Sunday, March 4, 2018

Devonte’ Graham named Big 12 Player of the Year

KU's Bill Self named co-coach of the year, Malik Newman top newcomer

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) explodes after a game-tying three-pointer late the second half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) explodes after a game-tying three-pointer late the second half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.


Oklahoma may very well have the national player of the year in freshman guard Trae Young, who leads the country in both scoring (27.5) and assists (8.9) per game.

But when it comes to the most valuable player in the Big 12 Conference, that man resides in Lawrence.

KU senior Devonte' Graham on Sunday was named the Big 12 Player of the Year after finishing the regular season with averages of 17.6 points, 7.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game while leading the Jayhawks to an NCAA-record 14th consecutive Big 12 title.

"I am so happy for Devonte'," KU coach Bill Self said Sunday. "He's played as big a role on this team I believe as any player that we've had since we've been here, on any team. Everyone inside the program knows it goes far past statistics. We're really happy for him. It's well deserved."

Graham, a second team all-Big 12 selection last season, was a unanimous pick for Big 12 Player of the Year by the conference's coaches. He becomes the eighth Jayhawk all-time to bring home the honor.

"To be selected for this by the conference coaches is an honor," Graham said. "It's good to see my fellow starters on the all-conference teams as well, as these awards are a total team effort."

Graham's assists average ranks fifth in the country. Never one to brag about himself or his own accomplishments, Graham was asked before Senior Night last week what he thought of his overall numbers. His answer?

“They sound pretty good,” he said with a grin.

Graham becomes the second Jayhawk in a row to win the honor, following in Frank Mason III's footsteps from a season ago. It marks the third time that Kansas players have won Big 12 Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons. Marcus Morris and Thomas Robinson did it in 2011 and 2012, and Drew Gooden and Nick Collison did it in 2002 and 2003.

The senior from Raleigh, N.C., was the conference pick for preseason player of the year and did nothing along the way to change people's minds.

In addition to his impressive stat totals, Graham played all 40 minutes in 13 of the 18 Big 12 games on KU's schedule. He played 39 minutes in two others.

That feat is made even more impressive when looking at Graham's role on this team. He's the only player on KU's roster who can play the point guard position to Self's liking and often was asked to guard the opponent's best player, as well.

Asked about his big season, Graham said it did not come as a surprise because of his expectations.

“I feel like I knew I had it in me, just being in the position I'm in and knowing how much coach believed in me,” Graham said. “Just going out each night and just competing (was the goal). It doesn't matter if I score five points, one point, I just want to win. And I feel like me shooting the ball and having to score is a part of helping us win so that's just what I tried to do, just being aggressive.”

In other Big 12 honors news Sunday:

• KU coach Bill Self was named the conference's co-coach of the year for the second season in a row. Self shares the award with Texas Tech's Chris Beard this season and now has been named Big 12 Coach of the Year in six of his 15 seasons with the Jayhawks.

• Like Graham with the preseason player of the year honor, KU sophomore Malik Newman also made good on his preseason pick as newcomer of the year by earning the award after all was said and done. Newman averaged 12 points, 4.9 rebounds and shot 37 percent from 3-point range for the Jayhawks during his first season in Lawrence. He delivered four 20-point games while starting 25 of 31 games and averaging 30.4 minutes per outing. Newman headlined the Big 12's all-newcomer team, which also included Young, Texas' Mo Babma, Iowa State's Lindell Wigginton and Texas Tech's Zhaire Smith.

• Graham also landed on the all-Big 12 first team, joining OU's Young, Texas Tech's Keenan Evans, West Virginia's Jevon Carter and Kansas State's Dean Wade.

• Fellow senior Svi Mykhailiuk earned a spot on the all-Big 12 second team, after finishing as KU's second leading scorer (15.3 ppg) and helping Graham lead the Jayhawks to another Big 12 title. Mykhailiuk, who shot 44 percent from 3-point range, also was second on the team in minutes played and chipped in with 4 rebounds per game. He joins UT's Bamba, K-State's Barry Brown, TCU's Kenrich Williams and Baylor's Manu Lecomte on the second team.

• KU sophomore Udoka Azubuike, who operated all season as the team's lone true big man, landed on the all-Big 12 third team. Azubuike, who finished the regular season leading the conference and the country in field goal percentage, at 77.4 percent, averaged 13.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in 24.7 minutes while also leading the Jayhawks with 55 blocks. He joins Baylor's Jo Lual-Acuil, West Virginia's Sagaba Konate, TCU's Vlad Brodziansky and Oklahoma State's Jeffrey Carroll on the third team.

• KU junior Lagerald Vick also received an honorable mention all-Big 12 nod after finishing fourth on the team in scoring at 12.2 points per game and adding 5 rebounds per night in 32.8 minutes.

"I think Svi deserved his second-team honors, he's had a tremendous senior year," Self said. "'Dok being recognized on the third team is nice by other coaches. I was hopeful that he may sneak on the second team but certainly understand with the depth and quality of players in our league. It was nice to see Malik as the newcomer of the year and on the all-newcomer team and Lagerald to receive votes for honorable mention."

Big 12 Players of the Year from Kansas:

• Devonte' Graham, 2018

• Frank Mason III, 2017

• Thomas Robinson, 2012

• Marcus Morris, 2011

• Wayne Simien, 2005

• Nick Collison, 2003

• Drew Gooden, 2002

• Raef LaFrentz, 1997

2017-18 All-Big 12 Team

(As selected conference coaches; unanimous selection)

Player of the Year - Devonte' Graham, Kansas (Sr., G)

Defensive Player of the Year - Jevon Carter, West Virginia (Sr., G)

Newcomer of the Year - Malik Newman, Kansas (R-So., G)

Freshman of the Year - Trae Young, Oklahoma (Fr., G)

Sixth Man Award - Terry Maston, Baylor (Sr., F)

co-Coach of the Year - Bill Self, Kansas; Chris Beard, Texas Tech

All-Big 12 First Team

Devonte' Graham, Kansas (Sr., G)

Dean Wade, Kansas State (Jr., F)

Trae Young, Oklahoma (Fr., G)

Keenan Evans, Texas Tech (Sr., G)

Jevon Carter, West Virginia (Sr., G)

All-Big 12 Second Team

Manu Lecomte, Baylor (Sr., G)

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas (Sr., G)

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

Kenrich Williams, TCU (Sr., F)

Mohamed Bamba, Texas (Fr., F)

All-Big 12 Third Team

Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., Baylor (Sr., C)

Udoka Azubuike, Kansas (So., C)

Jeffrey Carroll, Oklahoma State (Sr., G)

Vladimir Brodziansky, TCU (Sr., F)

Sagaba Konate, West Virginia (So., F)

All-Big 12 Honorable Mention

Cameron Lard (Iowa State), Donovan Jackson (Iowa State), Lindell Wigginton (Iowa State), Lagerald Vick (Kansas), Matt Coleman (Texas), Dylan Osetkowski (Texas), Kerwin Roach II (Texas), Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech)

Big 12 All-Defensive Team

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

Mohamed Bamba, Texas (Fr., F)

Sagaba Konate, West Virginia (So., F)

Jevon Carter, West Virginia (Sr., G)

Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech (Fr., G)

Big 12 All-Newcomer Team

Lindell Wigginton, Iowa State (Fr., G)

Malik Newman, Kansas (R-So., G)

Trae Young, Oklahoma (Fr., G)

Mohamed Bamba, Texas (Fr., F)

Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech (Fr., G)

KU's Conference Players of the Year

Big Eight

Dave Robisch (1970, 1971)

Bud Stallworth (1972)

Danny Manning (1986, 1987, 1988)

Jacque Vaughn (1996)

Big 12

Raef LaFrentz (1997, 1998)

Drew Gooden (2002)

Nick Collison (2003)

Wayne Simien (2005)

Marcus Morris (2011)

Thomas Robinson (2012)

Frank Mason III (2017)

Devonte' Graham (2018)

KU's Conference Newcomer of the Year

Big Eight

Vernon Vanoy (1967)

John Douglas (1977)

Darnell Valentine (1978)

Danny Manning (1985)

Rick Calloway (1990)

Rex Walters (1992)

Jacque Vaughn (1994)

Jerod Haase (1995)

Big 12

Malik Newman (2018)

KU's Conference Coaches of the Year (incudes wire services and ties)

Dick Harp (1960)

Ted Owens (1967, 1971, 1974, 1978)

Larry Brown (1986)

Roy Williams (1990, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003)

Bill Self (2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)


Clara Westphal 3 years, 3 months ago

Congratulations, Devonte. You have certainly earned it.

Drew Doerfler 3 years, 3 months ago

congratulations to Devonte for an amazing year! also to Svi and Azubuike! but how is vick honorable mention in big 12? he averaged 9 points in big 12 play and most of those were during periods when games were already decided. didn't play defense......Newman deserved to be honorable mention before Vick.....

Dirk Medema 3 years, 3 months ago

I wasn't going to argue against Vick, but was confused to see Malik wasn't listed. Thought he played better. But even more than that the other 4 on the newcomer list were on one of the other teams, but the Newcomer of the Year, the top newcomer isn't?

RJ King 3 years, 3 months ago

How does Newman receive Newcomer Of The Year over fellow newcomer - 1st Team All Big-12 Trae Young??? Shouldn't Trae be BOTH if he is both a newcomer AND superior to Newman???

Robert Brock 3 years, 3 months ago

Vick should have landed on the All-Disappearing-Act team.

Brian Skelly 3 years, 3 months ago

All I know is if Devonte isnt the best player on the floor for the number of games that he was,  KU does not win the conference.    I don't think that's in question.    So by that standard,  I'd agree.    To me his turning it on in the 2nd half of the game in Morgantown completely changed the way the season went down.

I'd have no quarrel if Chris Beard won the coach of the year outright either.    It's no knock on Self,  who's put together another great 2nd half run.    With spit and duct tape at times.    I think Beard has made Tech a high level pain in the @$$ game for the foreseeable future.    All credit to him.

Dave Miller 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree that TTU is a high level PITA -- but right now I think OSU gets the 2018 conference award for PITA...

Bryce Landon 3 years, 3 months ago

Well, this takes some of the sting out of getting swept by a 13-loss team.

Len Shaffer 3 years, 3 months ago

I know that Young still leads the nation in points and assists, but there are so many reasons that he shouldn't be national player of the year:

  • He hasn't been playing nearly as well for the last few weeks.
  • He has a ridiculously high number of turnovers.
  • He's not a particularly good defensive player.
  • OU has been losing on a regular basis.

I know that offensive stats are overrated but I hope people don't just look at his points and assists and not take anything else into consideration. And I think that a team's record is often unfairly ascribed to an individual player, but when you basically ARE the team like Young is, that should be taken into account.

In any event, if Devonte' deserves Big XII player of the year over Young (which he certainly does), then why should national player of the year be any different?

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 3 months ago

Congratulations to Devonte, especially given that the vote was unanimous. Doesn't bode well for Trae Young as National Player of the Year. He won't be. In fact, Devonte will likely get more votes than Young will.

No way that Chris Beard deserves more accolades than Bill Self, but I am certainly content with the co-Coach of the Year designation for each.

Mike Kendall 3 years, 3 months ago

Thank goodness the voters got it right---Congrats, Devonte. Much deserved.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 3 months ago

Congrats 'Tae!! I'm glad I wasn't wrong the minute I knew you coming to KU 4 years ago. And, yes, I would take 'Tae than Trae, without doubts!!!

Brad Watson 3 years, 3 months ago

CONGRATS DEVONTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!....YOU HAVE PLAYED VERY WELL!!!!!! Now lead this team to where it needs to go!........ Now the fun starts!

Brad Watson 3 years, 3 months ago

It was great to see Vernon Vanoys' name listed as Newcomer of the Year 1967....I remember him well....a crowd favorite for sure....Remember the chant?.........those were great times and he also played on that great Orange Bowl team with Bobby Douglas and Riggins...those were fun years in Lawrence when he was around.

Corey Sparks 3 years, 3 months ago

Congrats, Devonte, and HCBS! Devonte very well may win NPOY, I think he should, but I am biased. Without him I doubt we'd even be a tourney team, with him we are a possible 1 seed.

Tracey Graham 3 years, 3 months ago

Congrats to Devonte'...he definitely earned being the Big 12 Player of the Year.

Congrats as well to Malik, Svi and the other Jayhawks to win conference honors. I have to say it's odd that the Newcomer of the Year didn't even make Honorable Mention All-Big 12. I have to think that doesn't happen very often.

TBH, even though Bill Self did a great job getting this undersized, depth-challenged team to win another conference title, I personally would have given Chris Beard the Coach of the Year award outright. Texas Tech hadn't won 20+ games in more than a decade and if Evans hadn't gotten hurt, I think they probably would've gotten at least a share of the Big 12 title. But hey, congrats to Coach Self :)

Brad Watson 3 years, 3 months ago

a lot of talented players in the its tough to get on those teams......first team...4 guards and a forward...back in the day they didn't do it like that...2 guards...2 forwards and a post player

Brad Watson 3 years, 3 months ago

I really like Maliks' game...he is a real talent....and Svi is an all time favorite....we can't win it without congrats to both...... and of course....... the very best coach in America.......we can't forget him...Thanks Coach!



Eric Dawson 3 years, 3 months ago

Devonté is the 8th Jayhawk to be named Big XII POY, but this marks the 9th time a Jayhawk has won the award in the 22 year history of the conference. Raef LaFrentz earned the award in 1997 and 1998, the first two years of the conference. The article refers to Raef in several places, but misses Raef’s repeat in all but one instance.

Brad Watson 3 years, 3 months ago

Lon Kruger was a 2 time player of the year in the Big 8......back in the day...he was that good!

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 3 months ago

Yes, he was. I don't understand why he prefers to move from program to program even with having solid success along the way.

Is it a Larry Brown syndrome? He's never been known to run a dirty program. He could have been one of the all-time best Kansas State's basketball coaches imo but like Larry, Lon's suitcases are always packed.

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