As far as mixed emotions go, this past week for Missouri basketball was quite the roller coaster.
Missouri senior guard Marcus Denmon was named to the preseason all-Big 12 team, as voted on by the league coaches.
It’s the second honor for Denmon in the last few days. He was also named to the Wooden Award watch list Monday, given at the end of each season to the most outstanding men's basketball player in the country. All of this comes on the heels of a breakout season in 2010 for Denmon, who averaged 16.9 points and 3.5 rebounds en route to an all-Big 12 First Team selection.
The preseason Big 12 Player of the Year went to Baylor sophomore Perry Jones III. Last season's Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Jones surprisingly turned down a chance to be the top-five selection in the NBA Draft to return to Baylor. He started 30 games last season (a Baylor freshman record), averaging 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting 54.9 percent.
Denmon was the most consistent Tiger last season, starting in all but one game, leading the team in scoring and notching more than 20 points 12 times. His shooting percentage (50 percent) was the highest for a Missouri guard since Rickey Paulding in 2001-02.
The guard said in July he was focused on becoming a better leader in his senior season.
“I want to show the guys the right way,” Denmon said. “They’ll go as I go. Hopefully we’ll get better. I know I will as an individual, but I hope for the team to get better, too.”
Junior forward Ricardo Ratliffe and senior forward Laurence Bowers were also named to the team, but Bowers will miss the entire season with an ACL tear. He suffered the injury during a pickup game Monday. He retains one year of eligibility in 2012-13.
“This is just difficult news for an outstanding young man and representative of our athletics department,” coach Frank Haith said in a statement Tuesday. “I have had a chance to talk with Laurence a few times and he is doing well. I know he is anxious to get started on his rehabilitation and he will continue to be a big part of the 2011-12 team.”
Bowers was Missouri's second-best scorer last season, averaging 11.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Without Bowers, Ratliffe and Steve Moore are the only experienced players for Missouri taller than 6 feet 6 inches. Ratliffe had a strong first season in 2010 after transferring from Central Florida Community College, averaging 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while earning the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Award.
Even so, Haith said Bowers would be hard to replace.
“It’s obviously a tough loss for us as a basketball team,” Haith said. “He’s an all-Big 12 type player. He’s one of our best defenders and he brings a great deal of versatility, but our primary concern is to help Laurence through the recovery process.”
The only other big man on the roster is 6-foot-8-inch redshirt freshman Kadeem Green, who missed all of last season after rupturing his Achilles' tendon.