If his goal is to follow in the footsteps of 2016-17 Big 12 and national player of the year Frank Mason III, Kansas senior Devonté Graham already has a head start.
KU's senior point guard on Thursday was one of three Jayhawks to earn preseason all-Big 12 accolades, with Graham earning the nod as the conference's preseason player of the year.
Graham, who was named both Big 12 preseason player of the year and a member of the all-Big 12 first team, joined redshirt sophomore Malik Newman (preseason newcomer of the year and honorable mention all-Big 12) and senior Svi Mykhailiuk (honorable mention all-Big 12) in representing Kansas on the preseason list, voted on by the league’s coaches.
In addition to player of the year, newcomer of the year and freshman of the year (Texas’ Mohamed Bamba), the coaches picked a five-man first team and nine honorable mention nods. There is no preseason second team.
"This is a great honor to be recognized by the coaches, especially with all the great players in the Big 12," Graham said in a news release. "It is also good to see Malik and Svi selected by the coaches. This is a team sport and we are working hard on getting ready for the season."
Graham becomes the eighth Jayhawk in the 21-year history of the Big 12 to be named preseason player of the year, and the first since Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins shared the honor in 2009-10.
The Raleigh, N.C., native is a two-time All-Big 12 selection, earning second-team honors last season and an honorable mention nod in 2015-16.
Graham is KU's leading returning scorer from 2016-17 at 13.4 points per game, which was 13th in the league. He ranked third in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.3, second in 3-point field goals made per game (2.6) and sixth in assists (4.1). Graham enters the 2017-18 season with 1,075 career points, which is 45th on the KU record list. His 186 3-pointers made are eighth on the KU career chart.
Joining Graham on the five-member first team are: Jeffrey Carroll (Oklahoma State), Vladimir Brodziansky (TCU), Zach Smith (Texas Tech) and Jevon Carter (West Virginia). Along with Graham, Carroll and Carter earned unanimous selections.
2017-18 Big 12 Preseason Honors
Preseason Player of the Year: Devonté Graham, Kansas
Preseason Newcomer of the Year: Malik Newman, Kansas
Preseason Freshman of the Year: Mohamed Bamba, Texas
Preseason All-Big 12 Team
Devonté Graham, Kansas^
Jeffrey Carroll, Oklahoma State^
Vladimir Brodziansky, TCU
Zach Smith, Texas Tech
Jevon Carter, West Virginia^
^ Denotes unanimous choice
Manu Lecomte (Baylor), Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. (Baylor), Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Kansas), Malik Newman (Kansas), Kameron McGusty (Oklahoma), Trae Young (Oklahoma), Kenrich Williams (TCU), Mohamed Bamba (Texas), Keenan Evans (Texas Tech)
Past Kansas Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Selections
1996-97: Jacque Vaughn
1997-98: Raef LaFrentz
2004-05: Wayne Simien
2006-07: Brandon Rush and Julian Wright
2009-10: Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins
Past Kansas Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Selections
2008-09: Mario Little
2013-14: Tarik Black