MANHATTAN, Kan. (K-State Athletics) – First-year head coach Jerome Tang as well as seniors Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell earned recognition on the AP All-Big 12 Teams announced on Tuesday (March 7).
All three repeated their honors from the league coaches, as Tang was honored as the conference’s Coach of the Year, while Johnson was named the Newcomer of the Year and an All-Big 12 First Team selection, along with Nowell, in voting by media that regularly cover the Big 12.
Johnson and Kansas’ Jalen Wilson, who repeated his Player of the Year honor from the league coaches, were both unanimous First Team selections, while Nowell, Baylor’s Adam Flagler and Texas’ Marcus Carr rounded out the First Team. Kansas’ Gradey Dick and Kevin McCullar Jr. highlighted the Second Team, along with TCU’s Damion Baugh and Mike Miles Jr. and Baylor’s Keyonte George.
Tang, who earlier in the day was named a finalist for several National Coach of the Year honors, including the Ben Jobe Award (top minority Division I coach), Joe B. Hall Award (top first-year head coach) and the Jim Phelan Award, becomes the seventh head coach in school history to earn conference Coach of the Year honors, including the third in the Big 12 era (joining Frank Martin and Bruce Weber). He joins Bruce Weber (2013) as the only coaches to be chosen for the distinction in their first seasons.
After being picked 10th in the preseason Big 12 poll with just two returning players, Tang has guided the Wildcats to 23 wins so far this season and a tie for third place with an 11-7 record in the nation’s toughest conference. His 23-8 record currently ties Missouri’s Dennis Gates, Xavier’s Sean Miller and Duke’s Jon Scheyer for the best mark by a first-year Division I head coach this season. His 23 wins tie Bob Huggins for the second-most by a first-year head coach in school history, while he is the fifth K-State head coach to win 20 games in his first season.
Johnson and Nowell are the 14th duo in school history to both be selected first team all-conference, including just the second in the Big 12 era, joining Barry Brown Jr. and Dean Wade in 2018-19. They are just the seventh and eighth K-State players in the Big 12 era to earn First Team honors by the league coaches.
Johnson is the 13th Wildcat since 1970 to be voted as the league’s Newcomer of the Year and the third in the Big 12 era to be selected for the honor by the AP, joining Jeremiah Massey (2004) and Denis Clemente (2009).
A 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward from Norfolk, Va., Johnson is currently averaging a team-best 17.8 points on 51.9 percent (203-of-391) from the field, including 42.4 percent (42-of-99) from 3-point range, and 72.5 percent (103-of-142) from the free throw line, to go with a team-best 7.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 34 minutes per game. He is one of only two players (Kansas’ Jalen Wilson) to rank in the top-5 in the Big 12 in scoring and rebounding both in overall and league-only games.
A 5-foot-8, 160-pound point guard from Harlem, N.Y., Nowell is averaging 17 points on 37.6 percent (146-of-388) from the field, including 35.6 percent (74-of-208) from 3-point range, and 88.5 percent (162-of-183) from the free throw line to go along with a Big 12-best 7.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in 36.4 minutes per game. He ranks in the Big 12’s top-3 in 13 categories, including tops in assists (238), assists/game, free throws (162) and free throw attempted (183), free throw percentage, steals (76), steals/game and minutes.
K-State has clinched a bye to the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship as the No. 3 seed and will play No. 6 seed and No. 22/22 TCU (20-11, 9-9 Big 12) at 8:30 p.m., CT on Thursday, March 9. The tournament begins Wednesday, March 8 with two first-round games.