Parsons: SEC Player of the Year?

Chandler Parsons

As the calendar changed to January, the list of underachieving players in the SEC likely would have been topped by Chandler Parsons. With one game remaining in conference play, it wouldn't surprise many people if the senior were named SEC Player of the Year next week. The turnaround by Parsons has prompted the Gators to an SEC title, and he could get some hardware of his own.

After the New Year's Eve win at Xavier, Chandler Parsons returned to Gainesville averaging 9.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. It's a full stat sheet for many players, but the expectation for Parsons was higher than that.

The senior grew sick of listening to outside influences. He was playing hesitant thinking too much because of the thoughts of his future.

"There was definitely talk about my future," Parsons said in early February about his turnaround. "You hear that stuff, but you try to block it out and not listen to it. Maybe it did get into my head and maybe it didn't. I just know I'm doing my best to block it all out and play my game."

Parsons has improved his overall numbers to 11.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game because of his improved aggressiveness in conference play. In SEC games alone, Parsons is averaging 12.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists.

Before conference play, the Gators were slouching through the season with bad losses to UCF and Jacksonville. Since Parsons stepped his game up in January, the Gators are 14-3.

"He's really multidimensional," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "He does a lot for our team- rebounds, passes it, he's shot it better and he takes it to the basket. You can put the ball in his hands to make plays. I would say as far as versatility goes, he's definitely the most versatile small forward in our league with all the things he can do."

The competition for SEC Player of the Year isn't too deep this year. Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins, Kentucky forward Terrence Jones and Georgia forward Trey Thompkins are among the other candidates for the award.

"Chandler has had a terrific year, and in my opinion, he should strongly be considered for it," Donovan said.

Parsons isn't fazed by the hype.

"The individual awards are great and all, but I don't think I have a vote," Parsons quipped. "I think I put myself in a good situation to be talked about for it, but I really don't know. It doesn't matter to me. I'm just worried about my team right now, but I'm more worried about us winning on Saturday and us going into the SEC and NCAA Tournament."

In the history of the Florida basketball program, there isn't a player who has ever won the award. It's interesting to think about after winning back-to-back national championships, as well as multiple other Final Four appearances.

"There have been some great players to come through the University of Florida and some great teams," Parsons said. "It's hard to believe that none of them have ever been player of the year."

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