The stage was set: Senior Night for three very hard working young men who wanted to leave their college days with some good memories on and off the floor. Kelley, Brandon Wallace and Bryce Sheldon were honored for their individual and collective career performances prior to the game against SEC West foe, Ole Miss. The Rebels entered the game tied for the Western Division lead with Alabama, needing a win to keep hopes of getting a #1 seed going into the SEC Tournament with one additional regular season game remaining.
The results was a great team performance by Dave Odom's team, honoring the seniors with great team basketball, led by Kelley, who posted 28 points on 9 of 16 shooting, with 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 rebounds, and 1 blocked shot. He did this again on a injured knee in 39 minutes, leaving the floor only to take an ovation at the end of the ball game.
Tre's performance did not totally over-shadow his senior colleagues. Wallace scored 12 points
with, 7 rebounds, 6 blocks and 2 assists, while Sheldon added 14 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Underclassmen Dominique Archie was so inspired that he turned in a perfect shooting night, going 6-6 from the field (12 pts, 7
rebounds, 2 blocks).
While the Gamecocks' season is less than impressive, there has been a ray of light shining on the program all season, Tre' Kelley. The USC star point guard has been the most productive point guard all season against each and every opponent throughout the SEC. The conference has some tremendous talent that have displayed some great basketball, and posted some stellar numbers, but no one has done it day in day out the way Tre' has against each opposing team, all while nursing a knee injury that will in all likelihood require surgery at the end of the season.
Marquee players, with near certain NBA futures, such as; Chris Lofton, Glenn Davis, Taureen Greene, Joakim Noah, Randolph Morris, Derrick Byars, Clarence Sanders and Richard Hendrix have all displayed some impressive outings, but none have established the consistency that Kelley has revealed, nor does anyone have the statistics to back their claim. In conference play only, Tre' leads all scorers at 20.2 points per game, 7th in assists, 12th in FG percentage, 3rd in FT percentage, 12th in 3-point percentage, 9th in
assist to turnover ratio, 9th in 3-point shots made and 2nd in minutes played (37.08) per game. None of the other players lead Tre' in any two combined categories other than, rebounding and field goal percentage. For
all games played, Tre' is 2nd to Lofton, 18.3ppg to 20.4ppg, but Lofton's in conference points fall off tremendously against SEC opponents. No other significant statistical changes are revealed to place any player in front of
Kelley at the 2006-2007 SEC Player of the Year.
Tre's warrior like performances have found him breaking down defenses, creating shots for himself and his teammates against some of the best guards in the country, with no team, player or coach finding a way to stop Kelley throughout the year. When the team has responded to Tre's "never-die" attitude, they have been able to mount surprising victories, near upsets,
unpredictable come-backs and a couple of shocking blowouts. Tre' has stood by his coach, his teammates, his school and his dreams and allowed the entire SEC fan base to see one of the most classy, poised and matured performances for a complete season, drawing praise from every coach in the conference.
Let's face it, the Player of the Year Award often goes to the player on the best team that made the most impact for that team's winning ways, but when a player is the most outstanding player without the supporting cast and can continue to execute, lead, produce and in some cases dominate, the win-loss record has to become secondary. Dave Odom has found conference Players of the Year in the past, and I believe he just did it again. Regardless of the final vote, Tre' Kelly was the Most Outstanding Player in the SEC this season.
Kelley Stakes Claim To SEC Player of the Year
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