LAWRENCE — The Big 12’s men’s basketball coaches expect big things from Kansas’ biggest weapon.

Senior center Udoka Azubuike was named the conference’s preseason player of the year and joined Jayhawk teammate Devon Dotson as a first-team all-league selection, the Big 12 announced Wednesday. The 7-foot, 270-pounder out of Delta, Nigeria, is the ninth KU player to earn the preseason player of the year honor, voted on by the league’s 10 coaches.

Baylor’s Tristan Clark, Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton and TCU’s Desmond Bane rounded out the five-member team. Texas Tech’s Chris Clarke was tabbed preseason newcomer of the year, while West Virginia’s Oscar Tshiebwe was picked as preseason freshman of the year. Kansas State’s Xavier Sneed was one of eight players to earn an honorable mention nod.

Azubuike averaged 13.4 points and 6.8 rebounds across nine games last season before a wrist injury sidelined him in early January. Azubuike, who led college basketball with a 77-percent field goal conversion rate as a sophomore, has suffered significant injuries across each of his first three seasons — he appeared in just 11 games as a freshman, then missed the Big 12 Tournament in 2017-18.

“It’s great to be recognized as the preseason player of the year," Azubuike said. "It’s really nothing. I’ve just got to go out there and prove it and work hard with my team and all that. It’s really nice to be recognized, but I’ve just got to go out there and play for my team.”

Past Jayhawks named Big 12 preseason player of the year include Devonte’ Graham (2017-18), Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins (2009-10), Brandon Rush and Julian Wright (2006-07), Wayne Simien (2004-05), Raef LaFrentz (1997-98) and Jacque Vaughn (1996-97).

KU coach Bill Self said he's eager to see whether Azubuike can live up to the expectations the league's other coaches have for him.

“I think he deserves that," Self said of Azubuike's preseason recognition. "I think he needs to play to an All-American status for us. He’s going to get opportunities. Of course, his opportunities will be in large part determined by how well we shoot the ball from the perimeter, because if we don’t, everybody will put two guys on him. But I expect him to be the best big man in the country.”

Dotson returns to KU for a sophomore campaign after testing the NBA Draft waters this offseason. The 6-2, 185-pounder from Charlotte, N.C., averaged 12.3 points in 3.5 assists as a freshman.

Sneed, a 6-5, 215-pounder out of St. Louis, Mo., is one of three seniors on the Wildcat roster this season. Like Dotson, Sneed tested the NBA Draft waters this offseason before withdrawing his name and returning to K-State, where he averaged 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds as a junior.

Other honorable mention picks include Oklahoma’s Kristian Dootlittle, Oklahoma State’s Yor Anei, Texas’ Matt Coleman, West Virginia’s Derek Culver and Texas Tech’s Chris Clarke, Davide Moretti and Jahmi’us Ramsey.

KU opens its exhibition slate with a 7 p.m. Oct. 24 home contest against Fort Hays State, while K-State will play host to Emporia State at 8 p.m. Oct. 25.