Last year we started a tradition at RCT by giving out preseason All-Big 12 awards as voted on by contributors and commenters. This year we doubled the number of votes thanks to a number of readers volunteering to participate. Many thanks to everyone who submitted a ballot. Below are the award winners, as well as the collective preseason team rankings, along with some anonymous comments explaining why people voted the way they did.
Big 12 Player of the Year: Perry Ellis, Kansas (Sr)
Perry was very closely followed in the voting by Buddy Hield and Frank Mason, but ultimately the senior from Wichita got the nod from RCT voters. Ellis was on pace to give Hield a run for his money for the postseason award last year before a late injury prevented him from putting up big enough numbers for the award. This year, Perry should be able to build upon a junior year that saw him turn into a double-double machine down the stretch and put together a solid case for POY.
Bill Self said he expects Ellis to perform at an All-American level this year, and if he does that, he's a shoo-in for conference POY
Defensive Player of the Year: Jameel McKay, Iowa State (Sr)
In another close vote, McKay edged out Rico Gathers for this award. McKay's high-energy defense and rim protection were probably the only things keeping ISU's defense from being downright bad last year. With a little more polish this season, he could really be a force for the Cyclones in an area where they need it.
McKay doesn't get a lot of help defensively yet still manages to put up good numbers. He's a reasonable choice as a first teamer, and might be the Cyclones' most important piece
I almost took Cameron Ridley in a bounce-back year, since I think his disappointing junior season was a product of Rick Barnes having no idea how to properly manage a crowded rotation last year. But I’m not quite sure how Ridley responds to Shaka’s HAVOC defense, so McKay it is
Newcomer of the Year: Deonte Burton, Iowa State (Jr)
The transfer from Marquette won the official preseason award as well. He'll join some established players in the Iowa State backcourt, and wasn't exactly a star in his two years at Marquette, so I'm a bit skeptical (I voted for Chris Olivier), but ISU has had a lot of success with transfers who can shoot, so we'll see. It did appear that, with these players being unknown, many voters deferred to the "real" award winner.
I had no idea on this one so I went with what the big 12 picked
It will be interesting to see if the Cyclones continue to be a haven for troubled college players without Hoiberg
Freshman of the Year: Cheick Diallo, Kansas (Fr)
Diallo won this unanimously, so if he's declared ineligible, we won't have a winner in this category. Diallo was the highest-profile recruit to land in the Big 12 this year, and indications are that he may very well start right out of the gate for Kansas (again, if ruled eligible). Jayhawk fans will remain a bit on edge until the NCAA makes a ruling on Diallo's case.
Please be eligible
First Team All-Big 12 (in order of votes)
G Buddy Hield, Oklahoma (Sr)*
G Frank Mason, Kansas (Jr)*
F Perry Ellis, Kansas (Sr)*
F Georges Niang, Iowa State (Sr)
F Rico Gathers, Baylor (Sr)
Second Team All-Big 12
G Monte Morris, Iowa State (Jr)
F Jameel McKay, Iowa State (Sr)
G Isaiah Taylor, Texas (Jr)
G Wayne Selden, Kansas (Jr)
F Devin Williams, West Virginia (Jr)
Hield, Mason, and Ellis were the only unanimous first team picks. Interestingly, Morris was the only player on the second team with first team votes. Everyone else received only second team nods.
I tried to make it as close to a real lineup as possible, hence no Isaiah Taylor on there (although I still question whether he's one of the league's 10 best players). You could put Morris, Prince, or even McKay on the first team and I wouldn't object too badly, though I don't know who you'd take off
Some people might think it odd to drop Niang to the second team, but I just think the other players on the first team are more important to their team and better all-around players. Taylor will make enough circus shots to make people believe that he’s a first teamer, but Mason and Hield and Morris are all far better
Preseason Big 12 Rankings
2) Iowa State
5) West Virginia
7) Oklahoma State
9) Texas Tech
10) Kansas State
Kansas was the unanimous pick to win the conference, and all but one voter put Iowa State and Oklahoma in the next two spots in some order. Voters were all over the place with Baylor, West Virginia and Texas, with Oklahoma State and TCU getting almost every 7th and 8th place vote, respectively. Texas Tech and Kansas State nearly tied for last, but Tech was able to get a slight edge.
I think Kansas is the best team by quite a bit, and then I think Iowa State is by far our toughest challenger although who knows how they will fare with a new coach. I think that middle tier is the most exciting because any one of those teams could end up challenging for the #2 or even #1 spot. I wanted to vote K State 10th but Tech has to prove they are worthy of being even 9th before I budge on them
No explanation needed for the number one spot on this list. It was a toss up between Iowa State and Oklahoma for me behind the Jayhawks. For the fourth through seventh place, I just kind of threw those teams in there. I don’t know that there’s really any difference in this conference between fourth and seventh. Those are NCAA tournament teams. As for the bottom three, both Tech and TCU have better coaches than K-State, so I put them ahead. Plus, the Wildcats had a pretty terrible offseason, losing pretty much every scoring option
I hate to be a homer, but whatever; I’m not going to consider picking anyone besides KU until the streak is broken. I think the media and Big 12 coaches agree. The rest of my list is pretty vanilla. I think Iowa State and Oklahoma can challenge for the top spot, there’s a drop-off after that to the middle of the pack, then another drop-off once we get to Oklahoma State at #7. I might have Kansas State slightly lower than others. I think this season turns into an uncontrolled dumpster fire in Manhattan, and that will be that for the Bruce Weber era. And that STILL puts them above Texas Tech. C’mon Tubby
So there it is, the second annual list of RCT preseason awards. What did we get right? What did we get wrong? Did we do a better job than the media/coaches? Let us know in the comments section. Again, a big thank you to all the contributors and commenters who participated!
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