Oklahoma State’s James Anderson will face his top two competitors for Big 12 player of the year in today’s game against Kansas. PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN
He also has 25 first-half points against Texas Tech on Jan. 9.
Anderson leads the Cowboys in scoring (22.5), assists (66), steals (35) and blocked shots (17). "For what he’s doing night in and night out, he’s one of the best players in the country," Ford said.
When differentiating between individual and team accomplishments, which should carry more weight in selecting the Big 12 player of the year?
In Anderson, you would choose a player on a team in the middle of the Big 12 standings that’s scratching and clawing for an NCAA Tournament bid.
In Collins or Aldrich, you would choose a player on the nation’s top-ranked, top-seeded team that is seeking perfection (16-0) in the highest-rated conference.
Self’s players pile up victories, not personal stats. On the 2008 national championship team, Brandon Rush was the Jayhawks’ top scorer at 13.3 points per game. Collins leads this year’s team at 15.1 ppg.
Self’s teams have won 10 conference titles in the last 12 seasons at three different schools, but only three times has he coached the conference’s player of the year — Frank Williams and Brian Cook at Illinois and Wayne Simien at Kansas.
"Then again, it’s pretty tough for anybody in your league to win player of the year when you’ve got guys like Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley and Blake Griffin tearing up the entire country,” said Self, in his seventh season at Kansas.
Elsewhere in the Big 12, Texas senior forward Damion James has impressive numbers with 15 double-doubles, 17.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and shooting 51.0 percent from the field. However, it’s difficult to choose someone on a team that inexplicably has gone to Funkytown, which is where the Longhorns have resided with a 5-6 record since Jan. 18.
Kansas State guards Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen are a terrific backcourt tandem, but we’re looking for a player who separates himself.
Take away Anderson and OSU wouldn’t be a threat for the CBI tournament let alone the NCAA Tournament.
Take away Collins or Aldrich and Kansas State would be leading the Big 12 right now. Take away both
Collins and Aldrich and the Jayhawks might have taken the same car to Funkytown with the Longhorns.
In order, the top three Big 12 player-of-the-year candidates are Anderson, Aldrich and Collins.
That order could change by next Saturday. Heck, it could change by nightfall.
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