Big 12 duo receive nation's top honors

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

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Bill Self: Coach led Kansas team decimated by player losses to the school's fifth Big 12 title in a row and a berth in the Sweet 16.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Bill Self: Coach led Kansas team decimated by player losses to the school's fifth Big 12 title in a row and a berth in the Sweet 16.

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

Player School Votes
Blake Griffin Oklahoma 66
DeJuan Blair Pittsburgh 2
Tyler Hansbrough North Carolina 2
Ty Lawson North Carolina 1

Coach of the year

Coach School Votes
Bill Self Kansas 28
Jamie Dixon Pittsburgh 10
John Calipari Memphis 9
Rick Pitino Louisville 7
Mike Anderson Missouri 5
Lorenzo Romar Washington 3
Dino Gaudio Wake Forest 2
Leonard Hamilton Florida State 2
Jim Boylen Utah 1
Jeff Capel Oklahoma 1
Brad Stevens Butler 1
Don Verlin Idaho 1
Jay Wright Villanova 1

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