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2009-10 College Basketball Preview: Big 12

Written by Paul Banks of NBC Chicago and the Washington Times, and David Kay of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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1. Kansas (1st, 14-2 in Big 12, 27-8 overall, NCAA Sweet 16)

2009-2010 Outlook:

Two seasons removed a National Championship, Rock, Chalk, Jayhawks is poised to make another run at a title despite somewhat of a turbulent off-season that not only saw several ballers get into an altercation with members of the Kansas football team, but also the first semester suspension of Brady Morningstar stemming from a drunken driving arrest. Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins decided to return to school rather than go to the NBA and on top of being two of the most skilled players in the conference, bring plenty of experience and leadership to KU. Add in the fact that everyone else is back from a young team last year and that Bill Self landed a major recruit in swing player Xavier (pronounced Zav-ee-ay) Henry, and there is no questioning why Kansas is ranked #1 in the pre-season polls.

Projected Depth Chart

C: Cole Aldrich (Jr)/Jeff Withey (So)

PF: Marcus Morris (So)/Markieff Morris (So)/Thomas Robinson (Fr)

G/F: Xavier Henry (Fr)/Mario Little (Sr)/Travis Releford (So)

G: Tyshawn Taylor (So)/Brady Morningstar (Jr)/Tyrel Reed (Jr)

PG: Sherron Collins (Sr)/Elijah Johnson (Fr)

Gone: G-Tyrone Appleton (transfer-Southwest Baptist), F-Quintrell Thomas (transfer-UNLV)

Player to Watch: Taylor- Bill Self really cashed in last off-season when Tyshawn Taylor de-committed from Marquette due to Tom Crean taking the head coaching job at Indiana. Coming off a promising freshman season, Taylor was critical in helping lead the U.S. U-19 team to a gold medal in the World Championships. He was at the center of the incident with the football team earlier this school year and will still take a backseat to Collins and Aldrich, but could be the x-factor in the Jayhawks journey to a national title.

2. Texas (T-4th, 9-7, 23-12, NCAA Second Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:

Coming off an extremely disappointing 2008-2009 season, the Longhorns are ready to make a major splash on the national scene. Damion James chose to return to school after a less than stellar junior year and Florida transfer Jai Lucas will finally give Texas the stability at the point that they lacked last season. That’s not it though. The ‘Horns boast one of the top recruiting classes in the country led by’s #1 recruit in the 2009 class; the uber-athletic, defensive stopping combo guard Avery Bradley. Expectations have anything less than a trip to a Final Four would be considered a disappointment.

Projected Depth Chart

C: Dexter Pittman (Sr)/Clint Chapman (Jr)/Matt Hill (Jr)

F: Gary Johnson (Jr)/Jordan Hamilton (Fr)/Alexis Wangneme (Jr)

F: Damion James (Sr)/Shawn Williams (Fr)

SG: Avery Bradley (Fr)/Justin Mason (Sr)/Varez Ward (So)

PG: Jai Lucas (So)/Dogus Balbay (Jr)/J’Covan Brown (Fr)

Gone: G-A.J. Abrams, F/C Connor Atchley, G-Harrison Smith (transfer-Stephen F. Austin)

Player to Watch: Lucas- The son of former NBA’er John Lucas decided to transfer from Florida because Nick Calathes was taking his role as the point guard. He won’t be eligible until after the fall semester but should step in right away and provide the Longhorns with a true distributor at the point, a major void that hurt their team a year ago.

3. Oklahoma (2nd, 13-3, 30-6, NCAA Elite Eight)

2009-2010 Outlook:

Life in Norman post-Blake Griffin begins. With the National Player of the Year gone, Jeff Capel’s team will have some major shoes to fill since Griffin did it all for the Sooners last season. Besides losing Blake, Oklahoma will be without two other starters and their top bench contributor. With all that said, OU is still in good shape. Sharp-shooting combo guard Willie Warren turned down a spot in the NBA lottery to return to school and be “the guy” at Oklahoma. Capel also brings in a pair of talented freshmen in Tiny Gallon and Tommy-Mason Griffin who should start right away. The talent is there, it will just be a matter how quickly the new players can acclimate themselves to their new roles.

Projected Depth Chart

C: Keith “Tiny” Gallon (Fr)/Orlando Allen (Jr)

F: Ryan Wright (Sr)/ Andrew Fitzgerald (Fr)/Kyle Hardrick (Fr)

G/F: Tony Crocker (Sr)/Ray Willis (So)

SG: Willie Warren (So)/Cade Davis (Jr)/Steven Pledger (Fr)

PG: Tommy Mason-Griffin (Fr)/T.J. Franklin (So)

Gone: PF-Blake Griffin, F/C-Taylor Griffin, PG-Austin Johnson, F- Juan Pattillo

Player to Watch: Warren- He wants to be the new Blake Griffin at OU, and while he won’t dominate the college like Griffin did, Warren should be an All-American candidate and a Top-5 pick in next year’s NBA Draft. The sophomore is explosive off the dribble and can also knock it down from deep. He should become a common name in the college game by the start of conference play.

4. Kansas State (T-4th, 9-7, 21-12, NIT)

2009-2010 Outlook:

K-State might have one of the most underrated backcourts in the country in Dionte Clemente and Jacob Pullen. Clemente stepped onto the national scene with his 44-point outburst against Texas last season. Talented freshman Wally Judge and UConn transfer Curtis Kelly will give the Wildcats some nice depth inside to compliment their talented guard play.

Projected Depth Chart

C: Luis Colon (Sr)/Jordan Henriquez-Roberts (Fr)

PF: Wally Judge (Fr)/Curtis Kelly (Jr)/Jamar Samuels (Sr)

SF: Dominique Sutton (Jr)/Rodney McGruder (Fr)

G: Dionte Clemente (Sr)/Chris Merrieweather (Sr)/Nick Russell (Fr)

G: Jacob Pullen (Jr)/Martavious Irving (Fr)

Gone: PF-Darren Kent, PG-Fred Brown (transfer-Louisiana-Monroe), SF-Ron Anderson Jr. (transfer-South Florida), SG-Buchi Awaji

Player to Watch: Judge- He’s not Michael Beasley, but Judge is a big-time recruit who should make a serious impact for the Wildcats. At 6-9, he is a high-flying, athletic combo forward who can handle the ball on the perimeter. His stay at K-State will likely be short, but very impacting.

5. Oklahoma State (T-4th, 9-7, 23-12, NCAA Second Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:

OSU used their four guard attack to put together a solid 2008-2009 season. In losing seniors Byron Eaton and Terrel Harris, the Cowboys will have to replace their second and third leading scorers, but returning starters James Anderson and Keiton Page, along with last year’s sixth man Obi Muonelo should pick up their slack. The addition of Kentucky transfer Matt Pilgrim and a pair of talented big man should mean OSU won’t have to rely solely on their backcourt play this season.

Projected Depth Chart

F/C: Marshall Moses(Jr)/Torin Walker (Fr)/Teeng Akol (So)

PF: Matt Pilgrim (Jr)/Jarred Shaw (Fr)

G/F: Obi Muonelo (Sr)/Roger Franklin (Fr)

G: James Anderson (Jr)/Nick Sidorakis (Jr)

PG: Keiton Page (So)/Ray Penn (Fr)/Fred Gulley (Fr)/Reger Dowell (Fr)

Gone: PG-Byron Eaton, SG-Terrel Harris, F-Anthony Brown

Player to Watch: Anderson- A big-time scorer, Anderson can stroke it from deep with nearly half of his field goal attempts last season coming from beyond the arc. There is definitely NBA potential in Anderson who could average 20+ points a game this season. The Cowboys may need that type of scoring from Anderson to help offset the losses of Eaton and Harris.

6. Texas A&M (T-4th, 9-7, 24-10, NCAA Second Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:

The Aggies received surprising news when big man Chinemelu Elonu decided to stay in the draft, but got good news when Bryan Davis and David Sloan chose to return to school. There is other solid talent returning to A&M in guards B.J. Holmes and Derrick Roland. The Aggies won’t have a true go-to player this season but have options within their starting five. The bench has a lot of question marks with several new faces joining the roster.

Projected Depth Chart

F/C: Bryan Davis (Sr)/James Blasczyk (Fr)

PF: David Loubeau (So)/Nathan Walkup (Jr)/Ray Turner (Fr)

G: Derrick Roland (Sr)/Khris Middleton (Fr)/Derrek Lewis (Jr)

G: David Sloan (Sr)/Naji Hibbert (Fr)/Jeremy Adams (Fr)

PG: B.J Homes (Jr)/Dash Harris (So)

Gone: G/F-Josh Carter, F/C-Chinemelu Elonu

Player to Watch: Davis- At 6-9, 240 pounds, Davis is the only established low post presence the Aggies have. He throws his body around in the paint, but too often found himself in foul trouble last season. Davis cannot afford to commit early fouls this season due to inexperience up-front on the Aggies’ roster and will need to boost his averages of 26.7 minutes, 10.8 points, and 6.5 rebounds per game.

7. Missouri (3rd, 12-4 in B12, 31-7 overall, NCAA Elite 8)

2009-2010 Outlook:

One of the major surprises in college basketball a season ago, Mizzou used their depth and tenacious full-court game to advance to the Elite 8. Three major players from that team are gone, but the Tigers still bring back some talented, defensive minded guards. This season will come down to how their young bench players gel into Mike Anderson’s system. If that process is quick and the growing pains don’t last all season, there could be a return trip to the tourney.

Projected Depth Chart

F/C: Keith Ramsey (Sr)/John Underwood (Fr)/Steve Moore (So)

F: Justin Safford (Jr)/Laurence Bowers (So)/Tyler Stone (Fr)

SG: Kim English (So)/Marcus Denmon (So)

G: Zaire Taylor (Sr)/Miguel Paul (So)

G: J.T. Tiller (Sr)/ Michael Dixon (Fr)

Gone: F-DeMarre Carroll, PF-Leo Lyons, SG-Matt Lawrence

Player to Watch: Tiller- The Tigers top returning scorer at just 8.4 points per game, Tiller will combine with Zaire Taylor to be the leaders for Mizzou. Tiller is a get after the ball defender, but will need to become more of a scorer to make up for the loss of about 40 points per game from graduated seniors.

8. Baylor (9th, 5-11, 24-15, NIT)

2009-2010 Outlook:

After starting last season 15-3, the Bears took a nose-dive the rest of the year, winning just five of their final sixteen games. They lose their leading scorer and assist man in Curtis Jerrells, their top rebounder in Kevin Rogers, and an underrated complimentary player in Henry Dugat. Still, the backcourt of LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter has the ability to lead this team. Add in former John Calpari-Memphis recruit Nolan Dennis and Michigan transfer Ekpe Udoh and Baylor has the potential to make some noise in the Big 12.

Projected Depth Chart

C: Ekpe Udoh (Jr)/Josh Lomers (Sr)/Dragan Sekelja (Fr)

PF: Anthony Jones (So)/Cory Jefferson (Fr)/Givon Crump (Fr)

SF: Quincy Acy (So)/Fred Ellis (So)/Duran Diaz (So)

SG: LaceDarius Dunn (Jr)/Nolan Dennis (Fr)/Mark McLaughlin (Fr)

PG: Tweety Carter (Sr)/A.J. Walton (Fr)

Gone: PG-Curtis Jerrells, F-Kevin Rogers, G-Henry Dugat, C-Mamadou Diene

Player to Watch: Carter- The all-time leading scorer in high school basketball history and the first McDonald’s All-American to ever play at Baylor, Carter has had a solid three years for the Bears, but has lived in the shadows of Jerrells. Now that Jerrells is gone, Carter needs to live up to his potential if Baylor wants to have any chance of dancing come March.

9. Iowa State (10th, 4-12, 15-17)

2009-2010 Outlook:

A potential conference sleeper, Iowa State received a huge boost when leading scorer and rebounder Craig Brackins chose to stay in school and go to the association. He may have his running mate in JUCO transfer Marquis Gilstrap who is expected to do some big things this season. The Cyclones also return their starting backcourt and center and if it all clicks, ISU could be poised to be this season’s Missouri.

Projected Depth Chart

C: Jamie Vanderbeken (Sr)/Justin Hamilton (So)

PF: Craig Brackins (Jr)/LeRon Dendy (Jr)/A.J. Pomlee (Fr)

SF: Marquis Gilstrap (Sr)/Charles Boozer (Jr)

SG: Lucca Staiger (Jr)/Scott Christopherson (So)/Antwon Oliver (Fr)

G: Diante Garrett (Jr)/Chris Colvin (Fr)/Dominique Buckley (So)

Gone: PG-Bryan Peterson, SG-Sean Haluska, PF-Alex Thompson, SG-Wes Eikmeier (transfer-Colorado State)

Player to Watch: Brackins- The 6-10 power forward broke onto the national scene with a 42 point, 14 rebound performance against Kansas. He could have left Ames and been a late-lottery or mid-first round pick had he gone pro this summer. Instead, Brackins chose to return to school and will try to improve upon his impressive 20.2 points and 9.5 board averages from last season.

10. Colorado (12th in B12, 1-15 in B12, 9-22 overall)

2009-2010 Outlook:

This is a program that has struggled for the past decade, having only made the NCAA Tournament once since 1998. 2008-2009 wasn’t much different as the Buffs finished with the worst record in the Big 12. I doubt there will be a repeat performance of that terrible a season, but it won’t be much better. There is a lot of returning talent, but Jeff Bzdelik still has his work cut out for him in turning Colorado into a competitive college basketball team.

Projected Depth Chart

F/C: Casey Crawford (Jr)/Trey Eckloff (So)/Shane Harris-Tunks (Fr)

F: Austin Dufault (So)/Trent Buckley (Jr)/Marcus Relphorde (Jr)

G/F: Cory Higgins (Jr)/Levi Knutson (Jr)/Keegan Hornbuckle (Fr)

G: Nate Tomlinson (So)/Alec Burks (Fr)/Javon Coney (Jr)

PG: Dwight Thorne II (Sr)/ Shannon Sharpe (Fr)

Gone: F-Jermyl Jackson-Wilson, F-Toby Veal (transfer), G-Ryan Kelley (transfer)

Player to Watch: Higgins- The son of former NBA’er Rod Higgins, Cory is a big-time scorer who could potentially be a second round draft pick when the time comes for him. He doubled his scoring last season and will be the go-to guy for the Buffs this season.

11. Texas Tech (11th, 3-13, 14-19)

2009-2010 Outlook:

The Red Raiders scored 167 points in a 40-minute game last season against some school called, “East Central.” That still amazes me. What haunted Tech was their pathetic defense which was constantly lit up by Big 12 teams. Their roster has improved talent and there’s a slight chance Pat Knight’s team could surprise some.

Projected Depth Chart

C: Robert Lewandowski (So)/Trevor Cook (Sr)

PF: Darko Cohadarevic (Sr)/D’Walyn Roberts (Jr)/Corbin Ray (So)

SF: Mike Singletary (Jr)/Brad Reese (Jr)/Theron Jenkins (Jr)

SG: Nick Okorie (Sr)/David Tairu (Jr)/Jaye Crockett (Fr)/Wally Dunn (Jr)

PG: John Roberson (Jr)/Mike Davis (Fr)

Gone: SG-Alan Voskuil, C-Esmir Rizvic, PF-Damir Suljagic, F-Michael Prince, F-Rodgrick Craig

Player to Watch: Singletary- No, not the Mike Singletary who takes his pants off to motivate his team. In just 23 minutes a game last season, Singletary averaged about 12 and 6 a night. With more minutes expected, the 6-6 junior should form a nice 1-2 scoring punch with John Roberson.

12. Nebraska (8th, 8-8, 18-12, NIT)

2009-2010 Outlook:

The Huskers held their own in the Big 12 last season, but loses four of their top five scorers from a year ago. On a roster primarily consisting of underclassmen, this will definitely be a re-loading season for Nebraska. They will once again boast a guard heavy line-up which will be a big handicap in a conference that has a lot of talented big men.

Projected Depth Chart

F: Brandon Ubel (Fr)/ Brian Diaz (Fr)/Quincy Hankins-Cole (Jr)/Christian Standhardinger (Fr)/Christopher Niemann (So-torn ACL)

G/F: Tony McCray (So)/Myles Holley (So)

G: Ryan Anderson (Sr)/Eshaunte Jones (Fr)/Adrien Coleman (Fr)

G: Sek Henry (Sr)/Matt Karn (Sr)/Ray Gallegos (Fr)

PG: Brandon Richardson (So)/Lance Jeter (Jr)

Gone: G-Ade Dagunduro, PG-Steve Harley, PG-Cookie Miller (transfer-Miami, OH), G-Paul Verlander, PF-Chris Balham, F-Alonzo Edwards (transfer-juco)

Player to Watch: Henry- The only returning starter from last season, Henry will be counted on both on and off the court to lead this team. He only averaged eight points per game in a complimentary role and must become a more reliable scorer or else the Huskers could struggle even worse than they likely will.

All-Big 12 First Team Selection

(POY) Willie Warren, Oklahoma

Cole Aldrich, Kansas

Craig Brackins, Iowa State

Sherron Collins, Kansas

James Anderson, Oklahoma State

All-Big 12Second Team

Dionte Clemente, Kansas State

Damion James, Texas

LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor

Cory Higgins, Colorado

Bryan Davis, Texas A&M

All-Big 12 Third Team

David Sloan, Texas A&M

J.T. Tiller, Missouri

Mike Singletary, Texas Tech

Jacob Pullen, Kansas State

Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas

All-Rookie Team

(ROY) Marquis Gilstrap, Iowa State

Avery Bradley, Texas

Xavier Henry, Kansas

Tiny Gallon, Oklahoma

Wally Judge, Kansas State

All Defensive Team

(DPOY) Cole Aldrich, Kansas

J.T. Tiller, Missouri

Derrick Roland, Texas A&M

Ekpeh Udoh, Baylor

Justin Mason, Texas

6th Man

Cade Davis, Oklahoma

Coach of the Year

Jeff Capel, Oklahoma

Written by Paul Banks of NBC Chicago and the Washington Times, and David Kay of the The Sports Bank.
Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
All other e-mail, including advertising and link proposals, send to:

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