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IRVING, Texas - Sophomore forward Blake Griffin (Oklahoma) has been named the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, it was announced. Junior guard Mario Little (Kansas) was chosen as Preseason Newcomer of the Year, while guard Willie Warren (Oklahoma) earned Preseason Freshman of the Year accolades. Players honored in preseason voting were selected by the league head coaches, who are not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.
Griffin is one of two All-Big 12 First Team performers back for this season. The sophomore forward led the Sooners in scoring (14.7 ppg) rebounding (9.1) and field goal percentage (.568) a year ago. The scoring average was the highest by an OU freshman in 24 seasons. He had 10 double-doubles, including his last seven against squads that competed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
Little arrives in Lawrence after leading his junior college team to a 68-5 record over the last two seasons. He averaged 15.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists a year ago at Chipola College. Little shot 55 percent from the floor, including 40.3 percent from 3-point range. The junior guard was rated as the No. 1 JUCO player in the country by Rivals.com.
Warren was a consensus top 20 player nationally by the various recruiting services after his senior campaign. The freshman guard finished with 24.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.4 steals per game in 2007-08. The 2008 Gatorade Texas Boys Basketball Player of the Year and a McDonald's All-America selection, he helped his team to a 38-1 record and the Class 5A state title.
Griffin is the third Oklahoma athlete (Taj Gray, 2005-06; Hollis Price, 2002-03) to earn preseason player accolades. Little is the first Kansas newcomer recognized by the Big 12, while Warren is the second from OU (Drew Lavender, 2003-04) touted as the top freshman.
The Preseason All-Big 12 team was also announced. In addition to Griffin, the following players were recognized - Curtis Jerrells (Baylor), Sherron Collins (Kansas), A.J. Abrams and Damion James (Texas). Jerrells is the other returning All-Big 12 First Team choice back from a season ago.
Preseason Player of the Year
Blake Griffin, Oklahoma, F, 6-10, 251, So., Oklahoma City, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School**
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Mario Little, Kansas, G, 6-5, 210, Jr., Chicago, Ill./Washington/Chipola CC [Fla.]
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Willie Warren, Oklahoma, G, 6-4, 207, Fr., Fort Worth, Texas/North Crowley**
2008-09 Preseason All-Big 12 Team
Name, School Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown/Previous School(s)
Curtis Jerrells, Baylor G 6-1 208 Sr. Austin, Texas/Del Valle
Sherron Collins, Kansas G 5-11 200 Jr. Chicago, Ill./Crane
Blake Griffin, Oklahoma** F 6-10 251 So. Oklahoma City, Okla./Oklahoma Christian School
A.J. Abrams, Texas G 5-11 161 Sr. Round Rock, Texas/McNeil
Damion James, Texas F/G 6-7 222 Jr. Nacogdoches, Texas/Nacogdoches
Honorable Mention (listed alphabetically by school): DeMarre Carroll & Leo Lyons, Missouri; James Anderson & Byron Eaton, Oklahoma State; Connor Atchley, Texas; Josh Carter & Bryan Davis, Texas A&M;
** - Unanimous Selection