The college basketball season has finally arrived and we take a look at upcoming season surrounding the Big 12.
Kansas– No big surprise, the Jayhawks are picked to win the Big XII once again. However, they will have to replace two first-round draft picks, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. The Jayhawks remain confident with two returning starters, junior forward Perry Ellis and sophomore guard Wayne Selden Jr. who both put up huge numbers last season. Look out for freshman forward Cliff Alexander who was named the Big 12 preseason co-freshman of the year.
Oklahoma– Lon Kruger is in his fourth season as head coach at Oklahoma and has helped re-build the program since NBA star Blake Griffin left. He helped take the Sooners back to the NCAA tournament last season, but the Sooners were eliminated in the first round. The top players returning for the Sooners are junior guard Buddy Hield (Preseason All-Big 12) and junior forward Ryan Spangler,who was second in school history to lead the Big 12 in rebounding.
Texas– This is head coach Rick Barnes sixteenth season as head coach and the Longhorns return all five starters from a year ago. Texas added top recruit Myles Turner, a 6-11 forward to their roster who will be a huge asset inside the perimeter. The Longhorns play last years National Championship finalists UCONN and Kentucky in late November.
Baylor– The Bears suffered the loss of many key players from last season, including seniors Cory Jefferson, Isaiah Austin and Brady Heslip. Returning for the Bears is 6-6 senior forward Royce O’Neale who transferred his sophomore year from Denver. O’Neale recorded three double-doubles last season at Baylor and is projected to have a big senior year for the Bears.
Iowa State- The Cyclones lost Big 12 Player of the Year Melvin Ejim, but are still looking to have a dominant season. Head coach Fred Hoiberg has done an impressive job on the recruiting trail and has added two big-time transfers to his 2014 roster. UNLV transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones and junior college transfer Jameel McKay are two key players to that will help lead the Cyclones in the right direction.
Kansas State– The Wildcats are returning three starters and most importantly, preseason All-Big 12 player Marcus Foster. Foster had a break out freshman season, averaging 15.5 ppg. The Wildcats have high hopes to make a sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance under head coach Bruce Weber.
West Virginia– The Mountaineers have high expectations for guard Juwan Staten who is a contender for Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year. Staten ranked second in the Big 12 in assists and averaged 18.1 ppg last season. The Mountaineers have a young but competitive roster, and will need the young players to step up big time in order to help grow the program this year.
Oklahoma State– After losing dominant players Marcus Smart and Markel Brown to the NBA, the Cowboys team have a lot of extra work to put in. Team captain and small forward Le’Bryan Nash will have to help carry the team this season. Nash averaged 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds last season and needs to put up big numbers for the Cowboys to compete in the Big 12 this season.
Texas Tech– The Red Raiders finished 6-12 in the Big 12 last season and is still in the early stages of rebuilding their program. The 2014 roster includes five true freshman and returning senior point-guard Robert Turner. Turner is Texas Tech’s top returning scorer and will try and help lead the Red Raiders to a promising season.
TCU– The Horned Frogs struggled last season and went 0-18 in conference play. TCU looks to have a better record this season with four returning starters at the helm. Senior guards Kyan Anderson and Trey Zeigler will be two major playmakers for the Horned Frogs this season.
*Section Photo credit to Cooper Neill, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Mark D. Smith, USA Today Sports.