Rodney McGruder was one of three Wildcats to be recognized by the league, while Bruce Weber was awarded Coach of the Year, during the Big 12‘s annual regular season awards ceremony on Sunday. McGruder, who has found himself on several postseason watch lists, was expected to land on the Big 12′s First Team. The senior has led the team in both points (15.1) and minutes (32), and was also named a First Team All-Conference player by both ESPN and the Kansas City Star. His selection marks just the third Kansas State player to have received the recognition, joining Michael Beasley and Jacob Pullen.
In addition to McGruder’s accolades, Angel Rodriguez was awarded Second Team recognition on Sunday. The sophomore has brought consistency to play that showed flashes of brilliance last year, providing lockdown defense and constantly finding ways to create opportunities for teammates. Rodriguez is second on the team in points (11.5), and leads the team in assists (5.5) per game. His assist average is the second-highest in school history, trailing only Jim Roder’s 1983-84 record of 5.62. Additionally, Shane Southwell received All-Big 12 honorable mention. Southwell was expected to contribute more offensively this year, although his 8.3 points per game are accompanied by an amazing 45.5 shooting percentage from three. The tallest of the team’s four starting guards, Southwell has been largely asked to step up and guard bigger players this year while helping the Wildcats to the league’s best defense.
The least drama of the night was the selection of Bruce Weber as the league’s Coach of the Year. Kansas State was picked to finish 5th in the conference this year and came into the season unranked. The Wildcats were only 10-8 in 2011-12, watched head coach Frank Martin depart for South Carolina, and graduated two of the best players in recent memory in PG Jacob Pullen and F Curtis Kelly (Pullen is the only Wildcat to be named All-Big 12 First Team twice). In addition to losing its floor leader and best inside presence to graduation, three players transferred to other schools at the end of the year. In spite of all this, Weber managed to reach #8 in the country at one point in the season, finished #11, and won a share of the Big 12 regular season title along with KU. Despite the media’s low expectations, K-State finished 25-6 on the season with a 14-4 mark in conference play. Weber has had a healthy dose of talent to work with, but has also done a great job of squeezing every ounce of it out of his players. This team is marked by the same defensive tenacious that previous Wildcat teams trademarked, and there was little doubt of how deserving of the award he was.
The Wildcats are the number two seed in the Big 12 tournament, and will take on the winner of TCU/TX on Thursday.