The real All-Big 12 teams; and coach rankings

Ed Zurga

Forget the popularity contests among many media outlets, we honor those Big 12 players and coaches whose actual seasons should be awarded.

While you may have to sift elsewhere through political and/or fan agendas, popularity contests, unfair or misguided team balancing acts, and general laziness, none of that exists here.

I still believe postseason honors should be a results-driven business, and so I present my choices for All-Big 12 honors and an All-Freshman Team. I also rank the coaches. Every team still has a week to go, but I think the sample size is large enough to make selections.

So, shall we ...

ALL-BIG 12 FIRST TEAM

1. Andrew Wiggins (Kansas); 16.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg -- With the intense lights never fading, and rightfully so, Wiggins has averaged 32.9 minutes per game and has put up double-digit scoring in 12 of 15 conference games thus far. If some nutty people chill and really examine his season, Wiggins has delivered. He's leading a team that won a conference title and is a heavy favorite right now for a national title. What more do you want?

2. Juwan Staten (West Virginia); 18.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg; 6.0 apg -- The junior guard is a classic case of exploding on to the scene. He averaged 7.1 ppg in 27.7 minutes last year before crashing the All-Big 12 party with 18.1 ppg in 37.5 mpg this season and leading the league in assists. He has played 38 minutes or more in all 15 Big 12 games played to this point. Unbelievable display of conditioning to be able to produce all season at that pace.

3. DeAndre Kane (Iowa St.); 16.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 5.4 apg -- Everybody kept waiting for the senior Marshall transfer to slow down once Big 12 play started, and all he did was come within a couple of rebounds and assists shy of a triple double in three different games. ISU is loaded, but without the stat-stuffer deluxe, it wouldn't have been nearly the exciting season it has been for the Cyclones.

4. Melvin Ejim (Iowa St.); 18.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg -- The senior has been a model of productive consistency in his career, and he has capped it with a fantastic final campaign. Are there more chances to score (and rebound) in a high-pace flow? Sure. But, guys still have to score or grab the ball, and Ejim was rock solid this year, currently leading the Big 12 in scoring and sitting fourth in rebounds.

5. Joel Embiid (Kansas); 11. 1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.63 bpg -- Embiid may have redefined the term "project" permanently. Word leaked out early during October practice that KU had this tall kid who was showing some pretty good athleticism and basketball IQ for someone still new to the game. Yeah ... how about managing to steal headlines and NBA Draft top-overall pick consideration from your teammate. KU has a different, championship-quality feel with a healthy Embiid on the floor. Watching him grow during league play was a treat.

If I had to flip one: I wouldn't. This list is solid.

SECOND TEAM

Marcus Foster (Kansas St.); Marcus Smart (Oklahoma St.); Ryan Spangler (Oklahoma); Jonathan Holmes (Texas); Perry Ellis (Kansas)

If I had to flip one: It would be pretty easy to convince me that Georges Niang is on the same line as Foster. If I was feeling pretentious or surly about it, I could also leave Foster here and swipe Niang for Smart, who some could argue, I suppose, doesn't belong after his suspension.

THIRD TEAM

Buddy Hield (Oklahoma); Jordan Woodard (Oklahoma); Georges Niang (Iowa St.); Cory Jefferson (Baylor); Markel Brown (Oklahoma St.)

If I had to flip one: Several possibilities here between the thirds and HM's. Naadir Tharpe for Woodard or Jefferson; Jaye Crockett for Jefferson. As is always the case, it gets pretty messy this far down the list.

ALL-BIG 12 HONORABLE MENTION

Jordan Tolbert (TTU), Isaiah Taylor (Texas), Thomas Gipson (KSU), Naadir Tharpe (KU), Eron Harris (WVU), Kenny Chery (Baylor), Isaiah Austin (Baylor), Kyan Anderson (TCU), Jaye Crockett (Texas Tech), Phil Forte (OSU)

ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM

Marcus Foster (KSU), Jordan Woodard (OU), Andrew Wiggins (KU), Isaiah Taylor (Texas), Joel Embiid (KU)

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

Joel Embiid (KU)

NON-FRESHMAN NEWCOMER(S) OF THE YEAR

Split: DeAndre Kane (Iowa St.) / Ryan Spangler (Oklahoma)

COACH PERFORMANCE RANKINGS

1. Rick Barnes (Texas Longhorns) -- Nobody saw the Longhorns season coming.

2. Bill Self (Kansas Jayhawks) -- 10 straight conference titles. This easily could be a 1 and 1a COY year.

3. Lon Kruger (Oklahoma Sooners) -- Solid year for OU's head man, who continues to mold the Sooners into shape. Watch out next year.

4. Fred Hoiberg (Iowa St. Cyclones) -- The Mayor presided over one of the most exciting offenses in college basketball this year, again using a new, dynamic piece.

5. Bruce Weber (Kansas St. Wildcats) -- Despite starting two freshmen and playing two others big minutes at times, K-State, including a physically fit Thomas Gipson, still appears to be headed for a Big 12 top-half finish.

6. Tubby Smith (Texas Tech Red Raiders) -- Unbelievable work done in Lubbock this season. Really good example that major progress can be made through a season if coach doesn't lose his team.

7. Bob Huggins (West Virginia Mountaineers) -- Up-and-down for Huggs this season. Looks like he figured out his guard situation for now, just needs to do the same with his front court.

8. Travis Ford (Oklahoma St. Cowboys) -- Michael Cobbins getting hurt = not the coach's fault. Guys getting kicked off the team and/or suspended for out-of-control acts and behavior = bad job, bad effort in a year your team was picked to top the conference. You built the bed, Travis. Lay in it.

9. Scott Drew (Baylor Bears) -- Baylor might be earning a chance to defend that NIT title after a year that involved a 1-6 start to Big 12 play. Unacceptable for a team returning NBA-type talent and picked to be near the top of the league.

10. Trent Johnson (TCU Horned Frogs) -- Injuries crushed this already thin team this year, with only four players of 16 listed on the roster having played in every game. While that isn't within a coach's control, when you lose every conference game (so far), you have to be at the bottom of this list.

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