ATLANTA (AP) -Shan Foster was named player of the year on the All-Southeastern Conference team announced Monday by The Associated Press, after leading the league in scoring and helping Vanderbilt tie a school record for most regular-season victories.
Also claiming honors: Tennessee's Bruce Pearl was coach of the year for the second time in three seasons, his reward for leading the Volunteers to their first SEC championship since 1967, and Florida freshman Nick Calathes was picked as the top newcomer.
Foster averaged 20.6 points a game, which was impressive enough to make him a unanimous choice to the first team. But he really stepped up in a victory over then-No. 1 Tennessee, scoring 32 points, and followed with a career-high 42 in the final home game of his college career, an overtime win against Mississippi State in which he hit nine straight 3-pointers.
``Foster looked like as good a player as there was in the conference,'' Pearl said. ``What a difficult player to cover he was. Obviously, he played huge in our game at Vandy.''
Vanderbilt flopped in the SEC tournament, losing to Arkansas in the quarterfinals, but still landed the fourth seed in the Midwest Region. The Commodores (26-7) play Siena on Friday.
``Obviously, Shan has been our leader, our best player and the league's best player,'' coach Kevin Stallings said. ``He had a great year, and if we are going to be effective this week, then Shan will obviously have to continue to play the way he has this season.''
Joining him on the first team were Mississippi State's Jamont Gordon, Alabama's Richard Hendrix, South Carolina's Devan Downey and Tennessee's Chris Lofton and Tyler Smith.
``From top to bottom, this is a great conference,'' said Pearl, who was also coach of the year in 2006. ``The fact that Tennessee was able to go 14-2, given the fact that the league is so good from top to bottom, that just makes our regular-season championship that much more special.''

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