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NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Basketball Tipoff

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Big XII (MBB) Mega Preview: Part 2

Previewing the crowded middle of the conference

William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Intro

Well. I’m back. It’s time to take a look at the Big XII teams that make up what I consider to be the middle tier of the conference. You can read about the teams I’ve labeled as the bottom tier of the conference here. A couple of these teams would probably be pleased to avoid the cellar this season while a couple of others would be disappointed to learn that their squad is not one of the favorites to win the championship. These teams are grouped together because I don’t see a huge disparity between the quality of the top and bottom teams among these four. I expect all of the teams in this tier to make the NCAA Tournament this season. Additionally, any of these teams could surprise us all and seriously challenge for the conference title this season. The teams and players discussed herein will no doubt cause many Baylor Bears fans a considerable amount of anxiety and heartburn this season as the Bears pursue their third straight conference championship.

Power Rankings

7. Iowa State Cyclones

2021-22 Record: 22-13 (finished tied for 7th in the Big XII regular season standings; No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament; lost in the Sweet 16)

Coaching: TJ Otzelberger (entering 2nd season with the program; career coaching record of 121-76)

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional - Iowa State vs Miami Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Overview

The Cyclones pulled off one of the best turnarounds in the sport last season. This time a year ago, they were coming off a 2-22 season and had made a coaching change in addition to losing their entire starting lineup. Iowa State then started the year 12-0 and were #8 in the AP Poll when the faced Baylor on New Year’s Day. The Bears won that game and conference play wasn’t exactly kind to the Cyclones but the improvement year-to-year was incredible. This time around, Coach Otz is back but the roster will once again look extremely different as 4 of last year’s starters are now gone.

Roster Losses

Stat Lost Production Big XII Rank
Stat Lost Production Big XII Rank
Scoring 62.2% 6th
Rebounding 54.9% 6th
Assists 65.3% 8th
Steals 59.9% 6th
Blocks 60.6% 6th
Minutes 55.7% 6th

The Cyclones lost 7 players including, notably:

  • 4 Starters (Izaiah Brockington, Tyrese Hunter, Tristan Enaruna, George Conditt IV)
  • 4 of the top 5 rebounders (Brockington, Hunter, Enaruna, Conditt)

Roster Additions

Jaren Holmes: Former 3-star high school prospect. Transfer from the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. Projected as a starter.

Osun Osunniyi: Former 4-star high school prospect. Transfer from the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. Projected as a starter.

Eli King: 3-star high school prospect out of Caledonia, Minnesota. Projected as a rotation player.

Hason Ward: Former 3-star high school prospect. Transfer from the Virginia Commonwealth Rams. Projected as a rotation player.

Tamin Lipsey: 3-star high school prospect out of Ames, Iowa. Projected as a rotation player.

Demarion Watson: 3-star high school prospect out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Projected as a rotation player.

Conrad Hawley: 3-star high school football prospect. Transfer from the Kansas Jayhawks football team. Projected as a deep bench player.

Jeremiah Williams: Former 3-star high school prospect. Transfer from the Temple Owls. Will miss the season due to injury.

Projected Starting Lineup

Metric Projected Lineup Big XII Rank
Metric Projected Lineup Big XII Rank
Career Games Played 521 1st
Career Games Started 357 1st
Career Minutes Played 14,156 1st
Note: Only Division I stats are included

Before we go into the players who should comprise Iowa State’s starting lineup and regular rotation, it should be noted that Jeremiah Williams, suffered an achilles tendon injury earlier this month which will force him to miss the entire 2022-23 season. This is unfortunate news because you hate to see a player get injured generally. Williams, in particular, though was getting ready to come back from a major shoulder surgery before suffering this new lower body injury. I had projected Williams to be the first player off the bench for the Cyclones this season. Tamin Lipsey could be the biggest beneficiary of the injury.

Caleb Grill (@caleb_grill0)

Measurables: Guard, #2, 6’3” 200 lbs., Senior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (1 with UNLV and 1 with ISU): 7.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, and 1.2 SPG in 62 games played (27 starts; 28.1 MPG) on 39.4% FG, 34.5% 3P, and 63.8% FT. Bonus Stat: His Assist-to-Turnover Ratio of 2.52 was the best on the team last season.

Analysis: Grill was the team leader in 3P shooting last season. He can light it up from deep and shows promise as a passer. They’ll need him to do both things at a high level this season. He’s the best bet for the starting point guard spot to open the season. Grill also flashed a much-improved game defensively last year, truly thriving in Coach Otz’s system.

Jaren Holmes (@3BallJay)

Measurables: Guard, #13, 6’4” 210 lbs., Super Senior

Stats: Last 3 Seasons (with St. Bonaventure): 13.1 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, and 0.9 SPG in 78 games played (77 starts; 34.6 MPG) on 41.6% FG, 33.8% 3P, and 73.7% FT. Bonus Stat: His Win Shares would have been 2nd only to Izaiah Brockington’s on ISU last season.

Analysis: A year ago, the Cyclones’ best player was a first-year transfer who was not only supremely talented but also possessed all the intangibles of a leader and impact player. This year, Holmes could do something similar. Coach Otz has praised Jaren’s abilities as a leader, communicator, and teammate. Additionally, he should be the team’s most dangerous scoring threat and can likely handle some share of the playmaking burden with Grill.

Gabe Kalscheur (@GabrielKalsche1)

Measurables: Guard, #22, 6’4” 200 lbs., Super Senior

Stats: Last 4 Seasons (3 with Minnesota and 1 with ISU): 10.2 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.5 APG, and 1.0 SPG in 123 games played (122 starts; 30.8 MPG) on 37.2% FG, 31.8% 3P, and 74.2% FT. Bonus Stat: Had his career worst season in Player Efficiency Rating, Win Shares per 40 Minutes, Offensive Rating, True Shooting Percentage, and Box Score Plus/Minus last year.

Analysis: The team’s lone returning starter will be relied on heavily this season. In his first year with the Cyclones he established himself as a gritty and intelligent defender, leading the team in charges taken and also racking up respectable steal numbers. The coaching staff wants him to work on having a short memory as a shooter. In his last 2 seasons, he has made just 23.9% of his 3P attempts (5 attempted per game) after having converted 37.2% of his three-pointers in his first 2 seasons (more than 6 attempted per game). If he can rediscover his accuracy from long range, he could be a big difference maker for this team.

Aljaz Kunc (@AljazKunc)

Measurables: Forward, #5, 6’8” 215 lbs., Super Senior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (1 with Washington State and 1 with ISU): 6.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 0.4 BPG in 58 games played (17 starts; 21.4 MPG) on 42.0% FG, 36.9% 3P, and 77.4% FT. Bonus Stat: His 3P% was the best on the team and 7th best in the league (among players with 50+ 3P attempts) last season.

Analysis: Despite primarily coming off the bench last season, he was one of the team’s most efficient players. He was either 1st or 2nd on the team in Win Shares, Box Score Plus/Minus, Offensive Rating, Defensive Rating, and True Shooting Percentage. He is a versatile player who defends at a high level and can deliver reliably from beyond the arc offensively. Stepping into a much larger role this season, the coaching staff expects big things from Kunc.

Osun Osunniyi (@Sh00n_)

Measurables: Center, #21, 6’10” 220 lbs., Super Senior

Stats: Last 3 Seasons (with St. Bonaventure): 11.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 2.8 BPG in 77 games played (72 starts; 31.4 MPG) on 60.2% FG and 63.6% FT. Bonus Stat: His Offensive Rebound Rate would have been by far the best on the Cyclones last season.

Analysis: Like his long-time teammate, Holmes, Osun figures to be one of the best players on this season’s team in Ames. Beyond that, he could be one of the best big men in the conference this season. He is an elite rebounder and rim protector in addition to being a good low-post scorer. Coach Otz has also been impressed with his ability to run the floor, pass out of double teams, and set strong screens. If Holmes isn’t the best player for the Cyclones this season, Osun is the next best candidate.

Projected Rotation Players

Robert Jones (@robbyj1415)

Measurables: Center, #12, 6’10” 235 lbs., Senior

Stats: His First 2 Seasons (with Denver): 9.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.5 BPG in 46 games played (37 starts; 22.8 MPG) on 56.5% FG and 47.6% FT. Bonus Stat: He led the team in Offensive Rebound Rate last season.

Syndication: The Des Moines Register Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK

Analysis: Jones’s season-long numbers don’t tell the story last season as through his first 27 games, he was averaging 2.3 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 10.9 MPG on 43.3% FG. Over his final 7 games, he averaged 5.3 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 16.7 MPG on 64.3% FG. The coaching staff’s confidence in him has continued to grow this offseason. They view him as a guy who brings a physical interior presence and who defends ball screens as well as any big man on the roster. He isn’t a particularly effective offensive player (not at the Big XII level at least) but he does a lot of little things that should help this team and keep him comfortably in the rotation.

Eli King (no known social media handle)

Measurables: Guard, #1, 6’3” 185 lbs., Freshman

Stats: High School (Senior Season): 19.9 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 4.4 APG, and 4.2 SPG.

Analysis: Eli is a slightly above-average athlete who should find himself in the rotation if for no other reason than that the team doesn’t have a lot of guard depth. Coach Otz has been complimentary of Eli’s maturity and his willingness to attempt adapting his style of play to the physicality he’ll encounter in the Big XII.

Hason Ward (@HasonWard)

Measurables: Forward, #24, 6’9” 210 lbs., Senior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (with VCU): 6.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 1.9 BPG in 55 games played (35 starts; 20.9 MPG) on 56.6% FG and 70.7% FT. Bonus Stat: His Defensive Box Score Plus/Minus would have been the 2nd best for the Cyclones last season.

Analysis: Ward didn’t join the team until late in the summer and so it stands to reason that it could take some time for him to get up to speed and build good rapport with his teammates and coaches. He doesn’t project as someone who’s going to do a lot of scoring, but the experience, rebounding, and defensive presence that he brings to the table should earn him a spot in the rotation.

Tre King (@AtgTreking)

Measurables: Forward, #0, 6’8” 230 lbs., Redshirt Senior

Stats: His Last 2 Seasons (with Eastern Kentucky): 13.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 1.0 BPG in 60 games played (58 starts; 26.0 MPG) on 50.6% FG, 28.2% 3P, and 73.2% FT. Bonus Stat: His Player Efficiency Rating his last season at EKU would be the highest by a Cyclones player since Tyrese Haliburton.

Analysis: Although this will be Tre’s first season playing for the Cyclones, he joined the program last December after being dismissed from Georgetown (where he never played a game) for “failing to meet the conduct expectations of the University.” The coaching staff has been mostly quiet about Tre and what they expect from him this year or what role he might play. From his days at EKU, we know that he is a gifted scorer and a very good defender. Offensively, approximately half (!) of his field goal attempts came from the midrange. Assuming that there are no lingering character concerns, Tre could be a pleasant surprise for the Cyclones as a potential productive glue guy coming off the bench.

Tamin Lipsey (@TaminLipsey)

Measurables: Guard, #3, 6’1” 195 lbs., Freshman

Stats: High School (Senior Season): 16.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, and 2.2 SPG on 53.4% FG.

Analysis: I originally had Lipsey in the “Deep Bench” section of my August FanPost. Since then, he has really impressed this coaching staff with his willingness to learn and work. Despite being the smallest player on the team, he will not shy away from contact. He has the potential to be a dynamic point guard. He may have been a year away from being a big part of the rotation, but after the injury to Williams, his chances of getting serious playing time have gone up dramatically.

Projected Deep Bench Players

Demarion Watson (@WatsonDemarion)

Measurables: Forward, #4, 6’6” 185, Freshman

Stats: High School (Senior Season): 14.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 4.1 BPG.

Analysis: Watson could be looking at a redshirt season. In high school, he earned a reputation as an athletic and versatile wing who could do a lot of things well. Barring injury, he probably won’t get a ton of playing time this season.

Conrad Hawley (@conradxhawley)

Measurables: Guard, #23, 6’5” 210 lbs., Sophomore

Stats: High School (Senior Season) Football: 2,722 passing yards and 26 passing touchdowns.

Analysis: The former Jayhawk quarterback has not appeared in a college basketball game before. He is unlikely to play much beyond garbage time opportunities.

Jeremiah Williams (@jeremiah0002)

Measurables: Guard, #25, 6’4” 180 lbs., Junior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (with Temple): 9.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.3 SPG, and 0.5 BPG in 38 games played (37 starts; 31.8 MPG) on 42.4% FG, 26.7% 3P, and 63.7% FT. Bonus Stat: He finished with the 3rd best Assist Rate in the American Athletic Conference last season.

Analysis: As mentioned above, Williams suffered a major leg injury that will force him to miss the entire season. Hopefully he’s able to come back and compete next season.

Outlook

Replacing reigning Big XII Newcomer of the Year (Brockington) and Freshman of the Year (Hunter) is no small task, but Coach Otz and his staff feel a lot better about this team than they did a year ago. After all, they’re coming off a Sweet Sixteen run and the foundation of the program culture they want to build has been laid. On paper, this team is lacking the top level talent that would otherwise make them a true title threat. Still, the Cyclones should be balanced, good, not great on both ends of the floor. I have some questions about their depth, especially after Williams went down recently, but this team is solid and is good bet to make the NCAA Tournament again if they can stay healthy.

6. Oklahoma Sooners

2021-22 Record: 19-16 (finished tied for 7th in the Big XII regular season standings; No. 1 seed in the NIT; lost in the NIT 2nd Round)

Coaching: Porter Moser (entering 2nd season with program; career coaching record of 312-258; record over last 5 seasons 118-52)

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Overview

In the first year of the Moser era, the Sooners started the season 11-2 before a loss to Baylor sent them spiraling. They went 3-12 in their next 15 games before a 4-game winning streak helped get them into the NIT. The Sooners will try to avoid another roller coaster season and not just make the NCAA Tournament this year, they’ll be looking to make the 2nd weekend of March Madness for the first time since their Final Four run in 2016. Much like last year, and like most teams around the conference and the nation, this year’s OU team will feature a lot of new faces from both the transfer portal and the high school ranks.

Roster Losses

Stat Lost Production Big XII Rank
Stat Lost Production Big XII Rank
Scoring 55.9% 5th
Rebounding 39.1% 3rd
Assists 61.9% 5th
Steals 65.9% 8th
Blocks 45.5% 4th
Minutes 53.7% 5th

The Sooners lost 8 players this offseason including, notably:

  • 3 Starters (Jordan Goldwire, Umoja Gibson, Elijah Harkless)
  • 4 of the 6 team leaders in Win Shares (Goldwire, Gibson, Harkless, Ethan Chargois)

Roster Additions

Grant Sherfield: Former 3-star high school prospect. Transfer from the Nevada Wolfpack. Projected to be a starter.

Joseph Bamisile: Former 4-star high school prospect. Transfer from the George Washington Colonials. Projected to be a starter.

Otega Oweh: 4-star high school prospect out of Blairstown, New Jersey. Projected to be a starter.

Milos Uzan: 4-star high school prospect out of Glendale, Arizona. Projected to be a rotation player.

Sam Godwin: Former unranked high school prospect. Transfer (preferred walk-on) from the Wofford Terriers. Projected to be a rotation player.

Luke Northweather: Unranked high school prospect out of Jefferson City, Missouri. Projected to be a deep bench player.

Benjamin Schroeder: International prospect out of Munich, Germany. Projected to be a deep bench player.

Yaya Keita: Former 3-star high school prospect. Transfer from the Missouri Tigers. Projected to be a deep bench player.

Projected Starting Lineup

Metric Projected Lineup Big XII Rank
Metric Projected Lineup Big XII Rank
Career Games Played 332 8th
Career Games Started 197 8th
Career Minutes Played 7,578 8th
NOTE: Only Division I stats are included

Grant Sherfield (@gsherfield5)

Measurables: Guard, #25, 6’2” 200 lbs., Senior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (with Nevada): 18.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 6.2 APG, and 1.1 SPG in 54 games played (all starts; 35.2 MPG) on 43.4% FG, 35.0% 3P, and 86.3% FT. Bonus Stat: His Assist Rate last season would have been the best by an OU player since Trae Young.

Analysis: Every OU basketball fan should know this dude’s name already. The rest of the Big XII will know it soon enough. He did miss a few games last season with injury but otherwise, was one of the best players in the Mountain West Conference in each of the past 2 seasons. He is an ELITE offensive player who creates for himself and others as well as just about any transfer coming into the Big XII this season. Sherfield is a true three level scorer who can and will fill up the stat sheet on the offensive end. He is not just a strong candidate for Big XII Newcomer of the Year, he could be a dark horse for Player of the Year recognition. Coach Moser has also praised his intangibles as being an incredibly hard worker. He looked good in OU’s foreign tour this summer. He should be the team’s best player.

Joseph Bamisile (no known social media handle)

Measurables: Guard, #4, 6’4” 200 lbs., Junior

Stats: Last Season (with George Washington): 16.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 1.0 BPG in 30 games played (29 starts; 31.4 MPG) on 45.8% FG, 35.1% 3P, and 71.4% FT. Bonus Stat: His Player Efficiency Rating would have been good for 3rd best on the Sooners last season.

Analysis: Bamisile has been an elite scorer his whole life and was one the team’s best performers in their foreign tour this summer. The coaching staff believes that he has the potential to be an elite two-way player due to his athleticism and his freakish 7-foot wingspan. He’ll primarily be an off-ball shooting guard who should feast off the floor spacing created by the 5-out system utilized by the Sooners. He’s another three level scorer who projects to be among the team’s most productive players this season.

Otega Oweh (@OtegaOweh)

Measurables: Guard, #3, 6’5” 210 lbs., Freshman

Stats: EYBL Peach Jam: 14.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.3 APG, and 1.8 SPG.

Analysis: The hyper athletic freshman has been lauded for his motor. He should be a bigger, more athletic version of former Sooner, Elijah Harkless. He’s a glue guy who will impact the game in ways not reflected in the box score. He projects as a quality rebounder and slasher who can attack downhill offensively. His upside is better than Jacob Groves who is his biggest competitor for the starting spot. Even if he begins the season coming off the bench, he could certainly impact the game as a reserve and I’d expect him to be a starter by season’s end.

Jalen Hill (@Kbj_vi)

Measurables: Forward, #1, 6’7” 230 lbs., Senior

Stats: Last Season: 9.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, and 0.9 SPG in 35 games played (all starts; 30.5 MPG) on 57.9% FG, 20.5% 3P, and 75.7% FT. Bonus Stat: His Win Shares last season was 2nd on the team, behind only Umoja Gibson.

Analysis: The last remnant of the Lon Kruger era, Hill is considered by Coach Moser to be the team’s best defensive player. It’s no wonder why when Hill has the athleticism and strength to defend all 5 positions. His versatility extends to the offensive end as well where he attacks the rim ferociously and also creates second chances with his good offensive rebounding. Now entering his final season, he will be looked to as a leader and a Swiss Army Knife who does a lot of the little things at an elite level.

Tanner Groves (@tannergroves)

Measurables: Center, #35, 6’10” 240 lbs., Super Senior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (1 with Eastern Washington and 1 with OU): 13.9 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.3 SPG, and 0.7 BPG in 58 games played (all starts; 25.8 MPG) on 54.6% FG, 36.9% 3P, and 75.8% FT. Bonus Stat: He finished with the Big XII’s 2nd best Defensive Rebound Rate last season.

Analysis: Reports from the coaching staff indicate that Tanner has added as much as 15 pounds of muscle this offseason and should be a much stronger presence in the paint. Moser also believes that Tanner has improved significantly as a defender and passer. If true, that’d be a huge development for the Sooners who were already led in scoring and rebounding by the big guy last year. His ability to play on the perimeter allows Oklahoma to space the floor nicely and create good looks on the interior. He’s a matchup nightmare and a great anchor to this starting lineup.

Projected Rotation Players

Milos Uzan (@lossyuzan)

Measurables: Guard, #12, 6’4” 180 lbs., Freshman

Stats: High School (Senior Season): 13 PPG, 5 RPG, and 6 APG.

Analysis: Uzan came in as the top ranked high school prospect in Nevada and has showed why already. He was one of the team’s most impressive performers in their foreign tour this summer. He has incredible court vision and is an above-average scorer as well. His size and athleticism make him a versatile defender. He should be a the first player off the bench and could be one of the better sixth men in the league this season.

Jacob Groves (@jake34groves)

Measurables: Forward, #34, 6’8” 190 lbs., Junior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (1 with Eastern Washington and 1 with OU): 6.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 0.6 APG in 58 games played (26 starts; 19.2 MPG) on 49.7% FG, 32.8% 3P, and 70.0% FT. Bonus Stat: He is the team’s 2nd leading returning 3P shooter.

Analysis: The transition for Jacob from the Big Sky Conference to the Big XII wasn’t as easy as it was for his big brother, Tanner. Still, Jacob showed flashes of the type of productivity he’s capable of last season. He was a streaky shooter who struggled to find a steady role in the rotation until an injury bumped him into the starting lineup. Over his first 25 games last year, he averaged 3.7 PPG and 2.6 RPG on 41/22/56 splits. Over his final 9 games, he averaged 7.1 PPG and 3.7 RPG on 47/45/71 splits. If they get that version of Jacob that they saw to close last season again this year, he will be a productive part of the rotation whether or not he’s in the starting lineup or one of the first guys coming in off the bench.

CJ Noland (@CjNoland1)

Measurables: Guard, #22, 6’3” 230 lbs., Sophomore

Stats: Last Season per 100 possessions: 18.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 3.2 steals on 53.6% FG, 43.6% 3P, and 69.2% FT. He appeared in 33 games as a freshman last season, averaging just 12.6 MPG.

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-Baylor vs Oklahoma Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Analysis: Noland was one of Oklahoma’s more underrated players last season, showing good efficiencies on both ends of the floor. The key for him, going into year 2 is finding more consistency. It should help that he projects as being an important part of the guard rotation this season. If he maintains last season’s efficiencies in a bigger role this season, the Sooners’ guard rotation should be one of the best in the conference.

Sam Godwin (@SamGodwin__)

Measurables: Forward, #10, 6’9” 230 lbs., Junior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (with Wofford): 6.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 0.7 APG in 52 games played (17 starts; 14.8 MPG) on 63.7% FG and 67.3% FT. Bonus Stat: His Offensive Rating would have been the best for OU last season.

Analysis: He is technically a preferred walk-on. This fact in no way deters Coach Moser from expecting Godwin to contribute as an efficient part of the rotation this season. He projects as a highly efficient offensive rebounder and low-post scorer. He could be the team’s backup big when Tanner goes to the bench.

Bijan Cortes (@whynotbijan)

Measurables: Guard, #14, 6’3” 200 lbs., Sophomore

Stats: Last Season per 100 possessions: 10.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 2.3 steals on 53.3% FG, 57.1% 3P, and 90.0% FT. Bonus Stat: His Turnover Rate last season was the 2nd worst in the nation.

Analysis: His reputation is that of a good passer although his decision-making leaves a lot to be desired. On balance, he hurt the offense a lot more than he helped it last season. Defensively, he held his own considering his size and inexperience. If turnovers and mental mistakes continue to be a part of his game, it’s unlikely that he’ll be a major part of the rotation this season. Time will tell if he’s improved in those areas this offseason.

Projected Deep Bench Players

Luke Northweather (@LNorthweather22)

Measurables: Center, #45, 6’10” 220 lbs., Freshman

Stats: High School (Senior Season): 29.2 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 3.4 APG, 2.0 SPG, and 2.4 BPG on 71.6% FG and 38.8% 3P.

Analysis: Despite posting the impressive stats listed above, Luke was not highly recruited coming out. Still, Coach Moser believes that this kid is a going to be a great fit for the culture and style of play at OU. He may be a year away from contributing in a major way.

Benjamin Schroeder (no known social media handle)

Measurables: Forward, #0, 6’7” 200 lbs., Freshman

Stats: 2022 U19 NBBL: 26.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 3.8 APG on 59% FG.

Analysis: He is coming off a knee surgery that has prevented him from getting live action reps with the team this summer. If he’s healthy, he could be a productive bench wing. It’s possible that he could be used sparingly due to the depth ahead of him and his injury history.

Yaya Keita (@Yayakei26625378)

Measurables: Forward, #11, 6’9” 240 lbs., Sophomore

Stats: Last Season (with Missouri) per 100 possessions: 10.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 2.9 steals. He appeared in 21 games last season, averaging just 6.8 MPG.

Analysis: Keita is reportedly still dealing with a significant injury that has precluded him from participating in the team’s foreign tour this summer or live action since then. He could be looking at a redhirt season as he gets healthy and gets his conditioning back to where it needs to be.

Jake Moser (no known social media handle)

Measurables: Guard, #30, 6’3” 190 lbs., Sophomore

Stats: Played 10 minutes across 7 games last season.

Analysis: The coach’s son likely won’t play beyond garbage time.

Blake Seacat (@blake_seacat)

Measurables: Guard, #44, 6’4” 210 lbs., Senior

Stats: Played 25 total minutes in 3 seasons in Norman.

Analysis: The long-time walk-on won’t see the floor much this season.

Outlook

This might be a hot take but the Sooners are, on paper, one of the most underrated teams in America. I’m extremely bullish on them because of their guard depth, the talent of their starting front court, and the quality coaching that could tie everything together. Yes, they are young and lacking in experience. Baylor and Kansas could also be described this way. I think that their defense might not be strong enough for them to truly contend for the Big XII title this season, but they are going to surprise a lot of people and I think it’s much more likely that they finish near the top of the conference than that they finish near the bottom. Their offense figures to be excellent and I suspect that their toughness should help lead them to a lot of wins, including against some of the top teams in the conference.

5. Texas Tech Red Raiders

2021-22 Record: 27-10 (finished 3rd in the Big XII regular season standings; No. 3 seed in the the NCAA Tournament; lost in the Sweet 16)

Coaching: Mark Adams (entering 2nd season as HC with the program and 8th season on the bench in Lubbock; career record of 71-100 including his disastrous coaching run with Texas - Rio Grande Valley in the 90s)

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round San Diego-Notre Dame vs Texas Tech Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Overview

In 2019, the Red Raiders made it to the Final Four (before eventually losing in the national title game) for the first time in program history. They also won a share of the Big XII regular season championship for the first time in program history. All was well in West Texas. Then, last offseason, following the departure of Shaka Smart, Tech Head Coach, Chris Beard did the unthinkable and the unforgivable, he discarded Lubbock for the greener pastures of his alma matter and Tech’s most hated rival, the Longhorns. Instead of seeing the program collapse as so many do following the loss of a great coach, Mark Adams was promoted to HC, and he guided the Raiders to 9 more wins than Beard had managed in his final 2 seasons with Tech. After losing a heartbreaker to Duke in the Sweet 16, Adams and his team will be looking to build off of a strong season. They’ll of course have to do so without many of the impact players from last season’s team.

Roster Losses

Stat Lost Production Big XII Rank
Stat Lost Production Big XII Rank
Scoring 82.0% 9th
Rebounding 67.3% 8th
Assists 91.9% 10th
Steals 92.2% 10th
Blocks 75.4% 7th
Minutes 80.6% 9th

The Red Raiders lost 10 players this offseason including notably:

  • 4 starters (Bryson Williams, Kevin McCullar, Davion Warren, TJ Shannon, Jr.)
  • 6 of the team’s top 7 scorers (Williams, Warren, McCullar, Shannon, Adonis Arms, Marcus Santos-Silva)
  • 7 of the team’s 8 leaders in steals (Warren, McCullar, Mylik Wilson, Arms, Santos-Silva, Shannon, Williams)

Roster Additions

Fardaws Aimaq: Former unranked high school prospect. Transfer from the Utah Valley Wolverines. Projected to be a starter.

De’Vion Harmon: Former 4-star high school prospect. Transfer from the Oregon Ducks. Projected to be a starter.

Elijah Fisher: 4-star high school prospect out of Toronto, Canada. Projected to be a starter.

Jaylon Tyson: Former 4-star high school prospect. Transfer from the Texas Longhorns. Projected to be a starter.

D’Maurian Williams: Former unranked high school prospect. Transfer from the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs. Projected to be a rotation player.

Kerwin Walton: Former 4-star high school prospect. Transfer from the North Carolina Tar Heels. Projected to be a rotation player.

Robert Jennings: 3-star high school prospect out of Dallas, Texas. Projected to be a rotation player.

Lamar Washington: 4-star high school prospect out of Chandler, Arizona. Projected to be a deep bench player.

Richard Isaacs: 4-star high school prospect out of Henderson, Nevada. Projected to be a deep bench player.

Projected Starting Lineup

Metric Projected Lineup Big XII Rank
Metric Projected Lineup Big XII Rank
Career Games Played 354 6th
Career Games Started 242 7th
Career Minutes Played 8,283 5th
NOTE: Only Division I stats are included

Before we dive into talking about this lineup/roster, I want to note a few things.

(A) In my initial August FanPost, I had Clarence Nadolny on the roster. Many national writers covering college basketball list Nadolny as being on the roster. However, the official Tech roster on Tech’s official website does not list Nadolny as being part of the team. Tech’s official Twitter has posted numerous workout pictures and Nadolny is notably absent in all of them. I have also found a few French basketball writers who have indicated that Nadolny will be playing overseas this season and not with the Red Raiders. SO, I will assume for the remainder of this preview that Nadolny will NOT be a part of this season’s team. If that changes and Nadolny comes back, he would certainly be a part of the regular rotation and perhaps even the starting lineup.

(B) Texas Tech has the most difficult lineup to project in the conference in my opinion. I have seen a multitude of writers project different lineups. Some think that Williams will start while others have Walton in the starting lineup. Others still, I now among them, have Tyson being in the lineup at least to start the season. As with all of the teams I’m previewing before the season, this starting lineup is simply my projection. If it turns out to be wrong, don’t be surprised and don’t @ me about it.

(C) Fardaws Aimaq would have been a strong candidate for Preseason 1st Team All-Big XII had he not suffered a broken foot in late September. The timetable for his return remains somewhat of a mystery. Best case scenario is that he’s cleared to play sometime in November. Worst case scenario is that he would be back in January which would allow him the participate in the majority if not the entirety of conference play. This preview and the tables contained herein assume that Aimq will be a starter for the Red Raiders when it matters most. The normal backup center, Daniel Batcho, will start in Aimaq’s absence and likely resume his role on the bench once Aimaq is cleared to return to action.

De’Vion Harmon (@TheDH11)

Measurables: Guard, #23, 6’1” 200 lbs., Senior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (1 with Oklahoma and 1 with Oregon): 11.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.1 APG, and 1.2 SPG in 60 games played (57 starts; 31.6 MPG) on 44.3% FG, 35.1% 3P, and 73.3% 3P. Bonus Stat: He would have been 2nd on the team in steals last season.

Analysis: Harmon is a balanced and versatile point guard. He is very fast with the ball in his hands and Coach Adams has said that Harmon brings an element that they haven’t really had at guard in a while and that’s the ability to push the ball down the floor. He isn’t necessarily an elite passer but is likely the team’s best option to create for others. He is an underrated defender who is aggressive and will force a good number of turnovers.

Jaylon Tyson (@jaylontyson)

Measurables: Guard, #20, 6’6” 210 lbs., Sophomore

Stats: Last Season (with Texas) per 100 Possessions: 15.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 4.5 steals, and 2.3 blocks on 40.0% FG and 66.7% FT. He only appeared in 8 games, averaging just 6.9 minutes per game.

Analysis: Tyson is a former 4-star recruit who had previously committed to Tech before following Beard to Austin last season. He entered the portal early in the year and had enrolled at Tech by last Spring. He’s been with the program since around Christmas, playing for their scout team last season. He has, of all the incoming Tech transfers, the best familiarity with the program and coaching staff. Tyson is an athletic and versatile wing who can score at all three levels and who Coach Adams believes has a lot of upside.

Elijah Fisher (no known social media handle)

Measurables: Guard, #22, 6’6” 190 lbs., Freshman

Stats: High School (final season): 28 PPG, 13 RPG, 7 APG, and 3 SPG.

Analysis: Fisher, who reclassified to be a part of the ’22 class, is the highest ranked recruit in program history. He is described as a high-IQ player who can score at all three levels and who played point guard in high school. He’s the youngest player on the team and there may be a bit of a learning curve for him, adjusting to the physicality and expectations of the program and of Big XII play. Still, Coach Adams has praised Fisher’s coachability and thinks that the transition shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.

Kevin Obanor (@_KevinObanor)

Measurables: Forward, #0, 6’8” 230 lbs., Super Senior

Stats: Last 4 Seasons (3 with Oral Roberts and 1 with Tech): 13.5 PPG and 7.2 RPG in 124 games played (104 starts; 26.2 MPG) on 50.4% FG, 39.5% 3P, and 82.3% FT. Bonus Stat: He was 2nd on the team last season in Win Shares.

Analysis: Obanor tested the NBA waters this offseason before electing to utilize his extra year of eligibility afforded him by COVID. Historically, he has been a consistent 3P shooter and a good offensive rebounder. After getting feedback from pro scouts on his weaknesses, he has apparently spent a significant portion of this offseason trying to get better with the ball in his hands and as a passer. Obanor is a decent defender but makes the most impact on the offensive end where his versatility is invaluable.

Fardaws Aimaq (@FardawsAimaq)

Measurables: Center, #11, 6’11” 250 lbs., Senior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (with Utah Valley): 16.9 PPG, 14.2 RPG (!), 1.7 APG, 0.5 SPG, and 1.4 BPG in 54 games played (all starts; 32.8 MPG) on 48.8% FG, 44.7% 3P, and 68.2% FT. Bonus Stat: His career Total Rebound Rate is the 5th highest in the nation since the stat has been tracked (goes back to 2009).

Analysis: Aimaq suffered a broken foot that will reportedly keep him out for the first month or two of the season. When healthy, this dude is legitimately one of the most dominant rebounders in recent history at the collegiate level. He is also a solid scorer who has recently started taking (and making) more three-pointers. Aimaq is an absolute menace as the roller in the PNR game. Overall, he’s a matchup nightmare and could be not just one of the best transfers in the conference but also the best big man in the league. Coach Adams wants to see him improve defensively. If there’s any staff that can find a way to maximize Aimaq’s defensive potential, it’s likely this one. He’s a dark horse conference player of the year candidate and could be the ticket to the Red Raiders’ hopes of competing once again for a Big XII title if he’s able to come back sooner rather than later and can look the way many expected him to look before news of his injury broke.

Projected Rotation Players

Daniel Batcho (@batcho_4)

Measurables: Center, #12, 6’11” 240 lbs. Redshirt Sophomore

Stats: Last Season per 100 Possessions: 13.1 points, 16.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 3.1 blocks on 63.2% FG and 60.0% FT. He appeared in 33 games, averaging just 9.9 MPG last season.

Analysis: Batcho began his career at Arizona where he never played, suffering a major knee injury as a freshman. He joined the Red Raiders last season but was used somewhat sparingly, perhaps due in part to his recovery from his knee injury. He is a crowd favorite for, among other reasons, his high effort level and momentous shot-blocking ability. Coach Adams says that he is as improved as any player he’s coached in his tenure in Lubbock. Adams further states that Batcho is growing as a scorer and developing great confidence that should enable him to be a steady contributor this season. The injury to presumed starting big man, Fardaws Aimaq, will vault Batcho into the starting lineup for at least the first part of the season and put a tremendous amount of pressure on him to show the improvement that we’ve been hearing about. He’s likely to be a massive downgrade from Aimaq. On the flip side, his experience as a starter should help make him a more confident and capable backup when he resumes that role on the bench.

D’Maurian Williams (@Dmaurian)

Measurables: Guard, #3, 6’4” 200 lbs., Junior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (with Gardner-Webb): 12.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 1.0 SPG in 57 games played (34 starts; 28.2 MPG) on 40.9% FG, 38.8% 3P, and 75.7% FT. Bonus Stat: His Player Efficiency Rating would have easily been the best on Tech last season.

NCAA Basketball: Gardner-Webb at Duke
Williams blocks Paolo Banchero (!)
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Analysis: D’Maurian has proven himself (albeit at a lower level of competition) as a reliable, high-volume, high-efficiency scorer. That’s exactly why Coach Adams wanted him out of the portal and the reports have been that he’s looked every bit as good as advertised since joining the team. He will likely be looked to as one of the first players off the bench and a guy who can jumpstart the offense if it ever begins to stagnate with the starters out there.

Kerwin Walton (@Doctork24_)

Measurables: Guard, #24, 6’5” 200 lbs., Junior

Stats: 2 Seasons Ago (as a freshman with North Carolina): 8.2 PPG, 1.7 RPG, and 1.8 APG in 29 games (20 starts; 21.0 MPG) on 44.4%, 42.0% 3P, and 84.0% FT. Bonus Stat: His freshman Offensive Rating would have been the best for the Red Raiders last season.

Analysis: Walton looked fantastic in his first season with the Tar Heels before regressing pretty significantly last year. Coach Adams has said of Walton that he has a great attitude and comes from a program where he was exposed to good coaching. Now the coaching staff is hoping that a change of scenery is exactly what Walton needs to get back to his old self and be an elite 3P threat who has the length and athleticism to contribute in a variety of ways on both ends of the floor.

KJ Allen (@Kjallen32)

Measurables: Forward, #5, 6’6” 250, Junior

Stats: Last Season per 100 Possessions: 15.1 points, 14.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 2.8 steals on 53.3% FG, and 35.7% FT. He appeared in 19 games, averaging just 7.7 MPG last season.

Analysis: The former JUCO transfer struggled the find a spot in the rotation last season, posting mostly unimpressive efficiencies in his first season of Division I basketball. The coaching staff has said that he has lost a ton of weight this offseason as he’s worked on his perimeter game. He is an athletic, offensive-minded guy who passes it well for a player his size and can shoot it better than what he showed a year ago. Just don’t count on him to knock down many (or any) three-pointers.

Robert Jennings (@RJGetBuckets)

Measurables: Forward, #4, 6’7” 220 lbs., Freshman

Stats: High School (Senior Season): 13 PPG and 10 RPG.

Analysis: The coaching staff seems to be impressed with his athleticism and work ethic. But for the injury to Aimaq, he likely would have found himself in the deep bench section of this preview. Without a good option for Batcho’s backup, I suspect that Coach Adams will use more small ball lineups when Batcho needs to catch a breather (or gets into foul trouble). This could create a sizable opportunity for Jennings to crack the rotation early and cement himself as a valuable contributor, deserving of regular playing time even once everyone is healthy.

Projected Deep Bench Players

Richard Isaacs (@poppop_5)

Measurables: Guard, #2, 6’2” 170 lbs., Freshman

Stats: High School (Junior Season): 14.1 PPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.4 RPG.

Analysis: Isaacs committed, decommitted, and then recommitted to Texas Tech during his recruitment. Shortly after getting to Lubbock, he had to undergo a major hip surgery, from which he is still recovering. When he gets healthy, he projects as a good 3P shooter and serviceable ball handler and passer.

Lamar Washington (@1amarwashington)

Measurables: Guard, #1, 6’4” 210 lbs., Freshman

Stats: High School (Junior Season): 31.2 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 5.1 APG, and 2.2 SPG.

Analysis: Washington is thick and strong, built like a linebacker. Coach Adams seems to like his potential to eventually be a high-level defensive player. Even so, he may be outside of the regular rotation to start the season.

Ethan Duncan (no known social media handle)

Measurables: Guard, #10, 6’0” 170 lbs., Redshirt Freshman

Stats: No live game collegiate experience.

Analysis: The young point guard redshirted last season due to injury. He’s unlikely to play much this year beyond garbage time.

CJ Williams (@cjupnextt)

Measurables: Guard, #13, 6’1” 155 lbs., Freshman

Stats: High School (Senior Season): 21 PPG, 6 RPG, and 5 APG.

Analysis: Son of an assistant coach, it seems unlikely that CJ gets much playing time this season.

Malik Ondigo (@Malik6ft10)

Measurables: Center, #42, 6’10” 220 lbs., Senior

Stats: In 3 collegiate seasons, he has never appeared in a game.

Analysis: He figures to be at the very end of the bench, and may not even play in garbage time.

Outlook

As they did last year, the Red Raiders figure to have one of the best defenses in the nation this season. They lost more than almost anyone else in the conference and the newcomers (aside from the excellent bookends of Aimaq [injured] and Harmon) are largely unproven. There are a lot of questions surrounding team, especially following the injury to Aimaq. It’s a relatively safe bet that most of those questions will be answered to the satisfaction of Tech fans. The upside for this team is really high if they can get and stay healthy. If all the pieces fall in place, they could challenge for the Big XII title. They’ll be incredibly tough to beat in Lubbock and more than dangerous in any arena in the league but I don’t like their depth, guard play, or offensive explosiveness near as much as the teams ahead of them which is why they are ranked in the middle of the conference.

4. Texas Christian Horned Frogs

2021-22 Record: 21-13 (finished 5th in the Big XII regular season standings; No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament; lost in the Second Round)

Coaching: Jamie Dixon (entering 7th season with program; career record of 445-207; 1-3 record in NCAA Tourney games since 2014)

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-TCU vs Seton Hall Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Overview

The Horned Frogs are coming off a season that featured their first NCAA Tournament win since 1987. They came within a few possessions of making the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1968. This offseason, they managed to do the thing that almost no programs are able to do anymore, they brought back virtually everyone from last year’s good team. There is palpable buzz in Fort Worth (or wherever it is that TCU fans are, I’ve heard they exist, I promise) about the upcoming season. A lot of people are very bullish on this team and for arguably good reason. I’ve even seen them mentioned as a Final Four dark horse.

Roster Losses

Stat Lost Production Big XII Rank
Stat Lost Production Big XII Rank
Scoring 7.5% 1st
Rebounding 6.9% 1st
Assists 11.6% 1st
Steals 10.0% 1st
Blocks 1.4% 1st
Minutes 10.5% 1st

The Horned Frogs lost 2 players from last season’s team: Francisco Farabello and Maxwell Evans

Roster Additions

Rondel Walker: Former 4-star high school prospect. Transfer from the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Projected to be a rotation player.

PJ Haggerty: 3-star high school prospect out of Crosby, Texas. Projected to be a deep bench player.

Tyler Lundblade: Former 3-star high school prospect. Transfer from the SMU Mustangs. Projected to be a deep bench player.

Projected Starting Lineup

Metric Projected Lineup Big XII Rank
Metric Projected Lineup Big XII Rank
Career Games Played 345 7th
Career Games Started 256 6th
Career Minutes Played 8,299 6th
NOTE: Only Division I stats are included

Before we begin looking at the roster for this year’s team, we need to address the Damion Baugh situation. He is facing an NCAA imposed suspension for an undetermined number of games for signing with a non-certified agent briefly as he tested the NBA waters last Spring. He is appealing that suspension. For the purposes of this preview, I’m going to operate under the assumption that he will be available for TCU. His absence would be a huge loss for this team, one that would likely drop them at least a couple of spots in these power rankings.

Mike Miles, Jr. (@MikeMilesJr_)

Measurables: Guard, #1, 6’1” 200 lbs., Junior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons: 14.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 1.1 SPG in 56 games played (52 starts; 33.2 MPG) on 39.4% FG, 32.3% 3P, and 78.2% FT. Bonus Stat: He was 6th in the Big XII in Points Produced last season.

Analysis: Miles is a trendy pick for Big XII Player of the Year. He is one of the most dynamic guards in America. He can score from anywhere on the floor and is an above-average passer and facilitator. He is an absolute workhorse, playing just about as many minutes as any player in the country and taking a ton of shots as well. His Usage Rate was the 2nd highest in the Big XII last season. He did deal with a few minor injuries that cost him some of his explosiveness late in the season. He appears to be healthy now and ready to light up the league once again. Coach Dixon has suggested that the biggest thing for him is getting him to improve his efficiency while maintaining his high utilization.

Damion Baugh (@_swaggyd10_)

Measurables: Guard, #10, 6’3” 190 lbs., Senior

Stats: Last Season: 10.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.5 APG, and 1.3 SPG in 31 games played (30 starts; 31.1 MPG) on 41.9% FG, 27.0% 3P, and 65.6% FT. Bonus Stat: He led the team in assists and steals while finished 2nd in scoring.

Analysis: The former Memphis transfer burst onto the scene for the Horned Frogs last year. He was nothing short of one of the team’s best players. He is an excellent backcourt partner for Miles and takes a lot of the pressure off TCU’s top weapon. The coaching staff wants him to focus on cutting down on his turnovers this season. If he avoids missing significant time, he can once again be one of the more impactful players on the roster for the Frogs.

Chuck O’Bannon, Jr. (@mrobannon5)

Measurables: Forward, #5, 6’6” 220 lbs., Super Senior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons: 8.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.7 APG, and 0.9 SPG in 59 games played (41 starts; 21.5 MPG) on 40.8% FG, 34.9% 3P, and 72.0% FT. Bonus Stat: His Box Score Plus/Minus was the best on the team last season.

Analysis: O’Bannon was part of the same recruiting class as Trae Young. He spent the first few years of his collegiate career at USC where a series of injuries prevented him from seeing much playing time. Now entering his 3rd season in Fort Worth, O’Bannon has made a home for himself and has established a prominent role for himself in the team’s starting lineup. He plays with passion and makes his presence felt on both ends of the floor. He is a 3&D wing who will look to continue improving his offensive game.

Emanuel Miller (@EmanMiller5)

Measurables: Forward, #2, 6’7” 210 lbs., Senior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (1 with TAMU and 1 with TCU): 12.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.5 BPG in 51 games played (47 starts; 28.9 MPG) on 52.3% FG, 21.6% 3P, and 75.7% FT. Bonus Stat: He had the team’s best Win Shares total last season.

Analysis: Miller is an athletic and versatile forward who is equally comfortable playing in the post or stepping out on the perimeter. Coach Dixon has credited Miller’s defense with being a huge part of the team’s turnaround late last season. He is an improving scorer but a gifted defender and rebounder. If his 3P shot looks better this season than it did a year ago, that’d be a huge development for this team.

Eddie Lampkin (@EddieLampkin25)

Measurables: Center, #4, 6’11” 275 lbs., Redshirt Sophomore

Stats: Last Season: 6.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.6 SPG, and 0.5 BPG in 33 games played (32 starts; 21.5 MPG) on 60.6% FG and 51.4% FT. Bonus Stat: He boasted the 6th best Offensive Rebound Rate in the nation last season.

Analysis: Lampkin spent his first season with TCU transforming his body. He has lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 pounds (I’m not jealous or anything…). He continues to work on his conditioning and stamina to be able to stay on the floor longer. He had an incredible performance against No. 1 seed Arizona in his final game last season, putting up 20 points (on 8/9 from the field) and 14 rebounds. He is an old school big man who won’t do much outside of the paint other than occasionally set screens. He could be the key to this team taking the next step in terms of competitiveness this season.

Projected Rotation Players

Micah Peavy (@mjpv5)

Measurables: Forward, #0, 6’7” 220 lbs., Junior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (1 with Texas Tech and 1 with TCU): 5.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 1.2 APG in 63 games played (34 starts; 20.7 MPG) on 45.1% FG, 15.2% 3P, and 53.5% FT. Bonus Stat: He posted the 8th best Offensive Rebound Rate in the Big XII last season.

Analysis: Peavy will not blow you away with his shooting ability or flashy basketball skills. He more than makes up for that however with raw athleticism and insane effort. He goes out there every night with the intention of being the hardest working and toughest player on the floor. He is arguably the team’s best defender and one of their more versatile players. Coach Dixon has indicated that if Peavy continues to improve his shot, he could be in store for a bigger role in year 2 with the team.

Rondel Walker (@RondelWalker)

Measurables: Guard, #11, 6’4” 180 lbs., Junior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (with Oklahoma State): 6.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, and 1.4 SPG in 59 games played (15 starts; 23.9 MPG) on 39.5% FG, 30.7% 3P, and 70.4% FT. Bonus Stat: His Defensive Box Plus/Minus would have been the best on TCU last season.

Analysis: He has a reputation as a great shooter. He was pretty streaky at Oklahoma State. He had 18 games where he scored 10+ points and 25 games where he scored 3 or fewer points. He’ll be looking to find some consistency with his jump shot in Fort Worth this season. When he’s hot, he can carry the offense. Even when he’s cold, he’s still able to contribute on the defensive end where he excels at applying pressure on the perimeter.

Xavier Cork (@_Xavierrr__)

Measurables: Forward, #12, 6’9” 235 lbs., Senior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (1 with Western Carolina and 1 with TCU): 7.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, and 1.0 BPG in 60 games played (29 starts; 19.7 MPG) on 63.0% FG and 72.6% FT. Bonus Stat: His Usage Rate was the 3rd lowest on the team last season.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Analysis: Cork didn’t play a ton last season. When he was on the floor, he performed well, finishing 2nd on the team in Defensive Box Plus/Minus, in Block Rate, and in Offensive Rebound Rate. Coach Dixon has described him as a key difference maker coming off the bench. He doesn’t have a ton of scoring range. He’ll primarily be utilized as a backup big to enter the game when Lampkin needs a spell.

Shahada Wells (@hada_wells13)

Measurables: Guard, #13, 6’0” 180 lbs., Super Senior

Stats: Last Fully Healthy Season (with UT Arlington): 16.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.8 APG, and 2.2 SPG in 25 games played (24 starts; 30.1 MPG) on 41.6% FG, 39.3% 3P, and 78.4% FT. Bonus Stat: His Player Efficiency Rating from his last full season would have been the best for TCU last season.

Analysis: Wells was limited to just 51 minutes played last season across 7 games due to a knee injury that cost him virtually the entire year. He should be good to go this season, and TCU fans will hope that he can look the way he did 2 years ago when he was the best player for the UT Arlington Mavericks. If he is the same, high-efficiency player he was then, he would be a huge weapon coming off the bench for the Frogs. He is a hard-working, high-IQ point guard who can make a big impact on both ends of the floor.

JaKobe Coles (@jcoles35)

Measurables: Forward, #21, 6’7” 220 lbs., Junior

Stats: Last 2 Seasons (1 with Butler and 1 with TCU) per 100 possessions: 19.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.2 steals, and 2.4 blocks on 44.1% FG, 28.3% 3P, and 69.0% FT. He only appeared in 40 games in his 2 seasons, averaging just 10.1 MPG.

Analysis: His freshman season at Butler was cut short by a knee injury that also prevented him from working with the team heading into last season. Now with a full offseason of work with this staff and his teammates under his belt, his coaches are hoping he takes a big step forward to be a more productive and reliable contributor this season. At this point, he’s a better defender than he is an offensive player.

Projected Deep Bench Players

Souleymane Doumbia (@Ivorian_beast)

Measurables: Center, #25, 6’11” 240 lbs., Junior

Stats: Last Season per 100 Possessions: 11.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks on 54.5% FG, 50.0% 3P, and 37.5% FT. He appeared in 29 games, averaging just 5.0 MPG.

Analysis: He’s the third of three centers who should get playing time in most games. His minutes will be significantly dwarfed by those received by Lampkin and Cork. Still, the physical grind of Big XII play makes it nice to have a third playable big to rotate in for foul management purposes and as an insurance policy against injuries. Doumbia projects as a solid defender and rebounder.

PJ Haggerty (@HaggertyPj)

Measurables: Guard, #3, 6’3” 190 lbs., Freshman

Stats: High School (Senior Season): 28.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 4.3 APG, and 2.7 SPG on 49% FG and 41% 3P.

Analysis: Haggerty is a combo guard with underdeveloped fundamentals. He likely won’t crack the regular rotation this season.

Darius Ford (@dariusf0rd)

Measurables: Guard, #30, 5’10” 145 lbs., Sophomore

Stats: High School (Senior Season): 15 PPG and 5 APG.

Analysis: He is unlikely to play beyond garbage time opportunities this season.

Tyler Lundblade (@22lundblade)

Measurables: Forward, #22, 6’6” 210 lbs., Redshirt Freshman

Stats: No meaningful Division I statistics.

Analysis: A walk-on who is unlikely to play much this season. He sat out last season with SMU before transferring to TCU.

Cole Despie (@ColeDespie)

Measurables: Guard, #35, 6’3” 180 lbs., Sophomore

Stats: Played a grand total of 4 minutes across 3 games last season.

Analysis: This walk-on will struggle to get on the floor.

Trey Stuart (no known social media handle)

Measurables: Guard, #33, 6’1” 170 lbs., Freshman

Stats: No Collegiate Experience.

Analysis: Hailing from Weatherford, this walk-on will have a tough time getting on the floor this season.

Zach Gonsoulin (@zgonsoulin_21)

Measurables: Guard, #55, 6’0” 160 lbs., Freshman

Stats: No Collegiate Experience.

Analysis: A walk-on, this Houston native won’t play much this season.

Michael Niemann (@mtniemann4)

Measurables: Guard, #14, 6’2” 180 lbs., Freshman

Stats: No Collegiate Experience.

Analysis: Another walk-on who is unlikely to play much, if at all, this season.

Outlook

I’m not nearly as bullish on this team, as many in the national media. On the one hand, TCU brings back virtually everyone from a team that was so close to going to the Sweet 16 last season. On the other hand, they were a 9-seed last season and had a losing record in conference play. Worse than that, they were one of the worst offenses in the conference, ranking 8th in the Big XII in adjusted offensive efficiency (per KenPom) and at or near the bottom of the conference in turnovers and 3P%. Their defense wasn’t great either. They were not fundamentally sound. Even if everyone coming back improves somewhat, to me, this team appears to be good, not great. That’s fairly characteristic of the other teams in this tier. They should feel good about their chances of making March Madness, but probably shouldn’t have as high aspirations as the few teams in the conference’s top tier. TCU’s offense should be better than it was, but I have my doubts about Coach Dixon’s ability to turn it all the way around. Defensively, they’ll do fine, but are not likely to be among the top 2 or 3 defenses in the conference. They’ll once again lean on their ability to bludgeon people in the paint and on the boards and hope that Miles will make enough plays late to win close games.

Conclusion

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-West Virginia vs Kansas State William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, I want to thank you for trudging through yet another preview post, especially one that doesn’t cover the Bears. The final part of this preview will evaluate the top tier teams which includes Baylor, Texas, and Kansas.

As with the bottom tier teams, my opinions expressed herein are significantly different from what you’ll see said by national media personalities. TCU is a trendy pick for Final Four dark horse while the admittedly smart folks who put together The Almanac, have the Sooners finishing 9th in the conference. I could be totally wrong, but I’ve done the best job I know how to of looking at both the minutia and the big picture of each of these teams and the conference as a whole.

I suspect that by the time we get to Selection Sunday in the spring, that we can look back at the preseason previews done by just about everyone and laugh at how wrong everyone (myself included) was. Still, hopefully these previews give you a glimpse of the teams Baylor will be contending with in the best conference in the nation. Sic Em!

Stats courtesy of sports-reference.com; njcaa.org; gofrogs.com; texastech.com; soonersports.com; cyclones.com; kenpom.com; 247sports.com; espn.com; maxreps.com; cbbanalytics.com; and/or shotquality.com.

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