The Big 12 is once again coming into the year trying to figure out a way to knock Kansas from the top spot. West Virginia has the best chance after returning the National Defensive Player of the Year in Jevon Carter. Other teams like Texas and Oklahoma have brought in blue-chip recruits, Mo Bamba and Trae Young respectively. Other teams like Baylor have taken a step back while TCU is expected to be much improved. The 2017 Big 12 Basketball season won’t feature as many strong teams at the top as in previous years but the middle of the pack should be a dogfight.
2017 Big 12 Basketball Standings
10) Oklahoma State
The Cowboys lost a lot of production with the departure of Juwan Evans and senior Phil Forte. Coach Underwood also departed to Illinois after coaching the number one offense in the country according to KenPom last year. Jeremy Carroll does return after averaging 17.5 points per game as a Junior while shooting 44% from three. Expect Carroll to land on an All-Big 12 team at the end of the year.
9) Iowa State
Iowa State is in full-blown rebuild mode after the departure of their senior class. Gone is Monte Morris, one of the best point guards in the country last year. Deonte Burton and Matt Thomas are both gone leaving a young and inexperienced team for Steve Prohm to coach.
8) Kansas State
Bruce Webber has little to no experience in the frontcourt after the graduation of D.J Johnson. The Wildcats will need the backcourt tandem of Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes to carry this team. Power forward Dean Wade will need to take the next step in his development in his third year in Manhattan.
7) Texas Tech
Chris Beard enters his second year in Lubbock looking to take the Red Raiders to the NCAA Tournament. The team lost every Big 12 road game last year which kept them on the outside looking in. If the Red Raiders can upset a few teams at home again this year like in 2017 and then steal a few road games they should be dancing in March.
After finishing last year tied for second in the league, expect the Bears to fall back this year. They return point guard Manu Lecomte who was injured down the stretch last year but the loss of All-American Johnathan Motley will be hard to replace. Scott Drew always seems to field competitive teams and this year should be no different.
Shaka Smart and the Longhorns finished dead last in the Big 12 last year after suffering from poor point guard play. Enter 4-star point guard Matt Coleman to get guys shots and move Kerwin Roach off the ball. Along with top five big man Mo Bamba cleaning up shots on the back end, the Longhorns should be much improved. They will need to improve on their sub 30% three-point shooting but defensively they should be outstanding with all their athleticism. They could be the best defensive team during the 2017 Big 12 Basketball season.
The addition of McDonald’s All-American Trae Young is going to help a Sooner team that struggled with guard play outside of Kameron McGusty last year. The Sooners struggled in the Big 12 last year as an inexperienced squad playing mostly freshman and sophomores. Lon Kruger now has guys who have been through the ringer and are ready to compete in the Big 12 this year. That to go along with a 5-star point guard who many believe was the best shooter in the class of 2017 in Young.
Many will be shocked to see TCU this high up in the rankings in basketball but Jamie Dixon has many expecting big things from his team. TCU won the NIT last year and return their dual point guard backcourt of Alex Robinson and Jaylen Fisher. Along with triple-double producer Kenrich Williams and All-Big 12 performer Vladimir Brodziansky, this is a team primed to breakout.
2) West Virginia
The Mountaineers once again lost seem key upperclassmen but with Bob Huggins press system it doesn’t seem to matter. They just plug new guys in seamlessly and with the return of the national DPOY Jevon Carter they should be just fine. The Mountaineers are the only real threat to dethrone Kansas this year. They will need to stay afloat at the beginning of conference play until forward Esa Ahmad returns from suspension as he’s suspended half the year.
Not much of a surprise here as the Jayhawks are going for their record-breaking 14th straight Big 12 title. KU will once again have a stellar backcourt after returning potential All-American Devonte Graham and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman. The Jayhawks will once again go with their four guard look and need sophomore Udoka Azubuike to produce at the five spot. Kansas struggled on defense last year but the addition of Azubuike who was limited to 11 games by injury last year could help clean up some of the Jayhawks mistakes at the rim.
All-Big 12 Preseason Team
G: Devonte Graham, Kansas (POY)
G: Malik Newman, Kansas
G: Jevon Carter, West Virginia
G: Jeffery Carroll, Oklahoma State
F: Kenrich Williams, TCU
2017 Big 12 Basketball Player of the Year
Graham was excellent in KU’s exhibition versus Missouri for hurricane relief scoring 25 point, 10 rebounds, and five assists. Graham will step into Frank Mason’s role for the Jayhawks which saw Mason win National Player of the Year. Graham has played off-ball the past few years but will now run the offense filled with shooters. Graham has the chance to put up monstrous assists number spreading the ball around to guys like Newman, Lagerald Vick, and Svi Mykhailiuk. The latter two both shot greater than 37% percent from three for the Jayhawks last year. If Graham plays like he did versus Missouri he will run away with Big 12 Player of the Year and challenge for first-team All-American honors as well.