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Now that the college basketball regular season has ended, it’s time to hand out some conference awards. At CBS Sports, we had our group of college basketball writers (Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander, Sam Vecenie, Chip Patterson, Jon Rothstein, Doug Gottlieb, and Jerry Palm) vote on honors for each of the six major conferences. The awards handed out are Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and two all-conference teams.
Here are the CBS Sports Big 12 award winners.
Big 12 Player of the Year: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
This, along with Big Ten Player of the Year, is probably the easiest race to call in the country. Hield was a unanimous selection, as he has been the king of college basketball for a majority of the 2015-16 season. Despite tailing off a bit late, as it seems like he’s gotten a bit tired, his numbers over the course of the season still match just about any else’s in the entire country.
He’s second nationally in scoring at 25.3 points per game, and doing it on just an outrageous 49.3/47.6/89.4 shooting line. With some luck in the postseason, he could be the first person to go 50/50/90 while averaging at least 20 points per game in at least 20 years. The Bahamian shooting wizard has his eyes on a bigger prize — the Wooden Award — but until then, he is nearly a shoo-in to become the first player to win back-to-back Big 12 Player of the Year awards since Raef LaFrentz back in 1997 and 1998.
Big 12 Coach of the Year: Bill Self, Kansas
This vote was a veritable dead heat between Self and Tubby Smith at Texas Tech. On one side, you had the overachieving Smith with the Red Raiders doing something that very few people expected coming into the year. We at CBS Sports had Texas Tech ninth in the Big 12 coming into the year, and Smith has turned it around to where the team is now likely to make the NCAA Tournament. Just a remarkable job.
However, what Self is doing at Kansas is even better. This season, the Jayhawks clinched their 12th straight Big 12 title under Self, just a totally insane achievement that seems unlikely to ever happen on the high-major stage again. In 2016, he’s doing it with what looks to be no first round picks in his starting lineup and a young bench that he’s begun to rely on more and more as the season has gone forward. This team has genuine national title hopes, and for good reason. Self’s a big part of that.
Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year: Prince Ibeh, Texas
The Longhorns’ season turned around on Jan. 12, an overtime win over Iowa State. It’s likely not a coincidence that the game was the first time in his four-year college career that Ibeh played over 30 minutes in a game. In that win, he blocked four shots and changed countless others at the rim, but that was just the start of what has been a turnaround season for the 6-foot-10 center born in London. Prior to that win, the Longhorns had an adjusted defensive efficiency of 98.0 according to KenPom, which was 75th nationally. Currently, that number is down to 95.9, which is 37th nationally.
For his part, Ibeh is leading the league in block rate at 11.78, and is responsible for affecting countless other attempts per game around the rim. He’s also eighth in defensive rebounding rate at 19.6. Throw in that he’s also a tremendous defender in the pick-and-roll as well, and Ibeh is a deserving winner of the award. The numbers are just slightly better across the board for him than those of Khadeem Lattin and Landen Lucas among the other bigs I considered, and he brings just a slightly more valuable and versatile skill-set on the defensive end than the guards like Frank Mason and Jevon Carter that I considered.
Big 12 Freshman of the Year: Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State
Not a great year for freshmen in the Big 12, as only 17 have played in at least 20 games. However, Evans is a pretty worthy winner. The former McDonald’s All-American averaged nearly 13 points and five assists per while doing it on excellent efficiency, posting a 21.9 PER. Just ask Oklahoma what he’s capable of, as the guard exploded for 42 points against the No. 6 team in the nation on Jan. 13. He’s a really athletic player that already knows how to play in the pick-and-roll well, and he very well could be the best point guard NBA prospect in the league. Unfortunately, he missed a portion of the season late with a shoulder injury, but he did enough early to win this honor.
CBS SPORTS ALL-BIG 12 TEAM
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
Monte Morris, Iowa State
Perry Ellis, Kansas
Georges Niang, Iowa State
Taurean Prince, Baylor
Isaiah Taylor, Texas
Frank Mason, Kansas
Jaysean Paige, West Virginia
Isaiah Cousins, Oklahoma
Wayne Selden, Kansas