The Big 12 coaches went with the proven commodity on Thursday, selecting Oklahoma State sophomore guard Marcus Smart as the Big 12 preseason player of the year.
Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins, who became the first freshman in Big 12 history voted to the preseason all-Big 12 squad, was selected preseason freshman of the year. The Jayhawks nabbed another individual honor when senior forward Tarik Black, a graduate transfer from Memphis, was voted preseason newcomer of the year.
Wiggins, who was the consensus No. 1 overall recruit in the 2013 class, joins a preseason all-Big 12 first-team with Smart, Oklahoma State senior guard Markel Brown, Baylor forward Cory Jefferson, Baylor center Isaiah Austin and Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim.
“That is a pretty solid first team, and it’s great to see a freshman get named to the first team in Andrew,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “It’s also good to see Tarik, Perry and Joel recognized, but like all preseason stuff, we won’t take anything from this because it’s based on potential. Now you have to go prove it.”
Kansas sophomore forward Perry Ellis and freshman center Joel Embiid received preseason honorable mention, as did K-State’s Shane Southwell.
Smart, the reigning conference player of the year, is just the second Big 12 to return after being chosen conference player of the year the previous season. The first was Kansas forward Raef LaFrentz, who returned for his senior season in 1997-98.
Wiggins, meanwhile, has been on numerous preseason All-America squads and is considered a candidate for national player of the year honors.
“I’m honored that the Big 12 coaches recognize my potential,” Wiggins said. “I’m glad to see Tarik (Black), Perry (Ellis) and Joel (Embiid) also in there. There are a lot of great freshmen in the league — and especially here at Kansas. Any one of my fellow freshmen teammates could have also been on this list.”
Black, who projects as a potential starter in the KU frontcourt, arrived at KU after starting 60 of 102 games in three years at Memphis, averaging 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds.