Bill Self has done something truly extraordinary in leading Kansas to 14 straight regular season Big 12 titles. It's a record, sure, but it's a record that seems unlikely to be broken by any single program, much less a single coach, at the Division I level.
Coming off an impressive win at Texas Tech, Self has the Jayhawks positioned to get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament as the regular season winds down this week. The biggest individual impact on the floor for Kansas has been from Devonte' Graham, the senior guard whose play has him in the mix for First Team All-America and .
Self has already gone on record stumping for Devonte Graham for Big 12 Player of the Year, and he laid out a convincing argument during his visit Thursday with Bill Reiter on "Reiter's Block" on CBS Sports HQ.
"I wouldn't say that he's had the statistical year that obviously, um, maybe someone else has had," Self said. "The Big 12 player of the year, in my opinion, or conference player of the year, should lend merit to what happens in the conference. Not what happens on November 15 or December 15 or December 1 or whatever. That can be for National Player of the Year, but the conference player of the year should be what happens when you compete against your conference foes."
Notice the stumble in Self's response? The references to statistics and overvaluing performances in the early season was a clear indication that Self is talking about Oklahoma freshman phenom Trae Young.
"[Graham's] been so consistent," Self continued. "He's won. I'm not putting anyone else down, I'm just pumping my guy. When you look at second-leading scorer in the league, he takes every shot at the end of the shot clock, he's our primary handler, he never comes out, he guards the other team's best player on the perimeter every night. I think those things add up and your team wins, I really believe he deserves that honor."
Trae Young still leads the nation in both points (28.0) and assists (9.0) per game, but Self's points about performance in conference play and the merit of team success are going to be on the mind of Big 12 award voters right up until the deadline to turn in their ballots. The, and so the Big 12's must as well. Still, with the body of work Graham has put together leading Kansas to a 14th straight Big 12 is going to make it far from an easy decision.