STILLWATER — The Big 12’s player of the year has a 3 p.m. contest today inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, but which player is it?
Is it Kansas senior point guard Sherron Collins? Jayhawks junior center Cole Aldrich? Oklahoma State junior guard James Anderson?
"I would hold off voting until the end of the season because both teams have three very important games left,” KU coach Bill Self said.
Big 12 coaches can not vote for their own players, which eliminates Self from selecting Collins or Aldrich, or both.
Asked to choose between Collins and Aldrich, Self said he couldn’t. "I’d choose both,” Self said. "Sherron and Cole know the reason we’ve been successful is because of both of them, not one of them, and they embrace that. They each want the other to excel.”
With the Jayhawks having multiple candidates, Collins and Aldrich figure to split votes, which no doubt will benefit Anderson.
OSU coach Travis Ford is hollering his support of Anderson. Ford is thinking nationally on Anderson, not just locally.
"It’s absolutely, positively absurd that I have not seen his name nationally,” Ford said of Anderson. "I saw something that had the top 10 (national) player-of-the-year candidates, and he wasn’t in it. Somebody doesn’t know anything about basketball. Somebody has no clue about basketball to put together a top 10 at this point in time and he’s not in it.”
Anderson certainly has a fan in Self. "James Anderson is a fabulous player,” Self said. "Absolutely fabulous.”
Because he is not allowed to vote for Anderson, Ford said he likely would vote for Collins, who gets plenty of help from teammates.
"They all have a role to play and they all do it pretty well,” Ford said, trying to name KU’s top player. "They are all important. Obviously, it’s tough to say. Sherron Collins is very important to their team and Cole is important to their team and the Morris twins have really stepped up ... They have got a lot of good players, a lot of great players, a lot of the best players.”
Strong arguments can be made for Anderson, Aldrich and Collins:
→There is no better team leader in the country than the 5-foot-11 Collins, who last Monday night became the school’s leader in career victories with 124 (along with redshirt junior Brady Morningstar) and potentially 12 more games to win. The NCAA four-year record for victories is 133 by Duke (1998-2001).
→The 6-foot-11 Aldrich is one of the nation’s most imposing post players. His presence alters opposing offenses. He averages 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, ranks sixth nationally at 3.8 blocked shots per game and has 13 double-doubles.
→There is no more explosive player in the Big 12 than the 6-foot-6 Anderson, the league’s leading scorer who scorched Oklahoma for 27 first-half points after burning Texas for 24 first-half points 12 days earlier.