Player of the WeekDevonte Graham
Kansas as a team hasn’t been as hot as they would like to be, but Devonte Graham is doing all he can to keep them afloat. In a loss against Texas Tech in which Kansas never led at any point, Graham posted 27 points and 6 assists. He followed up that performance with a 28-point 6-assist game in a win over TCU.
A promising statistic from Graham is that he has been getting to the line often and shooting free throws at a high percentage. The senior guard shot 13-13 from the stripe against Texas Tech and 13-15 against TCU which bumped his season average to 89%.
Kansas has struggled as of late, largely in part to depth issues. With the return of Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa imminent, Graham could be with more help which should improve his assist numbers and overall team success.
The Mountaineers are #2 in the AP Poll, their highest ranking since 1959, when Jerry West was in his senior season. West Virginia has earned its rankings by riding a 14-game win streak including an impressive win over Oklahoma this week.
Bob Huggins was able to draw up a game plan to give freshman sensation Trae Young problems all night long turning him over 8 times. Even with Jevon Carter in foul trouble and sitting most of the second half, the Mountaineers were still able to beat a red-hot Oklahoma team.
West Virginia has a fairly impressive record now. They haven’t lost since their first game of the season, are the only team to beat #3 ranked Virginia and just added a win over a then-ranked #7 ranked Oklahoma. They will look to continue their undefeated conference-play record against Baylor and #8 Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders are currently 14-1 and have earned their way into the AP Top-10 at #8. Texas Tech has started off conference play with a 3-0 record with wins over Kansas State, Baylor, and Kansas. Not only is Texas Tech winning, they are winning big. Out of their last 7 games, they have won by 20+ points on 6 occasions with the other game being a 12-point victory over Kansas.
There has been no reason to doubt the Red Raiders this season, but for some reason it feels like they are being viewed as a team on a hot streak rather than a legit contender. Regardless, Texas Tech has a tough schedule head in which they travel to Norman to play Oklahoma and then host West Virginia. How they play in those games will likely determine how the team is viewed for the duration of the season.
Who’s NotMalik Newman
Starting the year with high expectation, Malik Newman has been a disappointment for Kansas fans. He was voted Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year after transferring from Mississippi State after just one season. Newman was ranked as a Top-10 recruit coming out of high school which also plays heavily into his high expectations.
The 6’3” guard is averaging 9.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists but has been has cooled off immensely since the beginning of the year. Newman started the year with 6 straight games scoring in double digits, but in the last 9 games he has scored in double digits just three times, the same amount of times that he has had 2 points or less.
In those 9 games he is shooting just 24% from behind the arc and just 38% overall. His recent struggles have been recognized by Bill Self as he played just 21 minutes against Texas Tech, a game in which they needed a spark plug, and just 15 minutes against TCU, one of their biggest games of the year.
As conference play started, everybody knew the Big 12 was going to be a very competitive conference. Conference play has not treated Iowa State very well so far. They are the only team in the Big 12 to not have a conference win as they have started 0-3. The Cyclones not have the worst record in the Big 12 in both conference record and overall record.
A reason for concern for Iowa State has been their inability to close out games. The have already lost two games in overtime against Oklahoma State and Texas and almost blew a lead to a 5-13 Maryland-Eastern Shore. Iowa State needs to pick it up and soon if they want to be a competitive team in the Big 12 this year.
Updated Top 5 Big 12 Player of the Year Selections
1. Trae Young
As of today, Trae Young is not only the leading candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year, but the NCAA Player of the Year award. Young is leading the nation in both points and assists per game, a feat that is unheard of. His usage percentage is off the charts but he also has been efficient in his gameplay. Barring any injury or something unforeseen, Young will likely take home the Big 12 Player of the Year award.
As the preseason selection for this award, Devonte Graham really hasn’t done much to lose the award as Trae Young has done to win the award. Graham is still the leader on a very good Kansas team and deserves much respect. He leads the Jayhawks in points and assists per game and has been the most reliable player night in and night out.
3. Jevon Carter
The reigning Big 12 DPOY is also a legit contender for the Player of the Year award. West Virginia has proven to be an elite team, right now atop the Big 12, and Jevon Carter is the unquestioned leader of the program. Carter leads the Mountaineers in points and assists per game while is grabbing the second most boards on the team, impressive for a point guard. Carter is still a force on defense as he is among the nation’s leaders in steals per game and will likely repeat as the Big 12 DPOY.
4. Keenan Evans
Keenan Evans’ name needs to be on the list as he has anchored this Texas Tech roster to a 14-1 record and a number 8 national ranking. He is the team’s leader in points, assists, and steals per game, providing energy on both ends of the court. Despite what any other player does this season, if Texas Tech stays hot, Keenan Evans needs to be in the conversation.
Despite teammate Vladimir Brodziansky getting most of the national attention at the seasons start, Kenrich Williams has proven to be just as, if not, more important to the team’s success. Williams, the only non-guard on this list, leads his team in points, rebounds, and blocks per game. TCU has shown they are legit, and with Kenrich Williams behind the helm, they are in great shape to remain near the top of the Big 12 rankings.