Davis wins SEC Male Athlete of the Year

Before Anthony Davis officially becomes a professional at Thursday night’s NBA Draft, the Southeastern Conference honored him with one final college award.

The SEC named Davis its 2011-12 Roy F. Kramer SEC Male Athlete of the Year, awarded by the league’s athletics directors.

“When you consider how competitive the Southeastern Conference as a whole has been in all sports, it’s a complete honor to be named SEC Male Athlete of the Year,” Davis said. “The SEC has produced a lot of great student-athletes and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of such an elite class.”

Davis, who led Kentucky to its eighth national championship this past season and is expected to go No. 1 in Thursday night’s NBA Draft, is the first UK student-athlete of any sport to win the award since Tim Couch won it in 1999.

“I’m so proud of Anthony,” John Calipari said. “To become the Male Athlete of the Year in the greatest conference in the country is truly a remarkable achievement. Anthony did it by becoming the ultimate team player. He deferred to his teammates, put the team before himself and dedicated himself to becoming the best player in the country. I couldn’t be happier for Anthony and I’m looking forward to watching him achieve even greater things at the NBA level.”

The Kramer award is one of just a number of major honors Davis earned this season. He captured six of the seven major college basketball awards in addition to consensus first-team All-America honors.

Just when you thought Anthony Davis couldn’t win any more awards, he captures the SEC’s biggest honor of the year. (photo by David J. Phillip, Associated Press)

Davis set the NCAA freshman record for blocks in a season (186) as well as the SEC single-season record. He led the SEC in blocks, field-goal percentage (.623) and double-doubles (20).

The 6-foot-10 forward beat out Trent Richardson (Alabama football), Joe Adams (Arkansas football), Kyle Owens (Auburn swimming and diving), Tony McQuay (Florida track and field), Martin Grodzki (Georgia swimming and diving), Morris Claiborne (LSU football), Alex Yarbrough (Ole Miss baseball), Chris Stratton (Mississsippi State baseball), Melvin Ingram (South Carolina football), Ryan Helms (Tennessee swimming and diving) and John Jenkins (Vanderbilt basketball).

“We are extremely excited that a University of Kentucky Wildcat has been named SEC Male Athlete of the Year,” UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “Anthony had an incredible year and is very deserving; he led our program both on the floor and off the floor. He exemplified the competitive spirit indicative of this award. This only the sixth time a Kentucky Wildcat has won this award and we are very happy for Anthony and his family.”

The SEC Athletes of the Year awards were first presented in 1976 for men and 1984 for women. The award was renamed the Roy F. Kramer Athletes of the Year in 2004 to honor the former commission who served the conference from 1990-2002.

Past recipients include Mark Ingram, Tim Tebow, David Price, Peyton Manning, Todd Helton, Jamal Mashburn, Shaquille O’Neal, Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker, Kyle Macy and Jack Givens.

Alabama golfer Brooke Pancake was named the 2012 Female Athlete of the Year.

“Anthony and Brooke are true examples of outstanding student athletes,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. “They have competed at the highest level of collegiate athletics and through their hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence have been successful in their endeavors. They are outstanding representatives of their universities and this conference. The SEC is proud to honor them for their accomplishments and wish them the best in their future endeavors.”