1. Kansas: While Kansas lost NBA talents in Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, the Jayhawks will reload once again. Freshmen Kelly Oubre, a lengthy shooter, and Cliff Alexander, a beast inside, are expected to be the next one-and-done prospects for Bill Self. Fellow freshman Devonte Graham may not be as highly regarded, but is expected to take over the starting point guard spot with Naadir Tharpe deciding to transfer. Not to be forgotten, Wayne Selden was a potential first-round pick last year but decided to return for his sophomore year. He could make a big leap at the scoring guard position. Perry Ellis will be the top returning scorer after contributing 13.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last year. Guards Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp will battle for playing time while Arkansas transfer Hunter Mickelson will add depth up front. Like last season, Kansas will need immediate contributions from highly regarded freshmen, but returnees Selden and Ellis should be the main scoring options for the Jayhawks.
2. Texas: The Longhorns will have one of the top frontcourts in the country this season with last year’s leading scorer Jonathan Holmes, junior Cameron Ridley and likely one-and-done recruit Myles Turner highlighting the squad. Holmes averaged 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last year, Ridley is a bruising inside presence, and Turner can stretch the defense at times with a jumper. Connor Lammert and Prince Ibeh will help off the bench. Point guard Isaiah Taylor averaged 12.7 points and 4.0 assists per game as a freshman, but will need to limit the turnovers as a sophomore. Javan Felix will need to become a more efficient scorer after averaging 11.6 points on 35.9% shooting last year. The frontcourt should be loaded, but the guards will likely decide how far the Longhorns advance in March.
3. Iowa State: Losing First Team Big-12 members DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim will be difficult, but the Cyclones did land perhaps the top transfer of the offseason in Bryce Dejean-Jones. The former UNLV shooting guard averaged 13.6 points per game last year and should make a nice backcourt mate with sophomore Monte Morris. Georges Niang is one of the top mismatches in college basketball while Dustin Hogue is a tough interior rebounder. Transfers Jameel McKay and Abdel Nadar will also help form a strong frontcourt. Guards Matt Thomas and Naz Long should round out a solid rotation.
4. Kansas State: Marcus Foster was perhaps the most underrated freshman in the country last season and will be expected to be the leading scorer again for the Wildcats. Thomas Gipson, who averaged 11.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last year, returns as well and should add a nice inside presence to compliment Foster. Maine transfer Justin Edwards should be a nice addition after averaging 16.7 points per game two years ago while Stephen Hurt is a JUCO transfer to watch. This should be a fairly deep squad as well with plenty of underrated talent off the bench.
5. Oklahoma: Last year’s leading scorer Buddy Hield returns and the Sooners could have another elite scorer if Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas is granted a waiver to play this season. Cameron Clark will be a big loss, meaning freshmen bigs Dante Buford and Khadeem Lattin will be expected to help relieve the loss. Outside of Clark, however, Oklahoma returns four starters that include Hield, Jordan Woodard, Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler. The Sooners finished second in the Big 12 last season and with a similar core, another successful year should be in store. They could be placed even higher if Thomas is eligible to play this season.
6. Oklahoma State: Losing Marcus Smart and Markel Brown will certainly hurt, but the Cowboys should still have some talent to stay relevant in the conference. Michael Cobbins missed most of last season due to an Achilles injury but provided a shot blocking presence inside. Le’Bryan Nash, a former top 10 recruit, and Phil Forte, a lights-out shooter, return after averaging just over 13 points per game. LSU transfer Anthony Hickey should also help relieve the loss at the point guard position. If JUCO transfer Jeff Newberry and top 100 recruit Joe Burton can make immediate impacts, Oklahoma State could remain afloat in the Big 12.
7. Baylor: Former JUCO transfer Kenny Chery was a pleasant surprise last season and will look to become the leader this year. He won’t be alone, however, as Taurean Prince and rebounding machine Rico Gathers are expected to make leaps with more minutes this season. The Bears also added another elite JUCO transfer with Australian power forward Deng Deng. Royce O’Neale will be looked upon to add some scoring to compliment Chery.
8. West Virginia: West Virginia lost its second and third leading scorers in Terry Henderson and Eron Harris, but returns one of the most underrated players in the country in Juwan Staten. The First Team All-Big 12 selection averaged 18.1 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game last season and will be the primary option once again. The supporting cast will be the major question mark. Devin Williams averaged 8.4 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game and should be on pace for another solid year. Rhode Island transfer Jonathan Holton is also expected make major contributions. Who else will step up?
9. TCU: The Horned Frogs did not win a conference game last season, but bring back its two leading scorers in Kyan Anderson and Amric Fields. Anderson averaged 17.0 points and 4.5 assists per game last season while Fields added 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds. Last year’s leading rebounder, Karviar Shephard, returns as well. TCU also landed transfer Trey Zeigler, who spent time at both Central Michigan and Pittsburgh. While TCU returns a majority of the team that finished 9-22 last season, there’s hope that similar players can take a step forward and emerge from the basement.
10. Texas Tech: Entering his second season, Tubby Smith will still have some trouble getting the Red Raiders out of the pits of the Big 12. Texas Tech lost four of its top five scorers from last year’s squad and will issue in some new bodies. Robert Turner will be a key veteran while JUCO transfer Justin Jamison is expected to contribute immediately. Still, don’t look for Texas Tech to shake things up in the conference this season.
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