Jen Smith on Basketball

Coaches pick Cats to finish fifth in SEC and Epps among the league’s best


The coaches of the Southeastern Conference are a little bit more skeptical that Kentucky can bounce back from a difficult offseason that included a slew of player and assistant coach departures. The Cats were picked to finish fifth overall behind South Carolina, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Florida. A couple of weeks before, a select group of media picked UK to finish fourth overall.

The league’s coaches did agree with the media on Makayla Epps, who was picked as one of the top players in the conference, according to a poll released by the SEC office on Thursday afternoon. Other First Team picks include Player of the Year A’ja Wilson and South Carolina teammate Alaina Coates, Jessica Jackson (Arkansas), Ronni Williams (Florida), Victoria Vivians (Mississippi State), Sophie Cunningham (Missouri) and Diamond DeShields (Tennessee).

No other UK player was picked on the preseason All-SEC teams.

The final predicted order of finish for teams was as follows: 1. South Carolina; 2. Mississippi State; 3. Tennessee; 4. Florida; 5. Kentucky; 6. Auburn; 7. Missouri; 8. Texas A&M; 9. Vanderbilt; 10. Arkansas; 11. LSU; 12. Georgia; 13. Alabama and 14. Ole Miss.

The Associated Press has Kentucky at No. 19 to start the season.