The Big 12 season tips off this weekend, and even though some teams (KU included) have more nonconference action before conference play, this is as good a time as any to hand out some non-conference awards. All results are final and not up for argument (kidding, leave your picks in the comments).
Player of the year - Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
It really has to be Hield. I still don't think his defense is great, but he's done a much better job at getting to the rim this season (44 percent of attempts via hoop-math) and he's shooting 50.5 percent on twos, 52.9 percent on threes, and 90 percent at the line. He doesn't rebound and doesn't get a lot of assists, but when you can shoot it like that at the volume he does, that's incredibly valuable. I think someone else will end up catching him for POY, especially if we take defense into account, but he's been great.
Rest of first team
Wayne Selden, Kansas
He also doesn't rebound or pass, but Selden is 7th nationally in effective field goal percentage, and has improved defensively over the last couple weeks.
Cameron Ridley, Texas
Ridley is probably done for the season with a broken foot, but he has been incredible up until now. He is shooting 63 percent, ranks 17th in offensive rebounding, 57th in defensive rebounding, and 5th in block percentage.
Frank Mason, Kansas
A tough time at the rim has obscured how well Mason has played. He's hounded opposing guards defensively, is shooting 50 percent from three, has a 29 percent assist rate and just 10 percent turnover rate, and makes the Jayhawks go. Monte Morris has a case as well, but Morris is much worse defensively.
Georges Niang, Iowa State
Niang takes over a fourth of the Clones' shots when he plays and has a 59 percent eFG. That alone will get you on this list. He's rebounded better than in years' past, though I think part of that is getting to box out smaller guys and having Jameel McKay there to clear out the lane. He's still awful defensively but leaving him off this list seems like getting too cute. Apologies to Devin Williams of West Virginia who has also been great.
Freshman of the year - Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State
The Cowboys are just 7-4, though I think they'll be a team to watch in the Big 12 season thanks in part to Evans. Evans has a 33 percent assist rate and just a 21 percent turnover rate, which is pretty incredible for a freshman. He's not a great shooter, but he's defending fairly well and controlling the game well, both of which are tough for freshmen guards. If he had had a full season, I think Cheick Diallo would probably be the winner, as he's shot 55 percent while taking 28.8 percent of the shots while he plays, is a great defensive rebounder, and already posting elite rim protection numbers. But his foul problems are too much to have him anywhere near this award (obviously).