Big 12 Mid-Season Report

Non Conference MVP

Buddy Hield - Oklahoma

Buddy HieldBuddy HieldThere have been fewer players in the NCAA who’ve made the early season impact Buddy Hield has for the Oklahoma Sooners. Last season’s Big 12 Player of the Year has found a way to improve upon his breakout junior campaign. Hield currently leads the Big 12 in scoring, and is ranked 4th nationally with an elite 24.7 points per game.

The Sooner guard has already gone for 30 points 4 times in 12 games, and his field goal percentage is just .05% away from putting Buddy in the red hot 50/40/90 club. Hield’s brilliance from downtown is of note as well. He’s already hit 39 three pointers (3.3 per game) and his clip on such large volume attempts is .494%. The Big 12 conference is chalked full of experienced, high level, college players, and Buddy has risen to the top of an elite club. Judging by the first third of the season it would be a bit surprising if Hield didn’t repeat as Conference POTY, so it’s right in line with his expectations that he takes my Non-Conference MVP award.

Top Performers

Wayne Selden Jr. - Kansas

Perhaps the victim of over hyping coming out of high school, Wayne Selden Jr. is now impacting the game at the level many expected a few years ago. Wayne has really taken his shooting to the next level as a junior. Through 13 games he’s connecting on a sizzling 55% of his long range attempts, and on 5 attempts per game. He’s also shown tremendous versatility, and is averaging career highs in points (15.5) assists (3.3), rebounds (3.6), and steals (1.0). Virtually the only part of his game he hasn’t shown improvement in is from the foul line, where he shoots less than 10% higher than he does from beyond the arc. Selden still has a lot to prove the remainder of the season, during his stint at KU the Jayhawks have not advanced past the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament, but their chances are looking better as long as Wayne Selden can keep up his current level of play.

Georges Niang - Iowa State

Another familiar name in the Big 12 is finding new ways to improve on his already diverse skill set is Cylcone forward, Georges Niang. Averaging 19.8 points per game, as a senior, Niang is scoring at the highest clip of his accoladed career in Ames. Despite some athletic limitations, he’s also hauling in a career high 6.8 rebounds per game and has tallied 2 double doubles during non-conference play. Georges’ prominence in the Big 12 is well documented, and he’s leaving nothing on the table during his final year of NCAA play. Iowa State lost a tough battle to Oklahoma in the conference opener, but Niang went for 29 points on 13-18 shooting from the field. Although there are quite a few new faces on Iowa State’s bench, Georges Niang is still the same old player, on he’s found a way to get even better as a senior.

Non-Conference Awards

With conference play kicking off, here are my picks for the All-Big 12 teams and awards for the first half of the year.

POTY - Buddy Hield - Oklahoma
DPOTY - Jameel McKay - Iowa State
Newcomer of the Year - Deonte Burton - Iowa State
Freshman of the Year - Dean Wade - Kansas State
6th Man of the Year - Johnathan Motley - Baylor
Coach of the Year - Bill Self - Kansas

All-Big 12 1st Team

Georges Niang - Iowa State
Ryan Spangler - Oklahoma
Buddy Hield - Oklahoma
Wayne Selden Jr. - Kansas
Frank Mason III - Kansas

All-Big 12 2nd Team

Devin Williams - West Virginia
Perry Ellis - Kansas
Rico Gathers - Baylor
Taurean Prince - Baylor
Monte Morris - Iowa State

My Top Prospects to Watch

Not necessarily the highest ranked prospects in the draft, these 5 players have NBA intrigue in their own way, and are worth keeping tabs on for the rest of the season.

1. Carlton Bragg - Kansas

Only averaging 11.6 minutes per game for Kansas, Carlton Bragg has done plenty to get people excited about his future on the hardwood. Bragg at 6’9’’ has shown a feathery mid-range jump shot and a knack for offensive rebounding. Nearly half of his boards are offensive, and despite his wiry frame, he’s shown the ability to scrap with larger players. Carlton will need to continue to gain strength, and experience, but he’s already carved out a regular rotation spot for the #1 team in the country. While most likely a name that will surface in the 2017 or 2018 draft conversation, Bragg’s early showcase of his foundation is very encouraging.

2. Zach Smith - Texas Tech

Zach Smith raised some eyebrows last year with his elite hops, and the fact he earned a starting spot for the Red Raiders, but Smith has made noticeable improvements this season. Thus far in his sophomore campaign, he’s averaging 10.3 points 6.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks, while improving his shooting percentages across the board. Smith might not ever be an elite offensive prospect, but he’s got a great feel for the game, and shows high level defensive versatility. Zach will most likely need to spend 4 years in Lubbock in order to prepare himself for the NBA, but his improvement from his freshman to his sophomore years, paired with his truly elite athletic ability, make him an intriguing player to track.

3. Jameel McKay - Iowa State

A player I really like as a mid-late 2nd round option in the 2016 Draft, is Iowa State big man, Jameel McKay. Jameel has a 7’3’’ wingspan, and is extremely fast for a 6’9’’ player. His next level projection is based on his length, rebounding, and ability to alter shots. McKay’s 9.5 rebounds per game this year are highlighted by an 8 offensive rebound outing against Iowa, as well as 17 and 19 rebound performances against Chattanooga and North Dakota State. Jameel could stand to gain a few extra pounds to wrestle for 2nd chance opportunities at the next level, and more offense versatility would help his cause as well, but if an NBA team is looking for a long, athletic, defensive forward, I think Jameel McKay would be a player to consider.

4. Khadeem Lattin - Oklahoma

Another intriguing player to track the next two seasons is Khadeem Lattin. Now starting for the Sooners, Lattin and his 7’2’’ wingspan have shown a knack for blocking shots, running the floor, and nabbing rebounds. Averaging 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, Lattin’s per 40 minute averages are 12.1 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per contest. Like many young bigs, Khadeem struggles with foul trouble, and needs to gain additional strength, but athleticism, rebounding, and length are traits that have a history of translating to the next level.

Follow David Ray on Twitter @DR_NBADraft

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