STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State, the defending SEC Tournament champions, was picked to finish first in the Western Division, while senior forward Jarvis Varnado was tabbed first-team All-SEC in Monday's SEC Preseason Media Poll.
Kentucky was the favorite to win the overall regular-season crown. Wildcats junior forward Patrick Patterson was also voted player of the year.
Following Mississippi State, which also received three votes to win the overall title, in the West were Ole Miss, Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and Auburn.
"Well, No. 1, it doesn't matter where you are picked to finish," 12th-year coach Rick Stansbury said. "All that matters is where you finish. These polls are more for the fans to talk about. But, hey, it's nice to be picked and recognized. As I always say, our goal is to always win championships."
The Bulldogs return all five starters from last year's team that posted a 23-13 ledger and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year.
Included in that mix is Varnado, who led MSU in scoring last year with a 12.9 clip. He also blocked 170 shots, both a single-season school and SEC mark. He enters his final season wearing the Maroon & White needing just 142 more to break the NCAA career mark and 18 more to tie the SEC record.
"It's an honor to be chosen," the Brownsville, Tenn., native said. "There are a lot of talented players in this league that also deserve to be on this list. These honors push you to live up to the expectations."
The Bulldogs began practice this past Friday and open exhibition play on Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. against Oklahoma City . The regular season begins with a Humphrey Coliseum showdown against Rider at 8 p.m. on Nov. 13.
Preseason Media Poll
(First-Place Votes in Parentheses; *-unanimous selection)
SEC Champion: Kentucky (20); Mississippi State (3); Tennessee (2)
Eastern Division Points Western Division Points
Kentucky (23) 148 Mississippi State (22) 144
Tennessee (2) 117 Ole Miss (2) 120
Vanderbilt 90 Alabama 84
South Carolina 77 LSU (1) 70
Florida 68 Arkansas 63
Georgia 25 Auburn 44
FIRST TEAM ALL-SEC Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown
Devan Downey , South Carolina G 5-9 175 Sr. Chester , S.C.
* Patrick Patterson , Kentucky F 6-9 235 Jr. Huntington , W.Va.
Tyler Smith, Tennessee G/F 6-7 215 Sr. Pulaski , Tenn.
Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State F 6-9 230 Sr. Brownsville , Tenn.
Terrico White, Ole Miss G 6-5 211 So. Memphis , Tenn.
SECOND TEAM ALL-SEC Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown
Tasmin Mitchell, LSU F 6-7 235 Sr. Denham Springs , La.
A.J. Ogilvy, Vanderbilt C 6-11 250 Jr. Sydney , Australia
DeWayne Reed, Auburn G 6-1 175 Sr. Houston , Texas
John Wall, Kentucky G 6-4 195 Fr. Raleigh , N.C.
Chris Warren, Ole Miss G 5-10 165 Jr. Orlando , Fla.