Augustus named SEC Player of Year by AP

Seimone Augustus keeps piling up the awards. The only thing she's got left to do before leaving LSU is take her team to a national championship.

Augustus was a unanimous choice as player of the year on The Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference team released Tuesday, the second straight year she's claimed that honor.


Mickie DeMoss, who guided Kentucky to its first NCAA women's tournament since 1999, was named coach of the year. Tennessee freshman Candace Parker was named newcomer of the year on all ballots.


Augustus and teammate Sylvia Fowles were the only unanimous selections to the first team. They were joined by a pair of Georgia players, Tasha Humphrey and Sherill Baker, and Armintie Price of Mississippi.


Augustus, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, led the conference in scoring with 23 points per game, was fifth in field goal percentage (57.8), sixth in free throw percentage (81.0) and eighth in minutes played (32.8 a game).


"This is a tremendous honor for me, but I can't take credit alone," she said. "My teammates deserve this just as much as I do. They make me a better player."


But Augustus is the one who put LSU on the women's basketball map.


As a freshman, she helped the Lady Tigers win the SEC tournament for the first time since 1991. Last season, she was the catalyst on the first regular-season champion in school history. This year, LSU (27-3) made it two SEC championships in a row and earned a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament.


Augustus has piled up plenty of individual honors along the way. She was the AP's national player of the year as a junior and one of the favorites to win the award again this season. She's been on All-SEC first team for three straight seasons. Two weeks ago, she was named SEC player of the year by the league's coaches.


Not surprisingly, interest in the Lady Tigers has soared since Augustus arrived on campus. LSU's average attendance has risen from slightly more than 1,000 fans per game to 6,273 this season, ranking 14th nationally.


 "They needed that one player to get over the hump," Augustus said. "I was it."


But one things has eluded Augustus - the most important title of all.


National champion.


LSU has reached the Final Four the last two seasons, but has yet to bring home its first title. Augustus is determined to cut down the net in her final college game.

"I'm glad to be a part of all the firsts," she said. "But I'm not going to settle for anything less than our first NCAA title."


DeMoss has also been a trailblazer. When the longtime Tennessee assistant took over the head coaching job at Kentucky in 2003, the women's program was struggling to keep up in the powerhouse SEC and longing to escape the campus shadow of the wildly popular men's team.


The school administration gave DeMoss the financial support to hire a top-notch staff and beef up recruiting. Also, athletic director Mitch Barnhart surrendered his office to the women's coach so she would have the same space as men's coach Tubby Smith.


"That was a really huge statement," DeMoss said. "It's a mirror image of what the men have on their side. The administration moved out and the coaches moved in. It's not the office - it's the message that sent."


Kentucky struggled in DeMoss' first year, going 11-17, but attendance jumped to more than 5,000 per game. This year, the Wildcats went 21-8, including an upset of Tennessee in late January for their first win ever against a No. 1 team. A record crowd of 13,689 turned out for the game at Rupp Arena, where the men's team plays.


The Wildcats also knocked off NCAA tournament team Florida and received a No. 5 seed in the Bridgeport Regional.


DeMoss said she never worried about competing for attention alongside a men's team with such a storied history.


"I look at the men's success as being a huge positive for us," she said.


"When you mention Kentucky, you immediately think about basketball. I really believe the market is here for women's basketball. My first year here, we were second in the league in fan attendance behind Tennessee. We were not very good, but we had fans who came night in and night out to support us before we had really proven ourselves."


Just a sophomore, Fowles has already proven herself as one of the league's top players. The 6-5 center complemented Augustus by leading the SEC in rebounding (11.6), ranking fifth in scoring (16.7), second in field goal percentage (62.3) and third in blocked shots (2.2).


Humphrey was the league's second-leading scorer (19.6) behind Augustus and third-best rebounder (9.0), leading Georgia to its 23rd NCAA appearance. She got plenty of help from Baker, who was third in scoring (18.4) and set an SEC record for steals in a career.


Price, a second-teamer the last two years, earned a promotion to the top group by ranking fourth in scoring (16.9), second in rebounding (9.9) and second in steals (3.38) behind Baker's league-leading average of 4.62.


Parker, a 6-3 freshman forward, claimed the newcomer award and a spot on the second team after leading Tennessee in scoring (16.6) and rebounding (8.5).


She was joined on the second unit by teammate Shanna Zolman, Sha Brooks and Dalila Eshe of Florida, Vanderbilt's Dee Davis and Georgia's Cori Chambers.


The voting for the 11th annual AP All-SEC women's team was conducted by a regional media panel.


Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference women's team


First Team


u-Seimone Augustus, LSU, G, 6-1, Sr.


u-Sylvia Fowles, LSU, C, 6-5, So.


Tasha Humphrey, Georgia, F, 6-3, So.


Sherill Baker, Georgia, G, 5-8, Sr.


Armintie Price, Mississippi, G, 5-9, Jr.



Second Team


Candace Parker, Tennessee, F, 6-3, Fr.


Shanna Zolman, Tennessee, G, 5-10, Sr.


Dalila Eshe, Florida, F, 6-3, Sr.


Dee Davis, Vanderbilt, G, 5-7, Jr.


Cori Chambers, Georgia, G, 5-9, Jr.


Sha Brooks, Florida, G, 5-7, Fr.




Honorable Mention: DeWanna Bonner, Auburn, G, 6-4, Fr.; Sarah Elliott,


Kentucky, C, 6-6, So.; Scholanda Hoston, LSU, G, 5-10, Sr.; Jennifer


Humphrey, Kentucky, F-C, 6-3, Sr.; Samantha Mahoney, Kentucky, G, 5-10, So.;


Marita Payne, Auburn, C, 6-5, Sr.; Liz Sherwood, Vanderbilt, C, 6-4, So.;


Carla Thomas, Vanderbilt, F, 6-3, Jr.

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