Welcome back to the Report Card series. We’ve previously looked at the league’s intra-conference transfers, point guards, and shooting guards. This time around we’ll be breaking down the Big 12’s starting small forwards. As we’ve said over the past couple of weeks, it is increasingly difficult to determine what a small forward is. Teams like Baylor, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State start three (or more) guards. This means that for purposes of this series, we’ll be calling guys like Keyonte George, Caleb Grill, and Bryce Thompson (each of whom would best be categorized as shooting guards in a vacuum) as SFs because they are the most analogous players to the position for their respective teams’ starting lineups. Also, there are a couple of guys that will be discussed in this post that were previously analyzed in the intra-conference transfer post.
Bryce Thompson: Oklahoma State
The former McDonald’s All-American and former Kansas Jayhawk came into this season with a reputation as a high-volume, low-efficiency scorer. This year he is taking more shots but making a lower percentage than he did a year ago. The good news for Thompson is that his 3P% is at a career high as are his rebounding and assist numbers. He is 2nd on his team in scoring and assists. He also has taken 70 more shot attempts than the next closest player for the Cowboys and he has turned the ball over more than any of his teammates.
Stats: 11.8 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 0.7 SPG in 28 games played (all starts; 29.5 MPG) on 38.9% FG, 37.1% 3P, and 59.7% FT.
Emmitt Matthews, Jr.: West Virginia
The Washington native started his career with West Virginia and spent his first 3 seasons with the Mountaineers before transferring last season to be closer to home and play for the Huskies. His season in the PAC-12 was easily his best and most productive campaign. Now back in Morgantown for his super senior season, Matthews has seen his scoring, rebounding, and steals numbers decline. He ranks 49th of 52 Big 12 players (who have played 500+ minutes this season) in Defensive Rating (per sport-reference.com).
Stats: 9.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 1.3 APG in 26 games played (all starts; 28.8 MPG) on 45.7% FG, 35.2% 3P, and 79.0% FT.
Chuck O’Bannon, Jr.: TCU
O’Bannon is 23 years old. He started his career with USC where he struggled to find playing time primarily due to injury. He’s in his 3rd and final season with TCU and is the team’s starting 3&D wing. His statistical production has regressed severely compared to last season. His scoring is down 25% year-to-year, his rebounding is down 21% year-to-year, his FG% is down from 40.8% to 37.4%, and his 3P% is down from 33.8% to 29.9%. Despite leading TCU in blocks, he has been mostly an afterthought this year.
Stats: 7.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, and 1.0 BPG in 28 games played (24 starts; 21.4 MPG) on 37.4% FG, 29.9% 3P, and 70.7% FT.
Jalen Wilson: Kansas
Everyone and their dog knew that Wilson was going to contend for Big 12 Player of the Year when he decided to forgo the draft and return to Kansas. He does a little bit of everything and is far and away the best player on one of the best teams in the country. Wilson leads the conference in scoring and rebounding while ranking 10th in the league in FG%. His emergence as a serious 3P shooting threat is huge. He’s taking twice as many threes this season and his efficiency from beyond the arc is up to 34.3% from 26.3% last year. When it comes to small forwards in college basketball, and Wilson is a true small forward, it doesn’t get any better than this guy.
Stats: 19.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 0.9 SPG in 28 games played (all starts; 34.9 MPG) on 41.8% FG, 34.3% 3P, and 77.5% FT.
Keyonte George: Baylor
If you’re a Baylor fan, you’ve been hearing and reading about George for a long time. Although his scoring efficiency is a bit lower than where we’d like it to be (of the team’s top 8 scorers this year, his FG% is the lowest in that group), he is an explosive, high-volume scorer. He is Baylor’s top scorer and top 3 on the team in rebounding, assists, and steals. George is 4th in the Big 12 in scoring and 2nd in 3P shooting. He is as complete as it gets for a true freshman in this league. The only real concern here is a lack of consistency. In conference play, he has 8 20+ point games and 5 games scoring 11 or fewer points.
Stats: 16.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, and 1.1 SPG in 28 games played (all starts; 29.7 MPG) on 39.2% FG, 35.8% 3P, and 80.6% FT.
Keyontae Johnson: Kansas State
By now, you’re probably familiar with Johnson’s story. He started at Florida where he was SEC Preseason Play of the Year before collapsing to the floor in a game due to a heart condition. It has been a long road back for him, but he has been nothing short of phenomenal this year. He is 2nd in the Big 12 in scoring, rebounding, and FG%. He’s also in the top 10 of conference players in Defensive Win Shares and Defensive Box +/- (both per sports-reference.com). He’s the obvious conference player of the year candidate who doesn’t get talked about nearly enough.
Stats: 17.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 1.1 SPG in 28 games played (all starts; 33.8 MPG) on 51.9% FG, 40.7% 3P, and 72.5% FT.
Caleb Grill: Iowa State
Grill came into this season as the team’s leading returning 3P shooter. After coming off the bench in all 35 games played a year ago, he’s not just a starter this year, but a leader for the Cyclones. He is averaging career highs in scoring, rebounding, steals, FG%, and 3P%. He also has the 6th best Defensive Rating in the Big 12 (per sports-reference.com). The problem with him, as with BU’s George, is lack of consistency. This year he has 6 games scoring 15+ points and 13 games scoring fewer than 10 points. In the team’s 7 losses, he is averaging 6.7 PPG on 31.9% FG while in the team’s 16 wins, he is averaging 11.4 PPG on 43.8% FG.
Stats: 10.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.5 APG, and 1.3 SPG in 23 games played (22 starts; 31.9 MPG) on 40.6% FG, 37.7% 3P, and 75.0% FT.
Timmy Allen: Texas
While much of the preseason hype around the Longhorns was focused on guards, Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter, and on highly regarded freshmen, Dillon Mitchell and Arterio Morris, Allen led the Horns in scoring and rebounding (and was 2nd in assists) a year ago. Despite lacking a 3P stroke, he’s a highly effective wing who can score in the midrange and get to the rim effectively. He is top 10 in the Big 12 in defensive rebounds and assists. His scoring efficiency is down significantly. His scoring output is at a career-low (as is his 3P% and Player Efficiency Rating [per sports-reference.com]).
Stats: 10.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 0.9 SPG in 28 games played (all starts; 27.7 MPG) on 48.3% FG, 11.8% 3P, and 69.5% FT.
Jaylon Tyson: Texas Tech
As discussed in the Intra-Conference Transfer Report Card post, Tyson is effectively a redshirt freshman who has come in and immediately established himself as a major contributor for the Red Raiders. He is in the top 10 in the league in rebounding and Steal Rate (per sports-reference.com). He’s also been on fire in the month of February, averaging 16.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG on 58/57/89 splits. The versatile wing is doing some special things right now and is a big part of Tech’s recent turnaround.
Stats: 11.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.4 APG, and 1.4 SPG in 27 games played (all starts; 28.5 MPG) on 48.7% FG, 40.9% 3P, and 73.3% FT.
Jalen Hill: Oklahoma
Hill is the last player on the team that played for former coach, Lon Kruger. He is a good defender and one of the league’s quality glue guys. He is highly athletic and gives great effort on both ends of the floor. While his stats don’t exactly scream that he’s a star player, he is top 10 in the league in rebounding, TS%, and Offensive Rating (per sports-reference.com). As of now, he’s scored 10+ points in 4 straight games, his longest such streak of the season.
Stats: 10.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, and 0.7 SPG in 28 games played (all starts; 32.6 MPG) on 52.0% FG, 31.9% 3P, and 82.8% FT.
The breakdowns of the league’s guards were characterized by displaying the balance of great guard play across virtually the entire league. Looking now at the Big 12’s wings, it’s clear that some of the conference’s best players are in this group, but also that the disparity between the top SFs and the rest, is pretty stark here. Fortunately for the Bears, they have one of the best players in the conference in this position group. Sic Em!