Kansas national player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson, All-American nominee Tyshawn Taylor, junior center Jeff Withey and head coach Bill Self highlight the 2012 All-Big 12 Men's Basketball accolades as selected by the head coaches, it was announced Sunday, March 4.
Robinson is the 2012 Big 12 Player of the Year, while Withey is the conference's defensive player of the year. Taylor and Robinson were unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selections, while Withey was a third-team all-conference choice and a member of the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. Self was named co-Big 12 Coach of the Year along with Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg. Conference coaches were not allowed to vote for their own schools in their selections.
A junior forward from Washington, D.C., Robinson is the only player in the Big 12 to average a double-double (18.0 ppg, 11.9 rpg) and his 22 double-doubles this year are fourth on the conference single-season list and rank second nationally. Against eight nationally-ranked teams in 2011-12, Robinson averaged 19.8 points and 12.3 rebounds while shooting 55.6 percent. Robinson's honor is the seventh time that a Kansas men's basketball athlete has won Big 12 Player of the Year. Robinson joins former Jayhawk greats Raef LaFrentz (1997 and 1998), Drew Gooden (2002), Nick Collison (2003), Wayne Simien (2005) and Marcus Morris (2011) in earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors. It marks the 14th time in school history a Jayhawk has been named his conference's player of the year.
"Usually when individuals receive awards at the end of the season it has been because their teams have been good and that certainly has the case with us," Self said. "Thomas has been the best player on our team, without question, from the beginning of the year until now. He is so deserving of conference player of the year. That was a goal I had for him before the season even started."
"I am very thankful for this award and proud to be selected by the coaches in a league that is as competitive as it is," Robinson said. "We have a lot of great players on our team and Tyshawn (Taylor) would also be deserving of this award. I am thankful for this award and hope it's not the last."
Withey, from San Diego, Calif., leads the Big 12 in blocked shots with 100, a total that ranks fifth on the conference single-season chart and second on the Kansas list. Sixty-five of those rejections came in league games, setting a Big 12 record for conference play. Withey is the fourth Jayhawk to win the top defensive honor since it began in 2005-06, including three times in the past four seasons. He joins Mario Chalmers (2007 and 2009) and Cole Aldrich (2010) in earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
"I'm really happy for Jeff because I don't believe anybody in our league changes the game by blocking or altering (shots) better than Jeff," Self said.
Robinson and Taylor were unanimous selections for 2012 All-Big 12 First Team according to the league coaches. Taylor led Kansas this season in conference games with an 18.6 scoring average. He is second on the team in overall average at 17.2 points per game. The duo becomes the 13th and 14th players during Self's nine seasons at Kansas to be named All-Big 12 First Team. Withey was a 2012 third-team all-conference selection.
"Tyshawn, in my opinion, was the one of two guys who could have challenged Thomas for conference player of the year, along with (Marcus) Denmon (Missouri)," Self said. "Tyshawn has been as good as guard in the country over the last two months and certainly so deserving of being picked first team."
"For those three to accomplish this in a year when no one predicted any of them could, is a true testament to how hard they have worked," Self said.
Self is named the top coach for the third time in the last four seasons and fourth time overall after leading KU to its school-record eighth consecutive Big 12 regular season crown. He also earned Big 12 Coach of the Year accolades in 2006, 2009 and 2011 and his four Big 12 Coach of the Year honors are more than any other mentor in the 16-year history of the league. Kansas (26-5) won the 2012 Big 12 title posting a 16-2 conference record, two games ahead of runner-up Missouri. KU lost four starters from last season's 35-3 team which advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight.
"Fred (Hoiberg) (Iowa State) and Frank Haith (Missouri) are also deserving of this award," Self said. "It's a proud recognition but I also understand it's not the coaching, it's the players that give you the chance to win. Basketball is about players, and certainly we have our share of good ones and I'm sure Fred would say the same thing."
No. 3/4 Kansas enters the 2012 Big 12 Championship as the No. 1 seed and will play its quarterfinal game on Thursday, March 8, at 2 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2. KU will face the winner of the No. 8 Texas A&M vs. No. 9 Oklahoma contest which will be March 7. The event, in which Kansas is two-time defending champ, is being played at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
A complete list of the 2012 All-Big 12 Men's Basketball Awards are available at www.big12sports.com.