We have already had an amazing Big 12 season and with the Big 12 tournament on the horizon, I think that we are going to be in for a treat this March. Kansas was dominate, Missouri is exciting to watch and if Baylor, Kansas State and Iowa State can find consistency we should have multiple teams in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight. This season also brings to an end the “Border War” and this year’s two installments might be two of the best games ever played between Kansas and Missouri. The Big 12 also has another National Players of the Year candidate in Thomas Robinson. So here is my view of the Big 12’s season awards.
Player of the Year
F- Thomas Robinson, Kansas, 18.2 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 1.06 BPG
Robinson stayed consistent all season long and that gave him a huge boost to an already big lead that he had on Royce White. He did slow down just a little bit numbers wise toward the very end of the season, but that wasn’t because of Robinson’s effort, but because Tyshawn Taylor had turned up his effort for the Jayhawks.
All-Big 12 Team
G- Marcus Denmon, Missouri, 17.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG
G- Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas, 18.6 PPG, 4.6 APG, 1.44 SPG, .398 3FG%
G- Royce White, Iowa State, 12.8 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.17 SPG
F- J’Covan Brown, Texas, 20.5 PPG, 3.6 APG, 1.39 SPG
I felt like Robinson, Denmon, Rodney McGruder and White and almost locks for the post-season All-Big 12 team in my Mid-Season Big 12 Awards, but Tyshawn Taylor was able to push Rodney McGruder out of the final guard position. McGruder suffered a foot injury and was unable to practice for several weeks and that really slowed down his performance. Couple that with Taylor cutting down on turnovers and coming up clutch in situations when he would normally defer to Robinson to take over and Taylor became another dominate player on an already dominate team. J’Covan Brown led the league in scoring and is the only reliable player on the young Texas team and his stats reflect that. Perry Jones III and LeBryan Nash were heavily considered, but were too inconsistent for them to take over anyone else. I don’t like to agree with the coaches, I like to think that I have my own unique opinion on the Big 12, but in this instant we agree on exactly who the best players in the league were this season.
Coach of the Year
Bill Self, Kansas
I know, I hate doing this too, but I feel that Bill Self has again done the best job coaching in the country. The Jayhawks were picked to tie A&M for the Big 12 regular season trophy and they are in the driver’s seat for an eighth straight title. I felt like Kansas was picked to be co-champions in the pre-season poll because of their history of dominance, but that they had lost too much to replace in one season. Self proved me wrong.
Here is where my view gets interesting. My second place coach is Billy Gillispie. I know what you are thinking, how can he pick a coach from a 1-16 team. Texas Tech did not give up or give in to any team all season long. They played hard all season and just missed out on an upset against Texas in an overtime loss late in the season. Keeping his young team focused and improving them along the way is a great coaching job. Keep and eye on this team next season. My way too early prediction is a finish around .500 and really shape the Big 12 final standings with a few upsets next season.
Newcomer of the Year
Royce White, Iowa State
His numbers went down as the season went on, but that’s because his team didn’t lean on him as much. He really made this Cyclone team better by taking double teams and finding an open shooter. He has battled an anxiety disorder to become one of the best players in the conference. My biggest question is will he stay or will he go?
Freshman of the Year
LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State
As the Big 12’s pre-season favorite for Freshman of the Year, Nash did not disappoint.There wasn’t a big time Freshman of the Year candidate from the Big 12 this season, but the class as a whole is very talented. Myck Kabongo, Angel Rodriguez and Quincy Miller also had great rookie seasons.
Sixth Man of the Year
Michael Dixon, Missouri
Dixon plays more minutes than Missouri starter Matt Pressey and has really been the Tigers spark plug off of the bench. I don’t like giving it to someone that plays more minutes than a starter, but if not Dixon than who would you give it to? He may not be in any of the Big12sports.com’s stat leaders, but he contributes nicely for the Tigers.
Game of the Year
Kansas vs. Missouri
The only question remaining to debate is which one? Both home teams gave up a lead and looked like they were going to lose only to pull it out in the final seconds or each game. Both were the final installments and both schools can claim that they won the last Border War” that they played at home. This is a Big 12 blog, not an SEC blog, so I give the lean to the second game. The one that saw KU down by 19 in the second half only to pull it out in overtime. There was a Bill Self fist pump, screaming fans that stayed in their seats and a ringing across all Big 12 country that proclaimed Kansas as the champs this season.