The Big 12 was dominated all year by Kansas and Baylor with each separating themselves a few weeks in from the rest of the pack. It showed in the awards announced the day after the regular season ended with the two schools sweeping all but one award. The two teams are on a crash course to meet in Kansas City in the final of the Big 12 Tournament.
This was a different year in the Big 12 after a large crop of seniors left the league last year. It was mostly freshman, transfers, and a few underclassmen who took a leap in terms of top players. It all added to a relatively down conference in terms of strength at the top but it allowed the middle to all beat up on each other.
Big 12 Conference Player of the Year
This could have gone to either him or Devon Dotson for the way each played this season. It was clear to those who watched that Azubuike made the biggest difference offensively and defensively for the Jayhawks though. His growth on the defensive end has been the biggest improvement in his game. He improved his conditioning significantly and it’s allowed him to play more than 25 minutes a game for the first time in his career. Averaging a double-double and nearly three blocks a game he was especially dominant after a benching versus Texas Tech a month ago. Of the nine games he played without leaving early with an injury he collected a double-double in seven of those games, many of which finishing with over 15 rebounds. Azubuike has struggled to stay healthy in his career and in his first injury-free season he didn’t disappoint.
Coach of the Year
Scott Drew came in with a team many expected to finish top three in the Big 12. Not only did they manage to exceed expectations but they had the best season of any second-place finisher in the Big 12 with a 15-3 record. Most years 15-3 gets you an outright title in the Big 12, this year was unfortunate for Drew’s Baylor Bears. Regardless Baylor is on track to gain their first one seed ever in the NCAA Tournament. With wins over Villanova, Arizona, Kansas, and Butler the Bears have all but wrapped up a one seed. Scott Drew has done a remarkable job with this team and can get to his first Final Four after reaching the Elite Eight twice in his time at the school.
Defensive Player of the Year
Marcus Garrett pickpockets: pic.twitter.com/bUL7bb9NKK
— Jordan Sperber (@hoopvision68) February 13, 2020
Garrett has been called the best defender Bill Self has ever had at Kansas by Self himself. Garrett has changed games with his ability to pickpockets and get stops. He may very well be the best defensive player in the country and has routinely guarded positions 1-4 and at times even covered the other team’s center. He had a game earlier this year versus West Virginia where he had five steals in a three-minute stretch that completely changed the game. Garrett was well deserving of this award although Mark Vital or Davion Mitchell from Baylor were both also deserving.
Freshman of the Year
The highest-ranked recruit in Texas Tech history didn’t disappoint in his first year on campus. He averaged 15 points a game and led the Red Raiders in scoring. He was a huge reason the Red Raiders didn’t completely fall off after last year as they struggled to score at times this season. Ramsey was electric at times and was able to hold off Oscar Tshiebwe of West Virginia who was a dominant big at times for Bob Huggins squad.
All-Big 12 First Team
- Devon Dotson, G (Kansas)
- Desmond Bane, G (TCU)
- Jared Butler, G (Baylor)
- Kristian Doolittle, F (Oklahoma)
- Udoka Azubuike, C (Kansas)