Soccer defender Kadeisha Buchanan (West Virginia), men’s basketball guard Frank Mason III (Kansas) and swimmer Will Licon (Texas) were selected as 2016-17 Big 12 Athletes of the Year. Buchanan is the first WVU student-athlete to earn the award since the Mountaineers joined the Conference in 2011-12. Kansas picked up its third honor, all from men’s basketball, while Texas captured its fifth men’s award and 13th overall.
Nominees are submitted by Big 12 institutions and selected, based on athletic performance, academic achievement and citizenship, by a media panel as well as fan voting conducted through Big 12Sports.com.
Buchanan helped lead West Virginia to four Big 12 regular season titles and three postseason crowns during her time in Morgantown, as well as a runner-up finish in the 2016 NCAA College Cup. This past season, she claimed national honors as the MAC Hermann Trophy recipient, Honda Sport Award winner for soccer and espnW and TopDrawerSoccer.com Player of the Year. She was also a 2017 ESPY nominee in the category of Best Female College Athlete.
The All-American earned first team accolades from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and the Senior CLASS Award. Conference honors included Defensive Player of the Year, All-Big 12 First Team, Big 12 All-Tournament Team and Big 12 Soccer Championship Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Additionally. she was awarded College Cup Most Outstanding Player on Defense and to the All-Tournament. Team. In the summer of 2016, Buchanan won a bronze medal with the Canadian team at the Rio Olympics.
The Brampton, Ontario, Canada, native was recognized for her scholastic achievement with Academic All-Big 12 Second Team honors, the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and the Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll. She served the past two years as team captain, assisted in fund raising for breast cancer research and participated in activities with Stepping Stone. Buchanan also volunteered with youth clinics, both at West Virginia and in her native Canada. Following her collegiate career, she signed a professional contract with Olympic Lyonnais.
Mason was the consensus National Player of the Year as well as a consensus All-America First Team selection while leading the Jayhawks to their 13th-consecutive Big 12 regular season title. He also captured the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award and was named Big 12 Player of the Year and to the All-Big 12 First Team. Mason became the only player in KU and Big 12 history to average more than 20 points and five assists in the same season. He led the Big 12 in scoring overall (20.9 ppg) and during conference play (21.0 ppg) while averaging 5.2 assists.
A two-time national player of the week, Mason posted 23 games of 20 or more points, including his final seven contests and 10 of KU’s last 11 outings in 2016-17. The Petersburg, Virginia native was KU’s leading scorer in 26 games. Mason concluded his career No. 6 on the Kansas scoring list (1,885 points), No. 6 in assists (576), No. 8 in 3-point field goals (185), No. 13 in steals (165) and tied for third in consecutive starts (110). He is the first Jayhawk in school history to rank sixth or higher in both points and assists. Mason was one of five ESPNY nominees for 2017 Best Male College Athlete.
The May 2017 KU graduate was also active in the Lawrence community with activities to include Ladies Night Out, a yearly sold-out event that benefits Jayhawks for a Cure with all proceeds donated to Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH) and the KU Cancer Center in an effort to fund cancer research. A Big 12 Champion for Life, Mason was a counselor at the Wilt Chamberlain Special Olympics Clinic, participated in an annual youth holiday clinic in which men’s basketball student-athletes teach youth fundamentals and visited local elementary schools to read to the students.
Licon is an 11-time NCAA champion who won NCAA titles in all five of his events at the 2017 NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships. He became just the fourth swimmer in the history of college swimming, and the first in 17 years, to win NCAA titles in four different individual events through his career at the NCAA Championships. Licon’s 2017 national championships were in the events of 200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay. He is the first Texas or Big 12 swimmer to win three individual national titles at a single NCAA Championship meet (athletes are limited to a maximum of three individual events).
The 12-time Big 12 champion and two-time Big 12 Men’s Swimmer of the Year led Texas to NCAA team titles from 2015-17. He has earned 16 All-America honors during his career. Licon is the NCAA, American, U.S. Open and Big 12 record holder in the 200-yard breaststroke and is the NCAA, U.S. Open and Big 12 record holder in the 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay. He finished his career as the Big 12 record holder in four individual events and co-record holder in two events.
Licon was the 2017 men’s recipient of the UT Athletics Academic Leadership Award and was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Second Team and Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. He was a member of the Texas Cowboys service organization on campus, participated in the Orange Santa toy drive and the MLK Day of Service. Licon was selected as a Big 12 Champion for Life and then nominated a deserving high school teacher for recognition in the Big 12 Champions for Life/CFP Foundation Extra Yard for Teachers program.
Other female candidates for Big 12 Athlete of the Year included Lindsey Cargill (Baylor), Jhoanmy Luque (Iowa State), Sharon Lokedi (Kansas), Nina Schultz (Kansas State), Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma), Vanessa Shippy (Oklahoma State), Brenley Goertzen (TCU), Chrisann Gordon (Texas) and Gabriela Talaba (Texas Tech).
Male nominees were Troy Montemayor (Baylor), Monte Morris (Iowa State), Jordan Willis (Kansas State), Samaje Perine (Oklahoma), Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State), Cameron Norrie (TCU), Trey Culver (Texas Tech) and Jevon Carter (West Virginia).
Big 12 Athletes of the Year
2016-17: Kadeisha Buchanan, West Virginia; Frank Mason III, Kansas & Will Licon, Texas
2015-16: Paige Parker, Oklahoma & Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
2014-15: Lauren Chamberlain, Oklahoma & Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
2013-14: Odyssey Sims, Baylor & Bryce Petty, Baylor
2012-13: Keilani Ricketts, Oklahoma & Collin Klein, Kansas State
2011-12: Brittney Griner, Baylor & Robert Griffin III, Baylor
2010-11: Jessica Beard, Texas A&M & Taylor Jungmann, Texas
2009-10: Lisa Koll, Iowa State & Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
2008-09: Destinee Hooker, Texas & Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
2007-08: Sarah Pavan, Nebraska & Chase Daniel, Missouri
2006-07: Sarah Pavan, Nebraska & Ben Askren, Missouri
2005-06: Cat Osterman, Texas & Vince Young, Texas
2004-05: Cat Osterman, Texas & Derrick Johnson, Texas
2003-04: Nicole Ohlde, Kansas State & Jason White, Oklahoma
2002-03: Cat Osterman, Texas & Nick Collison, Kansas
2001-02: Stacey Dales, Oklahoma & Cael Sanderson, Iowa State
2000-01: Greichaly Cepero, Nebraska & Josh Heupel, Oklahoma
1999-00: Erin Aldrich, Texas & Charles Howell, Oklahoma State
1998-99: Suziann Reid, Texas & Ricky Williams, Texas
1997-98: Vera Ilyina, Texas & Grant Wistrom, Nebraska
1996-97: Nanceen Perry, Texas & Jacque Vaughn, Kansas