AMES — Will Clyburn heaved a small sigh of relief.
The versatile Iowa State senior earned Big 12 newcomer of the year honors, as announced by the league Sunday night.
And no mention of the term “rookie” was attached.
“I was hoping it wasn’t called the rookie of the year,” said the 22-year-old senior transfer from Utah. “I’m kind of tired of hearing that already. I hear it from my teammates and coaching staff. It’s pretty tiring.”
Clyburn’s been wearing out opposing defense’s all season.
He’s the only player in the Big 12 to rank among the top five in points (15.2) and rebounds (7.1) per game, and also was tabbed by coaches as a second-team all-conference selection.
Clyburn’s shooting 61 percent (14 of 23) from the field the past two games after putting up a conference low-tying six points in the Feb. 25 blowout loss to Oklahoma — Thursday’s 11:30 a.m. Big 12 Championships foe.
“He’s been playing great,” said ISU senior guard Chris Babb, who earned all-league defensive team honors. “He’s really stepped up for us lately.”
Babb’s first all-defensive team plaudit could have been his second, but he was left out last season, which caused former teammate Royce White to scratch his head, to put it mildly.
“I think it just kind of drove me a little harder coming into this season,” Babb said of last year’s award snub. “I knew I had another opportunity and really came out wanting to work hard; really prove to myself, my team — all the voters, or whoever goes into that, that I should be on that list.”
Other Cyclones’ scooping up awards late Sunday: Melvin Ejim, third team all-Conference, the Big 12’s inaugural scholar-athlete of the year; Tyrus McGee, top sixth man, honorable mention all-conference; point guard Korie Lucious, honorable mention all-league; and forward Georges Niang, all-freshman team.
For McGee — who’s second in the country in 3-point field goal percentage at 46.7 — the award, surprisingly, came as a surprise.
“I didn’t even know I got it until I got all these texts and stuff and everybody was telling me congrats,” McGee said. “Well, I guess I got it.”
BOOKER APOLOGIZES: ISU forward Anthony Booker issued an apology for an obscene gesture caught on camera Saturday during the West Virginia win.
Booker said “I’m sorry” to West Virginia’s president and the school’s student body — to whom the single-digit gesture was directed.
“I got caught up in the emotions of a hard-fought game and lost my composure,” Booker’s statement read, in part. “It was a poor decision on my part and I am sorry for conducting myself in this manner. I also wish to express my regret for putting our university and our basketball program in a poor light. I have learned a valuable life lesson as a result of my poor decision.”
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