COLUMBIA, S.C. – After finishing in a tie for third place in the final SEC standings, three Gamecocks picked up postseason honors from the league’s coaches. Senior forward Michael Carrera was named to the All-SEC First Team, junior guard Sindarius Thornwell earned a spot on the All-Defensive squad, and junior guard Duane Notice was named the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year, in an announcement by the conference office on Tuesday. The awards were released in advance of this week’s SEC Tournament in Nashville, which begins on Wednesday evening.
The awards are the second of Carrera and Thornwell’s careers, as both were named to the All-Freshman Team during their rookie campaigns, while the postseason honor is the first for Notice. Carrera becomes the first Gamecock to garner first or second team accolades since the 2010 campaign.
Carrera has had a stellar year thus far in 2015-16, averaging career highs in every major statistical category, including leading the Gamecocks with 14.5 points per game in overall games, while he finished the SEC campaign averaging 16.1 points per game, which was a team high and ranked eighth in the league. He has hit multiple career milestones this season, scoring his 1,000th career point, while also collecting his 700th rebound, becoming just one of seven Gamecocks all-time with 1,000 points and at least 700 boards. His eight double-doubles in SEC play tied for second-most in conference action this season, while his 10 double-doubles overall on the year rank fourth in the league and are the most by a Carolina player in a single season since 1993-94. Carrera has made history this season, posting the first 30-point, 15-rebound performance by a Carolina player since the Gamecocks joined the SEC with a career mark of 34 points and 15 boards in a home win versus Mississippi State. Later, he tallied 20 points and 15 rebounds in the home win versus Florida to become the first Gamecock to record multiple 20-point, 15-rebound efforts in a season since 1983-84. In league games, Carrera led the Gamecocks with a total of 273 points scored, while his 8.9 rebounds per game were also a team best and ranked third. In overall games this season, Carrera has led or shared the team lead in scoring nine times, rebounding 15 times and blocks 10 times.
Thornwell is a force on both ends of the court for the Gamecocks. Not only an offensive threat from both inside the lane and beyond the arc, he consistently guards the opponent’s top offensive threat on the defensive end. In overall games this season, Thornwell leads Carolina with 1.5 steals per game, which rank fifth in the SEC, and in league games he collected 1.4 per game, which is tied for eighth. Thornwell also blocked 13 shots this season. His 13.1 points per game in overall games rank second on the team, while he finished SEC action averaging 14.3 points per game. Additionally in league play, he dished 3.9 assists per outing and collected 4.7 rebounds. Thornwell was a key factor in Carolina’s upset win at No. 8 Texas A&M on Feb. 6, posting a season-high 25 points, matching his career high with nine assists against just one turnover, and collecting three steals. In the regular-season finale, Thornwell led the Gamecocks to a crucial win in the SEC race with 22 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and a steal in the road win at Arkansas. In overall games this season, Thornwell has led or shared the team lead in scoring 10 times, in assists 17 times and in steals 13 times. He also has eight games this season with three or more takeaways.
After starting every game of his sophomore campaign, Notice came off the bench this season in the first 26 games of Carolina’s campaign. He thrived in the role, posting 11.2 points per game in overall games and a career-best 10.4 points per SEC game. Commenting that his role on the bench allowed him to see the pace and play of the game, Notice led or shared the team lead in scoring four times this season, including a 20-point effort in the neutral site win versus St. John’s and a team-best 17 points in the home victory over Tennessee in late February. His 2.4 assists per game in league play are second on the team only to Thornwell, and his 41.2 percent shooting from the floor is second only to Carrera. A player who is able to score through contact in the lane and an ace from 3-point range, Notice hit 41.2 percent from beyond the arc in league games, which ranked seventh. This season, Notice has hit at least three 3s in a game on 10 occasions, including six times in SEC games. He currently ranks seventh in Gamecock history in career 3-point field goal percentage at 38.4 percent.
South Carolina has clinched the No. 3 seed in this week’s SEC Tournament in Nashville and will begin tournament action versus the winner of the six and 11 seeds, Georgia and Mississippi State, on Friday night at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET. That matchup will air on the SEC Network.
2016 Coaches SEC Awards
SEC Coach of the Year: Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M SEC Player of the Year: Tyler Ulis, Kentucky SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Retin Obasohan, Alabama SEC Freshman of the Year: Ben Simmons, LSU SEC Sixth-Man of the Year: Duane Notice, South Carolina SEC Defensive Player of the Year: Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
First Team All-SEC
Retin Obasohan, Alabama – G, 6-2, 210, Sr., Antwerp, Belgium Jamal Murray, Kentucky – G, 6-4, 207, Fr., Kitchener, Ontario Tyler Ulis, Kentucky – G, 5-9, 160, So., Chicago, Ill.
Ben Simmons, LSU – F, 6-10, 240, Fr., Melbourne, Australia Michael Carrera, South Carolina – F, 6-5, 214, Sr., Anzoátegui, Venezuela Stefan Moody, Ole Miss – G, 5-10, 179, Sr., Kissimmee, Fla.
Jalen Jones, Texas A&M – G/F, 6-7, 220, Sr., Dallas, Texas Damian Jones, Vanderbilt – C, 7-0, 245, Jr., Baton Rouge, La.
Second Team All-SEC
Moses Kingsley, Arkansas – F, 6-10, 230, Jr., Abuja, Nigeria Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida – F, 6-8, 220, Sr., Portsmouth, Va.
J.J. Frazier, Georgia – 5-10, 155, G, Jr., Glennville, Ga.
Yante Maten, Georgia – 6-8, 240, F, So., Pontiac, Mich.
Kevin Punter Jr., Tennessee – G, 6-2, 190, Sr., Bronx, N.Y.
Alex Caruso, Texas A&M – G, 6-5, 186, Sr., College Station, Texas Danuel House, Texas A&M – G, 6-7, 212, Sr., Fresno, Texas Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt – G, 6-3, 194, So., Belle Mead, N.J.
SEC All-Freshman Team
KeVaughn Allen, Florida – G, 6-2, 183, Fr., Little Rock, Ark.
Jamal Murray, Kentucky – G, 6-4, 207, Fr., Kitchener, Ontario Antonio Blakeney, LSU – G, 6-4, 190, Fr., Sarasota, Fla.
Ben Simmons, LSU – F, 6-10, 240, Fr., Melbourne, Australia Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State – G, 6-4, 202, Fr., Canton, Miss.
Kevin Puryear, Missouri – F, 6-7, 236, Fr., Blue Springs, Mo.
Tyler Davis, Texas A&M – C, 6-10, 265, Fr., Plano, Texas DJ Hogg, Texas A&M – F, 6-8, 216, Fr., Plano, Texas
SEC All-Defensive Team
Retin Obasohan, Alabama – G, 6-2, 210, Sr., Antwerp, Belgium Moses Kingsley, Arkansas – F, 6-10, 230, Jr., Abuja, Nigeria Tyler Ulis, Kentucky – G, 5-9, 160, So., Chicago, Ill.
Alex Caruso, Texas A&M – G, 6-5, 186, Sr., College Station, Texas Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina – G, 6-5, 215, Jr., Lancaster, S.C.
Luke Kornet, Vanderbilt – F, 7-1, 240, Jr., Lantana, Texas