- Associated Press - Monday, March 9, 2015

Buddy Hield is a high-energy leader on and off the court for Oklahoma, and the Big 12’s top scorer.

Hield was named The Associated Press’ Big 12 Player of the Year on Monday, the only unanimous pick on the AP All-Big 12 first team.

“His enthusiasm, his energy every day, his love for playing, love for working out, love for being in the gym, that affects not only Buddy’s play, but affects those younger players, those other players,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said of Hield, who averages 17.4 points a game. “Buddy has an impact in a lot of different ways.”

West Virginia senior guard Juwan Staten is the only AP first-team pick for the second straight year. The other first-teamers are Baylor post player Rico Gathers, who averages 11.6 points and 11.7 rebounds, Kansas junior Perry Ellis and Iowa State junior Georges Niang.

While Hield is the first Sooners player since Blake Griffin in 2009 to be the AP’s top player, Bill Self of Kansas became the first four-time winner of the AP Big 12 Coach of the Year award in a tight vote. Self, whose Jayhawks won their 11th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title, got eight votes. West Virginia coach Bob Huggins received seven votes and Baylor’s Scott Drew got the remaining four votes.

“Happy and proud, and it’s certainly a reflection of guys’ effort over the course of a long grinding conference season,” Self said. “You could have picked a handful of coaches in our league that would be deserving of awards. It could have been multiple guys.”

Self previously won the AP coaching award in 2006, 2009 and 2011. The other three-time winners are Texas’ Rick Barnes and Self’s predecessor at Kansas, Roy Williams. In their voting announced Sunday, Big 12 coaches tabbed Huggins coach of the year.

The coaches also chose Hield as top player, and had the same first-team group of five as the AP panel of sports writers and sportscasters who cover the league on a regular basis.

In a season when five Big 12 teams won at least 11 conference games, each of them was represented on the All-Big 12 first-team.

Myles Turner, the 6-foot-11, 240-pounder for Texas, was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Oklahoma big man TaShawn Thomas was picked newcomer of the year.

Hield, who scored in double figures 17 of 18 conference games, got 11 votes from the AP panel as top player. Niang got four, Ellis three and Gathers one.

Ellis, who missed the regular-season finale with a sprained right knee, is the only player in the league’s top 10 in scoring (14.2), rebounding (7.0) and field goal shooting (47 percent).

Gathers’ 362 rebounds are 116 more than any other Big 12 player, and his 16 double-doubles are twice as many as anyone else in the league. Staten, who has missed the last three games with a left knee issue, is averaging 14.5 points and 4.6 assists. Niang has 15.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists a game.

Thomas, finishing his career with the Sooners after three seasons at Houston, is averaging 11.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game. He got nine votes, one more than Iowa State junior Jameel McKay, for top newcomer.

Turner, with 10.8 points and 6.6 rebounds a game, got 14 votes for freshman of the year. The remaining five votes went to Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr.

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