By John Fanta
FOX Sports activities School Basketball Author
The Massive 12 Convention has accounted for the final two nationwide championship groups — Kansas and Baylor — and has had a workforce qualify in every Ultimate 4 since 2018. It is secure to say the league is on the game’s mountaintop, and there are zero indicators that the case might be any totally different within the 2022-23 season.
In reality, there is a case to be made that the convention has 4 groups that might make a run to the Ultimate 4, with the Bears, Jayhawks, Texas and veteran-laden TCU all consensus preseason top-15 groups. Past that group, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma ought to all be NCAA Event contenders, so there’s potential for 70% of the league to go dancing in 2023.
With that in thoughts, listed here are six ideas on the Massive 12 heading into the upcoming season.
Scott Drew and Baylor have reloaded and may contend for a title.
The Bears have main scorer Adam Flagler again. After an injury-ridden season, LJ Cryer will be part of him within the backcourt. Mix the expertise of these two with a five-star, 6-foot-4 freshman in Keyontae George, and the Bears ought to have a pleasant mix between their guards.
Baylor additionally acquired some size within the switch portal with West Virginia’s Jalen Bridges (8.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG) and BYU’s Caleb Lohner (7.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG). Bridges might find yourself beginning on the energy ahead place, whereas Flo Thamba returns on the heart slot after beginning all 34 video games final season.
One huge query for the Bears is the standing of Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, who suffered a knee harm final February that ended his season after he averaged 8.4 factors and 6.8 boards on 68% from the ground. It is unclear when the 6-foot-8 ahead might be obtainable to return, but when he can serve a task, that might solely add to a workforce that is already going to be within the preseason top-10 when the polls come out.
Kansas has versatility, wants freshmen and supporting solid to step up.
The reigning nationwide champions ought to once more be a preseason top-10 workforce with a few key returnees, top-of-the-line recruiting courses within the nation and an impression switch addition.
Of the returning gamers to this system, level guard Dajuan Harris is again for coach Invoice Self, in addition to 6-foot-8 ahead Jalen Wilson, who’s returning for a fourth season after withdrawing from the NBA Draft. Wilson put his skillset on full show in New Orleans this previous April, combining for 26 factors, 16 boards and 7 assists within the nationwide semifinal and title recreation victories, and he’ll solely enhance his position within the coming marketing campaign.
As for the addition from the switch portal, the Jayhawks didn’t must do any additional analysis on Kevin McCullar. The previous Texas Tech standout has gone the intraconference route and can go well with up for the Jayhawks after he performed a key position on a Candy 16 Crimson Raiders squad this previous season. The 6-foot-6 wing is a high-level defender who averaged 10.1 factors, 3.1 assists and 4.6 rebounds this previous season. McCullar actually sums up the energy of KU heading into 2022-23 as a result of he can match up with nearly anyone on the defensive finish and may make performs for others.
So, Kansas has some identified commodities, however the important thing questions for this workforce to reply might be what they do on the heart place and the way the supporting solid shakes out. A ton of buzz surrounds five-star prospect Gradey Dick, a 6-foot-7 wing who might very nicely begin from the get-go. 4-star freshman wing MJ Adams is a top-30 recruit and figures to play a task as nicely.
As for another returning gamers who might be relied upon to extend their position, Bobby Pettiford enters his second season for this system after exhibiting some flashes early final 12 months earlier than being sidelined with an belly harm. Drake switch Joseph Yesufu, who averaged simply 2 factors per recreation final season, is somebody who KU might be searching for to step up as nicely.
Now, again to the query on the heart place. Self may have some selections to make with David McCormack gone, as there’s not likely a clear-cut reply. Sophomore Zach Clemence is the front-runner for the job after studying for a lot of final season, however four-star 6-foot-10 recruit Ernest Udeh might be somebody who takes on the position. It is at all times tough to gauge what freshmen will do, particularly those that play within the paint. One other four-star freshman, Zuby Eljofor, in addition to Division II switch Cam Martin spherical out the choices on the heart slot.
Whereas Kansas has actually misplaced quite a bit, with Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, Remy Martin and McCormack headlining the departures, there is not any scarcity of choices for Self. This Jayhawks workforce has the potential to trigger some matchup issues for opponents on the wing.
TCU might have considered one of their greatest seasons in program historical past.
Texas Christian College as a top-10 workforce in faculty basketball?!
Jamie Dixon welcomes again his high six scorers from final season, together with his complete beginning 5. In an period by which roster turnover is commonplace, the Horned Frogs outline continuity.
Junior guard Mike Miles might be top-of-the-line guards not simply within the Massive 12, however in faculty basketball. He averaged 15.4 factors, 3.8 assists and three.5 rebounds this previous season, combining for 41 factors in two NCAA Event video games. Senior Damion Baugh, a 6-foot-4 guard who confirmed his playmaking potential with 10.6 factors and 4.5 assists per recreation final season, will be part of Miles within the backcourt.
With seniors Emanuel Miller (10.3 PPG) and Chuck O’Bannon (9.5 PPG) filling out the versatile ahead roles for TCU, the Horned Frogs have the power to be switchable and lengthy defensively. Eddie Lampkin, who performed his first full season final 12 months whereas posting 6.8 factors and 6.2 boards per recreation, will maintain down the middle place and might be a breakout candidate.
Dixon has one other key weapon returning in 6-foot-7 sixth man Micah Peavy, whereas Oklahoma State switch Rondel Walker must be a reinforcement within the backcourt.
The Horned Frogs’ largest energy? Protection. They ranked fifteenth within the nation in KenPom adjusted defensive effectivity final season. The query might be how they deal with the preseason hype, in addition to if they will enhance on the perimeter. TCU was ninth within the Massive 12 final season at simply over 30% from 3-point territory.
Texas’ Chris Beard has the perfect backcourt of his teaching profession.
School basketball is a guard’s recreation, and the Longhorns are crammed with choices of their backcourt. Marcus Carr returns for a fifth season, his second in Austin.
Beard and his workers additionally landed their best choice out of the switch portal, with Iowa State’s Tyrese Hunter staying within the league and heading to Texas for his sophomore season. As a freshman, the 6-foot guard tallied 11.0 factors and 4.9 assists per recreation, making a huge effect for a Cyclones workforce that stunned many throughout the game.
Associated: Texas coach Chris Beard has huge goals for the Longhorns
The Longhorns aren’t executed there, with the nation’s sixth-best recruiting class, in accordance with 247 Sports activities.
5-star prospects Dillon Mitchell and Arterio Morris determine to make a direct impression for Texas, with Mitchell on monitor to possible begin. A participant who shouldn’t be forgotten for the Longhorns is New Mexico State switch Sir’Jabari Rice, who performed a significant position on an Aggies workforce that upset UConn within the NCAA Event. Beard believes Rice’s impression might shock.
Regardless of new faces, Texas Tech is usually a top-25 workforce.
Yr 1 of the Mark Adams period was spectacular, with the Crimson Raiders advancing to the Candy 16 of behind the perfect protection in America. But it surely was an offseason of change for Texas Tech.
Terrence Shannon Jr. (Illinois) and Kevin McCullar (Kansas) each transferred out of this system. Davion Warren, Bryson Williams, Marcus Santos-Silva, Adonis Arms, Chibuzo Agbo and Mylik Wilson are additionally gone. That opened up a bevy of roster slots.
Texas Tech did reel in some high quality provides within the portal and may have one of the crucial harmful frontcourts within the convention with Utah Valley switch Fardaws Aimaq becoming a member of 6-foot-8 fifth-year senior Kevin Obanor.
Standing at 6-foot-11, Aimaq was top-of-the-line obtainable huge males within the portal. He tied Nationwide Participant of the Yr Oscar Tshiebwe with 27 double-doubles this previous season and was second within the nation with 13.6 rebounds per recreation, to go together with his 18.9 factors.
The largest key for the Crimson Raiders is what they find yourself getting from a new-look backcourt. De’Vion Harmon might be in his third college (Oklahoma, Oregon) in 4 years. Former North Carolina guard Kerwin Walton involves Lubbock searching for a task and manufacturing enhance, whereas D’Maurian Williams transfers into this system after averaging 14.5 factors and a couple of.5 assists for Gardner-Webb.
One of many items most tough to gauge is freshman guard Elijah Fisher. The 6-foot-6 prospect from Toronto was the No. 15 prospect within the nation within the 2023 recruiting class earlier than he elected to reclassify to this 12 months. He picked the Crimson Raiders over Kansas, Kentucky, Baylor and Memphis, amongst others. This previous 12 months in highschool, Fisher averaged 28 factors, 13 rebounds, seven assists and three steals per recreation. He has additionally frolicked with the Canadian nationwide workforce program.
One other fascinating X-factor candidate is 6-foot-6 Texas switch Jaylon Tyson, who initially dedicated to the Crimson Raiders earlier than following Beard to Texas. He transferred mid-season final 12 months after showing in solely eight video games for the Longhorns. Tyson was a top-40 recruit out of John Paul II Excessive College, which he led to its first state title as a junior. May he be somebody who emerges after going via a summer season of improvement beneath Adams? We will see.
Texas Tech is actually the wild card of the convention. Given how nicely the Raiders have defended, to not point out the successful pedigree they’ve developed, it might not be stunning to see them rise into the top-15. However there are additionally some unknowns that might lead them extra into being a high 30-35 squad.
A Battle of Oklahoma might play out to fill out the highest six.
Mike Boynton did an admirable job final season with an Oklahoma State workforce that had nothing to play for besides satisfaction, and with a match bid again within the image, the Cowboys might very nicely be a workforce that goes dancing subsequent March.
Boynton welcomes again his high two scorers from final season in Avery Anderson and Bryce Thompson. With reigning Massive 12 Defensive Participant of the Yr Moussa Cisse again for his third season of school basketball, the Cowboys have the league’s chief in blocked photographs (54) and a robust 7-foot-1 rim protector.
It will likely be fascinating to see if Tyreek Smith could make a leap with some extra expertise and a possible position enhance. When it comes to the portal, Boynton reeled in Excessive Level switch John Michael-Wright, a 6-foot guard who’s coming off a junior season by which he averaged 18.4 factors, 4.4 rebounds and three.4 assists per recreation. He’ll get a chance to play a key position, and it will likely be fascinating to see simply how a lot of his success at a mid-major degree interprets to the Cowboys and the Massive 12.
In the meantime, Porter Moser enters his second season seeking to construct off a 19-16 marketing campaign by which the Sooners reached the second spherical of the NIT. Like most instances for a workforce making an attempt to take a leap, switch portal additions — and to a lesser extent freshmen — will play a key position in simply how a lot progress the Sooners will make within the 2022-23 marketing campaign.
The participant to observe is Nevada switch and 6-foot-2 senior guard Grant Sherfield, who averaged 19.1 factors, 6.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds for the Wolfpack this previous season. The All-Mountain West choice might be counted on to step in and be Oklahoma’s major ball handler.
Simply this week, the Sooners obtained the good information that George Washington switch Joe Bamisile obtained an NCAA waiver and won’t have to take a seat out this 12 months. The 6-foot-4 guard is on his third college in as a few years after beginning his profession at Virginia Tech, however he did stand out as an All-Atlantic 10 choice this previous season (16.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG).
Whereas the third beginning guard spot is a bit up within the air, Oklahoma has a pair of four-star recruits coming into this system to headline the nation’s No. 37-ranked class, in accordance with 247 Sports activities. Out of Blair Academy in New Jersey, 6-foot-6 capturing guard Otega Oweh is somebody who might step in and make an impression. The opposite high prospect coming into Norman is four-star level guard Milos Uzan, who might be a reserve behind Sherfield.
The frontcourt must be regular with fifth-year senior and All-Massive 12 Honorable Point out choice Tanner Groves again within the fold. One other key returnee is 6-foot-6 senior Jalen Hill, who began each recreation final season and will emerge as a double-figure scorer in his fourth 12 months with this system.
John Fanta is a nationwide faculty basketball broadcaster and author for FOX Sports activities. He covers the game in a wide range of capacities, from calling video games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Community to offering commentary on The Subject of 68 Media Community. Comply with him on Twitter @John_Fanta.
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