Should Markquis Nowell Be the Favorite for Big 12 Player of the Year?
K-State basketball seems to be back on the right track after a strong second half, and win, over Iowa State last Saturday, and a victory on Tuesday night against Baylor. There are a couple of reasons for the two straight victories against ranked teams. The turnover problem has been temporarily solved, and Markquis Nowell has played lights-out basketball. Nowell had a spectacular second half against Iowa State and finished the game with 20 points, five assists, and six rebounds. Against Baylor, Nowell had 14 points, 10 assists, and, most importantly, zero turnovers! It’s plain to see. If Nowell plays this well, K-State wins.
I watch a lot of Big 12 basketball games, and when discussing Big 12 player of the year candidates, the commentators seem to think it is a foregone conclusion that Kansas forward Jalen Wilson will win the award. They’ve mentioned Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson as candidates, but nobody seems to think either has a shot at winning the award. Is Wilson the shoo-in that everyone thinks he is? Perhaps he is, but comparing the statistics of the three players during conference games, it is a much closer race than people think.
Here are the conference game statistics of Markquis Nowell, Jalen Wilson, and Keyontae Johnson, side-by-side in some of the major categories. Take a look and then you decide…
Markquis Nowell – 19.6 (1st in the Big 12)
Jalen Wilson – 18.8 (2nd in the Big 12)
Keyontae Johnson – 17.9 (3rd in the Big 12)
Nowell, Wilson, and Johnson are the top three scorers in the Big 12, but Nowell is almost a point per game better than Wilson.
Rebounds per game
Jalen Wilson – 8.1 (1st in the Big 12)
Keyontae Johnson – 7.3 (2nd in the Big 12)
Markquis Nowell – 3.5
Wilson gets almost a rebound per game more than Johnson. Nowell’s 3.5 rebounds per game aren’t bad for a point guard.
Assists per game
Markquis Nowell – 6.9 (1st in the Big 12)
Jalen Wilson – 2.3
Keyontae Johnson – 2.2
Field Goal Percentage
Keyontae Johnson – 49.5% (3rd in the Big 12)
Jalen Wilson – 40.8 % (7th in the Big 12)
Markquis Nowell – 37.6% (10th in the Big 12)
Johnson is quite a bit ahead of the other two in field goal percentage, but all three are in the top 10 in the Big 12.
Free throw percentage
Markquis Nowell – 92.4% (1st in the Big 12)
Jalen Wilson – 78.3% (8th in the Big 12)
Keyontae Johnson – 71.3% (17th in the Big 12)
Another category in which Nowell is in first place in the league.
Three-point field goal percentage
Keyontae Johnson – 37.2%
Jalen Wilson – 34% (conference and non-conference)
Markquis Nowell – 33.6%
I couldn’t find the conference-only statistics for Wilson, but they are all likely within a few percentage points of each other.
Three-point field goals per game
Markquis Nowell – 2.6 (2nd in the Big 12)
Jalen Wilson – 2.1 (11th in the Big 12)
Keyontae Johnson – 1.1 (25th in the Big 12)
Nowell is .1 percentage point from overtaking Baylor’s LJ Cryer as the league leader in this category. He could very well do it by the end of the regular season.
Steals per game
Markquis Nowell 2.5 (1st in the Big 12)
Nowell has a five-steal advantage over second place.
Minutes per game
Markquis Nowell – 38.9 (1st in the Big 12)
Jalen Wilson – 35.6 (6th in the Big 12)
Keyontae Johnson – 35.3 (7th in the Big 12)
Can they deny giving the Big 12 conference player of the year award to the guy who leads the league in scoring, assists, steals, minutes, and free throw percentage? It looks like they might. I’ll admit there is one negative mark against Nowell. That is the fact that he leads the league in turnovers. Perhaps the turnover issue should be overlooked, especially considering everything else he has been spectacular at this season. I’d give the Big 12 player of the year award to Markquis Nowell and wouldn’t think twice about it.