Big 12 duo receive nation's top honors

DETROIT --- In a season when the Big East dominated the polls and the NCAA Tournament, the Big 12 won both major individual awards.

 

Blake Griffin, the sophomore forward from Oklahoma who led the nation in rebounding, collisions and hustle plays, was the runaway choice as The Associated Press' college basketball player of the year on Friday.

Bill Self, who led Kansas from a decimated national champion to a fifth consecutive Big 12 title, was selected coach of the year.

"I think our league was better than people gave us credit for, in fact, we were probably only behind the Big East," Self said.

Griffin, who averaged 22.7 points and national-best 14.4 rebounds while shooting 65.4 percent from the field, must now mull over whether to stay at Oklahoma or pursue an NBA career.

"When I get back I'll sit down with Coach (Jeff) Capel and go over some stuff and hopefully come to a decision sometime soon," Griffin said. "It will be sometime soon, maybe the middle of next week. It will be next week for sure."

Capel said he "probably" would take Griffin back if he decided to return to Oklahoma, which finished 30-6 and lost to North Carolina in the regional finals.

But the decision will be made by Griffin and his parents, and Capel will support it 100 percent.

Griffin received 66 votes from the 71-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25.

Tyler Hansbrough, of North Carolina, last season's player of the year as a junior, and Pittsburgh sophomore DeJuan Blair both got two votes in the balloting done before the NCAA Tournament, while Ty Lawson of North Carolina received one vote.

Self called his team's ability to finish 14-2 and win the Big 12 title "unbelievable."

"It probably wasn't until the first of February that I thought we had a good team,'' he said. "I would have sold out for getting in the (NCAA) tournament, then we win the league."

The Jayhawks finished 27-8 and reached the Sweet 16, losing to Michigan State in Indiana-polis.

Self received 28 of the 71 votes cast, easily beating Jamie Dixon, of Pittsburgh, who had 10.

Player of the year

PlayerSchoolVotes
Blake GriffinOklahoma66
DeJuan BlairPittsburgh2
Tyler HansbroughNorth Carolina2
Ty LawsonNorth Carolina1

Coach of the year

CoachSchoolVotes
Bill SelfKansas28
Jamie DixonPittsburgh10
John CalipariMemphis9
Rick PitinoLouisville7
Mike AndersonMissouri5
Lorenzo RomarWashington3
Dino GaudioWake Forest2
Leonard HamiltonFlorida State2
Jim BoylenUtah1
Jeff CapelOklahoma1
Brad StevensButler1
Don VerlinIdaho1
Jay WrightVillanova1