It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Big 12 coaches selected Baylor’s Curtis Jerrells and A.J. Abrams and Damion James of Texas to the league’s preseason first team, but that’s not where they finished in The Oklahoman’s all-conference selections.
James wound up on the second team while Abrams and Jerrells slid to the third team. They were replaced by Cole Aldrich of Kansas, Missouri’s DeMarre Carroll and Oklahoma State’s James Anderson. Blake Griffin and Willie Warren of Oklahoma lived up to their advanced billings as the Big 12’s projected player and freshman of the year. Kansas State’s Denis Clemente supplanted Mario Little of Kansas as newcomer of the year. Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel, Missouri’s Mike Anderson and Bill Self of Kansas are finalists for the USBWA’s Henry P. Iba Award as national coach of the year. An influential parameter in this category is how a coach’s team matched, or exceeded, its expectations. Oklahoma was the preseason pick to win the Big 12 and a top-10 pick in numerous publications. Kansas was picked to finish tied for third with Baylor in the Big 12 and barely cracked the AP preseason poll at No. 24. Missouri was picked seventh in the Big 12 and was ignored in national polls.