USA TODAY Sports
The Big 12 Conference, ever a bastion of ridiculous, short-sighted thought and the failure to see reason, named Baylor's Pierre Jackson, the first player in the history of the conference to lead it in both points and assists per game, to the second team.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this because it's simply that ridiculous. I'm no basketball expert, so take everything I say here with a grain of salt commensurate with whatever you believe my expertise to be, but Pierre Jackson was obviously punished for Baylor's perceived failures, despite the fact that this is an individual award and he was, individually, quite brilliant. Look at his stats:
|2012 - Pierre Jackson||30||34.7||6.1||14.2||43.2||2.5||7.0||35.7||4.7||6.1||76.9||0.7||2.9||3.6||6.6||3.6||1.5||0.0||2.1||19.4|
He was, as you likely know, the first player to lead a power conference in scoring and assists since Jason Terry did it for Arizona nearly two decades ago. And even if you think Baylor as a team should have done better, you have to realize that what we did accomplish was largely a function of how good Jackson was this season. "Whatever," say the Big 12's coaches, "three different guards were better than that guy." Let's look at those three guys.
|2012 - Ben McLemore||31||32.2||5.6||11.2||50.1||2.0||4.6||43.4||3.5||4.0||86.3||1.4||3.9||5.3||2.1||2.0||1.1||0.7||1.8||16.7|
You'll never find me arguing that Pierre Jackson is going to be a better pro than Ben McLemore, because that would be dumb. McLemore might, for good reason, be the #1 overall pick in this year's draft. But Jackson was better this season than McLemore, regardless of the teams' relative placements in the conference. You offer me both for this year and only this year, and I'm taking Pierre without thinking too hard about it.
|2012 - Marcus Smart||30||33.3||4.5||11.1||41.0||1.1||3.9||29.1||4.9||6.3||78.3||1.5||4.2||5.7||4.3||3.3||3.0||0.7||2.7||15.1|
Smart won Big 12 Player and Freshman of the year, something I can't really argue about in totality. He wasn't the scorer that either McLemore or Jackson were or the facilitator that Pierre was, but I'd be a homer if I argued that stats alone made Pierre better than Smart. He was quite good across the board, especially on defense, and elevated the play of his entire team. I can't quarrel with Smart.
|2012 - Rodney McGruder||31||32.9||5.6||12.8||43.9||1.4||4.3||32.3||2.5||3.2||76.0||2.0||3.2||5.2||2.1||1.6||1.3||0.2||1.5||15.1|
This is the one that bugs me, if I'm going to be totally honest. If the First Team demands you have a shooting guard, I'd take McLemore over McGruder. If it demands you have a point guard, you can take Jackson or Smart. But I don't see a cogent argument for McGruder over Jackson unless you say that the co-champs simply must have a player on the First Team, which may well be what actually happened.
It is possible, though, that Kansas State as a team was so good that no individual player deserved recognition like this. I'm not saying that's what happened, but it is possible. Jackson was better than McGruder. But I also think he was better than McLemore and probably Smart, as well.
The rest of the individual honors for Baylor probably shook out as most expected up until last night's game. Isaiah Austin garnered Third Team honors in large part, I think, because that team needed a center and coaches love proper positional allocation where they can get it. He was also the center on the "All Rookie" team. Cory Jefferson made the "Honorable Mention" list because he didn't play the entire season like he did last night. I hope he comes back and gets a chance to improve on that in what would be his senior season.