The Big 12 coaches will announce their all-Big 12 basketball team today. The media will announce theirs on Monday. You get a sneak peek of my ballot now.
I am a voter for the Associated Press all-conference team. Below is a look at how I voted, with players ranked from 1-10.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Melvin Ejim, Iowa State.
Choosing the Big 12′s top player has never been more difficult. I seriously considered Melvin Ejim, Andrew Wiggins and Juwan Staten and didn’t eliminate a few others until the final week of the season. Ejim and Staten had dominant stats, but Wiggins was the best player on the league’s best team. What to reward? I chose Ejim, because his stats were too good to ignore. He ranked second in the Big 12 in points (18.2) and rebounds (8.6) and he ranked third in field-goal percentage (51.3). He also had two mammoth games, hitting TCU for 48 points and 18 rebounds and torching K-State for 30 points and 16 rebounds. That helped Iowa State finish third.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Bill Self, Kansas.
He guided a new starting five to a Big 12 championship, winning the title outright by two games. He seems like the obvious choice to me. But here’s guessing many will vote for Lon Kruger and Rick Barnes.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: DeAndre Kane, Iowa State.
The Iowa State guard made a huge impact in his first season with the Cyclones, averaging 17.1 points and 5.9 assists. He edged Oklahoma’s Ryan Spangler for my vote.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas.
Wiggins was the best player on the conference’s best team, averaging 16.8 points. His 41 point outburst at West Virginia on Saturday proved what the former top-ranked high school player is capable of.
1. Melvin Ejim, Iowa State
The 6-foot-6 forward put up the best numbers of any big man in the conference.
2. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Kansas has a balanced lineup of quality players, but Wiggins was the team’s top scorer and overall best performer. He was also the league’s statistical MVP, according to Ken Pomeroy.
3. Juwan Staten, West Virginia
The West Virginia point guard would have made a stronger case for Player of the Year honors had the Mountaineers finished above .500 in Big 12 play. He was one of the toughest players to stop in the league. He led the conference in points (18.4) and assists (5.94) and he had a signature 35-point effort against Kansas State.
4. DeAndre Kane, Iowa State
Kane is one of the most talented players in the Big 12. He also knows how to use his size to his advantage.
5. Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
The first four players on this team were no-brainers. The fifth spot could have gone to anyone on my second team. Hield edged the field by averaging 16.8 points for the team that finished all alone in second. He was a major reason why the Sooners exceeded expectations this season.
6. Joel Embiid, Kansas
Injuries prevented Embiid from making a run at Player of the Year, but he was the league’s top big when he was healthy. No one created more mismatches.
7. Marcus Foster, Kansas State
He scored 34 points against Texas. He dropped 29 points on Baylor. He also averaged 15.4 points and helped Kansas State win 20 games. Not bad for an unheralded freshman.
8. Ryan Spangler, Oklahoma
The Gonzaga transfer helped turn the Sooners into one of the Big 12′s best teams with his dominant play inside. He led the league in rebounds (9.4) and nearly averaged a double-double.
9. Perry Ellis, Kansas
K-State coach Bruce Weber and TCU coach Trent Johnson both pushed him as a Player of the Year candidate. That might have been a stretch, but the Wichita native did have a strong season, averaging 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds.
10. Markel Brown, Oklahoma State
Teammate Marcus Smart receives more attention, but Brown is the more valuable player. Not only did the senior average 17.2 points, he kept Oklahoma State going while Smart served a three-game suspension.
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