With eight of the top-10 scorers in the Big 12 so far in the 2012-2013 season being guards, to say that guards have dominated would be an understatement. Despite this, the following big men have made tremendous contributions to their teams through the first half of conference play.
1. Jeff Withey, C, Kansas - Withey has followed up his record-setting NCAA tournament (31 blocks in the last year's tournament, breaking Joakim Noah’s mark of 29 in 2006), with a strong senior year in which he has averaged four blocks a game. With Thomas Robinson foregoing his senior season, Withey has been the go-to guy down low for the Jayhawks. Withey played solid in Kansas’ shocking loss to TCU on Wednesday night, with 12 points and eight rebounds which is just around his season averages. He is currently a projected first-round pick and should be consensus all Big 12.
2. Isaiah Austin, C, Baylor - Austin was the third-ranked recruit coming out of high school, according to ESPN, and is playing the part. Through ten games, he leads the Big 12 in rebounds a game grabbing 10.9 per contest, up from his 9.7 overall. Austin ranks eighth in the Big 12 in scoring (14) in Big 12 contests, and is tied with Melvin Ejim of Iowa State for the Big 12’s lead in double-doubles (nine). He is a projected top-10 pick in this summer’s draft, assuming he forgoes his remaining eligibility.
3. Romero Osby, F, Oklahoma - Osby’s play has been a big factor in Oklahoma’s midpoint turnaround of five Big 12 victories, after averaging only 4.7 wins in conference play the previous three years. Osby is scoring at a rate of 13.9 points per game, good for the most on the Sooners including a career-high 29 points against Texas. He is shooting 50.8 percent from the field for the year, and leads OU in rebounds with nearly seven boards a game for the season. Osby’s play in the second half of the season will be key for the Sooners if they are to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in the post-Blake Griffin era.
4. Cory Jefferson, F, Baylor - Though he does not get the attention of his counterpart, Austin, Jefferson has put together a solid season for the Bears and has shown massive improvement from his first two seasons in Waco. Jefferson has been a crucial piece of the Bears’ attack thus far, averaging 12.7 points and 8.4 boards a game for the season. He scored 18 points and grabbed 11 boards in Baylor’s 69-67 loss to Oklahoma State in
5. Melvin Ejim, F, Iowa State – Ejim is averaging almost a double-double a game for the Cyclones with 10.3 points and 9.4 boards per contest, and is tied with Baylor’s Austin for the lead in the double-double category at nine. For the year, Ejim’s rebounding total is the second best in the Big 12, despite being only 6-foot-6.
Honorable mentions: Jonathan Holmes, F, Texas; Aaric Murray, C, West Virginia