If you’re just joining us, over the past several weeks, we have looked at the Big 12’s intra-conference transfers, starting point guards, starting shooting guards, and starting small forwards. Keeping things moving along, we’ll now turn to the league’s starting power forwards. As has been the case in the past 3 entries of the series, it’s not always easy to determine what a power forward really is. Some of these guys might be better characterized as centers or small forwards or (in at least one instance) tall shooting guards. Still, we work with what we have.
Kalib Boone: Oklahoma State
Following the departure of his brother from the program last offseason, Boone has asserted himself as one of the team’s best players. Boone is an old-school, post-centric power forward. He doesn’t take many threes but is a power force down low. He is the team’s leading scorer and is 2nd on OSU in rebounding, blocked shots, and eFG%. He is 3rd in the league in both blocked shots and offensive rebounds and has the best TS% (per sports-reference.com) in the Big 12.
Stats: 11.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.6 SPG, and 1.1 BPG in 31 games played (30 starts; 22.5 MPG) on 59.5% FG and 75.7% FT.
Jalen Bridges: Baylor
It feels like we’ve talked about Bridges a lot lately. We looked at him as an intra-conference transfer a few weeks ago. We’ve also focused on him as one of the team’s most underrated and important players. He doesn’t stuff the stat sheet like some of the team’s guards and wings, but his energy on the defensive end and as a rebounder is hard to ignore. Over his first 12 games this season, he averaged 8.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG on 46/18/78 splits. In the 18 games since, he’s averaging 10.8 PPG and 6.6 RPG on 51/34/76 splits.
Stats: 9.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 1.1 BPG in 31 games played (all starts; 27.0 MPG) on 47.3% FG, 27.7% 3P, and 77.2% FT.
Gabe Kalscheur: Iowa State
Iowa State’s only returning starter coming into this season, Kalscheur is having the best season of his career. He’s averaging career highs in scoring and steals. He is the team’s best 3P shooter and 2nd on the team in scoring and steals. He is top 10 in the Big 12 in both steals and made three-pointers. Please Note: Kalscheur is by almost any definition a shooting guard. However, prior to the team’s dismissal this week of Caleb Grill, they have started 4 guards (Gabe being the biggest among them) for most of the season, leading to his inclusion in this post.
GABE KALSCHEUR, my goodness. Cold blooded. pic.twitter.com/8Yf4W9UOGX— Cooper Watson (@coopertwatson) January 7, 2023
Stats: 12.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, and 1.5 SPG in 30 games played (20 starts; 33.1 MPG) on 40.1% FG, 35.2% 3P, and 73.5% FT.
Kevin McCullar: Kansas
The longtime Red Raider fixture, McCullar is having his best college season as a senior in Lawrence. He’s averaging career highs in scoring, rebounding, and steals. The statistical production has been good, but his impact as arguably the league’s best defender doesn’t show up in the stat sheet. He is 2nd in the Big 12 in rebounds, steals, and defensive rating (per sports-reference.com).
This angle of the @Kevin_McCullar play pic.twitter.com/x9KvxllPDt— Kansas Jayhawks (@KUAthletics) March 1, 2023
Stats: 11.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.4 APG, 2.1 SPG, and 0.7 BPG in 30 games played (all starts; 31.4 MPG) on 43.5% FG, 28.6% 3P, and 77.1% FT.
Tre Mitchell: West Virginia
Mitchell is arguably West Virginia’s best player. He is a solid defender and a balanced player on offense. He can help stretch the floor with his 3P stroke and can finish strong at the rim. He is 2nd on his team in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots. He is top 15 in the conference in defensive rebound percentage and block rate (both per sports-reference.com). He does turn it over and fouls a bit too much, but is still one of the more effective true power forwards in the league.
Stats: 11.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.6 BPG in 31 games played (29 starts; 29.5 MPG) on 47.2% FG, 38.1% 3P, and 78.7% FT.
Kevin Obanor: Texas Tech
Obanor is a super senior who has now started over 130 games at the Division I level. He is just about as experienced as it gets and his versatility on the offensive end makes him one of the most impactful power forwards in the league. He leads his team in scoring and rebounding. He is top 10 in the Big 12 in scoring, win shares, offensive rating, and offensive rebounding percentage (all per sports-reference.com).
Stats: 14.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 0.9 APG, and 0.8 SPG in 31 games played (all starts; 30.7 MPG) on 49.2% FG, 32.2% 3P, and 80.9% FT.
Jacob Groves: Oklahoma
The younger and less-prolific Groves brother started his 1st 22 games this season and has come off the bench for the last 8 games. Still, when it comes to Oklahoma and these posts, they’ve made so many lineup changes as their calamitous season has gone on, that we’re gonna go with the guys who have been a starter more often than not. Groves has turned himself into something of a 3P specialist and is a much more efficient offensive player this year than he was a season ago. Still, outside of being the team’s 2nd best 3P shooter, he isn’t in the top 4 of the team in any other major statistical category.
Stats: 6.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 0.8 APG in 31 games played (22 starts; 20.8 MPG) on 44.2% FG, 38.3% 3P, and 68.2% FT.
David N’Guessan: Kansas State
I honestly didn’t expect N’Guessan to start nearly as many games as he has this year. The Virginia Tech transfer was an unproven commodity coming in. He has established himself as a quality offensive rebounder and defender. The statistical production doesn’t exactly jump of the page with this guy, but make no mistake, he’s an important part of what Kansas State has been doing this season.
Stats: 6.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.5 SPG, and 0.5 BPG in 24 games played (18 starts; 20.1 MPG) on 70.3% FG and 47.3% FT.
Emanuel Miller: TCU
Miller is an experienced, versatile, and well-rounded player. He gets the job done on both ends of the floor. Through the first 81 games of his career, he was a 19.4% 3P shooter. This year, he’s taking more threes than ever and making 41.9% of them. His improvement as a scorer, while maintaining his rebounding and defensive production is very impressive. He’s TCU’s leading rebounder and second leader in scoring and blocked shots.
Stats: 12.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 0.8 BPG in 28 games played (27 starts; 29.6 MPG) on 53.2% FG, 42.2% 3P, and 66.1% FT.
Dillon Mitchell: Texas
Mitchell came into his true freshman season as a 5-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American. He has started every game and while he hasn’t played poorly enough to be moved to the bench of a great and deep team, the production just hasn’t been particularly impressive. Aside from being 2nd on the team in rebounding, it’s pretty easy to forget that he’s on the team at all, let alone a starter. Out of the 95 Big 12 players with 200+ minutes played this year, Mitchell has the 6th lowest Usage Rate (per sports-reference.com).
Stats: 4.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 0.7 SPG in 31 games played (all starts; 18.7 MPG) on 61.8% FG and 42.9% FT.
This group of players doesn’t often get the headlines and attention of the position groups we’ve covered previously. There are a lot of glue guys, great defenders, strong rebounders, and underrated dudes discussed above. For the Bears, arguably their most important glue guy is on this list. Sic Em!