Kansas Jayhawks: Mid-Season Basketball Awards


At 16-3, the Kansas Jayhawks have reached the mid-point of the 2014-15 season in familiar territory: on top of the Big 12 Conference standings.

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It has been a team effort, from Frank Mason III’s emergence as a floor leader, to newcomers Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Cliff Alexander growing up before our eyes. Bill Self has been Bill Self, and that leadereship could be the most important factor to the success.

Let’s take a look at “Through the Phog’s” mid-season award winners.

MVP: Frank Mason III

He’s not averaging 25 points per game, and who does on a Self-coached team, but there is no doubt this team goes as Frank Mason III goes.

After an up-and-down freshman season, Mason has either doubled or tripled his scoring, rebounding, and assist efforts from his freshman to sophomore season. It also doesn’t hurt that he is shooting 45.5 percent from behind the 3-point arc (on 55 attempts), and 81.8 percent from the foul line.

His 12.7 points, 4.2 assists, and 3.9 rebounds point toward how good of a player he is, but it’s clutch plays like the one in the video below that make him someone the Jayhawks can count on.

Mr. Charlie Hustle: Jamari Traylor

So, this may have just been created for Jamari Traylor  after his gutsy performance Saturday at Texas, but he’s been playing hard all season. Sure, he’s good for a charge or two a game, and even a few silly turnovers, but he gets an “A” for effort nearly every time he steps on the floor.

Self said this hustle play below, might have been the best he has seen since becoming KU’s coach in 2003.

Most Improved: Mason III

This is a no-brainer.

As mentioned earlier, Mason’s stats are vastly improved, and the Jayhawks now have someone who they can rely on at the point. Sure, Perry Ellis leads the team in scoring (by .1 over Mason), and rebounding, but his numbers are actually down a bit from last year.

He has been solid, but also disappeared in a few games this year, scoring five points or less four times. Mason, on the other hand, has consistently been great — a trait he lacked as a freshman — scoring in double-figures the past 16 games.

Silver Shooter: Brannen Greene

Brannen Greene is fifth in the country in 3-point percentage among Big Five conference players, connecting on an impressive .480 on 50 attempts.

He also arguably has the smoothest stroke in the game, leading you to believe every shot he takes will sail through the net.

His 4-of-5 performance from downtown Saturday against Texas was instrumental in the victory. A deep three from the wing in the second half that broke a 44 all tie, gave KU a lead it would never relinquish.

However, as you’ll see in the video below, Greene lit up the Georgetown Hoyas Dec. 10 before picking apart the Longhorns’ defense.

Mr. Reliable: Devonte’ Graham

He has missed six games, and only plays about 16 minutes per contest, but there is no denying what freshman Devonte’ Graham brings to this team.

As noted in this previous column, he could be the key to a deep tournament run. He’s as savvy as a senior — 20/1 assist-to-turnover ratio the past five games — and plays with the smile of a little kid shooting hoops in the driveway.

It’s a combination that has led to a 3.4/1 overall assist-to-turnover ratio, and a sigh of relief for Jayhawk fans, that for once lately, the point guard position is more than one deep.

Second-Half Star: Cliff Alexander

The rest of the Big 12 Conference better take notice: Cliff Alexander is about to wreak some havoc.

Alexander has been in and out of the Self’s doghouse, as many freshman tend to do, but right now he is certainly the latter.

After playing 18 minutes per contest the first 17 games of the season, Self has given the big man 25 minutes the past two. He responded by averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds, on 10-of-18 shooting.

It also helps when most of your shots involve grabbing the rim with two hands.

At 5-1 in the Big 12, at least one game ahead of every other team in the loss column, the conference title is once against Kansas’ to lose.

 Up Next: The Jayhawks will travel to Fort Worth Wednesday to take on TCU, before hosting Kansas State Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Next: Kansas Jayhawks: Alone at the Top

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