The coaches and media all Big 12 awards have been announced, and we have our yearly blind comparison up, so in the spirit of awards season it is time for me to discuss my all Big 12 awards ballot.
Player of the Year - Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
The easy choice for player of the year, Hield ranked 2nd in minutes in the conference, 2nd in usage, 2nd in shots taken, and 2nd in effective field goal percentage. Hield shot 44.6 percent from three, and while in years past he has been mostly a jump shooter, he showed an improved ability to score in the mid range and get to the rim this season. Hield was a pretty good defensive rebounder but even with just the value of his shooting he was the runaway player of the year.
Coach of the Year - Bill Self, Kansas
I admittedly was originally on the Tubby Smith bandwagon and also would listen to Bob Huggins love. But cmon. Bill Self won the best league in America and one of the best leagues since KenPom began and he did it by two games. There are zero first rounders in the starting lineup. The streak looked over in late January. But nope. Bill Self did what he always did and Kansas won the best league in America. By two games.
Freshman of the Year - Kerwin Roach, Texas
It, uh, wasn't a banner year for Big 12 freshmen. Jawun Evans would have been the runaway winner but he got hurt, and the rest of the freshmen were either talented but didn't play much (eg Cheick Diallo) or played some but weren't very good. I'll split the difference and take Roach, who only played in roughly 40 percent of Texas's Big 12 minutes but shot 54 percent from two, 44 percent from three, and finished 2nd in the league in fouls drawn per 40 minutes.
Defensive Player of the Year - Prince Ibeh, Texas
It was close between Ibeh and Khadeem Lattin of Oklahoma but I am going with Ibeh, who led the league in block percentage. Texas was a bit worse defensively than Oklahoma this year, but Ibeh did not have as much help on the interior as Lattin, who at least had some other big bodies next to him to help him.
Rest of First Team
Perry Ellis, Kansas
In any other year (or most other years) Perry would be an easy conference player of the year choice. As it is, he got damn close anyway. Perry led the league in offensive rating among players who used at least 24% of a team's possessions (which is KenPom's cutoff for major contributors), he made 54 percent of his 197 twos and made 44 percent of his 41 threes. Perry fell back in terms of drawing fouls and rebounding, but made up for it by being greatly improved defensively and by being a matchup nightmare. He also rarely turns it over, which is so underrated in a go to guy.
Georges Niang, Iowa State
We'll get this out of the way right away: defensively he is a disaster. Offensively though he finished 2nd in usage, 4th in eFG, and had a 19 percent assist rate. Niang shot 36 percent from three, which is fine, and shot 61 percent from two, which is obviously excellent. I suppose it shows even I am biased towards offense because if someone was the best perimeter defender in the league but couldn't score at all there's no way he would sniff an all league team. Still, Niang is a matchup nightmare, didn't struggle against tough competition, and scored so efficiently that it's impossible to leave him off.
Isaiah Taylor, Texas
If there was a most improved award I might give it to Taylor. He finished 5th in the league in offensive rating among players who use 28 percent of his teams possessions, and while you still don't want him shooting a ton if you're Texas, it is to the point where if he does it doesn't kill you. Also something I read last summer really stuck with me. To paraphrase, every player who is the go to guy on his team, especially when his team doesn't have a lot of offensive talent, is going to have at least some shots that are nearly impossible to make but the go to guy taking it is still the best option. That's Taylor. He dragged Texas's offense this season. This last point is worth much more than a footnote, but Taylor led the league in assist rate and had the third lowest turnover rate. That is incredible.
Jaysean Paige, West Virginia
Paige didn't start on his own team but I am putting him on my first team all conference team. Paige led the league in usage and shots taken this year, and shot 49 percent from two. The efficiency alone isn't anything to write home about, but combined with the usage it is impressive indeed. Paige also ranked 3rd in fouls drawn, 8th in turnover rate, and while he was undoubtedly helped by West Virginia's press, 4th in steal rate. Paige was one of the few WVU players who didn't crash the glass, which might hurt him a bit, but he still deserves the first team nod.
Monte Morris, Iowa State
Kept off the first team mostly because of his defense and low usage rate, but no major problems with anyone who wants to put him on the first team.
Frank Mason, Kansas
Hit a huge slump in January but rebounded to finish 9th in offensive rating among players with a 20+ usage rate. Mason gets the nod over some guys who finished a bit higher in usage rate because of his defense and his minutes played.
Taurean Prince, Baylor
Prince took a bit of a step back in terms of offensive rating, but took the lion's share of the shots for one of the better offenses in the league and had a 51.4 percent effective field goal percentage.
Aaron Ross, Texas Tech
Ross led the league in offensive rating among players with a 20% usage rate or higher. He shot 50 percent from two, 42 percent from three, and led the league in free throw shooting, making 92 percent of his attempts.
Devonte Graham, Kansas
I won't argue with Jonathan Motley, Jordan Woodard, Rico Gathers, Abdel Nader, Isaiah Cousins, or even Landen Lucas. There are so many guys who could be in this slot, but I am going with Graham, who finished 6th in the league in offensive rating while playing a ton of minutes. He also led the league in effective field goal percentage, finished 2nd in true shooting percentage, and played really good perimeter defense for most of the year.
All Defensive Team
Prince Ibeh, Texas
Khadeem Lattin, Oklahoma
Jordan Woodard, Oklahoma
Jevon Carter, West Virginia
Landen Lucas, Kansas