LSU coach Johnny Jones begins his fifth season as the Tigers coach when his team hosts Wofford on Saturday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. (AP File Photo/Mark Humphrey)

If the LSU men’s basketball team wants to redeem itself after failing to make the NCAA tournament last season, the Tigers are going to have to do it under the radar.

After being picked to finish in the top five of the Southeastern Conference race the past two seasons, LSU, which was 19-14 and tied for third in the final standings a year ago, was tabbed Wednesday for a 12th-place finish.

But it wasn’t all bad for the Tigers as guard Antonio Blakeney, a member of the SEC’s All-Freshman team a year ago, was a second-team preseason all-conference pick by a select panel made up of SEC and national media.

The results were announced Wednesday morning when the SEC kicked off media days with the men at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. The activities will continue Thursday with the women’s teams.

LSU, which tied for third in the final SEC regular-season standings in 2015 and ’16, finished just ahead of Tennessee and Missouri in this year’s preseason poll.

Tigers coach Johnny Jones has only two starters returning in Blakeney and forward Craig Victor after losing forward Ben Simmons, the top pick in the NBA draft in June, as well as guards Keith Hornsby and Tim Quarterman.

In addition to Blakeney and Victor, Jones has experienced returnees in guards Jalyn Patterson and Brandon Sampson and forward Aaron Epps and five newcomers — guards Skylar Mays, Branden Jenkins and Kieran Hayward, and forwards Duop Reath and Wayde Sims.

Kentucky, which shared the regular-season title last season with Texas A&M before losing to the Aggies in the final of the league’s postseason tournament, is once again the favorite to claim the conference crown.

It was the 12th time Kentucky has been chosen to win the championship at media days since the 1998-99 season. Florida, Texas A&M, Georgia and Arkansas rounded out the top five.

They were followed by Vanderbilt, Alabama, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee and Missouri.

Arkansas forward Moses Kingsley, a 6-foot-10 senior who averaged 15.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots last season, was the media pick for preseason player of the year.

Kingsley was joined on the first team by Georgia guard J.J. Frazier, Texas A&M center Tyler Davis and Kentucky’s freshman duo of forward Bam Adebayo and guard De’Aaron Fox.

Joining Blakeney as second-team picks were Georgia forward Yante Maten, Florida guard KeVaughn Allen, Kentucky guards Isaiah Briscoe and Malik Monk, Mississippi State guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, and Vanderbilt forward Luke Kornet.


1. Kentucky

2. Florida

3. Texas A&M

4. Georgia

5. Arkansas

6. Vanderbilt

7. Alabama

8. South Carolina

9. Ole Miss

10. Mississippi State

11. Auburn

12. LSU

13. Tennessee

14. Missouri


First team

F Moses Kingsley, Arkansas, Sr.

G J.J. Frazier, Georgia, Sr.

F Bam Adebayo, Kentucky, Fr.

G De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky, Fr.

C Tyler Davis, Texas A&M, So.

Second team

G KeVaughn Allen, Florida, So.

F Yante Maten, Georgia, Jr.

G Isaiah Briscoe, Kentucky, So.

G Malik Monk, Kentucky, Fr.

G Antonio Blakeney, LSU, So.

G Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi St., So.

F Luke Kornet, Vanderbilt, Sr.


Moses Kingsley, Arkansas

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.