The official Big 12 awards came out yesterday, with Frank Mason, Bill Self, and Josh Jackson sweeping the postseason awards. It has always been more fun for me to come up with my own ballot and explain why there are differences between mine and the official Big 12 awards, but this year they went ahead and ruined it by getting most of the picks correct. So this will probably be pretty boring.
Player of the year - Frank Mason, senior guard, Kansas
This award actually came down to the wire between Mason and Motley, but Mason pulled away with a strong last few games (although Motley was certainly no slouch). The senior was good pretty much everywhere, leading the Big 12 in shooting 50 percent from three, ranking 7th in the league in free throw percentage, 3rd in fouls drawn per 40 minutes, and he had just a 15.2 percent turnover rate. He ranked “just” 8th in assist rate and shot just 43 percent on twos, but for the number of shots he took both numbers are impressive.
Rest of First team:
Johnathan Motley, junior forward, Baylor
Motley led the league in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage, and he ranked 2nd in usage in the league. Had he shot a little bit better, he probably would have been my player of the year. He also had a bit of a turnover problem, with a 20 percent turnover rate. That is mostly nitpicking, however, as Motley was excellent all season.
Jawun Evans, sophomore guard, Oklahoma State
Evans, my preseason player of the year, was a few shots made away from maybe winning the postseason award as well. He led the league in usage, shots, and assist rate with a ridiculous 48.6 percent assist rate. Couple that with a 17.2 percent turnover rate and you have one of the best point guards in America. His main drawbacks were being a poor defender and shooting just 29 percent from three.
Monte Morris, senior guard, Iowa State
Morris had an incredible year, ranking 2nd in assist rate in the league with just a 5.4 percent turnover rate. He had just 15 turnovers in Big 12 play, with the most in one game being just 3, against Kansas in Ames. He shot it well as well, 42.3 percent from three, and while he still wasn’t very good defensively, I think he improved from horrendous to just below average, which is valuable.
Josh Jackson, freshman forward, Kansas
Jackson looked lost early in the Big 12 season, but ended up as one of the best players on the best team in the league. He shot 51 percent on twos with the 4th highest usage rate in the league, and also finished 9th in defensive rebounding and 12th in offensive rebounding. He also drew 5.5 fouls per 40 minutes. This is burying the lede a bit, as Jackson shot 43.5 percent on threes, which ranked 6th.
Vlad Brodziansky, junior forward, TCU
Vlad ranked 7th in usage, 8th in eFG, 5th in true shooting, 9th in offensive rebounding, 16th in defensive rebounding, 2nd in blocks percentage, and led the league in free throw shooting.
Jevon Carter, junior guard, West Virginia
The Big 12 defensive player of the year (and mine as well while we are at it), Carter ranked 3rd in steal rate but was also just a dogged on ball defender who made basically everyone he guarded much worse. Couple that with shooting 51 percent on twos as a guard and 36 percent on threes, and you have a bonafide 2nd teamer.
Jeffrey Carroll, junior forward, Oklahoma State
Carroll ranked 2nd in the league in offensive rating, shooting 57 percent on twos and 47 percent from three while barely turning it over. He has a bit of a defense problem, but those offensive numbers are too good to ignore.
Landen Lucas, senior forward, Kansas
The coaches gave Lucas an honorable mention spot, but he ranked 2nd in the league in effective field goal percentage (and first in 2 point shooting), 3rd in offensive rebounding, 3rd in defensive rebounding, 3rd in free throw rate, and he is one of the best interior defenders in the league all while having to try to avoid foul trouble because of KU’s thin bench. I didn’t really think about it before I looked at the numbers but he clearly belongs on the 2nd team.
Keenan Evans, junior guard, Texas Tech
It came down to Evans and Naz Long, but I went with Evans, who shot 42.5 percent from three and 45 percent on twos while having the 5th highest usage rate in the league. He also drew the 4th most fouls in the league and shot 86 percent from the line, which is incredibly valuable.
Naz Long, senior guard, Iowa State
Wesley Iwundu, senior forward, Kansas State
Nathan Adrian, senior forward, West Virginia
Jarrett Allen, freshman forward, Texas
Devonte Graham, junior guard, Kansas
I have Graham on my third team instead of my 2nd team for a couple reasons: Graham gets there mostly by playing a lot of minutes, 91.4 percent of them in fact, and also shooting 39 percent on threes. He was a huge part of the West Virginia comeback, and he also regained a lot of his defensive prowess, leading the league in fouls committed per 40 minutes. His and Lucas’s usage rates weren’t different enough for me to give Graham credit for the higher usage rate, although I do think Graham could carry a higher load; he just defers to Mason.
Coach of the Year - Bill Self, Kansas
I would listen to Brad Underwood arguments after he rescued Oklahoma State from early disaster. I would listen to Jamie Dixon arguments, because even though TCU finished 6-12 in the league they were fairly competitive in a lot of those games. I would listen to Steve Prohm arguments, mostly on the reasoning that I thought they would finish 6th or so and tied for 2nd. But Bill Self won the best league according to KenPom by 4 games, did so while switching to a whole new offense, did so while losing a potential future lottery pick to injury, and did so while having to play basically 7 guys. I also think he deserves credit for turning Mason, Graham, and Lucas, three recruiting afterthoughts, into what they are today.
Freshman of the year - Josh Jackson, Kansas
Newcomer of the year - Manu Lecomte, Baylor
I brain farted on this on my preseason ballot when I picked Texas’ Mariek Isom and quite frankly just forgot about Lecomte. I will rectify that by picking him here. Lecomte shot 41 percent on threes and 81 percent from the line, although he did not have good assist/turnover numbers and shot 40 percent on twos.
Defensive player of the year - Jevon Carter, junior guard, West Virginia
As previously mentioned, Carter ranked 3rd in steal rate but beyond that was simply the best on ball defender in the league. There also wasn’t a standout rim protector to take this title away from him, and the league’s best defense (Baylor) had a lot of very good but no standout defenders.