Bahamian collegiate freshmen Kai Jones and Oscar Smith were named to the 2019-2020 Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team earlier this month.
Jones plays basketball for the University of Texas Longhorns, and Smith is a sprint hurdler for the Kansas State University Wildcats.
The honor is earned by conference competitors who are new, incoming freshmen at their respective institutions. Nominated by each institution’s director of student-athlete support services, student-athletes on the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team must be new, first-time or incoming freshmen who have completed 24 semester hours of non-remedial coursework and achieved a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.00.
The BIG 12 Conference is a part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I (DI).
Jones and the Longhorns
finished the 2019-2020 season with a 19-12 win/loss record, 9-9 in Big 12 Conference play. Jones ended the season averaging 3.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 16.7 minutes per game.
In the second-to-last game before the season got canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Jones erupted for 20 points, seven rebounds, two steals, one assist and one block against Oklahoma State University. That was his best statistical game of the season. He played 32 minutes and shot a blistering 66 percent from the field in that game.
Jones plans to improve his play in his sophomore year, looking to have the option at season’s end to enter the 2021 NBA (National Basketball Association) Draft in 2021.
Smith, a former CARIFTA athlete, posted a personal best time of 7.81 seconds in the 60 meters (m) hurdles to finish third at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Arizona, back in January. That time was the third best time in the Big 12 Conference in that event. During the indoor season, he was also able to dabble in the 4x400m relay at Kansas State. He and his team finished second at the DeLoss Dodds Invitational on the school’s campus, in Manhatton, Kansas, in a time of 3:27.09.
Smith’s freshman season was also cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he managed to set the bar high for his sophomore season.
In addition to being on the CARIFTA team from 2017-2019, Smith has represented The Bahamas at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), now World Athletics (WA), World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, in 2018. He finished third in his semifinal heat of the men’s 110m hurdles in 15.31 seconds, and was also a member of The Bahamas’ 4x100m relay team that finished fifth in its heat in 40.85 seconds.
The St. Augustine’s College (SAC) high school graduate was also on The Bahamas’ 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games team that competed at home, in Nassau, The Bahamas.
The Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team was introduced during the 2012-13 academic year.