Four Wildcats earn All-SEC honors; Sheppard named Freshman of the Year

Mar. 11—BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Headlined by freshmen guards Reed Sheppard being tabbed the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and Rob Dillingham earning SEC Sixth Man of the Year accolades, four members of the Kentucky men's basketball team were honored with postseason accolades by the conference's coaches on Monday.

Senior Antonio Reeves earned All-SEC First Team distinction, while UK's award winners were also tabbed to the All-SEC Second Team. Sheppard and Dillingham were joined by D.J. Wagner on the All-SEC Freshman Team.

Reeves was joined on the eight-man All-SEC First Team by Mark Sears (Alabama), Johni Broome (Auburn), Zyon Pullin (Florida), Tolu Smith III (Mississippi State), Dalton Knecht (Tennessee), Zakai Zeiger (Tennessee) and Wade Taylor IV (Texas A&M).

Dillingham and Sheppard were tabbed to the All-SEC Second Team alongside Jaylin Williams (Auburn), Walter Clayton Jr. (Florida), Matthew Murrell (Ole Miss), Josh Hubbard (Mississippi State), Ta'Lon Cooper (South Carolina), Meechie Johnson (South Carolina) and Jonas Aidoo (Tennessee).

In addition to the three Wildcats, the All-Freshman Team consisted of Aden Holloway (Auburn), Alex Condon (Florida), Silas Demary Jr., (Georgia), Hubbard (Mississippi State) and Colin Murray-Boyles (South Carolina).

A list of the full SEC awards is below.

Head coach John Calipari has now coached 35 players (37 total honors) who have earned All-SEC first- or second-team accolades. At least one player has been named to the All-SEC Freshman Team in each of Calipari's 15 seasons, including 34 total honors.

Sheppard is the 10th player under Calipari to earn SEC Freshman of the Year by the league's coaches. He is the 11th different UK player to win the honor in the award's history. Sheppard is the first UK player to win the award since Keldon Johnson in 2019.

Dillingham is the fifth UK player under Calipari to take home SEC Sixth Man of the Year distinction. He joins Darius Miller (2012), Kyle Wiltjer (2013), Devin Booker (2015) and Reeves (2023) as winners.

Antonio Reeves

Reeves has firmly cemented himself as one of the nation's best players. In addition to earning All-SEC First Team honors, he is among the final five candidates for the Jerry West Award, honoring the nation's best shooting guard as well as a Wooden Award national ballot, the Naismith Trophy midseason list and an Oscar Robertson Trophy Watch List member.

He is UK's leading scorer at 20.2 points per game, the highest scoring average per game by any player in the Calipari era. Reeves is tallying marks of 50.7% from the field, 44.0% from 3-point range and 88.0% from the free-throw line — all career bests. He is the only Power 5 player averaging at least 1.5 made 3-pointers and tallying at least .490% from the field, .435 from 3-point range and .865 from the charity stripe.

He tallied 30 points in a win at Louisville and followed that performance with 27 against Illinois State. He was just the fourth UK player to ever score 30 or more in the series vs. Louisville. With the 30-point effort at Louisville, Reeves joined Oscar Tshiebwe (4), Malik Monk (4) and Jamal Murray (3) as the only players in the UK-Calipari era to have multiple games with 30 or more points.

Reeves has topped double-figure scoring in all but one game this season and eclipsed the 20-point plateau in 19 games. He is just the second UK player under Calipari to have 20-plus career 20-or-more scoring efforts in his career, joining 2022 National Player of the Year, Tshiebwe, in that category. Twelve of his 28 career 20-plus point scoring efforts have come on the road.

The Chicago native has scored 20 or more in seven straight games, including 27 in an upset win against No. 4 Tennessee on Saturday. That's the longest streak of 20-point efforts for a UK player since Murray did so in 12 games in 2016.

In 10 true road games this season, Reeves averaged 22.9 points per game, 48.5% from the field, 50.8% from 3-point range with 3.3 made 3s per game and 82.9% from the charity stripe.

Against Georgia, he eclipsed 2,000 career points combining his time at Illinois State and at Kentucky. As a Wildcat, he became the 62nd player in program history to amass 1,000 career points with 25 at LSU. He is one of three active players and 10 all-time to tally 1,000 career points at two different programs.

In two seasons with UK, Reeves has scored 1,115 points. The most in a two-year span as a Wildcat is 1,213 by Bill Spivey. Tshiebwe (1,117) is in second.

In his career with UK he has 55 double-digit scoring games, 42 games with multiple made 3s, 29 20-point games and eight games with five or more made 3s.

Rob Dillingham

Dillingham has been dubbed as the "most dynamic" player in college basketball by several pundits and coaches alike. He is a momentum changer off the bench and has started just one game for UK in 30 appearances on the season.

Dillingham averages 15.0 points per game off the bench for the Cats. That mark is second on the team, trailing only Reeves. Dillingham's points per game off the bench are the most among all players in the SEC and the most by any true freshman off the bench this season. He ranks 11th overall in that category.

The Hickory, North Carolina, native poured in a career-high 35 points against Tennessee on Feb. 3. It tied for the most points off the bench by any UK player in the Calipari era. He was also just the third player to score 35 or more in the Rick Barnes' Tennessee era, joining Mason Jones and Damantas Sabonis as the others.

Dillingham is averaging 8.3 points per game in the second half and shooting 49.4% from the field and 80.0% from the charity stripe. He's 44-55 on the season from the free-throw line in the second half and overtime periods.

For the year, Dillingham has scored in double figures in 25 games. Against UK's seven ranked opponents this season, Dillingham is averaging 17.1 points per game and 3.9 assists. He is also connecting on 60.0% of his shots from 3-point range and averaging 2.6 made 3s per game in those contests.

Reed Sheppard

Sheppard is the only player in the country that has amassed at least 75 steals, dished out at least 140 assists and made at least 70 3-pointers through March 9.

Per, his 3-point percentage of 52.6% leads the country, his true-shooting percentage (70.4%) is fourth and his effective field-goal percentage (68.2%) .ranks seventh.

Sheppard had the game of his life in UK's come-from-behind win at Mississippi State on Feb. 27. The London, Kentucky, native poured in a career-high 32 points and added five boards, seven assists, two blocks and two steals. Twenty-three of his points came after halftime. Eleven of them came in the final 93 seconds.

It was the only game of 30-or-more points, seven-plus assists, five-plus rebounds, two-plus blocks and two-plus steals in the NCAA this season and one of only 11 such games going back to 1996-97. It is only the second by an SEC player in that time frame.

He then nearly topped himself with a 27-point, six-rebound, five-assist performance in the upset of No. 4 Tennessee. Sheppard also sunk a career-high seven 3s in that win. Sheppard is the first Kentucky player in school history to have three games with at least 25 points, at least five boards and at least five assists in a single season.

Meanwhile, Sheppard has been a nemesis defensively racking up 78 steals on the season. Since steals became an official stat in 1979, the 78 steals are the third-most by a UK player in program history. Only Rajon Rondo (87) and Wayne Turner (79) have more. He became the first player in UK history to register five steals in three-consecutive games, collecting five thefts against Ole Miss (2/13), Auburn (2/17) and LSU (2/21). The London, Kentucky, native's 2.52 per game average ranks eighth in the country and leads the SEC. Rondo's 2.294 per game average is UK's single-season leader. No other player averaged at least 2.0 per game in program history.

The 6-foot-3 guard also leads the team with 140 assists on the year. His 4.5 per game average ranks third in the league. The 140 assists rank as the eighth-most in single-season history by a UK freshman and he is the 33rd player in program history to have 140 or more assists in a season.

Sheppard is averaging 12.7 points per game and has topped double-figure scoring in 20 games.

D.J. Wagner

Wagner is logging 10.3 points, 3.3 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game, while starting 26 of 27 games played.

The Camden, New Jersey, native has a 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio and did not commit one against No. 1 Kansas in 25 minutes of action. Wagner had a breakthrough game with a 22-point, six-assist effort in the overtime win over Saint Joseph's.

He is a three-time SEC Freshman of the Week selection. Wagner scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half to help lead UK to an 11-point-come-from-behind win on the road at Florida. He then logged his first double-double of the year with 18 points and 10 assists vs. Georgia.

The freshman was plagued with injuries and missed two weeks of the SEC regularseason. However, he's rounded into form and has scored in double figures in three of UK's last four games, including 19 points in a win over Arkansas. In that stretch, Wagner has also made 9 of 18 (.500) 3-pointers and dished out four or more assists twice.

In addition to the on-court honors, Brennan Canada was named to the SEC Community Service team last week for his exemplary service in the community.

Coaches' SEC Awards

First Team

Mark Sears, Alabama

Johni Broome, Auburn

Zyon Pullin, Florida

Antonio Reeves, Kentucky

Tolu Smith III, Mississippi State

Dalton Knecht, Tennessee

Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee

Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M

Second Team

Jaylin Williams, Auburn

Walter Clayton Jr., Florida

Rob Dillingham, Kentucky

Reed Sheppard, Kentucky

Matthew Murrell, Ole Miss

Josh Hubbard, Mississippi State

Ta'Lon Cooper, South Carolina

Meechie Johnson, South Carolina

Jonas Aidoo, Tennessee

All-Freshman Team

Aden Holloway, Auburn

Alex Condon, Florida

Silas Demary Jr., Georgia

Rob Dillingham, Kentucky

Reed Sheppard, Kentucky

D.J. Wagner, Kentucky

Josh Hubbard, Mississippi State

Colin Murray-Boyles, South Carolina

All-Defensive Team

Johni Broome, Auburn

Cameron Matthews, Mississippi State

Jonas Aidoo, Tennessee

Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee

Andersson Garcia, Texas A&M

Coach of the Year: Lamont Paris, South Carolina

Player of the Year: Dalton Knecht, Tennessee

Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Sean East II, Missouri

Freshman of the Year: Reed Sheppard, Kentucky

Sixth-Man of the Year: Rob Dillingham, Kentucky

Defensive Player of the Year: Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee

Kentucky earned a double-bye and will begin the SEC Tournament as the No. 2 seed at 7 p.m. Friday. The Wildcats will play the winner between No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 10 Ole Miss in their quarterfinal matchup.