Big 12 men’s basketball will have a familiar feel this season, as for the first time in conference history, four of five members of the All-Big 12 First Team from the previous campaign will return. Leading the way is the 2014-15 Big 12 Player of the Year and this year’s preseason selection - Buddy Hield of Oklahoma.
Three more seniors - Rico Gathers (Baylor), Georges Niang (Iowa State) and Perry Ellis (Kansas) - along with one junior (Isaiah Taylor, Texas) make up the 2015-16 Preseason All-Big 12 Team. Four of the student-athletes on the squad have also been recognized for their academics. Ellis was the 2014-15 Big 12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was joined by Hield and Taylor on the Academic All-Big 12 First Team, while Niang was part of the academic second team.
Hield led the Big 12 in scoring a year ago with 17.4 points per game, increasing that to a league-best average of 18.5 points in conference play. He earned Associated Press All-America Third Team accolades and has started every game the last two years, ranking 15th at OU with 1,366 career points.
Ellis was the only player in the Big 12 last season to rank in the top seven in scoring, field goal percentage and rebounding.
Preseason Player of the Year
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma, G, Sr., 6-4, 214, Freeport, Bahamas/Sunrise Christian Academy [Kan.]
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Deonte Burton, Iowa State, G, Jr., 6-4, 250, Milwaukee, Wis./Marquette/Vincent
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Cheick Diallo, Kansas, F, Fr., 6-9, 220, Mali, Africa/Our Savior New American [N.Y.]
2015-16 Preseason All-Big 12 Team
Rico Gathers, Baylor,
Georges Niang, Iowa State*
Perry Ellis, Kansas*
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma*
Isaiah Taylor, Texas
Honorable Mention (listed alphabetically by school):
Taurean Prince, Baylor; Jameel McKay and Monte Morris, Iowa State; Frank Mason, Kansas; Phil Forte, Oklahoma State; Devin Williams, West Virginia
* - Unanimous Selection
The Jayhawk players today will move into their new $12 million McCarthy Hall. “It passed inspection today and the guys will be moving in tomorrow. It’s exciting,” Self said. In all, 36 individuals will live in the hall: It breaks down to 16 basketball players and 17 students not affiliated with the hoops program. There’s also beds downstairs for two guests and one for the resident adviser.
…Bill Self wore a tuxedo, not a sports coat, when he last entered The Midland Theater in the Power and Light District in downtown KC.
“Last time I was in this venue it cost me quite a bit of money because my daughter Lauren’s wedding reception was here,” Self, KU’s 13th-year basketball coach, said smiling, Tuesday night at the Coaches Vs. Cancer season tipoff event. “It was a great venue for that (Aug. 16, 2014 event). It’s a great venue for a multitude of events, including tonight’s,” Self added.
…“I don’t know if anybody looks great (at practice). I’d say Perry (Ellis) has looked the best so far,” Self said of the Wichita senior who Tuesday was named third-team All-America by cbssports.com.
“Frank’s (Mason) been fine; Devonté’s (Graham) been fine. Svi (Mykhailiuk) and Brannen (Greene) have each shown flashes. All the bigs have shown flashes at different times, but nobody’s playing great. It’s hard to tell who is playing well when all you are basically doing is drills and halfcourt and not really playing yet,” Self added.
…Self was asked if the fact Diallo did well in summer school and is faring well in his first semester classes at KU would help his cause.
“You would think there would be a lot of stuff that could potentially help his case,” Self said. “I don’t know if coursework already done in college has anything to do with initial eligibility. If that does play a factor that will be one of our mitigating factors that would be very beneficial because he’s done quite well. The problem is obviously with the school (Diallo’s Our Savior New American). We don’t know exactly what those problems are. We’re trying to sift through it, get as much information for them to make a determination. They want us to do exactly what we are doing.”
“I cannot wait for Late Night. I’m ready for dancing. I’m also going to be playing the piano,” freshman forward Carlton Bragg stated at last week’s Media Day. “Everybody’s going to be shocked at how good I can play,” Bragg added, smiling.
…KU coach Bill Self stresses he’d welcome the usual Late Night sellout this year because “our players really love it” and also because it’s a good way to impress recruits who will be in town.
Top senior players expected to attend Friday’s Late Night are: No. 2-ranked (by Rivals.com) Harry Giles, No. 5 De’Aaron Fox, No. 6 Malik Monk, No. 16 Marques Bolden and No. 34 Schnider Herard.
Kansas Jayhawks LNITP Flashback