KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Michael Beasley, Kansas State's record-smashing super freshman, and playmaking sophomore point guard D.J. Augustin of Texas are unanimous first-team choices on The Associated Press All-Big 12 basketball team for 2007-08.
Also selected to the first team by a panel of 19 media representatives from every Big 12 state are Baylor's Curtis Jerrells, Oklahoma freshman Blake Griffin, and Nebraska center Aleks Maric, the lone senior and only the sixth player in the Big 12 era with 1,500 points and 900 rebounds in his career.
Noticeably absent from the first team was Kansas, which shared the Big 12 regular season championship with Texas. The Jayhawks turned out to be as balanced in balloting as they have been on the court, where they have had seven different high-scorers and seven different leading rebounders.
All but two voters wrote Kansas players onto their first team. Kansas had four starters who received first-team votes: starters Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, Darnell Jackson and Brandon Rush. As a result, the Jayhawks wound up syphoning votes away from one another.
Arthur, Chalmers and Rush ended up on the second team, joined by Oklahoma State guard Byron Eaton and Texas' A.J. Abrams. Making up the third team were Walker and Jackson, Colorado's Richard Roby, Texas' Damion James and Baylor's Kevin Rogers.
The 6-foot-10 Beasley is having perhaps the greatest year in more than a century of Kansas State basketball and goes into the postseason as a top candidate for national player of the year honors. He's the nation's leading rebounder with more than 12.5 a game and third-leading scorer, putting in 26.5 points a game with an unstoppable array of shots and moves that often makes him look like a grown-up among children.
At last count, Beasley had set 27 Kansas State records and 12 conference records while breaking the NCAA freshman mark with 26 double-doubles.
"He may not be named the national player of the year," said Kansas coach Bill Self, whose Jayhawks lost at Kansas State for the first time in 25 years because of Beasley's dominance. "But there's no question he's the best player in the country."
While leading the Wildcats to a two-game sweep of Colorado, Beasley caught Jeff Bzdelik's attention for something more subtle than points and rebounds.
"What really impressed me was his quickness on the perimeter," said the Colorado coach. "He was able to anticipate, kind of invite the pass and get the steal, and that's a rare talent, an exceptional talent, to invite the pass and get the steal."
Augustin's scoring average of 19.8 points per game is second only to Beasley, and he leads the conference with 177 assists — 42 ahead of second-place Chalmers. He's also an academic All-American who posted a perfect 4.0 GPA in the fall 2007 semester.
"I don't believe as a coaching staff we've ever had an individual who defines the term student-athlete more than D.J. Augustin," said Texas coach Rick Barnes.
Jerrells, a 6-1 junior, leads the Bears with 14.8 points and 3.6 assists per game. In Baylor's epic five-overtime victory over Texas A&M, he scored 36 points and set a Big 12 record by hitting 20 free throws.
"He's as close to being unguardable as there is," said Kansas State coach Frank Martin. "He can score off the dribble as good as any guard in this league. When you start protecting his scoring ability, then he can get inside and make plays for other guys."
The 6-10 Griffin was hampered by knee injuries but otherwise is having a great freshman year, averaging 16.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists in his 13 full conference games.
"I just think his combination of size and strength is one thing, but his tenacity in which he approaches the game is what sets him apart," said Iowa State coach Greg McDermott. "He is trying to tip a ball in one second, and the next second he is head first at halfcourt into the scorer's table trying to save a loose ball. That is a special, special player."
Maric will end his career as one of the most productive players in the Big 12 era. His 975 career rebounds are No. 5 in conference history and his 26 career double-doubles in conference games are a Big 12 record. Since being held scoreless at Kansas, he has responded with double-doubles in 11 of 12 games.