Monday, January 7, 2013

Big 12 Guards Headline Cousy Award Watch List

By Stephen Kerr

Each April, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame selects a winner for the Bob Cousy Award, which recognizes the top point guard in college basketball. The award, named after Boston Celtic Hall of Famer Bob Cousy, emphasizes leadership, teamwork, fundamentals, and success.

Five players from the Big 12 were nominated for the 2013 award's original watch list of 85 candidates. The list will be narrowed down to 20 sometime in January, the final 10 in February, and the final five will be selected by March 1. The winner will be presented at the Basketball Hall of Fame's class announcement April 8 in Atlanta as part of NCAA Final Four weekend. Here's a brief look at the Big 12 candidates.

Pierre Jackson, Baylor — Named Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, the 5-10 senior from Las Vegas has lived up to the billing. Coming into conference play Jan. 5, Jackson is averaging 19.6 points per game, and has scored in double figures in 20 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the conference. He leads the Big 12 in scoring, is second in assists with 6.3 per game, and is third in steals with 2.2 per game. Jackson is considered the third-best point guard in the nation by ESPN, while Lindy's named him the conference's top playmaker and most entertaining player. He was one of 11 finalists for the award in his debut season at Baylor last year.

Korie Lucious, Iowa State — The senior point guard from Milwaukee leads the Cyclones and is third in the Big 12 in assists, averaging 5.4 per game as of Dec. 20. He's dished out at least 5 dimes in seven games thus far this season. He averages 9.7 points per game, and shoots an average of 2.0 three-point shots a game, fifth in the conference.

Elijah Johnson, Kanas — The Jayhawks are looking to dominate the Big 12, and Johnson has evolved into the type of leader the team needs to accomplish that goal, according to head coach Bill Self. Johnson has a team-high 59 assists heading into conference play, and is second on the team in three-pointers with 20. He's also a preseason Wooden Award nominee and an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention.

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State — As a freshman, the 6-4, 225-pound native of Flower Mound, Texas, is averaging a team-leading 5.2 assists per game to go along with his 13.4 points a game. He's second in the nation among freshmen in steals and sixth nationally among freshmen in assists. Smart is the only player in the Big 12 who ranks among the top 16 statistically in all five major categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots. He's on pace to challenge the conference freshman record of 89 steals, set by Kansas' Mario Chalmers in 2005-06.

Kyan Anderson, TCU — The sophomore Fort Worth native's nomination to the Cousy watch list gives TCU a nominee for the third consecutive season. Former Horned Frogs standout Hank Thorns was included the previous two seasons. In his second season as a starter, Anderson leads the Frogs and ranks among the conference leaders in scoring (13.1 ppg), assists (3.7 Apg), and steals (1.6 spg). His 35 points in a Nov. 24 win over UAB ranks among the nation's best individual performances this season. In TCU's last season in the Mountain West Conference in 2011-12, Anderson led his team to a winning season and their first postseason appearance in seven years.

A screening committee appointed by the Hall will narrow down the candidates, while a separate premier selection committee will choose the winner. Both committees are made up of top college basketball coaches, media members, sports information directors, and hall of famers. Two previous Big 12 players have won the award: D.J. Augustin of Texas in 2007-08 and Texas A&M's Acie Law in 2006-07.

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