Usually I put out my picks for my preseason Big 12 awards before the coaches and media do, but the season has admittedly snuck up on me a bit this year. Maybe it is the resurgent KU football program. In any event, a quick run down of my methodology: I try to pick my teams based on who I think will have the best seasons in the league. So, while past performance is important insofar as it predicts future performance, it is not the be all end all. We’ll see that right away:
Big 12 Player of the Year - Dedric Lawson, junior forward, Kansas
Dean Wade won the coaches vote, probably due to his exemplary play in Big 12 play last season, but Lawson is the best player in the Big 12 and I don’t think the margin is particularly close. If you want more on him, please read my ranking the rotation piece from two weeks ago, where I outlined how he’s probably the perfect player for what Bill Self wants to do on offense.
Rest of First team
Dean Wade, senior forward, Kansas State
Wade was 3rd in the league in both minutes played and offensive rating, as well as 2nd in eFG. He has turned himself into a complete offensive weapon (scoring wise anyway), being able to score from the block, put the ball on the floor, and shoot from deep. The one criticism of Wade is he doesn’t shoot enough. He ranks 2nd on the team in both shots and usage, and there are multiple players within a couple percentage points of him on both. His efficiency will take a bit of a hit if he shoots more, but for Kansas State to be as good as the preseason polls suggest they should be, Wade needs to get the ball more. I should also note after spending two years (correctly) killing his defense, Wade turned himself into a pretty good defender last season.
Sagaba Konate, junior forward, West Virginia
Konate is probably the best shot blocker in the country, and an easy choice for preseason defensive player of the year (frankly, even as good as Jevon Carter was, I would have had no problem with him as defensive player of the year last year). He’s also a very good rebounder, and while he isn’t a major offensive weapon, he shot 79 percent from the free throw line last year, a huge bonus for a big man.
Quentin Grimes, freshman guard, Kansas
The benefit of doing this after Kansas has played a game, albeit an exhibition, is I can say Grimes looks more ready to play college basketball than either Josh Jackson or Andrew Wiggins were as freshmen. He has a smooth stroke from the outside, passes the ball really well, and looks like he needs defensive refinements moreso than defensive improvements.
Barry Brown, senior guard, Kansas State
There were more than a few guys I could have gone with here. I settled on Brown, who ranked 4th in the league in usage, 10th in efg, and 8th in assist rate. He also ranked 5th in drawing fouls and 3rd in steal percentage (although I do think the steal percentage flatters his defense a bit). Brown didn’t carry the offensive load that a guy like Lindell Wigginton did, but he’s a good scorer inside the arc, and I think his assists will climb up a bit this year as well.
Lindell Wigginton, sophomore guard, Iowa State
Wigginton didn’t put up a terribly efficient season, but a lot of that was due to having to take some tough shots for an offensively challenged Iowa State team. He was 2nd in the league in usage and also shot over 40 percent from deep. If Iowa State can get some consistent scoring from other sources and Wigginton’s efficiency shoots up, he could very easily be a first teamer.
Kerwin Roach, senior guard, Texas
Roach doesn’t get the plaudits that a guy like Jevon Carter did, but he’s very nearly as good of a defender. He won’t overwhelm you in terms of steals, but you could count the number of good shots his man got last season on one hand (Ok that’s maybe a little bit of hyperbole). Offensively, he was woeful from two in Big 12 play, but almost at 50 percent for the year, and he’s a capable outside shooter.
Udoka Azubuike, junior forward, Kansas
Azubuike led the nation in 2-point percentage last year, and improved as a defender as well. The big key will be how he will function in the new look KU offense, which should leave him less room to operate down low due to Dedric Lawson’s involvement.
Jarrett Culver, sophomore guard, Texas Tech
Culver will have to step into a go to guy role this year with the departures of Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith, but early returns are promising: He shot over 50 percent from two and almost 40 percent from three last year, and was a pretty good defender as well. My two chief concerns are: how will having to take on more of a role (and be more of a priority for opposing defenses to stop) affect his shooting, and is his 3-point shooting a bit of a mirage, given that he shot just 65 percent from the free throw line.
Jaylen Fisher, junior guard, TCU
Fisher’s sophomore season was cut short by injury, but when he was healthy he was right up there with the four elite point guards in the Big 12. He shot 56 percent from two, 44 percent from three, and had a 34 percent assist rate with a turnover rate under 20 percent. His defense is questionable, but his offense is elite.
Preseason Newcomer of the year - Dedric Lawson, junior forward, Kansas
Preseason Freshman of the year - Quentin Grimes, Kansas
Preseason Defensive Player of the year - Sagaba Konate, junior forward, West Virginia
Wait for it....triple duh.