Jordan Hamilton (first team), Tristan Thompson (team) and Gary Johnson (third) and Cory Joseph (honorable mention) were all named to the All-Big 12 teams, while Dogus Balbay was the league's defensive player of the year. Thompson, who was also named Big 12 Freshman of the Year, joined Balbay on the All-Defensive Team, while Thompson and Joseph were both a part of the league's All-Rookie team.
But were the Big 12 coaches correct in their selections? LonghornDigest.com's first-team All-Big 12 has only five members (the coaches picked six), and yet several players are different.
For comparison's sake, the Phillips 66 All-Big 12 Men's Basketball Team was: Hamilton, Texas; Lacedarius Dunn, Baylor; Alec Burks, Colorado; Marcus Morris, Kansas; Jacob Pullen, Kansas State; Marcus Denmon, Missouri.
Here's our First-Team All-Big 12:
F Marcus Morris, Kansas
One of the league's most versatile scorers, Morris helped lead the Jayhawks to the Big 12 regular season title by scoring 17.3 points per game (fifth in the league), while shooting 59.7 percent (second) from the field. He also grabbed 7.0 rebounds (11th).
Markieff didn't score quite as many points as his brother — his 13.5 points per game tied for 15th in the league — but he did the dirty work better, leading the Big 12 in rebounding with 8.3 boards per game and field goal percentage at 59.8 percent while also finishing in the top 10 in blocked shots.
F Tristan Thompson, Texas
Thompson's offensive impact can't be measured just by his 13.5 points. He also put unbelievable amounts of strain on defenses by grabbing a league best 3.77 offensive rebounds per game (the best mark by nearly a full board), and drew a league high 243 free throws. Though he only made 119 of those, the fact is that he put a lot of big men in foul trouble. Add in his league-leading 2.26 blocks and second-best 7.7 rebounds, and you have an All-League performance.
G Alec Burks, Colorado
Burks does one thing, and does it well. Boasting an NBA one-on-one game, Burks gets to the basket at an incredible rate, scoring 19.5 points per game without a reliable jump shot. He earned many of those points at the free throw line, where he hit 194 of 237 shots, or 81.9 percent. Burks also grabbed 6.2 rebounds per game, the 15th best mark in the league, and dished out 2.58 assists per game, also good for 15th.
G Jacob Pullen, Kansas State
The preseason pick for Big 12 Player of the Year, Pullen started slowly, then closed with a roar. Pullen scored 19.6 points per game, second-best in the league, while doubling as one of the league's best defensive guards. Pullen's second-half was arguably the best of any player in the Big 12.
For what it's worth, if we were also picking six, the Longhorns' Hamilton would be the sixth selection. Denmon was an efficient scorer, but couldn't help the Tigers from a horrific road mark. Dunn had a few nice games, but in general wasn't a better player than either Burks or Pullen, both of whom the coaches also tapped as first-teamers.
And now for the awards:
Player of the Year: Marcus Morris
Defensive Player of the Year: Balbay
Newcomer of the Year: Ricardo Ratliffe, Missouri
Freshman of the Year: Thompson
Coach of the Year: Bill Self, Kansas
Our award winners were the exact same as the coaches, so no variance there. But we'll look a little closer at the selections.
Morris was the obvious choice for Player of the Year, if for no other reason than his consistency. Pullen was outstanding at the end of the season, but not-so-hot at the start. Hamilton was the opposite, and could have been considered the favorite at the halfway point, but his year-end struggles were a large part of the reason that Texas lost the regular season conference title.
Balbay seemed to be the obvious choice for Defensive Player of the Year, though the Longhorns' Gary Johnson also deserves mention. In fact, one Big 12 assistant we talked to said that four Longhorns — Balbay, Johnson, Thompson and Joseph — had claims to the Big 12's All-Defensive Team. We didn't pick an All-Defensive Team, but were surprised that Johnson didn't make the cut. Thompson did, largely because he blocked and changed a lot of shots.
Ratliffe and Thompson were far-and-away the best choices for the new individual awards.
As for the Coach of the Year, it was a close race between Self, Texas's Rick Barnes, Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon and Colorado's Tad Boyle, all of whom exceeded expectations this year. We gave the nod to Self, who won a seventh consecutive conference title, and went 29-2 despite losing arguably his top three players to the NBA, two of whom were early entries.