The 2013 Phillips 66 All-Big 12 Men's Basketball Awards were announced this past Sunday. Just prior to the official announcement, Texas Longhorns head coach Rick Barnes announced to no one in particular that his team would politely decline being the recipient of any awards bestowed by the conference.
Barnes was set to receive a coveted "Participation Ribbon" as well as a mini-plaque for "10th Place Conference Coach of the Year" as voted on by all the conference's coaches. Coaches were allowed to vote for themselves, but well-placed sources say Barnes voted for Missouri head coach Frank Haith, citing that Barnes liked "the cut of his jib." Although Barnes received zero total votes, that was a strong enough showing to place him 10th overall. Kansas St.'s Frank Martin received the award for compiling the best group of upperclassmen, though Bruce Weber accepted the award on Martin's behalf.
Despite playing a conference high six freshmen, Texas opted not to nominate any of its first-year players for the Big 12 All-Rookie Team. Longhorn freshmen accounted for about 50% of the team's available minutes played, but Barnes did not feel that any one particular player would be worthy enough for simply an All-Rookie nomination. He cited past instances of television shows like Friends and Modern Family, stating that all his players "stick together" and will only place themselves in consideration for one category.
Texas also didn't submit a nomination for Scholar-Athlete of the Year, an award that went to Iowa St.'s Melvin Ejim. Texas governor Rick Perry argued that Texas was too far ahead of all the other Big 12 schools in the most recent US News & World Report college rankings that nominating any Longhorn athlete for an academic honor would be like "fishing for deer with dynamite guns -- too easy." The conference concurred.
The Big 12 Freshman of the Year award went to Oklahoma St.'s Marcus Smart. Barnes acknowledged that Texas recruited Smart out of high school, but only because he thought Smart was a distant cousin of Steve Carell. Upon finding out that Smart's teammate Phil Forte was not, in fact, Anne Hathaway's spy alias, Barnes elected to discontinue the recruitment.
Smart also won Big 12 Player of the Year. The lone Longhorn Hellraiser that actually cares about Texas basketball will now light himself on fire. As for Texas, Barnes will bestow the UT Player of the Year award to senior walk-on Dean Melchionni for his outstanding work on The Melchionni Report, calling it the best piece of acting from a local Austinite since Barnes' own cameo on Friday Night Lights.
With 5 players named to each of the 3 All-Big 12 teams, odds were good that at least one Longhorn would come away with an All-Big 12 award. That did not come to pass. Late in the voting process, Barnes submitted a petition to limit 3rd team voting to accomplishments from the last 8 games of the regular season, thereby ensuring that Myck Kabongo, who reportedly overslept three-quarters of the regular season, would at least receive sympathy votes. In response, Baylor's head coach Scott Drew successfully filibustered by shouting "PANCAKES!" for 20 straight minutes until the tribune got hungry enough to break for brinner.
It was a tough year for Kabongo. He wasn't even the most decorated Canadian, which seemed like a shoo-in at the start of the year, eh. Instead that honor went to Ejim, a Toronto native.
Not only did Texas fail to place a single player on an All-Big 12 team, but also the Longhorns were shut out of the Honorable Mention category. Texas Tech and West Virginia, two teams that finished with a worse conference record than Texas, had 3 total players: Jaye Crockett (Texas Tech), Eron Harris (West Virginia) and Deniz Kilicli (West Virginia). Barnes pointed out that it was actually more impressive for Texas not to place anyone at all, citing TCU as the only other team to accomplish such a feat. After all, the Horned Frogs were just one of five teams to beat conference champion Kansas this year, placing Texas in elite company.
Kansas' Jeff Withey took home the Defensive Player of the Year award. Texas did finish 7th in the nation in defensive eFG% at 42.8%, but Barnes called it a "team effort," saying it was impossible to attribute Texas' defensive success to any one individual. Additionally, Iowa St.'s Tyrus McGee won the 6th Man of the Year award. Texas' Ioannis Papapetrou was in contention, but Barnes began starting him halfway through the season, unfortunately making Papi ineligible for an award he probably wouldn't have won anyway.
Although Texas chose not to receive any accolades from the conference, Barnes opined that Texas still had a successful season, stating that "at least we beat OU."