McKay, Morris looking for more respect in all-Big 12 awards

  AMES — The alarmingly piercing shout disturbed Monté Morris’s well-earned slumber.

 Who produced it?

 His Iowa State teammate and roommate, Jameel McKay — upon learning the news Sunday he hadn’t been named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year by league coaches, an award that went to Oklahoma’s TaShawn Thomas. 

 “He woke me up with a loud roar,” said Morris, who was tabbed second team all-Big 12. “Just a bad roar — ‘Man!’ I was like, ‘What?’

 Both Morris and McKay will draw an extra measure of motivation from not scooping up all the awards they felt they deserved as the second-seeded Cyclones (22-8) prepare for Thursday’s 6 p.m. Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal against No. 7 Texas or No. 10 Texas Tech at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

  But it’s not like the energetic 6-9 McKay was left out entirely. He did attain the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award, joining his roommate, Georges Niang (first team all-Big 12) and Dustin Hogue (honorable mention) as ISU’s regular season honorees.

 “I was happy, especially with the defensive player of the year,” said McKay, who was second in blocked shots during conference play with 45. “I didn’t play the whole season and it kind of caught me by surprise a little bit. But the newcomer of the year? … I feel like I should have won it, but they gave it to another player that was deserving, so I couldn’t get too mad about it.”

 Just loud. Ask Morris, who held in his likely fierce shout for not making the first team.

 “Right now, you can’t do anything about it but go out there and show the world what type of player you are,” said Morris, who compiled a runaway Big 12-best 4.1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference games. “I got a lot of Tweets saying I got snubbed for first team and all of that, but it was the coaches’ decisions. They feel like (West Virginia’s) Juwan Staten or whomever outplayed me. I’ve just got to go out there and show on Thursday.”

 Niang became the fourth Cyclone to earn first team status in the Coach Fred Hoiberg era — an honor that was again bestowed upon him Monday by the Associated Press. He said Morris (also second team all-Big 12 by AP) and McKay (third team all-league by AP) are first-teamers in his book.

 “I don’t want to dis anybody else, but I obviously believe that they should be right on the first team also,” said Niang, who averaged 14.9 points in 18 conference games. “But that’s how stuff goes. I think they’re some of the best players in our league, for sure.”

 Now the Cyclones set to proving they’re the best team in the Big 12 — in Kansas City, anyway — for the second straight March. And a little added motivation for Morris and McKay likely won’t hurt that ambitious undertaking.

 “Look, its the deepest conference in the nation,” ISU coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Good, I’m glad they’re not satisfied. I hope that carries over and they play with a chip on their shoulder.”

 Associated Press all-Big 12 selections (below)


Perry Ellis, Kansas, Jr., 6-8, 225, Wichita, Kan.

Rico Gathers, Baylor, Jr., 6-8, 275, LaPlace, La.

Buddy Hield, Oklahoma, Jr., 6-4, 212, Freeport, Bahamas

Georges Niang, Iowa St., Jr., 6-8, 230, Methuen, Mass.

Juwan Staten, West Virginia, Sr., 6-1, 190, Dayton, Ohio


Phil Forte, Oklahoma St., Jr., 5-11, 185, Flower Mound, Texas

Frank Mason III, Kansas, So., 5-11, 185, Petersburg, Va.

Monte Morris, Iowa St., So., 6-2, 170, Flint, Mich.

Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma St., Sr., 6-7, 235, Dallas

Taurean Prince, Baylor, Jr., 6-7, 215, San Antonio

HONORABLE MENTION: Kyan Anderson, TCU; Kenny Chery, Baylor; Jameel McKay, Iowa St.; Ryan Spangler, Oklahoma; Isaiah Taylor, Texas; TaShawn Thomas, Oklahoma; Devin Williams, West Virginia; Nino Williams, Kansas St.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Bill Self, Kansas.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma.

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: TaShawn Thomas, Oklahoma.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Myles Turner, Texas.

Voters: Tommy Birch, Des Moines Register; Jimmy Burch, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Chuck Carlton, Dallas Morning News; Mark Cooper, Tulsa World; Rustin Dodd, Kansas City Star; Guerin Emig, Tulsa World; Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News; John Helsley, The Oklahoman; Justin Jackson, The Dominion Post; Tom Keegan, Lawrence Journal-World; Kevin Lyttle, Austin American-Statesman; Carlos Mendez, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Randy Peterson, Des Moines Register; Soren Petro, Sports Radio 810; Krista Pirtle, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal; Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle; John Shinn, Norman Transcript; Mitch Vingle, Charleston Gazette; John Werner, Waco Tribune-Herald.


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.