March 12, 2013
ATHENS ---- Georgia sophomore Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been named the 2013 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by the league's 14 head basketball coaches, according to an announcement Tuesday from the SEC office in Birmingham.
In addition, reserve guard Charles Mann was named to the Coaches' SEC All-Freshman Team.
"I am very excited for the honor because I know that I was up against some great players," said Caldwell-Pope. "Just knowing that I received the award makes me happy and proud. Knowing that other coaches supported me and voted on me for the award is definitely an honor."
Caldwell-Pope, a 6-5 guard from Greenville, Ga., currently leads the Bulldogs and ranks second in the SEC in scoring at 18.0 points per game. In fact, he ranks among the SEC leaders in nine of the 13 categories for which individual statistics are kept. He has led Georgia in scoring in 28 of 31 regular-season games, and in rebounding in 15 games. He is one of just nine players in all of NCAA Division I to have scored in double figures in each of his team's games.
Caldwell-Pope has also earned a reputation for his performance in clutch situations. In the last five minutes of SEC games this season, he averaged 5.4 points (projects to 43.2 points over a 40-minute game), shooting 65 percent from the field, 63 percent from 3-point range and 83 percent from the free-throw line. He scored 31 percent of his total of 332 points in SEC play during the last five minutes.
"The award is just a real tribute to Kentavious," said Georgia head coach Mark Fox. "He's had a wonderful season, and I think it's the most important honor because it's voted on by the opposing coaches. I didn't get a chance to vote for him since you're not allowed to vote for your own players, but I certainly would have voted for him. I just think it's a tremendous tribute to the season that he's had. He's well-deserving, and I'm just very proud of him."
Mann, a 6-4 guard from Alpharetta, Ga., has started at point guard in eight of Georgia's 31 games this season. He leads the Bulldogs in assists with 87, ranks second behind Caldwell-Pope in free-throw attempts with 156 and is third in scoring at 6.5 points per game. Twice he has scored his season high of 18 points, most recently on March 2 in the Bulldogs' second win over Tennessee.
Caldwell-Pope becomes the first Georgia player to win the Coaches' POY award since its official inception in the 1986-87 season. He's just the second Bulldog to win any SEC Player-of-the-Year trophy since wire services began naming recipients in 1965. Dominique Wilkins won the award in 1981, also as a sophomore, as given by the Associated Press and United Press International.
The Bulldogs begin play in the SEC Tournament second round on Thursday against LSU. Tipoff in Nashville, Tenn., is slated for 1:00 p.m. (EDT).