Lady Vols third, Vanderbilt ninth in preseason SEC poll

Tennessee women's basketball will have a better season than its last, according to an SEC preseason poll voted on by media members.

The Lady Vols were picked third in the poll, which was released by the SEC office on Tuesday. Last season, Tennessee finished in a three-way tie for seventh place with an 8-8 SEC mark, and its 22-14 overall record was the program's worst in 40 years.

At least a slight comeback is predicted this season. Ahead of the Lady Vols, defending SEC regular-season champion South Carolina was the obvious pick atop the preseason poll after it posted a 16-0 league record in 2015-16. Mississippi State was picked second.

Vanderbilt, under first-year coach Stephanie White, was tabbed ninth in the 14-team SEC field. The Commodores went 5-11 in conference play last season for an 11th-place finish.

Tennessee's Diamond DeShields, a junior guard, was voted onto the All-SEC preseason team. Last season, she averaged a team-high 14.3 points along with 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

DeShields was the only player on the five-person All-SEC preseason team not to receive a vote for player of the year. That honor went to South Carolina junior forward A'ja Wilson, the reigning SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

Reach Adam Sparks at 615-259-8010 and on Twitter @AdamSparks.

This story originally appeared on The Tennessean's website.

SEC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL

1. South Carolina                               

2. Mississippi State                         

3. Tennessee                                    

4. Kentucky                                       

5. Florida                                             

6. Texas A&M                                   

7. Auburn                                           

8. Missouri                                         

9. Vanderbilt                                     

10. Georgia                                        

11. Arkansas                                      

12. LSU                                                

13. Alabama                                      

14. Ole Miss

PRESEASON ALL-SEC TEAM

Makayla Epps, Kentucky

Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State

Alaina Coates, South Carolina

A’ja Wilson, South Carolina*

Diamond DeShields, Tennessee

*Preseason Player of the Year


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