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Heartland College Sports 2018 All-Big 12 Basketball Team Announced

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at West Virginia

Putting together an all-conference team isn’t an easy job. But in the Big 12 Conference this year it’s a thankless task. Too many good players and not enough spaces for all of them.

But I gave it a shot, so here is my 2017-18 All-Big 12 Men’s Basketball team.

A few things to keep in mind. This is my team and my selections. When the Big 12 team came out on Sunday, I avoided looking at it until I had made my selections because I didn’t want to bias my picks. I watched about 80 percent of the Big 12 games this year and I put a higher emphasis on what happened in Big 12 action instead of what happened the whole season. Any other criteria for selection was entirely up to me, including the make-up of each team. I didn’t feel bound by the need to have certain positions on certain teams. Finally, I’m fully prepared for you to not like my team. Go for it. Comment below. Let’s get to it.

 

2018 All-Big 12 Team

Coach of the Year: Chris Beard, Texas Tech

Player of the Year: Devonte’ Graham, Sr., Kansas

Defensive Player of the Year: Jevon Carter, Sr., West Virginia

Newcomer of the Year: Dylan Osetkowski, Jr., Texas

Freshman of the Year: Trae Young, Fr., Oklahoma

Sixth Man Award: Terry Maston Jr., Sr., Baylor

Notes: My superlatives pretty much fell in line with the official Big 12 team. I don’t think you can argue much with Graham as POY. Without Graham, Kansas would not only have failed to win the Big 12, the Jayhawks might have finished under .500 (and I’m being serious about that. He was THAT important to their success in 2017-18). Carter excelled again as the conference’s top defender, while Young was an easy pick as FOY. Maston was probably the best sixth man, even though his production wasn’t always consistent. But when Baylor really needed production in February to make their surge back into the middle of the standings, Maston fueled it. Beard shared the award with Self on the official team, and while this is one of Self’s best coaching jobs, there were few expectations attached to Beard’s team as he crafted the most balanced team in the conference.

Osetkowski was my one deviation. Newcomer of the Year, to me, is a non-freshman player playing his first season in the conference. So, even though Osetkowski is a junior, he qualifies. The same went for Kansas sophomore Malik Newman (who was the NOY on the official team) and Oklahoma State’s Kendall Smith, a senior. Osetkowski finished Big 12 play averaging 13 points and 6.8 rebounds and I felt that line justified Osetkowski over Newman and Smith, both of which had strong seasons.

 

All-Big 12 First Team

Devonte’ Graham, G, Sr., Kansas

Keenan Evans, G, Sr., Texas Tech

Trae Young, G, Fr., Oklahoma

Jevon Carter, G, Sr., West Virginia

Dean Wade, F, Jr., Kansas State

Notes: My First Team lined up with the official team. Back in the days before positionless basketball, selectors of teams like this felt confined to two guards, two forwards and a center. Well, those days are over. If the idea is to put the five best players in the conference on the First Team, then I felt I had to put four guards on the team — Graham, Young, Evans and Carter. Yes, I’m playing small ball, but I’ll play small ball with those four guys any time. The last pick, Wade, was far tougher. I went back and forth between Wade, Texas’ Mo Bamba and West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate. Bamba and Konate are more traditional centers, while Wade is a 6-foot-10 forward who can play inside and outside. Wade nearly doubled his points per game from a season ago (16.7 ppg in 2017-18 from 9.3 ppg in 2016-17) and in Big 12 play he scored 18.7 ppg and grabbed 6.8 rpg. He produced balanced lines on a consistent basis and while he doesn’t have the blocked shots of a Bamba or Konate, he did average 1.5 steals and nearly a block per game this year. So, he can still provide solid interior defense even though he isn’t a traditional back-to-the-basket post.

 

All-Big 12 Second Team

Barry Brown Jr., G, Jr., Kansas State

Vladimir Brodziansky, F, Sr., TCU

Svi Mykhailiuk, F, Sr., Kansas

Mo Bamba, C, Fr., Texas

Sagaba Konate, C, Jr., West Virginia

Notes: After all the back-and-forth with Bamba and Konate for that final spot on the First Team, it seemed logical to put both on the Second Team. Bamba averaged a double-double in Big 12 play and no interior player improved more over the course of Big 12 action than Konate. Brown was also an easy selection after he averaged 18.6 ppg in Big 12 action (fourth-best in the league). For the other two spots I tapped Brodziansky and Mykhailiuk. Brodziansky, I feel, is one of the most underappreciated players in the league. He averaged 16.3 ppg and 5.5 rpg, and he was one of the hardest players to defend on screen-and-roll action near the basket. Mykhailiuk attempted the third-most 3-pointers in Big 12 action (only Graham and Iowa State’s Donovan Jackson attempted more) and Mykhailiuk shot better than either of them, hitting 44.6 percent of his attempts. He carried the Jayhawks when Graham could not.

 

All-Big 12 Third Team

Kenrich Williams, G, Sr., TCU

Manu Lecomte, G, Sr., Baylor

Jeffrey Carroll, G/F, Sr., Oklahoma State

Malik Newman, G, So., Kansas

Lindell Wigginton, G, Fr., Iowa State

Notes: This is where things get tough because I only had five spots. Newman improved quite a bit from the start of Big 12 action to the end and gave Kansas a third option offensively. Williams produced one of the most balanced lines in the league night after night and was one of four players in the league to have 10 or more double-doubles. Lecomte was the primary driver of Baylor’s offense and averaged 14.3 ppg. Carroll averaged 15.6 ppg in Big 12 action and was the biggest reason the Cowboys are a bubble team for the NCAAs after the regular season. Finally, I couldn’t deny Jackson after he averaged double-figures in 16 of 18 Big 12 games and averaged 17.7 ppg in Big 12 action. Additionally, Wigginton averaged 3.1 apg and made the fifth-most 3-pointers in Big 12 action.

 

Big 12 All-Defensive Team

Jevon Carter, G, Sr., West Virginia

Barry Brown Jr., G, Jr., Kansas State

Devonte’ Graham, G, Sr., Kansas

Mo Bamba, C, Fr., Texas

Sagaba Konate, C, Jr., West Virginia

Notes: If I could sub out five players on offense for five players on defense it would be these five. This was actually a really easy team to select. Carter, Brown and Graham can keep up with anyone on the ball, while few offensive players are going to venture into the paint to face off with either Bamba or Konate.

Big 12 All-Newcomer Team

Trae Young, G, Fr., Oklahoma

Malik Newman, G, So., Kansas

Kendall Smith, G, Sr., Oklahoma State

Dylan Osetkowski, F, Jr., Texas

Mo Bamba, C, Fr., Texas

Notes: If you think this year’s All-Newcomer team is dominated by non-freshmen, then you probably can’t wait for next year’s team, given the four non-freshman transfers Kansas has sitting on its bench.

 

Big 12 All-Freshman Team

Trae Young, G, Fr., Oklahoma

Lindell Wigginton, G, Fr., Iowa State

Cameron Lard, F, RFr., Iowa State

Zhaire Smith, G, Fr., Texas Tech

Jarrett Culver, F, Fr., Texas Tech

Mo Bamba, C, Fr., Texas

Notes: My own concoction, since the Big 12 doesn’t have an official All-Freshman team. Iowa State and Texas Tech each has a pair of tremendous freshman (or redshirt freshman), so I ended up with six players. Along with Wigginton, Lard (the redshirt) have the potential to be huge stars in the Big 12 the next year or two. Lard could be a double-double machine next season (he averaged 14.2 ppg and 9.3 rpg in Big 12 action). Smith and Culver will lead Tech into the post-Allen era. Smith averaged 12.3 ppg in the Big 12 and is a highlight waiting to happen every night, while Culver averaged 12.7 ppg in Big 12 action. Both emerged as starters by December and are the jewels of Beard’s recruiting class from a year ago.

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