Coaches Tab Lady Vols Third, Name Trio To Preseason All-SEC Team

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Southeastern Conference women’s basketball preseason coaches poll was released Tuesday, and the Tennessee Lady Vols have been picked to finish third in the league in 2023-24 by the league’s skippers.

UT, previously picked third in the SEC by the media and ranked 11th in the AP Preseason Poll and 12th in the USA TODAY Sports/WBCA Coaches Poll, returns a veteran nucleus with six players who combined to start 122 games in 2022-23 and 466 contests during their careers. Fifth-year head coach Kellie Harper also welcomes an NCAA Transfer Portal class ranked No. 6 in the nation by 247Sports, featuring a trio of shooters who combined for 197 three-pointers made in 2022-23.

The league coaches also selected a 17-player preseason All-SEC Team. Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson and Jewel Spear duplicated their results in the media poll, garnering first and second-team accolades, respectively. Lady Vol Tamari Key also earned second-team acclaim from the coaches after not being chosen for the media poll.
Jackson, a 6-foot-2 fifth-year forward, was a first-team All-SEC selection a year ago. She finished second in scoring among returning SEC players, putting up 19.2 points per game in all contests, 21.4 ppg. in conference play and 25.7 ppg. in SEC Tournament action last season. She shot career bests of 54.8 percent from the field and 79.2 percent from the free-throw line while accumulating 16 games of 20 points or more to rank No. 9 at UT for both season and career totals. She wound up No. 3 in scoring, No. 4 in field goal percentage and No. 5 in free throw percentage in the league en route to being named All-America Honorable Mention for the third time and a top-five finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award.
Spear, a 5-10 senior guard who was second team All-ACC in 2023 and first team in 2022 while at Wake Forest, was the No. 4-ranked player in the transfer portal, according to ESPN. She started 32 games at Wake Forest in 2022-23, averaging 16.5 ppg., 3.7 rpg. and 1.8 apg. and ranking fifth in the ACC in scoring. Spear connected at a 37.7 percent clip from the field, a 35.4 percent rate beyond the three-point arc and a career-topping 83.9 percent pace on free throws. She finished with a career-best 93 three-pointers, racking up the No. 2 season total in school history, and her percentages from three-point land and the charity stripe stood at No. 2 and No. 4 in the ACC, respectively.
Key, a 6-6 redshirt senior center, was a 2021-22 All-SEC Second-Team and All-Defensive Team selection. She is working her way back after being diagnosed with blood clots in her lungs last season after the ninth game. In her short time on the court, she averaged 8.4 ppg., 4.2 rpg. and 2.0 bpg. while shooting 66.7 percent over 18.9 minutes per contest. In 2021-22, while healthy, Key averaged career highs in points (10.5) and rebounds (8.1) and a school-best 3.5 blocks per contest while shooting 58.1 percent from the field and starting all 34 contests. She blocked a UT-record 119 shots to lead the NCAA with the No. 4 total in SEC history and became UT’s career blocks leader as well.
LSU tops the projected order of finish by the coaches, with South Carolina, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Arkansas rounding out the top half of the league. Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Auburn, Vanderbilt and Kentucky fill out the bottom half. Coaches cannot vote for their own team or players, and ties are not broken.

Order of Finish
1. LSU
2. South Carolina
3. Tennessee
4. Ole Miss 
5. Mississippi State
6. Texas A&M
7. Arkansas
8. Alabama 
9. Georgia
10. Florida
11. Missouri
12. Auburn
13. Vanderbilt
14. Kentucky
Preseason SEC Player of the Year
Angel Reese, LSU
Preseason All-SEC First-Team
Angel Reese, LSU
Hailey Van Lith, LSU
Madison Scott, Ole Miss
Jessika Carter, Mississippi State
Hayley Frank, Missouri
Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina
Rickea Jackson, Tennessee
Janiah Barker, Texas A&M
Preseason All-SEC Second Team
Makayla Daniels, Arkansas
Flau’jae Johnson, LSU
Aneesah Morrow, LSU
Erynn Barnum, Mississippi State
JerKaila Jordan, Mississippi State
Te-Hina Paopao, South Carolina
Tamari Key, Tennessee
Jewel Spear, Tennessee
Aicha Coulibaly, Texas A&M