The first preseason college basketball All-America team has been released and the Big 12 is the only conference with multiple players on the squad. Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart, the returning Big 12 Player of the Year, along with incoming Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins are both part of the team.
The Big 12 standouts were also chosen for two major awards, as Smart was selected as the publication's National Player of the Year, while Wiggins was chosen as the National Freshman of the Year.
Smart is the just the second player in Big 12 history to be named as conference player of the year who returned for his next season (Raef LaFrentz, Kansas, 1996-98). Smart is the top returning scorer in the Big 12 (15.4 ppg) and also led the league with 99 steals. His theft total was the most by a freshman in Big 12 history and the second-best total by any player in one campaign.
Wiggins was ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2013 by every recruiting service. A 6-8 forward from Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, he averaged 23.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.5 assists last season for Huntington (W. Va.) Prep, leading his team to a 30-3 record and a No. 7 finish in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings. Wiggins was named the 2013 Gatorade Male Athlete of the Year in July after earning numerous national basketball high school All-American and player of the year accolades along the way.
The Blue Ribbon College Yearbook, in publication since 1981, is known as the source for college basketball information on every Division I school. It is widely used and referenced throughout college basketball by media, coaches, scouts and fans.
“Obviously there are a lot of great players out there,” said Blue Ribbon’s long-time editor Chris Dortch. “But in choosing our national player of the year, we look at more than just talent. Marcus Smart is a stat-sheet stuffer, but he also has the intangible quality of making those around him better. Everyone we spoke with about him had nothing but praise for his abilities—those that show up in the boxscore, and those that don’t."