Big 12 men’s basketball will have a familiar feel this season, as for the first time in conference history, four of five members of the All-Big 12 First Team from the previous campaign will return. Leading the way is the 2014-15 Big 12 Player of the Year and this year’s preseason selection - Buddy Hield of Oklahoma.
Three more seniors - Rico Gathers (Baylor), Georges Niang (Iowa State) and Perry Ellis (Kansas) - along with one junior (Isaiah Taylor, Texas) make up the 2015-16 Preseason All-Big 12 Team. Four of the student-athletes on the squad have also been recognized for their academics. Ellis was the 2014-15 Big 12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was joined by Hield and Taylor on the Academic All-Big 12 First Team, while Niang was part of the academic second team.
Hield led the Big 12 in scoring a year ago with 17.4 points per game, increasing that to a league-best average of 18.5 points in conference play. He earned Associated Press All-America Third Team accolades and has started every game the last two years, ranking 15th at OU with 1,366 career points.
Ellis was the only player in the Big 12 last season to rank in the top seven in scoring, field goal percentage and rebounding. Niang was also an AP All-America Third Team choice and enters his senior campaign fifth among active NCAA players in scoring (1,510) and the only player with 1,500 points, 450 rebounds and 300 assists. Gathers set a school record and ranked third nationally with 394 rebounds in 2014-15, while Taylor led the Longhorns in scoring (13.1 ppg), assists (110) and steals (23) despite missing 10 games.
Iowa State’s Deonte Burton is the Preseason Newcomer of the Year, with Cheick Diallo being recognized as the Preseason Freshman of the Year. Burton, a transfer from Marquette, will be eligible at the end of the first semester after being named to his league’s all-rookie team in 2013-14. Diallo was rated in the top 10 of the ESPN100 and was also the 2014 and 2015 New York Gatorade Player of the Year.
Preseason Player of the Year
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma, G, Sr., 6-4, 214, Freeport, Bahamas/Sunrise Christian Academy [Kan.]
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Deonte Burton, Iowa State, G, Jr., 6-4, 250, Milwaukee, Wis./Marquette/Vincent
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Cheick Diallo, Kansas, F, Fr., 6-9, 220, Mali, Africa/Our Savior New American [N.Y.]
2015-16 Preseason All-Big 12 Team
|Name, School||Pos.||Ht.||Wt.||Cl.||Hometown/Previous School(s)|
|Rico Gathers, Baylor,||F||6-8||275||Sr.||LaPlace, La./Riverside Academy|
|Georges Niang, Iowa State*||F||6-8||230||Sr.||Methuen, Mass./The Tilton School|
|Perry Ellis, Kansas*||F||6-8||225||Sr.||Wichita, Kan./Wichita Heights|
|Buddy Hield, Oklahoma*||G||6-4||214||Sr.||Freeport, Bahamas/Sunrise Christian Academy [Kan.]|
|Isaiah Taylor, Texas||G||6-1||170||Jr.||Hayward, Calif./The Village School [Texas]|
Honorable Mention (listed alphabetically by school):
Taurean Prince, Baylor; Jameel McKay and Monte Morris, Iowa State; Frank Mason, Kansas; Phil Forte, Oklahoma State; Devin Williams, West Virginia
* - Unanimous Selection