Freshman Marcus Foster was named to the Phillips 66 All-Big 12 Second Team and to All-Newcomer Team, while junior Thomas Gipson and Will Spradling were selected All-Big 12 honorable mention, as the league office announced its annual men’s basketball awards on Sunday.
Big 12 champion Kansas earned two of the six major awards, as freshmen Joel Embiid was the Defensive Player of the Year and Andrew Wiggins the Freshman of the Year. Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane were selected as the league’s Player and Newcomer of the Year, while Oklahoma’s Tyler Neal and Oklahoma State’s Phil Forte were chosen for the Sixth Man Award. Texas’ Rick Barnes was named as the Big 12 Coach of the Year.
Kansas State had three players collect All-Big 12 honors for the second consecutive season and for just the second time in the last 15 seasons. The three selections tie the 1951 and 2013 squads for the second-most all-league selections in school history and only trail the 1999 team, which had four honorable mention honorees. Foster’s second team honors marked the 11th consecutive season that the Wildcats have had at least one player named to one of three teams.
Foster joined Michael Beasley as the only true freshmen in school history to earn recognition to the All-Big 12 First, Second or Third Teams, while he was one of just three Big 12 freshmen, joining Embiid and Wiggins, to garner a spot in 2013-14. He was also the 12th player in school history to collect honors to one of the three teams. Foster and Beasley are the only Wildcats to be named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team.
Foster has placed his name among the best freshmen in the country, as he paces the Wildcats in scoring (15.4 ppg.), 20-point games (seven), double-digit scoring games (25), field goals (162), 3-point field goals (75), free throws (78), free throw percentage (72.9) and starts (31). He has scored in double figures in 25 of 31 games, including 14 times in Big 12 play, and has led the Wildcats in scoring on a team-best 16 occasions. Six of his seven 20-point games have come in the last 12 games, including a season-best 34-point effort in a win over No. 15/18 Texas on Feb. 8. He is just the fifth true freshmen in school history to post a 30-point game and the first Wildcat since Jacob Pullen scored 38 points in 2011.
Foster has twice been named the CBSSports.com/USBWA Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week (Jan. 7 and Feb. 11) and Phillips 66 Big 12 Newcomer of the Week (Jan. 6 and Jan. 10).
Foster already ranks in the freshman Top 10 in 10 categories in school history, including first in 3-point field goals, second in 3-point field goal percentage, fifth in minutes, sixth in scoring, field goals, field goals attempted and free throws, seventh in assists and ninth in free throw percentage. His 31 starts are second only to Beasley’s 33 in 2007-08.
For the season, Foster is averaging 15.4 points on 41.8 percent shooting (162-of-388), including 39.7 percent (75-of-189), with 3.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 0.6 steals in 29.2 minutes per game. In Big 12 play, he averaged 16.6 points on 44 percent shooting (103-of-234), including 43.2 percent (48-of-111), with 3.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 29.3 minutes per game.
Gipson and Spradling were among 12 players chosen honorable mention by the league coaches. It marks the first time in their respective careers that each received conference accolades.
One of just two players to start in all 31 games this season, Spradling ranks first on the team in assists (2.9 apg.), steals (1.4 spg.), free throw percentage (72.9) and minutes (30.1 mpg.), while he is second in 3-point field goals (47) and fourth in scoring (8.0 ppg.). He has led the team in assists on 11 occasions, while he has nine double-digit scoring efforts this season.
Spradling recently became the 25th player in school history with 1,000 points, while he is one of just four Wildcats with 1,000 points, 300 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals in a career, joining Steve Henson, Askia Jones and Jacob Pullen. In addition, he is one of just six players in school history with 100 career starts and now ranks fourth in school history with 3,639 career minutes played. He ranks among the Top 10 in 10 career categories at K-State.
Gipson ranks first on the team in rebounding (6.6 rpg.), double-doubles (four) and field goal percentage (55.9), while he is second in scoring (11.8 ppg.), double-digit scoring games (20) and field goals (132). After missing the first two games due to injury, he has played in 29 consecutive games, including 26 starts.
The trio have helped Kansas State (20-11, 10-8 Big 12) post its school-record eighth consecutive 20-win season and its fifth straight season of double-digit conference wins. The squad finished in fifth place in the regular season standings, just one place out of third, and will be the No. 5 seed at next week’s Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
The Wildcats will play No. 4 seed Iowa State (23-7, 11-7 Big 12) on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. CT on ESPN2.