Big 12 Basketball
Preseason Blog Part 1
The NCAA men’s basketball season is just around the corner. While it is very known that this is a promising season for KU, there are other teams in the Big 12 that will have very promising seasons as well. We will look through the Big 12 rankings at the teams in two parts. Here are the first five:
Kansas National preseason rank: 6
It’s no secret that KU basketball is going to be good. I mean real good. Their ceiling is crazy high, but they do have a lot of work to do. They have ultra talented freshmen in Frank Mason, Joel Embiid, Conner Frankamp, Wayne Selden, and Andrew Wiggins, as well as veteran leadership in Tarik Black (transfer), Perry Ellis, and Naadir Tharpe. Plus talented role players in Brannen Greene, Andrew White III, Jamari Traylor, Landon Lucas, and others. They have a loaded team with tons of talent. The projected starters are Tharpe, Selden, Wiggins, Black, and Ellis. Though the only one that is confirmed by coach Bill Self is Tharpe. Other then those five, there are a lot of players that will be fighting for minutes. From what I have seen in scrimmages and heard from Self, it’s safe to say Joel Embiid will play big minutes, as well as Frank Mason who is the back up to Tharpe. Greene is also a very talented wing who is long and has a lot of hustle. He has been one of my favorite players to watch so far. The point guard battle between Tharpe and Mason will be interesting to watch. Tharpe shows a lot of leadership on the court and in practice, but Mason is also very talented. He can handle the ball exceptionally well and see the floor. He also has a very nice shot and can hit the three. For now he will be Tharpe’s backup but we could also see Tharpe and Mason playing together. Self will be sure to try many different rotations in the exhibition games to start the season. As far as preseason awards go, Andrew Wiggins was awarded Big 12 preseason freshman of the year and Tarik Black was named Big 12 preseason newcomer of the year. Wiggins was named to the Big 12 preseason team. Ellis and Black received honorable mentions. There is a lot to talk about with this Jayhawk team already. I’m sure I could ramble all day. But instead, I’ll just move on.
Oklahoma State National preseason rank: 12
Oklahoma State tied with Kansas in the Big 12 preseason rankings. Both teams received five first place votes. There is good reason that the Cowboys are ranked that high. They return the Big 12 player and freshman of the year from last year in Marcus Smart and a fantastic senior guard in Markel Brown. Those players were their two leading scorers last season with 15.4 and 15.3 PPG respectively. They also return their 3rd and 4th leading scorers Le’Bryan Nash and Phil Forte. They are basically returning every important player form last season. Which makes them a very, VERY scary team. They also added a four star recruit in Stevie Clark. But mostly they have a lot of returners who are going to be playing big minutes. In a lot of ways they are the opposite of Kansas. As far as Big 12 honors go, they had two players on the Big 12 preseason team in Smart and Brown. Smart also was named the Big 12 preseason player of the year. The race will most likely be a one between Smart and Wiggins. But Smart is a very talented player who will most likely be a very high draft pick in next years draft. I would not be surprised to see him repeat as Big 12 player of the year.
Baylor took a hit by losing Pierre Jackson to the draft last year. But it won’t slow them down to much. They have a very powerful frontcourt in Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Cannon. Both of which were named to the Big 12 preseason team. They were also the team’s 2nd and 3rd leading scorers and the team’s top rebounders from last season. Baylor has a bright season ahead of them with those two anchoring the offense and defense. On the perimeter, they have a sharp shooter in Brady Heslip. He is a career 42.1% 3PT shooter, which makes him the best in Baylor history. As far as young talent goes, they added a big 6-9 forward in Johnathon Motley who was a top 100 national recruit.
Iowa State is taking a hit scoring wise from the players they lost last season. They lost their top 2 scorers Will Clyburn and Tyrus McGee. But the good news is two talented forwards in Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang will be anchoring the team. Ejim was named to the Big 12 preseason team (If you have been counting, you will realize there are six members of the Big 12 preseason team, a tie in the voting created this, usually there are only five). The Cyclones also add an interesting mix of transfers onto their team. Including four players from junior colleges. The team added a promising young guard in Monté Morris. I just want to point out the insane numbers Morris put up his senior year of high school: 23.8 PPG, 8.8 APG, 6.8 RPG, and 5.1 SPG. Needless to say, he did a lot on the court. He could be very good for the Cyclones.
K-State is coming off a strong season where they went 27-8 overall. The problem they have is much like Iowa States. They lost their top two scorers and best ball handlers in Rodney McGruder (NBA) and Angel Rodriguez (transferred). They also lost their big man Jordan Henriquez who also went pro. But luckily, they are bringing back Shane Southwell who is a very talented and very long guard. At 6-7, he creates a lot of match up problems. Most college teams are not lucky to have guards that tall. He is also a very good 3-pt shooter, hitting 44% of his shots last season. His role will be greatly increased this season so he will have to really step up. We are also going to see an increased role from Will Spradling.