OU can finish second in the Big 12 basketball race if:
* The Sooners win out — home against Texas and West Virginia, at TCU;
* Iowa State loses at least one game — and the Cyclones play at Kansas State, at Baylor and host OSU;
* Kansas State loses at least one game — the Wildcats host Iowa State, go to Stillwater and host Baylor.
But here’s what’s remarkable. I don’t think the Sooners will have a representative on the all-conference team. Or maybe even a contender.
Here are the leading contenders for all-conference honors:
1. Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim, who in conference play ranks second in the Big 12 for scoring (18.8) and in a virtual tie for second in rebounding (8.5).
2. Iowa State’s DeAndre Kane, who in conference play ranks sixth in scoring (17.4) and first in assists (5.7).
3. OSU’s Marcus Smart, who despite the three-game suspension for shoving a belligerent Texas Tech fan ranks third in scoring (17.8), eighth in rebounding (7.1), third in assists (5.3) and first in steals (2.5).
4. West Virginia’s Juwan Staten, who leads the Big 12 in scoring (19.6) and is second in assists (5.7). Staten has one fewer assist than league leader Kane.
5. All kinds of people from Kansas. I mean, the Jayhawks are going to win the league title, probably by three or four games, but Bill Self has such a balanced team, it’s hard to know who to vote for. Freshman Andrew Wiggins is KU’s leading scorer, 16.8. Then it drops to Perry Ellis, at 13.4. But freshman center Joel Embiid is averaging 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots.
6. OU’s Buddy Hield, who is tied for sixth (17.4) in scoring but only five more points from fourth place.
7. OSU’s Markel Brown, who is averaging 17.1 points a game.
Heck, there are other candidates, too. Iowa State’s George Niang is averaging 17.5 points. West Virginia’s Eron Harris is averaging 17.7.
So here’s my best guess for all-Big 12.
Embiid, Wiggins, Staten, Smart and Ejim.
If Kane doesn’t make it, it’s a shame. If the Sooners finish second and don’t get a first-teamer, that stinks. But the truth is, Kansas has two dynamic freshmen who are difference-makers, and KU is winning the Big 12 in a walk. Hard not to have two first-teamers from Kansas.
Staten is going all Nate Archibald. How do you omit a guy who might lead the conference in scoring and assists?
Ejim might lead the league in scoring while finishing second in rebounding (OU’s Ryan Spangler figures to finish atop that list).
And Smart is the Big 12′s best player. He’s had a disappointing year, but only because of the ridiculously high standard he set for himself and because of the suspension. He’s a remarkable player.
I think Embiid will be player of the year. I would vote for Ejim, but I’d bet Embiid gets it.