Once again, the Big XII brought the highest percentage of its members to the NCAA Tournament with seven teams from the conference going dancing. Kansas won the conference for seemingly the billionth time and look to be the favorites to win a 15th straight conference crown.
Though the Jayhawks lose a lot of the backcourt from its team that went 31-8 overall and 13-5 in conference en route to the Final Four, this team brings in two massive transfers in K.J. Lawson and Dedric Lawson.
The two sat out per NCAA transfer rules during the 2017-18 season after they had loads of individual production at Memphis the season before. Dedric averaged 19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.1 blocks per game as a sophomore. K.J. did not have quite that output as a freshman, but was still mighty impressive with 12.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game.
Both need to be a bit smarter with their shot selection as Dedric made just 27 percent of his 3-point attempts while K.J. made 39.9 percent of his field goals and 32.8 percent of his 3s.
Both are guards around 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 that will be a challenge for anyone to matchup with, important with the team losing its top three scorers from last season. Malik Newman was a nice player at the beginning of the year that became an incredibly important cog towards the end of the season.
For the season he had 14.2 points, five rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game while making 41.5 percent of his 5.3 3s per game. In the Big XII and NCAA Tournaments, when Kansas played its best basketball, he made 53.6 percent of his seven 3s per game and averaged 22.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.
The team is also without its floor general Devonte’ Graham, who had 17.3 points, four rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He was sixth among all DI players in assists per game. He took a team-High 6.9 3s per game as well, making 40.6 percent of them as Kansas was second in the country to only Villanova in made triples and was 11th in team 3-point shooting percentage. Graham was also 59th among all DI players in 3s made per game while his teammate Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk was 38th in that catalogue.
The departed 6-foot-8 sharp shooter made 44.4 percent of the 6.6 3s per game he took while averaging 14.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. All these departures makes Lagerald Vick the veteran in the backcourt and will lead to him likely being the focal point of the 2018-19 Jayhawks offense.
He had 12.1 points, five rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game as the team’s bottom scorer in the starting lineup as the team was 13th in the country in offensive efficiency. While he is the only of the team’s four starting guards back from last season, California transfer Charlie Moore is a mammoth addition as he figures to run the point.
As a freshman at Cal during the 2016-17 season, had averages of 12.2 points, 3.5 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He shot 35.8 percent from 3-point range and started in every appearance he made.
Down low, the team has Udoka Azubuike returning after he led the country in field goal percentage among qualifying players by making 77 percent of his shots. The 7-foot-0, 280 pound big man had 13 points, seven rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. He is a liability at the free throw line as he shot 41.3 percent at the charity stripe.
The team can also look to Mitch Lightfoot and Silvio De Sousa, especially with De Sousa coming on late last season. In the team’s final 11 games of the season, he had 6.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 69.8 percent from the floor and 73.7 percent at the free throw line.
Lightfoot played the whole season and actually got seven starts with season averages of 3.8 points, 1.4 blocks and 3.1 rebounds per game. This is a good big man tandem as Lightfoot is a bigger asset on defense while De Sousa is more of a scorer.
To add to the post game, 6-foot-10 David McCormack enters the program as the No. 27 rated prospect in the 2018 recruiting class. He has been losing weight the past year to improve his conditioning and enters as more of a traditional big man, butt is working on extending his range. If he does receive playing time in games that matter, it will be later in the season.
Coach Bill Self will likely give Marcus Garrett some more minutes as well after he was the team’s top scoring threat off the bench last season. The 6-foot-5 sophomore had 4.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, though he must improve upon his 26.7 3-point shooting percentage and 49 percent free throw shooting. He received minutes last season though thanks to his lockdown defense and should have a role in the rotation this season too.
Self might use a bigger rotation than normal too with a pair of five-star prospects entering the backcourt in Devin Dotson, who was the No. 25 recruit in the 2018 class according to ESPN, and Quentin Grimes, who ESPN had at number eight. Dotson has a lot of athleticism and a good burst, but needs to be a bit smarter with his passes and work on his shooting before becoming a major piece of the Jayhawks puzzle. Grimes is a bit more in the Russell Westbrook mode in that he does a bit of everything with scoring, rebounding, and assists, and has the ability to put a team on his back when needed.
Overall, this Kansas team is stacked from top to bottom. Despite this conference being ultra competitive yet again, the Jayhawks should breeze through to a regular season conference crown yet again and anything less than a trip to the Final Four should be deemed a disappointment.
Texas Tech broke through last season and made the Elite Eight with a record of 27-10 overall and went 11-7 in Big XII play. This team’s biggest strength was its defense, which was seventh in efficiency last year, though the team must now replace six of its top eight scorers from a season ago.
Keenan Evans was the unquestioned leader of this team last year and the Red Raiders looked rudderless when he was either playing injured or out last season. He registered 17.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game in the starting point guard role as a senior. The team did not take a lot of outside shots, ranking 277th in 3-point rate with Evans making 32 percent of the team-high 4.2 3s per game he attempted. The team was 1-5 when Evans either did not play or scored under 10 points, so replacing him will be a challenge.
Freshman Zhaire Smith was his biggest form of backcourt support and went the one and done route after averaging 11.3 points, five rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game as a 6-foot-5 chameleon type of player. He only took 1.1 3s per game, but hit 45 percent of them and actually came off the bench in the first 16 contests of the season.
This means sophomore Jarrett Culver is now the leader of the backcourt after he had 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. He made the most outside shots of anyone on the team last season, converting 38.2 percent of his 3.9 triple tries per outing. He will need to shoot better at the line though because this team was 221st in America in free throw shooting percentage with Evans and Smith taking 10.1 free throws per game between them and making 77.8 percent of them. The rest of the team combined to shoot 64 percent at the line with Culver making 64.8 percent of his.
Brandone Francis played a reserve role last season and should start this season given all the turnover on the roster. He had 5.1 point per game and made 38.4 percent of his 3s, but just 44 percent of his free throws. At 6-foot-5, he might take the place of guard Niem Stevenson, who was a part time starter that made 39.2 percent of his 3s. He gave the team 7.5 points and three rebounds per game.
The team also loses Zach Smith full time, a starting forward who had 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. The team was 8-6 in the games he missed, though most of those were Big XII conference tilts. Losing 6-foot-11 Tommy Hamilton compounds it as the outgoing senior.
Though he only started eight games, Hamilton's 38.5 3-point shooting percentage and 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game leaves starting big man Norense Odiase on a bit of an island. The 6-foot-9 starting center saw just 14.8 minutes per game with 3.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Coach Chris Beard will look to 6-foot-8 Khavon Moore to play a role similar to what a lot of those departed bigs did. He was rated by ESPN as the No. 43 prospect in the 2018 class and is a guy that can shoot 3s but isn't necessarily an outside shooting wizard. He is good on the glass and a better shot blocker than any of the other departed big men.
The team also brings in Tariq Owens from St. John's, who at 6-foot-10 gives this team some much needed size. The graduate transfer had 8.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game a season ago. He comes over after ranking 10th among all DI players in blocks per game last season.
The team also needs to replace another starter in Justin Gray, who had 5.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game as more of a defensive specialist.. Beard is looking to South Dakota graduate transfer Matt Mooney to be a big time performer this season.
The Summit League product had 18.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and two steals per game. His steals per game were 37th among all DI players last season.
Six-foot-5 JUCO transfer Deshawn Corprew was rated by jucorecruiting.com as the No. 37 transfer in the 2018 class. He made 36.5 percent of his 3s at the lower level and averaged 12.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game. He might be the team's top outside shooter this season and should play a lot of minutes as a guard-forward hybrid.
The team will also rely on Davide Moretti taking a step forward after he averaged 3.5 points and shot a team-best 85.7 percent at the free throw line. Unless he and three-star rated freshmen by 247Sports Kyler Edwards and Josh Mballa step up, it could be a tough season.
The team also brings in a rated four-star prospect according to 247Sports in Kevin McCullar,, who committed to the program during the summer. His unexpected addition likely gives this team just enough to be a 20 win team and be a fringe NCAA Tournament team as the Red Raiders look to build a solid lineup in which all five players on the floor and be proficient both on the glass and shooting beyond the arc
West Virginia made the Sweet 16 with a record of 26-11 overall, and went 11-7 in the brutal Big XII. The team loses starting guards Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles, but should still have its patented press defense that will force a boatload of turnovers.
The Mountaineer had the third-most total takeaways of any team at the DI level, forcing a turnover in 22.9 percent of foes' possessions. Carter had the second-mot steals per game of any DI player with three per game and added team-highs 17.3 points and 6.6 assists along with 4.6 rebounds per game.
Miles chipped in 12.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. The two also took a combined 10.2 3s per game, making just over 37 percent of them. They took a lot of free throws with Carter making 85.8 percent of his 4.2 free throws per game while West converted 74.1 percent of his 3.1 attempts. They did this for a team that was 25th in America in free throw shooting percentage with only one rotation play shooting under 73 percent at the line.
With these two gone, junior forwards Sagaba Konate and Lamont West figure to be the team's leaders for coach Bob Huggins. Konate was fourth among all DI players in blocks per game with 3.2 as he also led the team in rebounds with averages of 10.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. West Virginia had the most offensive rebounds of any DI team last season and Konate had 2.6 of those per game, which was 96th among DI players, which shows how good this team's group rebounding was.
West started 20 games last season, splitting starts with Esa Ahmad, who was suspended the first part of the 2017-18 season. He averaged 9.4 points and 3.8 rebounds and at 6-foot-8, shot 33.7 percent on his 3-point attempts.
The team also brings back Ahmad after he gave the team 10.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, two assists, and a steal. He is another 6-foot-8 forward that can shoot 3s, though he made just 30.6 percent of his deep shots last season.
Junior Wesley Harris is another 6-foot-8 body the team can rely on after he posted 5.3 points and 3.6 rebounds while starting all but one game last season. He made 31.8 percent of the 2.4 3s per game he took.
The team bring in six freshmen, two of which are four-start recruits according to 247Sports. Six-foot-7 Emmitt Matthews Jr., has a chance to be this team's main wing as he comes in as a heralded rebounder that can also shoot well from the outside. The other four-star recruit is another big man in 6-foot-10 Derek Culver. He has a similar skill set to Konate down low, though he is not a guy that can step out and hit a jump shot.
With Carter and Miles gone, James Bolden will likely become the team's main ball handling guard. As a sophomore last season, he averaged 8.7 points per game and shot a team-best 41.1 percent from 3-point range.
The team may need to use 6-foot-5 Teddy Allen in more of a guard role after he was listed as a reserve forward last season. He shot 3-for-25 on 3s last season with averages of seven points and 2.7 rebounds in 11.9 minutes per game.
Huggins brings in 6-foot-7 Jermaine Haley, who was the No. 29 JUCO transfer in the 2018 class according to jucorercruiting.com, who had 10.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game at the lower level. He spent the season prior at New Mexico State where he had 21.1 minutes, 3.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game as a part-time starter. He could play the role of a point forward though his outside shooting is a bit limited.
Unless the seldom used Chase Harler or redshirt freshman Brandon Knapper can make big contributions, this will be a thin frontcourt. Huggins likes to use a very deep bench with how taxing his 40 minutes of press defense can but, but on the surface, it looks like the big men will carry this team.
West Virginia is such a tough team for teams that do not often see them to match up with, so the Mountaineers should get off to a good start this season, but could hit some snags in Big XII play. This is still likely a top 25 team, but will likely be either fourth or fifth in the conference standings with what Kansas State and TCU are building.
Kansas State made the Elite Eight as a nine seed in the NCAA Tournament and overachieved with a 25-12 overall and 10-8 Big XII record. The team did not have a single senior making meaningful contributions, and have all their weapons back from the 2017-18 campaign.
The team made its big run with arguably its best player hurt as Dean Wade played just eight minutes in the NCAA Tournament and in one contest during the Big XII Tournament. In the 3 starts he made, the 6-foot-8 forward shot 44 percent on his 2.8 3s per game with averages of 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He was actually 80th among all qualifying DI players in 3-point shooting percentage.
A turning part of the season for this team was going on a 5-2 run in January during Big XII play with starting guard Kamau Stokes out of the lineup. He and fellow backcourt mate Barry Brown did the ball distribution by committee as Stokes had a team-high 3.4 assists per game to go with nine points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game.
Brown started every game last season and logged 34.7 minutes per contest and notched 15.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and a team-high 1.8 steals per game. He and Stokes combined to make just 31.6 percent of their 7.9 3s per game. Kansas State was actually 221st in 3-point shooting percentage as Cartier Diarra was the only player other than Wade that shot over 34.4 percent from distance.
The 6-foot-4 Diarra as a freshman had averages of 7.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, and two assists per game as he split starts with Stokes His 3-point shooting percentage of 40.5 percent is big as he and the rest of the team's main scorers are all pretty equal at the free throw line.
.The team went with a thin seven man rotation, not counting Levi Stockard III who logged 8.6 minutes per game. All of those players sans Amaad Wainright, who made 42.3 percent of his free throws, everyone made between 72.3 and 77.8 percent of their freebies.
The team is going to likely look for more from junior big man Makol Mawien this season after the Wildcats were 292nd in the country in rebound rate. The 6-foot-9 big man had 6.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and a team-high 1.1 blocks per game while owning the top free throw shooting percentage on the roster.
Coach Bruce Weber brings in Austin Trice, who was rated by jucorecruiting.com as the No. 57 JUCO prospect of 2018. He should find minutes in the rotation after he had 12.6 points,12.1 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks. Ge is not a guy that will step outside the paint much and shot just 50.9 percent at the free throw line, but should give this team some much needed help on the glass.
The team also returns Xavier Sneed, who at 6-foot-5, plays a combo role for this squad. He had 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game With 247Sports rating Kansas State as having the worst 2018 recruiting class in the conference with Trice being the team's top addition.
A healthy Mike McGurl should be enough to give Kansas State improved depth from last season and in position to make another deep NCAA Tournament run. He had just 3.3 points in 12 games last season while shooting 23.8 percent from beyond the arc, but registered 21.4 minutes per game in five postseason appearances with 6.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest in that sample size.
The Wildcats appear to be the second-best team in the conference and perhaps the most multi-faceted player in Wade. This team was good at forcing turnovers and controlling the game last season, rating 19th in the country in turnovers forced per offensive possession and 319th in pace of play quickness. It led to a 16-6 record in games decided by 10 points or fewer. This team will likely be able to win a lot of close game again this season and will likely be even better than their ranked 81st defensive efficiency from a season ago.
TCU was bounced in the round of 64 as a six seed in the NCAA Tournament, going 21-12 overall and 9-9 in league play. The team started 12-0, then point guard Jaylen Fisher got hurt while the team was in a three game losing streak, which led to problems for one of the country's most prolific offenses. The team had a massive issue closing out games after that hot start, going 3-10 in games decided by seven or fewer points, something that likely will not duplicate itself with a lot of last year' squad back for blood.
TCU was second in the country in assists per game with 18.6 as Fisher averaged 12.3 points, 5.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game before being lost for the season. He also made 43.9 percent of his 3s, one of four players that averaged at least 10 points per game and shot at least 39.5 percent from -point range, all of whom took between 3.6 and 4.1 3s per game.
Alex Robinson took over the point guard duties when Fisher went down and for the year registered 9.1 points, 6.1 assists, and three rebounds per game. His assists per game rated 19th in the country while Fisher came in at No. 54 in that list. During the final 16 games of the year, Robinson started every game and shot 39.5 percent from 3-point range and though he only made 56.7 percent of his free throws, his averages of 11.8 points, 7.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game more than made up for that.
It helps having a sharp shooter like Desmond Bane helping you out as he was No. 34 among all DI players in 3-point shooting percentage, hitting 46.1 percent of his triples as he had averages of 12.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game.
The big men played huge for the Horned Frogs last season as the team was 15th in the country in rebounding rate. a big reason was 6-foot-10 Vladimir Brodziansky, who had averages of 15 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. He made 81.8 percent of the 4.3 free throws per game he took and paired well with 6-foot-7 wing Kenrich Williams.
He is also out of eligibility after he added 13.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.8 steals per game all while making 39.5 percent of his 3s. His replacement will likely be sophomore Kouat Noi, who was the team's main sixth man a year ago.
The 6-foot-8 Noi made 43.4 percent of his 4.1 3-point attempts per game and averaged 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. JD Miler plays a bit more of a traditional post game, though he did take 1.8 3s per game himself, and registered 7.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
The team will get a massive boost down low from the JUCO ranks as Yuat Alok, who was rated by jucorecruiting.com as the third-best prospect of 2018 enters the program. The 6-foot-11 big man shot 48.1 percent from beyond the arc with 12.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. The team also adds a wing in 6-foot-6 Kaden Archie, who 247Sports rated as a four-star recruit.
The 6-foot-6 Archie is a stat sheet filler that does not necessarily excel at one thing, but is a solid shooter that holds his own on the glass and plays tough defense. He should probably see minutes in the rotation right away with the hope being that he can develop in much the way Williams did in his time with the Horned Frogs.
The backcourt also has another weapon in 5-foot-11 point guard Kendrich Davis, who will likely sit for a year behind Fisher, Robinson, and the rest of that strong guard stable before making his impact with coach Jamie Dixon's squad. He shot 51.3 percent from 3-point range as a high school senior and is a very good passer who was one of the best guard prospects in the state of Texas. It would not be surprising if he finds his way into the rotation and gains minutes as the season goes along, and could crack into the starting lineup sooner than expected if an injury occurs.
TCU has what it did not have last season, depth. The team also should be improved on defense after the Horned Frogs were 256th among DI teams in points per game allowed and were in the bottom 50 of the country in opponents' 3-point shooting percentage. TCU has the chops to be the third-best team in the conference and make the second week of the tournament after Fisher's injury and bad luck in close games derailed that possibility a season ago.
Texas made the NCAA Tournament, going 19-15 overall and 8-10 last season with future lottery pick Mohammad Bamba putting the team on his back and 7-foot-9 wingspan. The team loses both he and his 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game, but return almost everyone else with some big recruits also entering coach Shaka Smart’s system.
The team won’t be as prolific at blocking shots as Bamba was third among DI players in blocks per game, swatting away more shots per game than over 240 DI teams. It does help that 6-foot-9 versatile big man Dylan Osetkowski is back after he notched 13.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, and a steal per game.
Osetkowski was second on the team in 3s per game shot, though he converted just 28.8 percent of them. As a team, Texas was 321st in 3-point shooting percentage and 317th in free throw shooting percentage.
The team was not able to properly fill in guards when Andrew Jones was lost for the season due to a battle with cancer after just 10 games. Fortunately he is doing better and appears to be on track for a return after he had 13.5 points and two assists per game. He was the team’s top 3-point shooter, making 46.3 percent of his 4.1 3s per game.
With him out of the lineup, Kerwin Roach Jr. and Eric Davis Jr. became the team’s only two competent jump shooters. They combined to take 8.2 triples per game, making 35.6 percent of them. Roach filled up the stat sheet as a junior to help mitigate the loss of Jones a bit with 12.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and a team-best 1.5 steals per game.
Davis Jr. made more 3s than 2s a year ago, as he served as essentially a designated shooter off the bench. He totaled 8.8 points per game and shot 74.5 percent at the free throw line.
The team will hope to get more offense after guard Jase Forbes, who started 17 games as a freshman last season. He had just 3.4 points per game and shot 30.5 percent from the field. The results for classmate Matt Coleman were much better as he led the team in assists in his starting role during the 2017-18 campaign.
The 6-foot-2 floor general had 10.2 points, 4.1 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He needs to work on his 28.6 3-point conversion rate, but shot a team-best 78.7 percent at the free throw line. With all this returning and the team bringing in guard Courtney Ramey, who ESPN rated as the No. 59 prospect in the 2018 recruiting class, Jacob Young decided to transfer in the offseason.
Young was one of the team' top bench players last season as he provided 6.2 points per game, but shot just 32.3 percent from long range and 68.2 percent at the free throw line. Ramey is a much better passer and ball handler than Young, though he also has some work to do on his jump shot.
In the recruiting haul, the team also got 6-foot-11 center Jaxon Hayes, who was rated by ESPN as the No. 89 prospect in the class and No. 47 prospect Gerald Liddell, who will likely be a 6-foot-8 wing. He does a little bit of everything, but needs to work on his strength since he's listed around 180 or 185 pounds. His jump shot is decent but could use some work as well.
Hayes comes in as a very good shot blocker that does a good job of dunking on offense and blocking out for rebounds. He will not step out and take jumpers, but should provide some interior depth with James Banks, who was the No. 64 prospect in ESPN's 2016 recruiting ratings, leaving the Longhorns.
With 6-foot-9 sophomore Jericho Sims back after he added five points and 3.9 rebounds per game, the Longhorns appear to have a lot of depth at every position. Despite having Bamba last season, Texas was just 175th among DI teams in rebounding rate and 204th in offensive efficiency with the shaky guard play.
The Longhorns should be better at distributing the rock than last season when they were 328th in assists per made field goal. The team will likely distribute by committee again with Coleman being a lead man, and the versatility this roster has makes the Longhorns dangerous. This is likely the fourth-best team in the conference and has a chance to make the second week of the tournament if the guards can hit outside shots and Osetkowski can be a bit more of a rim protector after being a bit passive on defense a season ago.
Oklahoma State went 8-10 in conference and 21-15 overall last season, being relegated to the NIT due to a poor RPI. The team had an eight man rotation under coach Michael Boynton, but must now replace four of those players, including its only two players that had at least 10 points per game and top two rebounders.
Jeffrey Carroll did a lot of everything for the Cowboys a year ago, leading the crew with 15.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per while attempting a team-high 6.1 3s and 4.2 free throws per game. He made 33.2 percent of his 3s and 77.4 percent of his freebies to help a team that did not have many true strengths of weaknesses.
The team's top post presence was 7-foot-0 Mitchell Solomon, who along with Carroll, is gone after he had 8.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and one block per game. He did not take many 3s last season, and for good reason as he made just 22.6 percent of them, but was an incredible 88 percent at the charity stripe. he was 46th among all qualified DI players in free throw shooting percentage.
This makes junior Cameron McGriff the team's veteran in the post after he had a sophomore season that yielded 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He is also an excellent free throw shooter, making 86.5 percent of his free throws and also buried 36.8 percent of his 3-pointers. Yankuba Sima and Lucas N'Guessan split starts with McGriff as 7-foot-0 big men last year, but did not do much with a combined 5.2 points, 1.5 blocks, and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Both those big men are gone as the team will need to rely on freshmen that frankly were not highly recruited to hold the fort down low. The team reeled in four forwards and centers in this year's recruiting cycle, but all of them were rated as three star recruits by 247Sports.
The team's five spot lacks good options, but 6-foot-10 freshmen Kentrevious Jones and Yor Anei will likely see the most time in that spot. Jones might be the strongest guy on the team at 270 pounds and should do a good job of fighting for rebounds while Anei has better vision and ball skills.
Miami (OH) transfer Michael Weathers was expected to be a huge addition to the roster, but was suspended in September and faces a felony grand larceny charge. Considering he averaged 16.7 points, 4.8 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.4 blocks per game as a freshman during the 2016-17 season, this is a massive blow. He did shoot just 22.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, and had 4.6 turnovers per game, which was third among all players the country. Despite that he was expected to start, especially with Brandon Averette transferring in the offseason.
He led the team in assists while playing a priority reserve, averaging 6.3 points and 2.9 assists per game. He made just 27 percent of his 3s and with his 5-foot-11 stature, it pigeonholed him as a passer and facilitator.
The team also loses Kendall Smith from last year's backcourt after he chipped in 13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and a steal per game.. He did this while making a team-best 41 percent of his 3s, though his 66.7 percent free throw shooting was worst among all players other than Sima and N'Guessan.
Six-foot-6 combo players Tavarius Shine and Lindy Waters had similar skill set and stats, combining for 18.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game. The only true difference between these two was Waters being the better 3-point shooter, making 37.3 percent of his triple tries compared to 32.3 for Shine. That is big as Shine is out of eligibility while Waters is back and will be in the starting lineup.
This mean USC Upstate graduate transfer Mike Cunningham becomes even more important to Boynton. As a junior during the 2017-18 season, Cunningham averaged 13.7 points and 3.0 assists per game while making 38.2 percent of his 3s. The team also will have junior Thomas Dziagwa in the guard rotation after he made 37 percent of his 3s and averaged 4.9 points per game. He also went 19-of-20 on his attempted free throws.
Oklahoma State appears to be the worst team in the conference. The fact that this bunch defeated Kansas twice last season, being the firs Big XII team to sweep Bill Self's Jayhawks, is amazing and something that will not duplicate itself. This team has massive holes down low and may not have what might be its best player in Weathers. Hard to see anything other than a sub-.500 season for this bunch.
Oklahoma will look vastly different this year than from the 18-14 bunch that went 8-10 in Big XII play and lost to Rhode Island in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Trae Young was essentially the team last season, for better and for worse.
Young led the country in points, assists, 3-point attempts, and turnovers with averages of 27.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.9 rebounds, 5.2 turnovers, and 1.7 steals while making 86.1 percent of his 8.6 free throw attempts and 36 percent of his 10.3 3s per contest.
Young led the Sooners to being fifth in the country in points per game while having the nation's sixth-quickest pace, but the team was 230th in defensive efficiency and was 336th in points per game allowed. Considering Oklahoma won one game the whole month of February, perhaps it will be addition by subtraction as a lot of the other rotation pieces from a year ago are back, including the team's number two scorer from a year ago Christian James.
The 6-foot-4 compliment had 11.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. He will need to improve upon the 1.5 assists per game he had last season as everyone not named Young on the roster last season combined for 6.3 assists per game. He made 36.5 percent of his 3s and 76.7 percent of his free throws, the best mark of any returning player. Considering everyone outside of Young shot 66.8 percent at the free throw line, that might be important.
The team will not have Kameron McGusty in the backcourt as he transferred to Miami in the offseason after he had eight points per game, but came off the bench in 24 of his 32 appearances. This makes Maine graduate transfer Aaron Calixte and Pacific graduate transfer Miles Reynolds massive for this season.
Jamal Bieniemy is the only freshman entering the program this season, as he was rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports. He is solid on defense and has good vision for being 6-foot-4, but might be a bit to raw to make big contributions immediately as he has an issue similar Young in that he sometimes plays too much hero ball and takes low percentage shots.
Though Maine was a putrid 6-26 last season in the America East Conference, Calixte put up numbers, making 38.6 percent of his 3s and 89.9 percent of his free throws while averaging 16.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. He shot at the 33rd-best percent at the free throw line among all qualifying players at the DI level.
Reynolds is a well-traveled player as he began his college career at St. Louis and played just one season in the WCC. He had 13.3 points, 2.8 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and a steal per game and shot 37.7 percent from distance and 80.3 percent at the free throw line.
Though he took just 16 3s last season, Rashard Odomes is a 6-foot-6 senior wing that can stretch the floor for this team. He started 25 games a year ago and posted 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, though his 53.8 free throw shooting percentage needs work.
He will be looked to in a bigger capacity on the glass with the graduation of 6-foot-9 big man Khadeem Latin. He was a three year starter for coach Lon Kruger and led the team in rebounds with averages of 6.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. Unlike the backcourt though, there are plenty of players that had big contributions in the front court and things should not drop off from last season.
Brady Manek started 26 games as a freshman and gave the team 10.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while also showing that he can be a versatile weapon. The 6-foot-9 forward converted 38.3 percent of the 4.8 triples he attempted per game last season, though attempting less than a free throw per game is certainly an area he needs to improve upon.
Jamuni McNeace played a reserve roll last year as a 6-foot-10 back to the basket big man with 6.8 points, 1.4 blocks, and 5.4 rebounds per game. With Lattin out of the mix, he will likely take over his starting spot.
Kruger will also likely try to get more playing time for Kristian Doolittle, who is coming off a sophomore season in which he averaged 2.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. It would not be surprising if he and Matt Freeman rotate in and out for each other as this 6-foot-10 forward is more of a stretch four or five that had 2.5 points in 9.3 minutes per game last season.
Oklahoma does not have the look of an NCAA Tournament team with nothing coming into the program in regards to freshman. The Sooners would have a chance to compete in a conference like the A10 or AAC, but the Big XII grind will swallow this team up and they will slip to the bottom three of the conference and likely post a record just below .500 overall.
Baylor ended up being an NIT team that finished with a mark of 19-15 overall, going 8-10 in Big XII play. With its top four scorers from a year ago gone from a team that had a tight eight man rotation, it will be a very different looking Bears team.
Baylor has traditionally been a hard nose defensive team, but a lot of the incoming players are high scoring guards, and there really is not a replacement for big man Jo Acuil. The 7-foot-0 center had 14 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game.
The mantle is now turned to 6-foot-9 Tristan Clark to clog the paint after he was a freshman starter during the 2017-18 season that had 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while making 60.8 percent from the floor.
The team also has sophomore Mark Vital down low, but at 6-foot-5, he’s probably best served trying to become more of a stretch forward rather than the traditional big man he was a season ago. He started 18 games as a freshman, shooting a team-worst 50.5 percent from the free throw line with 6.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Vital split starts with the outgoing Nuni Omot, with both being spelled by another departure in T.J. Maston. Omot was a 43.3 percent 3-point shooter and made the second-most 3s for a team that was 322nd Amin’s DI teams in 3-point shooting rate.
Maston was a more traditional big man as the two combined for 21.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game as both shot well from the free throw line considering their size. Omot made 85.5 percent of his free throws and Maston 72.2 percent.
The team also lost its main 3-point shooter and ball handler in Manu Lecomte, who shot 7.2 triples per game last season, making 38.1 percent of them. Considering he and Omot took 59 percent of the team’s 3s last season, the guard additions are much needed. Those guards will also have to replace Lecomte’s team-high 16.2 points and 3.7 assists per game. He was also 37th among all qualifying DI players in free throw shooting percentage, hitting at an 89 percent clip at the stripe.
Many remember 12 seed Yale knocking off a five seed Baylor in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Makai Mason led all players with 31 points in that game, and now will play his final season for the team who’s season he ended two seasons ago.
He has played just one game the past two season due to injury, but during the 2016-17 season, he averaged 16 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game for one of the nation’s best mid-majors. He also made 80.6 percent of his free throws and 35.7 percent of his 5.1 3s per game, so he will likely be the main man to replace Lecomte.
It would not be surprising if senior guard Jake Lindsey has a similar role to last year when he served as a defensive specialist and took care of the ball on offense. He had just 4.5 points and 3.5 assists per game as a part-time starter, but his assist to turnover ratio was 34th in the country among qualifying DI players.
The backcourt also returns King McClure, who as a junior, had 8.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game while starting in 21 of his 34 appearances. His playing time might be threatened a bit by Mario Kegler, who comes in after spending the 2016-17 season with the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
The 6-foot-7 combo guard sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules, but recorded 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a freshman the year prior. He shot 35.5 percent from downtown and has a similar skill set to McClure, but I’d four inches taller.
The team also brings in two top level JUCO transfers to the backcourt. Devante Bandoo was rated as the No. 11 JUCO transfer of 2018 by jucorecruiting.com and Darius Allen was No. 25 on that list. Allen averaged 10.2 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game, shooting just 32.9 percent on 3s and notching less than an assist per game. Bandoo comes in with the better numbers as he made 43.8 percent of his 3s and averaged 16.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game.
With 6-foot-7 wing Matthew Mayer, who was rated No. 95 in ESPN's top 100 and guard Jared Butler, who was No. 88 on that list, also entering the program, the Bears should have much more rotation depth this season. Butler originally signed with Alabama, but was granted a full release and joined the Bears in August. Butler is a high volume scorer that has great vision and ball skills, but can sometimes try to do too much without looking for help.
Mayer is a guy that is far from tenacious on defense, but should be used off the bench as a sharp shooter. He also is a good passer for his size and should be in a nice cog for a Bears team that is shifting a bit more to an offensive oriented team.
Baylor has a lot of unknown to them with Mason not having played in two seasons and there being massive turnover from last year's rotation. If this team can mash together, Baylor can climb into the Big XII's top five and perhaps make the second week of the tournament. This team likely won't be quite as good on the glass though after the Bears were 26th in the country in rebounding rate and if the backcourt does not come together as expected, this might be a .500 team that finishes eighth in the conference. This team may have the highest ceiling and lowest floor of any in the conference.
Iowa State was just 13-18 overall and 4-14 in conference, but that is more a credit to how brutal the conference was rather than a knock on the Cyclones. The team was in massive transition last season with losing nearly its whole roster from the 2016-17 season and now this team has some experience on it thanks to last season.
This team was neither great nor awful in almost every category, but just could not finish, having a -1.9 scoring margin in the second half of games, which was 255th among DI teams. The team was 5-7 in games decided by nine points or fewer, meaning this team also feel into the trap of either playing its best or worst basketball a lot of nights with not a lot of in between.
Coach Steve Prohm found a star guard to build around in Lindell Wigginton. As a freshman, he led the team with 16.7 points per game as he and the departed Donovan Jackson were the team's top two, and really lone two, outside shooting threats. They both hit 40.1 percent of their 3s with Jackson ranking 22nd in the country in made 3s per game as he took 7.9 per game while Wiggington took 5.5 of them.
Jackson's 15 points and 2.1 assists per game will have to be replaced, but a health Nick Weiler-Babb should help with that. The team went 11-9 in his starts last season as he missed the final nine games of the 2017-18 season due to injury. His 11.3 points, seven rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game were missed as the team went 1-8 without him.
He will have a new weapon to pass to in Marial Shayok, who sat out last season while transferring from Virginia. The 6-foot-6 combo player is stout in defense with playing for Tony Bennett and was second on the team in scoring as a part-time starter as a junior with 8.9 points per game. He is also a career 37.4 percent 3-point shooter and got his free throw make rate to 79.6 percent during the 2016-17 season.
The team brings in a DI transfer for the forward position too with former Nebraska big man Michael Jacobson now eligible. He started every game for the Cornhuskers during the 2016-17 season, averaging 6.0 points and 6.2 rebounds, with 2.9 of those boards being offensive. He needs to be smarter about his shots as he made just 39.1 percent of his field goals, with over 88 percent of those shots coming from inside the arc.
It would not be surprising if he and 6-foot-9 sophomore Cameron Lard are the main two frontcourt start starters. Lard was a part-time starter and led the team in rebounds as a freshman logging 12.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game, as he was 31st in among all DI players in blocks per game.
Zoran Talley split star with Lard down low and had 7.5 points, 1.7 assists, and four rebounds per game. He's sown too be a willing jump shooter, but made just 28 percent of his 1.1 3s per game and shot 58.1 percent at the free throw line.
With Jeff Beverly gone after he had 4.7 points and three rebounds per game as a part time starter, it makes having 6-foot-8, 240 pound Solomon Young back all the more important. As a sophomore he started 26 games with averages of 7.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
Zion Griffin, a rated four-star recruit by 247Sports should see a lot of time at the wing as he has a good mid-range and reminds some of a less muscular Deonte Burton down low.
Prohm also bring in Talen Horton-Tucker, who was rated by ESPN as the No. 66 recruit in the 2018 class. Many have raved about versatility as he is a master of no skills but solid at many type of player. He will likely try to work in his 3-point shot, and enter as a very willing driver.
Iowa State will likely be either sixth or seventh in the conference and hovering around 19 or 20 overall wins.This appears to be a textbook bubble team , with the difference perhaps being point guard Weiler-Babb. If he can play the way he did last season prior to the injury, the Cyclone more likely than not will be on the right side of that bubble. The addition of Shayock means if the frontcourt can do just enough on offense to help give the guards space on the perimeter, this team can go from decent to dangerous.