As the regular season conference schedule comes to a close, it’s time to hand out the regular season.
Remember, that I’m not predicting who will be chosen, but I’m selecting whom I would pick in the case that I was the Overlord-Award Picker for Big 12 basketball (a title I would graciously claim were I asked).
For KU fans in particular the regular season didn’t end up how any of us wanted, but a few bright spots could pop up once the real winners are announced this coming Sunday. Now, let’s hand out some awards.
Player of the Year
Dedric Lawson of KU has to be the pick for the Conference Player of the Year. The junior averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 assists for the year, and has 19 double-doubles going into the last game of the regular season. He was also named a finalist for the Wooden Award, one of college basketball’s most prestigious awards. Lawson was unstoppable all year long on the block and when he was asked to stretch his game outside, he had no issues, shooting over 36 percent from three. Lawson became one of the most consistent players of the Bill Self era, and fans should remember his season fondly for a long time.
Defensive Player of the Year
Jarrett Culver from Texas Tech is my pick for Defensive Player of the Year. Culver is one of the best players in the conference and will likely be high pick in this year’s NBA draft. Culver’s defensive impact is astounding for a player his size, as he stands at only six-foot-five-inches, and his play on that end makes him seem much bigger than he actually is. Culver leads the league in defensive win shares, is second in defensive rating and seventh in defensive rebound percentage. His emergence became one of the main reasons the Red Raiders overachieved this season.
Newcomer of the Year
Two names popped out when thinking about this award, Marial Shayok of Iowa State and Makai Mason of Baylor, but I’m going to give the award to Shayok. (This award should really go to Lawson, but let’s give Shayok some love.) The senior sat out last year after transferring from Virginia, but he made a big impact in his only year in the Big 12. Shayok finished second in the conference in points per game and started every game he played. He also averaged over five rebounds per game and became Iowa State’s big time shot maker at the end of games.
Freshman of the Year
This was the toughest pick for me, choosing between Devon Dotson of Kansas, Talen Horton-Tucker of Iowa State and Jaxson Hayes of Texas. Ultimately I’m going to make the homer pick of Dotson. The point guard is sixth in the league in assists per game and top 10 in total minutes played. Dotson was often a calming presence for the Jayhawks at the end of games and showed leadership qualities well beyond his years.
Sixth Man Award
My pick for Sixth Man is Lindell Wiggington. I thought Wiggington had an outside chance of winning the Player of the Year coming into the season, but an injury sidelined him for most of non-conference play. Wiggington’s role changed drastically when he returned for conference play, but he still made a big impact. He averaged 12.9 points per game, the second most on the team and was a key player in Iowa State’s bid for the league title. His health is crucial to the Cyclones chances at a deep tournament run.
Coach of the Year
Chris Beard of Texas Tech is my pick for Coach of the Year. The Red Raiders were picked seventh in the preseason poll after a stellar season last year, however, Beard’s team has blown the preseason prediction away. Tech has a chance to win the conference and can finish no lower than second going into the last game of the season. Beard is building something impressive in Lubbock, and it’ll be interesting to see what he does once bigger programs like UCLA come calling.