6-5, 215, Sr., Alpharetta, Ga.
Skal Labissiere – Kentucky, F, 6-11, 225, Fr., Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Tyler Ulis – Kentucky, G, 5-9, 160, So., Chicago
Ben Simmons – LSU, F, 6-10, 225, Fr., Melbourne, Australia
Stefan Moody – Ole Miss, G, 5-10, 179, Sr., Kissimmee, Fla.
Danuel House – Texas A&M, G, 6-7, 212, Sr., Fresno, Texas
Damian Jones – Vanderbilt, C, 7-0, 245, Jr., Baton Rouge, La.
All-SEC Second Team
Jamal Murray – Kentucky, G, 6-4, 207, Fr., Kitchener, Ontario
Alex Poythress – Kentucky, F, 6-8, 230, Sr., Clarksville, Tenn.
Tim Quarterman – LSU, G, 6-6, 190, Jr., Savannah, Ga.
Malik Newman – Mississippi State, G, 6-3, 178, Fr., Jackson, Miss.
Craig Sword – Mississippi State, G, 6-3, 196, Sr., Montgomery, Ala.
Sindarius Thornwell – South Carolina, G, 6-5, 215, Jr., Lancaster, S.C.
Alex Caruso – Texas A&M, G, 6-5, 186, Sr., College Station, Texas
Riley LaChance – Vanderbilt, G, 6-2, 182, So., Brookfield, Wis.