Handing out the hardware, Big 12 style
Blogger's note: There will not be a "Recap" blog for the March 3 Kansas - Kansas State game. My apologies to everyone counting on waking up to some freshly brewed (or half-baked, depending on what you think of me) analysis. Instead, here's an abridged entry meant to tackle the annual All-Big 12 discussion. Also, the very easy National Player of the Year pick is included at the bottom.
All-Big 12 First Team
I'm a firm believer in putting together all-conference and all-star teams that could actually function as a real-life unit. There won't be any three-center or five-guard lineups here. That said, on to the picks!
Point guard — Sherron Collins, Kansas senior
As great man Eric Sorrentino explained in his similarly-themed blog from several weeks back, Collins is a deserving first-teamer because of the massive void he would leave in Kansas' team if he were unable to play. Of the "big four" lead guards in the conference (Collins, Texas A&M's Donald Sloan, Baylor's Tweety Carter and Kansas State's Jacob Pullen), Collins is the third-most efficient on a per-possession basis and he uses the third-most possessions. Those numbers don't speak well of Collins' first-team candidacy, but think for a moment about each of those guards' contributions to their squads. Without Carter, Baylor still has a All-Big 12 third team selection in guard LaceDarius Dunn. Kansas State has off-guard Denis Clemente. Donald Sloan, well, OK. But his numbers don't match up with Collins'. Without Collins, KU fans could be arguing their team's merits as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, not jockeying for the overall No. 1 spot.
Shooting guard - Jacob Pullen, Kansas State junior
Pullen isn't Kansas State's shooting guard, per se. He splits ball-handling duties with Clemente in the same way Collins and KU guard Tyshawn Taylor do. Because of the sheer number of shades of gray, Pullen qualifies as a two-guard. The Chicago native is the Big 12's best guard, according to the numbers. His Offensive Rating, at 117.6, is better than Collins' and slightly worse than Carter's. Pullen uses far more of his possessions than either of those guards, spending 26.5 percent of the Wildcats trips down the floor. He's also a solid defender, turning 2.9 percent of opponents' possessions into turnovers via steal.
Small forward - James Anderson, Oklahoma State junior
As KU fans can attest after last weekend, Anderson is far and away the best wing in the conference. He scores seemingly at will, racking up the conference's highest Usage Rate and sixth-best Offensive Rating. At 6-foot-6 and quick, Anderson is able to alter opponents' shots (2.1 percent Block Rate) and grab steals (2.2 percent Steal Rate). He is also a good rebounder for such a score-first player, grabbing about 10 percent of available boards.
Power forward - Marcus Morris, Kansas sophomore
If one were to consider the non-conference portion of the season, Texas forward Damion James would take this honor. But looking at the conference season alone, KU's Marcus Morris was the most productive power forward in the league. Morris' per-minute scoring numbers and shooting percentages outpaced those of James, and Morris tripled James' Assist-to-Turnover ratio. One argument in James' favor would be rebounding. But consider the fact that Morris is competing not only against opponents, but against Cole Aldrich for rebounds. Meanwhile, James is scrapping for boards against opponents and Dexter Pittman, who, if this scenario is playing out more than two minutes into the game, is most likely on the bench.
Center - Cole Aldrich, Kansas junior
How is the best player on the best team in the conference (and the country, perhaps) also the most underrated player in the conference? Aldrich is an absolute beast and the best center in the nation, no questions asked. Forget the fact he takes an average number of shots and look at what he does with those chances. He converts shots at the ninth-best eFG% clip in the conference and goes to the free throw line at the seventh-highest rate in the Big 12. When not producing on the offensive end, the big Minnesotan serves as the Big 12's best rebounder. He snags 25.8 percent of available defensive rebounds and 13.6 percent of offensive boards, pure NBA Lottery pick numbers. Also, he is the best shot blocker in the conference, rejecting 13.6 percent of KU opponents' tries.
All-Big 12 Second Team
Point guard - Tweety Carter, Baylor senior
Shooting guard - LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor junior
Small forward - Cory Higgins, Colorado junior
Power forward - Damion James, Texas senior
Center - Bryan Davis, Texas A&M senior
All-Big 12 Third Team
Point guard - Donald Sloan, Texas A&M senior
Shooting guard - Alec Burks, Colorado freshman
Small forward - Xavier Henry, Kansas freshman
Power forward - Marquis Gilstrap, Iowa State senior
Center - Ekpe Udoh, Baylor
Obi Muonelo, Oklahoma State Jamar Samuels, Kansas State Denis Clemente, Kansas State Laurence Bowers, Missouri Craig Brackins, Iowa State
Newcomer of the year: Ekpe Udoh, Baylor
Freshman of the year: Alec Burks, Colorado
Coach of the year (just for laughs division): Rick Barnes, Texas
Coach of the year (in reality): Frank Martin, Kansas State
Defender of the year: Cole Aldrich, Kansas
National Player of the Year
Evan Turner, Ohio State junior
Some people say John Wall is the nation's best player. Those people are wrong.