LWOS coverage of the NCAA basketball season continues with the Big 12 basketball preview. Certainly, the Big 12 is widely considered a top-three conference in college basketball. The Kansas Jayhawks are one of the traditional Blue Bloods that hold a lot of power in this conference. However, in recent years, teams like Baylor and Texas Tech have become worth challengers.
2020-21 Big 12 Basketball Conference Preview
10. Kansas State Wildcats
Key Returners: Mike McGuirl, Dajuan Gordon, Antonio Gordon, Montavious Murphy
Key Losses: Cartier Diarra, Xavier Sneed, Makol Mawien
Key Newcomers: Nijel Pack, Selton Miguel, Davion Bradford
Kansas State is in for a long season. To clarify, they lost everything. Diarra, Sneed, and Mawien were responsible for almost everything the Wildcats did last year. To say this is a rebuilding year is a bit of an understatement. McGuirl can have a solid season but beyond that Kansas State does not have much.
9. TCU Horned Frogs
Key Returners: Francisco Farabello, PJ Fuller, RJ Nembhard, Kevin Samuel
Key Losses: Desmond Bane, Jaire Grayer
Key Newcomers: Terren Frank, Kevin Easley (Chattanooga), Charles O’Bannon (USC), Eddie Lampkin
The Horned Frogs are in Big 12 purgatory. They are going to struggle without Bane but they also added some nice newcomers that will give fans some hope. TCU should be competitive but I am not sure they have enough scoring to get over the hump. This year will be full of growing pains for the Horned Frogs and Jamie Dixon.
8. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Key Returners: Isaac Likekele, Kalib Boone
Key Losses: Cameron McGriff, Lindy Waters, Thomas Dziagwa
Key Newcomers: Cade Cunningham, Rondel Walker, Keylan Boone, Donovan Williams, Matthew Alexander-Moncrief
The Cowboys have a brand-new roster. They added the number one freshman in the country in Cunningham who was able to recruit some other solid freshmen. Unfortunately, we will not be seeing them in the postseason as they have been handed a postseason ban. I think they will take some lumps this season but they also will win some big games. To sum up, it would not be surprising to see them knock off Baylor and lose to Kansas State.
7. Iowa State Cyclones
Key Returners: Rasir Bolton, Tre Jackson, Solomon Young, George Conditt
Key Losses: Tyrese Haliburton
Key Newcomers: Tyler Harris (Memphis), Xavier Foster, Dudley Blackwell, Jaden Walker, Jalen Coleman-Lands (DePaul), Javan Johnson (Troy)
The Cyclones lost their best player and future top ten NBA draft pick in Haliburton. However, they return everyone else and add some nice transfers that will play big minutes. On the other hand, Blake Hinson did not receive a waiver which would have made them legit contenders for the NCAA tournament. Bolton showed a lot of good things last year and that should continue. Conditt also flashed in some moments. While he is not great offensively, his athleticism will cause many problems.
6. Oklahoma Sooners
Key Returners: De’Vion Harmon, Alondes Williams, Austin Reaves, Brady Manek, Kur Kuath
Key Losses: Kristian Doolittle, Jamal Bieniemy
Key Newcomers: Trey Phipps
The Sooners were surprisingly good last season and that speaks to Lon Kruger as a coach. This season, they bring back most of their production. Therefore, it would be unwise to think they will not be good again. Undoubtedly, Manek and Reaves are definitely the straws that stir the drink. Both need to play well this season for the Sooners to compete. I expect other Big 12 teams to take Oklahoma more seriously this year, but the NCAA tournament is likely.
5. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Key Returners: Kyler Edwards, Terrance Shannon Jr
Key Losses: Davide Moretti, Jahmius Ramsey, Chris Clarke, TJ Holyfield
Key Newcomers: Nimari Burnett, Micah Peavy, Marcus Santos-Silva (VCU), Joel Ntambwe (UNLV), Mac McClung (Georgetown)
The Red Raiders lost three of their top five scorers including their two best players. While they were somewhat disappointing last season, they still have some firepower this year. Edwards and Shannon should form a solid backcourt. Burnett is an absolute stud and will instantly be the best player on this team. Additionally, the big question mark is McClung’s eligibility. The NCAA has handed waivers out like candy so if that continues the Red Raiders are elevated slightly. Beard is a great coach so I expect this team to outplay expectations.
4. West Virginia Mountaineers
Key Returners: Miles McBride, Emmitt Matthews Jr, Derek Culver, Oscar Tshiebwe, Jordan McCabe
Key Losses: Jermaine Haley, Chase Harler
Key Newcomers: Kedrian Johnson (JUCO), Isaiah Cottrell, Taj Thweatt
The Mountaineers have been in a lull for the last few seasons. Bob Huggins may have the group to fix that this year. They did not lose a ton and added some solid freshmen that should play significant minutes. West Virginia is going to need some big games from McBride and he seems primed to do so. Of course, the brawling style of basketball West Virginia plays is alive and well with Culver and Tshiebwe.
3. Texas Longhorns
Key Returners: Matt Coleman, Courtney Ramey, Andrew Jones, Jase Febres, Jericho Sims, Kai Jones
Key Losses: None
Key Newcomers: Greg Brown
The Longhorns are in must-win mode. To clarify, it seems like Shaka Smart is coaching for his job this season. Luckily, he has a talented roster with a ton of experience. The big bonus for Smart is the addition of Brown. It seemed likely that Brown would opt for the G-League over college but he surprised people and chose to join the Longhorns. He should form a very dangerous pick and roll duo with Coleman. In short, no excuses for Texas this year.
2. Kansas Jayhawks
Key Returners: Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Tristan Enaruna, Jalen Wilson
Key Losses: Devon Dotson, Udoka Azubuike, Silvio De Sousa, Isaiah Moss
Key Newcomers: Bryce Thompson, Latrell Jossell
Kansas is always one of the best teams in the Big 12. This year will be no different. However, Kansas has less offensive firepower than usual. Certainly, losing Azubuike and Dotson is a major reason for that. It is extremely important Agbaji has a big season offensively. Thompson should be a big contributor as well. It will be interesting to see who has the ball in their hands because Garrett was a very good playmaker last season but not as good off the ball.
1. Baylor Bears
Key Returners: Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, Macio Teague, Mark Vital, Tristan Clark, Matthew Mayer
Key Losses: Freddie Gillespie
Key Newcomers: LJ Cryer, Dain Dainja, Zach Loveday, Adam Flagler (Presbyterian)
Baylor is the preseason number one team in the nation. They have so much talent returning and add a nice freshmen class. If Baylor does not win the Big 12 this season, either the season was canceled or they woefully underperformed. They are that talented and that deep. Certainly, this team is led by Butler. He is an absolute stud and should put up big numbers. Baylor is still the typical Bears team. Vital and Clark are going to dominate the paint and they will make teams remember who they just played. In short, this is a great team top to bottom.
2020-21 Big 12 Basketball Awards
Player of the Year: Jared Butler, Baylor
Butler is on pace for a huge season. Typically, the best player on the best team has a great chance at awards and that is the case here. In short, Butler has the ability to dominate the conference and lead the number one team in the nation.
Rookie of the Year: Nimari Burnett, Texas Tech
Burnett is the best recruit to ever be a Red Raider. Surely, he will have tough competition with Greg Brown, but Burnett will have the ball in his hands more so he gets the edge. Even though Texas Tech may struggle, Burnett should have a big year.
Coach of the Year: Scott Drew, Baylor
Baylor should go gate to wire in the Big 12. When that happens, the coach usually gets a lot of respect. There does not seem to be a big sleeper in this conference so the coach of the conference champions will be Coach of the Year.
First Team All-Big 12: Jared Butler, Marcus Garrett, Matt Coleman, Nimari Burnett, Greg Brown
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