Handing Out Big 12 Superlatives

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 7th, 2016

To say that the Big 12 had a good year would be a massive understatement. According to KenPom‘s advanced metrics, the league was the nation’s toughest. Not a fan of advanced metrics? That’s fine too, because the conference treated us to a surplus of intense games and is home of one of the two top contenders for National Player of the Year. Furthermore, the Big 12 is expected to propel seven good teams to The Big Dance — including a prohibitive favorite for the top overall seed — for the third straight season. It was a banner year regardless of what happens next, but before we look ahead to the postseason, let’s take some time for the Big 12 microsite to hand out some hardware.

All-Big 12 Team Selections

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Player Of The Year – Buddy Hield (unanimous)

Chris Stone: Perry Ellis and Georges Niang are a pair of worthy contenders, but everyone in the Big 12 is playing for second behind Oklahoma’s Hield. The Oklahoma senior averaged 25.1 points per game during Big 12 play and finished with a league-leading 65.2 percent true shooting rate, all while logging the conference’s second-highest usage rate. For a guard to attempt nearly 31 percent of his team’s shots while making them as efficiently as Hield did is exceptional, especially when you consider that almost 60 percent of his field goal attempts came from behind the three-point arc.”

Coach Of The Year – Bill Self

BG: Tubby Smith expertly manipulated Texas Tech’s non-conference schedule to maximize its RPI, then surprised everyone by leading the Red Raiders to a competitive 9-9 mark in Big 12 play. That’s certainly worthy of recognition, but Bill Self has earned this season’s COY award. If I told you in October that Cheick Diallo would struggle to find his footing, Landen Lucas would play 19.5 minutes per game in Big 12 play, and Wayne Selden‘s sensational run in the World University Games wouldn’t quite carry over, you probably wouldn’t have thought much of the Jayhawks’ chances. But here they are: winners of the nation’s deepest conference by two full games and in good position to command the top overall seed on Selection Sunday, even if they suffer an untimely loss in their Thursday quarterfinal game. That, friends, is coaching.” (Chris Stone also voted for Self)

Others receiving votes: Tubby Smith (NK).

Play Of The Year – Keenan Evans Lights Iowa State Up From Deep

Nate Kotisso: This shot from the sophomore was beyond improbable, but if you consider the good fortune the Red Raiders have experienced this season, maybe it was destined to drop. The three-pointer, made from an unincorporated place on United Supermarkets Arena’s Lone Star State halfcourt logo, gave Texas Tech an important home win against a ranked Iowa State club. It wouldn’t be the last time this season that Red Raiders’ fans would get exceptionally excited for a big home win.

Others receiving votes: Buddy Hield’s game-winner buries Texas (CS); Jamari Traylor posterizes Eric Davis (BG).

Most Improved Player – Johnathan Motley, Baylor
BG: This is a very interesting category with several strong candidates. Jaysean Paige, Matt Thomas, Zach Smith and Landen Lucas all developed into important pieces for their teams this season. Motley’s sophomore season should give Baylor head coach Scott Drew confidence in his frontcourt after the graduation of Rico Gathers this spring. Motley’s offensive game isn’t on par with Perry Ellis’ yet in terms of versatility, but it is close in terms of efficiency. He posted a true shooting percentage of 61.2 percent, nearly 15 points better than last season’s 46.3 percent mark, and just ahead of Ellis’ 59.7 percent clip this season. He also flashed a solid jump shot, ranked third in block percentage in conference play and thrived as a rebounder in spite of the challenges posed by Baylor’s “Amoeba” zone. As we’ve seen over the last several years, the Bears are capable of doing just about anything in the postseason, so if Baylor makes a deep run, look for Motley to be right in the thick of it.

Others receiving votes: Javan Felix (NK) and Matt Thomas (CS).

Bold Postseason Prediction – Devonte Graham Will Have A Shining Moment

CS: The Kansas sophomore doesn’t shy away from big moments. On Saturday, for example, he nailed the dagger three-pointer that put away Iowa State at Allen Fieldhouse. Nor does he lack for confidence. He frequently pulls up for threes in transition that have made Kansas fans cringe (Naadir Tharpe, anyone?). In the NCAA Tournament, though, Graham is going to have his own shining moment when he knocks down a huge shot to propel the Jayhawks to the Final Four.

Others receiving votes: Iowa State will three-peat at the Big 12 Tournament (NK); Baylor will make the deepest NCAA Tournament run of any Big 12 team other than Kansas (BG).

Brian Goodman (983 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.


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