This is the 2nd entry in the Report Card series. The first post came out a couple of weeks ago when we took a look at the league’s intra-conference transfers. You can find that piece here. This time we’ll be taking a look at the top point guard on each team in the conference.
A couple of notes. First, it is sometimes difficult to determine the difference between a point guard and a shooting guard. Some guards are best described as combo guards. I’ve done my best to identify the starting guard on each team that is best described as the point. Each team only gets one point guard for the purposes of this and future similar posts. So, while Mike Miles, Jr. and Damion Baugh (or Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter) are both arguably point guards, only one of them (here Baugh and Carr) get broken down herein while their counterparts will be discussed later when we take a look at the league’s shooting guards. I also want to be clear that the grades assigned in this post are relative to the performance of other guards in the conference. This means that although Kedrian Johnson is an objectively good and productive point guard, by Big 12 standards and relative to other point guards in the league, he’s probably in the bottom tier of point guards.
Marcus Carr: Texas
Carr is in his 5th collegiate season (1 with Pitt, 2 with Minnesota [not including a redshirt year], and now 2 with Texas). He came into the season on the Big 12 Preseason All-Conference Team and was expected to compete for the conference player of the year award. Thus far, he has lived up to the hype. He ranks in the top 6 in the conference in scoring, assists, steals, FG%, minutes, and win shares (per sports-reference.com). He has been far and away, Texas’s best player and one of the most impactful guards in the conference. Carr is also having the best season of his career in steals, FG%, 3P%, and defensive rating.
Texas Longhorns (13-2, 2-1 #BIG12) pick-up a tough 56-46 road win over Oklahoma State— BasketballBuzz.ca (@basketballbuzz) January 7, 2023
Marcus Carr | #Toronto, ON
- Seventh straight game with at least two made three-pointers #CollegeBasketball #NCAA pic.twitter.com/9O5vsXkX9K
Stats: 17.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 1.6 SPG in 24 games played (all starts; 32.5 MPG) on 45.3% FG, 38.6% 3P, and 81.6% FT.
Dajuan Harris: Kansas
Harris entered this his redshirt junior season in Lawrence as the team’s presumptive starting point guard. He was an established commodity as a passer and perimeter defender. The big question mark for him was if he would, for the first time in his collegiate career, start shooting it with more regularity and confidence. The answer has been, not really. Harris’s usage rate among Big 12 guards who have played 400+ minutes this season ranks 33rd out of 34 (only Baylor’s Dale Bonner has a lower usage rate out of that group). He went from 10.2 field goal attempts per 100 possessions last year to 11.8 this year (a very modest increase). Still, he is in the top 5 in the conference in assists, steals, and defensive win shares (per sports-reference.com). It’s just hard to give him a terribly high grade when he disappears for such long stretches of the game (especially on a team with limited depth).
Stats: 7.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 6.1 APG, and 1.9 SPG in 24 games played (all starts; 33.3 MPG) on 45.2% FG, 37.3% 3P, and 67.9% FT.
Markquis Nowell: Kansas State
Nowell is one of just two players on the Wildcats who were with the team last year. He stayed, in part, because Coach Tang and the new staff saw his potential as one of the most underrated players in the conference. He was frequently overlooked as an undersized guard who was a decent passer and 3P shooter. This season he has shown that he is so much more than that. He is a leader, a formidable perimeter defender, and a go-to scorer in addition to being the best offensive facilitator in the league. The super senior (who spent 3 seasons with the Little Rock Trojans) leads the Big 12 in assists, steals, and win shares (per sports-reference.com).
Markquis Nowell from WAY deep AND gets the foul!— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) January 11, 2023
Stats: 16.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 7.8 APG, and 2.3 SPG in 24 games played (all starts; 36.0 MPG) on 39.9% FG, 36.9% 3P, and 86.8% FT.
Damion Baugh: TCU
Baugh missed some time early in the season as part of an NCAA-imposed suspension (that in my opinion was totally bogus). Since coming back, the senior (who spent 2 seasons with Memphis) has been very productive, having his best collegiate season. Although he is 3rd on TCU in scoring, he makes the biggest impact as a passer and on the defensive end. He is a critical piece to the Frogs’ fast-paced offense that is as effective as it gets scoring in transition.
Stats: 13.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.2 APPG, and 1.8 SPG in 18 games played (all starts; 34.4 MPG) on 43.7% FG, 26.4% 3P, and 74.1% FT.
Adam Flagler: Baylor
Flagler entered this season as one of just two returning starters for the Bears. Still, he knew that he’d be asked to slide from the shooting guard role he had played before into the starting point guard position. It would be an adjustment and it was one of the team’s question marks from the preseason how he’d handle it. Well, not surprisingly, Adam has put in the work and is one of the best point guards in the conference. He is top 10 among all Big 12 players in scoring, assists, FG%, and 3P%. He leads the league in offensive rating and in offensive box +/- (both per sports-reference.com). He has been the team’s best playmaker and has done so while limiting turnovers and costly mistakes.
Adam Flagler the future pediatrician, ripping kids hearts out all the time.— Ted Harrison (@tedvid) January 24, 2023
Stats: 15.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 4.9 APG, and 1.4 SPG in 22 games played (all starts; 32.9 MPG) on 41.5% FG, 41.1% 3P, and 83.6% FT.
Grant Sherfield: Oklahoma
Sherfield was one of the highest-profile transfers entering the conference this offseason. He was an explosive guard for the last couple of years in the Mountain West Conference. His stats are understandably less impressive against Big 12 competition than they were at Nevada. Still, he has been fantastic on a team that otherwise has struggled pretty much across the board. He is the league’s best 3P shooter and top 5 in scoring. His defense leaves something to be desired and it’s hard to get too excited about Sherfield’s production when it’s not translating to wins. In his last 5 conference games (all losses), he is averaging just 11.6 PPG on 35.1% from the field.
Stats: 16.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.4 APG, and 0.8 SPG in 24 games played (all starts; 33.3 MPG) on 43.1% FG, 43.1% 3P, and 85.5% FT.
Tamin Lipsey: Iowa State
Lipsey is a true freshman. He’s a homegrown product straight out of Ames, Iowa. Despite being the smallest player on the team, he has shown the ability to be a physical defender and take the ball hard to the rim. His best attribute is his passing, ranking 3rd in the league in assists. He is also top 5 in steals and several defensive metrics. His scoring ability is not on the same level as the other guards on this list but should develop in time. For now, he is likely the least reliable starting point guard in the conference. That doesn’t mean that he isn’t and won’t be a good player, just that in a league of elite guard play, he doesn’t elevate his teammates like others discussed in this post.
Stats: 7.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.0 APG, and 1.9 SPG in 23 games played (all starts; 28.5 MPG) on 51.6% FG, 16.7% 3P, and 76.9% FT.
Kedrian Johnson: West Virginia
Johnson entered this season as the team’s only returning starter. His reputation was that of a solid defender and an inconsistent, turnover-prone offensive player. To this point, that has held true for Johnson. He is taking more shots this year but shooting at a lower eFG% than he did last season. The good news for WVU is that he continues to be among the most disruptive defenders in the conference in addition to leading the team in assists.
Stats: 10.6 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, and 1.5 SPG in 23 games played (all starts; 27.1 MPG) on 39.5% FG, 30.6% 3P, and 82.9% FT.
Avery Anderson III: Oklahoma State
Anderson is in his 4th season in Stillwater. He is lightning-quick and pushes the pace in transition. He is taking fewer shots this year than in the past couple of seasons, but is now the team leader in assists. He gets it done on both ends ranking in the top 6 in the Big 12 in both Assist Rate and Defensive Rating (both per sports-reference.com). Coach Mike Boynton announced earlier this week that Anderson would be undergoing wrist surgery and is out indefinitely. The Cowboys have to hope that he can come back before season’s end.
Stats: 11.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.4 APG, and 1.5 SPG in 22 games played (all starts; 27.9 MPG) on 39.9% FG, 18.0% 3P, and 82.3% 3P.
De’Vion Harmon: Texas Tech
Harmon’s path to Tech was a windy one, starting at Oklahoma before spending last season in Oregon and joining the Red Raiders this season. This season, Harmon has crossed 1000 career points scored and is Tech’s leader in steals and assists (and 2nd leading scorer). He is averaging career highs in scoring, assists, and steals despite having his worst season from the 3P line. He has had great success driving to the basket. His team, however, hasn’t been able to translate his production into wins in conference play.
Stats: 13.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 1.8 SPG in 24 games played (all starts; 30.9 MPG) on 44.9% FG, 24.6% 3P, and 68.7% FT.
The guard play in the best conference in America is elite. While other conferences are headlined by big men like Purdue’s Edey, Kentucky’s Tschiebwe, or Arizona’s Tubelis, the Big 12 will likely be won or lost by the performance of guards including those discussed above. Fortunately, for the Bears, Adam Flagler is among the best in the league. Sic Em!