VAUGHT: UK "super sophs" not yet so super

Perhaps Kentucky coach Tubby Smith should send a thank-you note to every media member who voted for The Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference team.

It really was not that much of a shock that Kentucky did not place on player on the first team -- or even the second team. That means that the media members don't feel Kentucky has the league's best or second best player at any position.

Considering the SEC has been dominated by Kentucky, how could this happen? Didn't Kentucky have what was supposed to be one of the nation's top recruiting classes two years ago?

Yet the four sophomores on the all-conference first team did not include Rajon Rondo, Randolph Morris, Joe Crawford or Ramel Bradley. Instead, the honors went to Florida's Joakim Noah, LSU's Glen Davis, Alabama's Ronald Steele and Tennessee's Chris Lofton. Go to the second team and another Florida sophomore, Taurean Green, is there along with Vanderbilt sophomore Shan Foster.

That's why Smith should thank the voters. Maybe now his talented sophomores will see they have to do more to join the elite list of college basketball players. High school accolades and potential count for little in big-time college basketball. Maybe UK's sophomores were among the nation's elite during their prep careers. Maybe they are still good players. But they obviously no longer are considered elite players and that's a lesson they should take to heart.

The vote also helps explain why UK is only a No. 8 seed going into NCAA play. The Cats simply don't have the overall talent they have had in recent years and haven't compensated for that with consistent all-out effort this year.

Kentucky should be embarrassed not to have an all-conference player. There's simply no excuse for that. Don't talk about parity or what other teams are doing. With the tradition and resources at Kentucky, there's no way there should ever be a year where the Cats don't have an all-conference player.

Either Smith has to recruit better, or the players he recruits have to play better. Maybe it's a combination of both factors and the best players he's recruited simply have not worked to improve enough to join those top players. But just in case anyone connected with UK basketball needed a final wake-up call, this vote for a Cat-less all-conference team certainly should have done it.


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