The Big 12 Postseason Awards will be out in soon. Here, I predict who will win the superlative awards and be named to the first, second, and third teams. Did I miss someone? Of course I did. The conference is TOO deep not to miss someone. And I’m also projecting where some of these players will be by March.
Player of the Year
G Jared Butler, Baylor
Best player, best team. That’s the logic here. If the Bears somehow falter in February, someone like Texas G Andrew Jones could enter the mix. But I wouldn’t count on it. Don’t count on him being back for next season, either. He’s a junior with the NBA on his mind and he should declare after the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman of the Year
G Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
I mean, could it be anyone else, even with two games missed in January? He’s the leading scorer among freshmen in the Big 12. He’s the nation’s No. 1 recruit and has lived up the hype. Plus he draws raves from his coaches and teammates alike for not playing or acting like a one-and-done (even though we know he is).
Newcomer of the Year
G Mac McClung, Texas Tech
There are a couple of other players that merit consideration here. But McClung emerged as one of the two or three best scorers in the conference once Big 12 play began. His defense is underrated and a good fit for the Red Raiders’ overall mindset. So, can the Red Raiders keep him another season or is he headed for the NBA early, too?
Sixth Man of the Year
G/F Terrence Shannon Jr., Texas Tech
This should be the most competitive award of the bunch. Texas F Kai Jones and Baylor G Adam Flagler could be legitimate candidates here. But since Shannon moved back to the Red Raiders’ bench, he’s been the perfect blend of instant offense and defensive stopper. I think he’ll remain their consistently and grab the award.
Defensive Player of the Year
G Davion Mitchell, Baylor
Before the season, I thought this award was Marcus Garrett’s to lose. Turns out, he has, to Mitchell. Along with improving his overall field goal and 3-point percentage, he spent much of the Big 12 season leading the conference in steals per game and guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter player. Like Butler, he could decide to leave early for the NBA Draft. One recent mock draft had him as a first-round pick.
Coach of the Year
Scott Drew, Baylor
There is temptation to give the award to Texas coach Shaka Smart here, as he guided his best team in Austin into the Top 10. But, Drew’s ability to blend new players into this current rotation and system, and keep the team playing at such a high level on offense and defense, speaks to his incredible coaching acumen. So long as Baylor doesn’t implode, he’ll get the award.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard. Send him a tweet with your question to be included in this week’s Big 12 Basketball Mailbag, which appears each Friday during the conference season.