With the regular season around the corner, it is time to break down the contenders from the pretenders in the Big 12 basketball regular season race. With four new teams in the fold, we will see who can challenge perennial top dawg Kansas and who will find out the Big 12 is consistently the toughest basketball conference in America.
Tier 1: The Contenders
Kansas is loaded with returning talent, top transfers, and impact freshmen who are looking to carry that preseason No. 1 ranking into the season as the favorite. While we have luxury problems of determining who our fifth starter will be, we have a squad that will rival any team in America with experience, defense, and dominant big man.
While KU lost its top two leading scorers from last season in Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick, it brings in plug-and-play Preseason All-American Hunter Dickinson who averaged 18.5 PPG at Michigan last year. Outside shooting and scoring could be an issue in some games when defenses collapse and limit Hunter, but elite Bill Self-style defense should lead the way in most games.
While losing three double digits scorers led by Marcus Sasser last year will hurt, Houston brings back a versatile lineup and adds in Baylor transfer LJ Cryer. He averaged 15 PPG at Baylor last year, and you are looking at KU’s top competition for the year. Coach Sampson is no stranger to Big 12 basketball and should have his squad ready to compete night in and night out.
Texas brings back a team with athletes and depth pieces with rising star Dylan Disu and Tyrese Hunter back in the fold. Elite scorer transfer Max Abrams should lead the scoring punch for Texas this year and will be a contender for a deep run in March.
Scott Drew leads the Bears, who lost a lot of scoring punch from last season’s team, but they do bring back Jalen Bridges and several other depth pieces from last year. Factor in a nearly 20-point scorer transfer Ray J Dennis from Toledo and several top 50 recruits and Drew will have his squad near the top of the Big 12 all year.
TCU Horned Frogs
TCU lost its leading scorer, Mike Miles Jr., but brings back a talented group of new and old Horned Frogs. The transfers they brought in are staggering with talent, including 20-point scorer Jameer Nelson Jr., Avery Anderson III from Oklahoma State and, of course, former Jayhawk Ernest Udeh Jr.
This one could be tough to watch Udeh continues to develop as the year goes on. But we can’t complain much considering we have the best big man in the conference and that is just the price of doing business in this transfer craziness.