As the brutal summer heat gives rise to the beginnings of sweater weather and the buzz of a new football season has long since faded (especially for us Baylor fans), that means that the start of another season of basketball is mercifully right around the corner. Today we’ll be ignoring the returning players with whom you may already have some degree of familiarity, and instead, take a look at the players you may not have heard of yet who should have a big impact this season in the Big 12. For purposes of this post, ALL players on BYU, Houston, Cincinnati, and UCF will be treated as new to the conference with the notable exception of LJ Cryer who needs no introduction among seasoned fans of the Bears. Also, intra-conference transfers (like Ernest Udeh, Jr. who transferred from Kansas to TCU, and Avery Anderson who transferred from OSU to TCU) will be omitted from this post which seeks only to discuss players who are truly new to the conference.
Measurables: Center, #1, 7’2” 260 lbs., Senior
Stats: Last 2 Seasons (with Michigan): 18.5 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 1.7 BPG in 66 games played (all starts; 32.5 MPG) on 56/37/76 splits
Guess what’s back? The @KUHoops “Two Game” or high-low offense. Over the last two decades, no one throws the “corner of the backboard” pass better than the Jayhawks. Welcome to Lawrence, Hunter Dickinson. @Big12Conference pic.twitter.com/nE8BvAWG52— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) May 4, 2023
Analysis: By far, the most sought-after player in the transfer portal wound up in Lawrence, set to play for a program that has produced many great big men. Offensively, Dickinson is the total package for a center. He has a soft touch and the ability to score both in the post and from the perimeter. Expect him to post-up often. And they will likely feed him down low. He will be the focal point of virtually everything Kansas tries to do offensively this year.
Measurables: Guard, #10, 6’2” 180 lbs., Super Senior
Stats: Last Season (with Toledo): 19.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 5.8 APG, and 1.5 SPG in 35 games played (all starts; 33.8 MPG) on 48/37/77 splits
Baylor's RayJ Dennis averaged 13 PPG and 8.5 APG against power conference competition during the past two seasons while he was at Toledo.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 21, 2023
Scott Drew would sign for that in 2023-24.
Analysis: Last season’s unanimous MAC Player of the Year comes to Waco after having led the Rockets to their most wins in program history and their third consecutive league title. Aside from the gaudy scoring numbers and the superb 2.97 assist-to-turnover ratio, Coach Drew has raved about Dennis’s intangibles such as leadership and maturity. Expect Dennis to be Baylor’s starting point guard and one of the most impactful incoming transfers in the conference.
Measurables: Guard, #2, 5’11” 180 lbs., Super Senior
Stats: Last Season (with North Texas): 17.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, and 1.3 SPG in 36 games played (all starts; 34.2 MPG) on 44/41/87 splits
Analysis: Perry, the reigning CUSA Player of the Year comes to the Little Apple fresh off an NIT championship season with the Mean Green. Perry shined in the team’s foreign tour in Israel and Abu Dhabi, scoring 33 points in the tour finale. Coach Tang has called Perry the best shooter in the country. Perry has big shoes to fill following the departure of Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson, but if anyone is up for the challenge, it’s probably Tylor Perry.
4. Jameer Nelson, Jr.; TCU Horned Frogs (Insta: @jameernelsonjr0)
Measurables: Guard, #4, 6’2” 200 lbs., Super Senior
Stats: Last Season (with Delaware): 20.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.6 APG, and 2.4 SPG in 29 games played (all starts; 35.2 MPG) on 45/31/78 splits
Analysis: Nelson led the CAA in both scoring and steals a season ago, having scored 20+ points in 16 games. He arrives in Fort Worth with nearly 100 career Division I starts. He will, nonetheless, likely begin the season coming off the bench. I would not be shocked, however, if he ultimately takes the starting job from OSU transfer, Avery Anderson III. Nelson is a balanced point guard who reminds Coach Dixon a lot of Mike Miles, Jr.
Measurables: Guard, #3, 6’0” 170 lbs., Super Senior
Stats: Last 3 Seasons (with Oral Roberts): 23.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.8 APG, and 1.2 SPG in 92 games played (all starts; 36.6 MPG) on 44/39/89 splits
Analysis: Abmas will step into the shoes of Marcus Carr (who departed to the pros) and share the backcourt with returning starter, Tyrese Hunter. He and Hunter will likely both shoulder the burden of creating offense for themselves and their teammates. He is an elite shooter and loves operating off high-ball screens.
6. Kerr Kriisa; West Virginia; Guard; 10 PPG and 5 APG w/Arizona last year
7. Jesse Edwards; West Virginia; Center; 13 PPG, 9 RPG, and 3 BPG w/Syracuse last 2 years
8. Damian Dunn; Houston; Guard; 15 PPG w/Temple last 3 years
9. Keshon Gilbert; Iowa State; Guard; 11 PPG on 46/38/78 splits w/UNLV last year
10. Jackson Paveletzke; Iowa State; Guard; 15 PPG on 49/39/84 splits w/Wofford last year
11. Nicolas Timberlake; Kansas; Guard; 18 PPG on 46/42/85 splits w/Towson last year
12. Ques Glover; Kansas State; Guard; 17 PPG on 47/33/81 splits w/Samford last 2 years
13. John Hugley IV; Oklahoma; Center; 13 PPG and 7 RPG w/Pittsburgh last 2 years
14. Curtis Jones; Iowa State; Guard; 15 PPG on 41/36/78 splits w/Buffalo last year
15. RaeQuan Battle; West Virginia; Guard; 18 PPG on 47/35/83 splits w/Montana State last year
16. Javon Small; Oklahoma State; Guard; 16 PPG, 5 RPG, and 6 APG w/East Carolina last year
17. Shemarri Allen; UCF; Forward; 17 PPG, 5 RPG, and 2 SPG w/Kansas City last year
18. Noah Farrakhan; West Virginia; 14 PPG, 4 RPG, and 2 APG w/Eastern Michigan last 2 years
19. Arthur Kaluma; Kansas State; Forward; 11 PPG and 6 RPG w/Creighton last 2 years
20. Jaylin Sellers; UCF; Guard; 14 PPG on 49/45/76 splits w/Ball State last year
21. Jayden Nunn; Baylor; Guard; 9 PPG on 42/38/73 splits w/VCU last 2 years
22. Trevian Tennyson; TCU; Guard; 14 PPG on 42/39/86 splits w/Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last 2 years
23. Darrion Williams; Texas Tech; Forward; 8 PPG and 7 RPG w/Nevada last year
24. Simas Lukosius; Cincinnati; Guard; 12 PPG on 43/38/80 splits w/Butler last year
25. Javian McCollum; Oklahoma; Guard; 16 PPG on 43/36/89 splits w/Siena last year
26. Dawson Baker; BYU; Guard; 13 PPG on 46/37/79 splits w/UC Irvine last 3 years
27. Aziz Bandaogo; Cincinnati; Center; 12 PPG, 10 RPG, and 3 BPG w/Utah Valley last year (Still awaiting ruling on eligibility to play this season)
28. Kadin Shedrick; Texas; Center; 34 starts w/Virginia last 2 years
29. Devan Cambridge; Texas Tech; Forward; 10 PPG and 5 RPG w/Arizona State last year
30. Warren Washington; Texas Tech; Center; 10 PPG and 6 RPG w/ASU & Nevada last 3 years
31. Ibrahima Diallo; UCF; Center; 7 PPG, 5 RPG, and 1.3 BPG w/San Jose State last 2 years
32. Jamille Reynolds; Cincinnati; Center; 10 PPG and 5 RPG w/Temple last year (Still awaiting ruling on eligibility to play this season)
33. Mike Marsh; Oklahoma State; Center; 10 PPG and 5 RPG w/Jacksonville last year
34. Le’Tre Darthard; Oklahoma; Guard; 14 PPG on 43/36/89 splits w/Utah Valley last year
35. Akok Akok; West Virginia; Forward; 7 PPG, 6 RPG, and 2 BPG w/Georgetown last year
36. CJ Fredrick; Cincinnati; Guard; 6 PPG on 35/32/92 splits w/Kentucky last year
37. Essam Mostafa; TCU; Center; 13 PPG and 9 RPG w/Coastal Carolina last 3 years
38. JayKwon Walton; UCF; Forward; 14 PPG, 5 RPG, and 2 APG w/Wichita State last year
39. Chance McMillian; Texas Tech; Guard; 11 PPG, 3 RPG, and 2 APG w/Grand Canyon last year
40. Jalon Moore; Oklahoma; Forward; 8 PPG and 5 RPG w/Georgia Tech last year
41. KyeRon Lindsay; Texas Tech; Forward; 6 PPG and 5 RPG w/Georgia last year
42. Jarius Hicklen; Oklahoma State; Guard; 12 PPG on 38/38/76 splits w/North Florida last 2 years
43. Chendall Weaver; Texas; Guard; 10 PPG on 44/40/70 splits w/UT Arlington last year
44. Quinn Slazinski; West Virginia; Forward; 11 PPG and 6 RPG w/Iona last year
45. Aly Khalifa; BYU; Center; 12 PPG and 6 RPG w/Charlotte last year
46. DeMarr Langford; UCF; Guard; 10 PPG and 4 RPG w/Boston College last 2 years
47. Parker Braun; Kansas; Forward; 8 PPG and 6 RPG w/Santa Clara last year
48. Isaiah Miranda; Oklahoma State; Center; 4-star recruit at NC State
49. Rivaldo Soares; Oklahoma; Forward; 33 starts w/Oregon last year
50. Ze’Rik Onyema; Texas; Forward; 31 starts w/UTEP last year
1. Ja’Kobe Walter; Baylor Bears (X: @JakobeWalter1)
Measurables: Guard, #4, 6’5” 180 lbs.
Pedigree: 5-star, top 10 player nationally
#HEADSUP #InsideDFWBball @BaylorMBB replaced a DFW one-and-done lottery pick with another DFW McDonald’s All-American in JaKobe Walter....He's looking the part too!— Jabari Johnson (@coachjabari) August 9, 2023
Game-high 28 points in the Bears international exhibition today
Analysis: Walter is one of the most talented true freshmen in the country. He has dominated everywhere he has ever played, including taking Link Academy to its first-ever GEICO Nationals championship. He is a gifted scorer but will likely make his biggest impact on the defensive end of the floor this season.
2. Elmarko Jackson; Kansas Jayhawks (X: @ElmarkoSzn)
Measurables: Guard, #13, 6’3” 190 lbs.
Pedigree: 5-star, top 25 player nationally
Analysis: Jackson is a combo guard who is described by his coaches as extremely explosive. The McDonald’s All-American has great athleticism and is likely to put some folks on posters this season. He may not be in the starting lineup in the early part of the season, but he will get considerable playing time and I wouldn’t be surprised if he earns a starting spot before season’s end.
3. Omaha Biliew; Iowa State Cyclones (X: @BiliewOmaha)
Measurables: Forward, #33, 6’8” 210 lbs.
Pedigree: 5-star, top 25 player nationally
Analysis: Coach Otz has nothing but praise for Biliew’s intangibles, describing him a great fit into the program. He can space the floor with three-point shooting and brings great versatility to team much in need of it. In high school, he was a high volume scorer and rebounder and he will likely be the same this season with the Cyclones.
4. Chris Johnson; Texas Longhorns (X: @Luhchriis)
Measurables: Guard, 6’4” 180 lbs.
Pedigree: 4-star, top 60 player nationally
Analysis: Johnson was an early enrollee for Kansas last November before decommitting this summer and committing to the Longhorns a few weeks later. Johnson is a combo guard who is adept at attacking the basket. He projects as an above-average defender. Expect him to be one of the first players off the bench for the Horns.
5. Yves Missi; Baylor Bears (X: @Yves_missi)
Measurables: Center, #21, 6’10” 210 lbs.
Pedigree: 4-star, top 60 player nationally
Analysis: The Cameroon native reclassified to join the Class of 2023 after being ranked 13th nationally in ESPN’s Class of 2024. The big man is extremely athletic and a powerful force in the paint. He may not start at the beginning of the season, but I’d expect him to get big-time minutes this year.
6. Miro Little; Baylor; Guard; 4-star
7. Eric Dailey; Oklahoma State; Forward; 4-star
8. Milan Momcilovic; Iowa State; Forward; 4-star
9. Brandon Garrison; Oklahoma State; Center; 4-star
10. Kaden Cooper; Oklahoma; Forward; 4-star
11. Dai Dai Ames; Kansas State; Guard; 4-star
12. Jizzle James; Cincinnati; Guard; 4-star
13. Johnny Furphy; Kansas; Forward; 4-star
14. Joseph Tugler; Houston; Center; 4-star
15. RJ Jones; Kansas State; Guard; 4-star
16. Rayvon Griffith; Cincinnati; Forward; 4-star
17. Jacob McFarland; Houston; Center; 4-star
18. Jace Posey; TCU; Forward; 4-star
19. JT Rock; Iowa State; Center; 4-star
20. Marcus Adams, Jr.; Kansas; Forward; 4-star
21. Jacolb Cole; Oklahoma; Forward; 4-star
22. Jamari McDowell; Kansas; Guard; 4-star
23. Justin McBride; Oklahoma State; Forward; 4-star
24. Macaleab Rich; Kansas State; Forward; 3-star
25. Jamyron Keller; Oklahoma State; Guard; 3-star
26. Jelani Hamilton; Iowa State; Guard; 3-star
27. Kordelius Jefferson; Houston; Guard; 3-star
28. Drew Steffe; Texas Tech; Guard; 3-star
29. Comeh Emuobor; UCF; Forward; 3-star
30. Ofri Naveh; West Virginia; Forward; International
31. Isaiah Manning; TCU; Forward; 3-star
32. Devon Pryor; Texas; Forward; 3-star
33. Connor Dow; Oklahoma State; Forward; 3-star
34. Nils Machowski; UCF; Guard; International
35. Kayden Fish; Iowa State; Forward; 3-star
Players Returning to New Conference Members
1. Jamal Shead; Houston Cougars (X: @Thejshead)
Measurables: Guard, #1, 6’1” 200 lbs., Senior
Stats: Last 2 Seasons: 10.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 5.6 APG, and 1.7 SPG in 75 games played (69 starts; 31.8 MPG) on 41/31/77 splits
Houston’s Jamal Shead will test the 2023 NBA Draft waters, he tells me.— Jon Chepkevich (@JonChep) March 28, 2023
Consummate floor general, leader, and two-way backcourt engine of one of the best teams in the country.
AAC DPOY + back-to-back assist leader. Smart, trustworthy passer + decision-maker. A coach’s dream. pic.twitter.com/P1bQvazOAj
Analysis: After being named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year and leading the conference in assists, Shead comes into this, his first season in the Big 12 with sky-high expectations. He is an excellent defender and his 2.77 assist-to-turnover ratio speaks to his talent as a facilitator. The key for Shead this season will be finding more consistency than he displayed last year.
2. Fousseyni Traore; BYU Cougars (Insta: @fouss.traore45)
Measurables: Forward, #45, 6’6” 250 lbs., Junior
Stats: Last 2 Seasons: 11.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, and 1.0 BPG in 66 games played (54 starts; 24.2 MPG) on 60/NA/75 splits
Analysis: Traore is BYU’s all-time leader in conference field goal percentage. The Cougars will need him to continue to produce down low, for them to have success in their first season in the Big 12. Anything that Traore lacks in height, he more than makes up for with strength and physicality.
3. Viktor Lakhin; Cincinnati Bearcats (Insta: @lakhinviktor_)
Measurables: Center, #30, 6’11” 240 lbs., Redshirt Junior
Stats: Last Season: 11.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG, and 1.4 BPG in 33 games played (32 starts; 23.5 MPG) on 62/NA/56 splits
Analysis: Lakhin struggled to stay healthy last season after starting the year as strong as any player in the AAC, scoring 15+ in 9 games and posting 7 double-doubles. The Russian native is expected to be fully healthy and play a prominent role on both ends of the floor for the Bearcats team.
Measurables: Guard, #3, 6’1” 200 lbs., Junior
Stats: Last Season: 10.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 4.2 APG, and 2.2 SPG in 25 games played (22 starts; 30.9 MPG) on 39/27/86 splits
Analysis: Coach Dawkins looks at Johnson as a leader who should help the team’s many new pieces find their way in the program’s new league. Johnson is a true point guard who excels as a perimeter defender and is a formidable distributor of the ball. He will need to improve his scoring efficiency to hit his highest potential.
5. J’Wan Roberts; Houston Cougars (X: @JwanRoberts13)
Measurables: Forward, #13, 6’7” 230 lbs., Redshirt Senior
Stats: Last Season: 10.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.2 APG, and 1.3 BPG in 37 games played (36 starts; 26.4 MPG) on 61/NA/69 splits
Analysis: Coach Sampson is moving Roberts from the three, where he played much of last season, back to his more natural position as a power forward. Roberts is a productive rebounder and dunker who is described by his coaches as a player who brings toughness, hustle, and leadership.
6. Spencer Johnson; BYU; Guard; 11 PPG on 51/46/76 splits last year
7. Ody Oguama; Cincinnati; Forward; 6 PPG and 5 RPG last year
8. Terrance Arceneaux; Houston; Guard; 34 games played (14 MPG) last year
9. Dallin Hall; BYU; Guard; 7 PPG and 3 APG last year
10. CJ Walker; UCF; Forward; 8 PPG and 5 RPG last 3 years
There are a ton of new players coming into the league this year and the lists above are not exhaustive. To me though, the new Bears are among some of the best incoming players in the Big 12. Combined with returning guys like Jalen Bridges, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, and Langston Love among others, I am very excited to see the Bears try to compete for another conference title this season. Sic em!