Player of the Year Marcus Smart leads OSU vs. Baylor

March 14, 2013

Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart has become only the third player to be named Big 12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the same season.

The Cowboy was also named to the All-Big 12 First Team, the Big 12 All-Defensive Team and the Big 12 All-Rookie Team.

“I’m thankful to all my teammates, because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t even be in a situation to earn these awards,” Smart said. “There were a lot of decisions that could’ve been made, and a lot of good players that (the awards) could’ve gone to. For all the league coaches to choose me, it’s remarkable. There are a lot of great players in the Big 12, and it’s an honor to be the one they chose for these awards.”

The 13th-ranked Cowboys (23-7 overall, 13-5 Big 12) face sixth-seed Baylor on Thursday night at 8:30 pm in the quarterfinals at the Sprint Center.

Three other Cowboys were also honored by the league coaches. Junior Markel Brown was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team, while sophomore Le’Bryan Nash was named to the All-Big 12 Third Team and sophomore Michael Cobbins was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. Cobbins joined Smart on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team.

Smart, from Flower Mound, Texas, was a unanimous selection for the Freshman of the Year award as well as the All-Defensive Team and All-Rookie Team.

Joining Smart on the All-Big 12 First Team were: Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey (also the Defensive Player of the Year) of Kansas, Kansas State’s Rodney McGruder, and Romero Osby of Oklahoma. Brown was joined on the Second Team by Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, Willy Clyburn (also the Newcomer of the Year) of Iowa State, Kansas’ Travis Releford and Angel Rodriguez of Kansas State. Nash was joined on the Third Team by Baylor’s Isaiah Austin, Melvin Ejim of Iowa State, and Oklahoma’s Amath M’Baye and Steven Pledger.

Smart is the third Cowboy to be named the Big 12 Player of the Year by the league coaches, joining Tony Allen (2003-04) and James Anderson (2009-10). He is just the second Cowboy to receive Big 12 Freshman of the Year accolades, joining Nash, who was the co-freshman of the Year according to the league coaches a year ago.

Smart is ranked in the top 10 in the Big 12 in several statistical categories, including scoring (sixth), assists (sixth), steals (first) and free-throw percentage (fifth). His 89 steals has tied the conference’s single-season thefts record and joins Michael Beasley of K-State (2007-08) and Kevin Durant of Texas (2006-07) as the only players to win player and rookie accolades in the same year.

Withey is the first player in Big 12 history to win the defensive award outright in back-to-back seasons. He has 124 blocked shots, a total that ranks fourth on the single-season Big 12 chart after he set the record with 140 in 2011-12. Withey became the league’s all-time career leader in rejections this year as well with a current total of 289.

An Iowa State player has been named Newcomer of the Year for the second season in a row. Clyburn, a transfer from Utah, ranks fifth in the Big 12 in scoring (15.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.1 rpg).

Senior guard Tyrus McGee is the first Cyclone to win the league’s top sixth man honor.

He led the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (.470) and 3-pointers (87) while starting just two games. His shooting percentage from beyond the arc was second nationally in the latest NCAA rankings.

Ejim is the first Big 12 men’s basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. A new award this season across all sports, the junior led the Big 12 in rebounding with 9.3 per game. He boasts a 3.74 GPA in the classroom as a history major and was recently named a Capital One Academic All-District 6 and Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection.

Weber is the second Wildcat mentor to win Big 12 Coach of the Year. In his first year in Manhattan, he guided the Wildcats to a share of the Big 12 regular season title – their first conference crown since 1977.

K-State’s 25 overall wins were the most in school history by a first-year head coach and the ‘Cats 14 league wins tied the school record set by the 1958-59 squad (14-0).