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It feels safe to project that the Big 12 will be college basketball's best conference yet again in 2022-23. Kansas is the reigning National Champions, and to no one's surprise, Bill Self has reloaded in a monster way. Scott Drew's Baylor Bears are expected to be one of the best teams in the country. But it's the depth of the league that really makes it special. Sure, Kansas and Baylor are titans. But Texas, TCU and Texas Tech are absolutely loaded.
Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Iowa State have made monster moves in the transfer portal in the hunt to remain competitive. New Kansas State coach Jerome Tang has an uphill climb in this brute of a conference, but he knows how to win in the Big 12 after a great stint on the Baylor bench.
There really is no off night which makes this league so much fun. Here's our best stab at projecting the First Team All-Big 12 selections.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: this is the fourth edition of a series detailing the projected all-conference selections for each Power Six conference now that the offseason additions are mostly finalized. You can read the SEC version, the Big Ten version or the ACC version that has been completed.
I think I’d sell my soul to be able to shoot the rock as well as Flagler for just one day. Flagler’s shooting just completely changes how you have to guard Baylor. He does it with variety and creativity, too. If you give Flagler a catch-and-shoot opportunity, you’re in real trouble. He shot a whopping 41.1% on those situations, per Synergy. That rated in the 87th percentile nationally. But he can also create off the bounce, shooting a dazzling 39.1% (83rd percentile nationally) in all of his 115 jump shots off the dribble, per Synergy. Flagler is also a super underrated defender. He’s everything you want from your best player. Baylor has legitimate National Championship hopes thanks to its veteran flamethrower.
It feels a little dismissive to say that Wilson will be an All-Big 12 player if the jumper takes a healthy step forward, but Wilson will be an All-Big 12 player if the jumper takes a healthy step forward.
Wilson has so many strengths. He has become an awesome rebounder who can knife through defenses and get to the rim at will. Wilson is a solid defender who can guard multiple positions, and he gets out in transition to wreak havoc. But a trustworthy jumper completely unlocks everything. Wilson shot better on guarded jumpers (28.3) than unguarded ones (26.8%) in 2021-22. If Wilson just converts the freebies more often, his ceiling raises dramatically. Kansas’ player-development program has produced gems; more time with Self is never a bad thing. Wilson has all the talent in the world, but the jumper is the only thing holding him back. We’ll see if he can string together some consistency. If that happens, Wilson could be the best player on the best team in the Big 12 which means you’re a first-teamer.
Miles was one of the best players in the Big 12 last year, and he can get better. That’s what makes him such an exciting player to get behind. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound point guard was fantastic in pick-and-rolls thanks to his athleticism, speed, vision and trusty pull-up jumper. Despite his size, Miles finished around the rim at a 55% clip (61st percentile, per Synergy). Miles is also one of the most ferocious on-ball defenders in the Big 12. If Miles can cut down on the turnovers and become a more dependable sniper in catch-and-shoot situations, he could be the Big 12 Player of the Year.
Allen is just a junkyard dog who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Allen can guard all five players out on the floor which makes him a tremendous asset for Chris Beard and the Texas coaching staff. Allen just filled the box score last year, averaging a team-high 12.1 points and 6.4 rebounds. Oh, and he chipped in 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals. Allen also had a team-high 56 stocks (blocks and steals). Allen is just a stud who should have no problems quietly being one of the best players in the Big 12.
Obanor was awesome in his first year at Texas Tech despite flying below the radar behind Bryson Williams, Terrence Shannon Jr., Kevin McCullar and Mark Adams’ defense. Everything is set up for Obanor to be an absolute stud for Texas Tech in 2022-23. He just has very few flaws. Obanor rated in the 87th percentile in overall offense last year, per Synergy. In fact, Obanor shot better with a hand in his face (38%) compared to when he was wide open (25%). His percentages on unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers should skyrocket next year. Obanor’s profile is screaming for some positive regression. Oh, and he was in the 81st percentile on defense, holding opponents to just 32% shooting when he was the closest defender on jump shots. Obanor is a real two-way menace who shouldn’t fly under the radar anymore.
G Grant Sherfield, Oklahoma: Porter Moser landed one of the most productive players out of the transfer portal. Sherfield has put up huge numbers at Nevada for multiple seasons. Sherfield has averaged at least 18.6 points and 6.1 assists in each of the last two seasons. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound point guard should handle the reigns for the Sooners in 2022-23. He’s just fabulous in pick-and-rolls, rating in the 78th percentile, per Synergy. Expect Moser to let Sherfield cook, and when he gets rolling, Sherfield’s pull-up game is really hard to stop.
G Keyonte George, Baylor: The 5-star guard only deepens one of college basketball’s top backcourts. George is just wired to score. He has limitless range, but the wisdom to get to the tin when the jumper isn’t falling. He should spend a ton of time at the charity stripe all year. George should put up big numbers for Baylor and has the inside track to win Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
G Avery Anderson III, Oklahoma State: There are very few perimeter defenders who are better than Anderson in the Big 12. Anderson was in the 89th percentile in overall defense, per Synergy. He faced off against 87 pick-and-rolls last year and opponents scored just 41 points (0.47 points per possession). That’s fabulous. Oklahoma State was really active in the transfer portal, bringing in three guards to take some of the shot-creation pressure off Anderson. That should really help him have a career-best season. Oklahoma State’s spacing should just be so much better, which should open things up for Anderson to go to work.
G Kevin McCullar, Kansas: Simply put, it feels like Kansas has the talented pieces to mask McCullar’s flaws while also giving him the opportunity to let the Texas Tech transfer do what he does best. It’s really a flawless fit for both the team and the player. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Texas Tech transfer will have the energy to be in your shorts defensively because Kansas likely won’t ask him to try and create shots for himself all the time. Making tough midrange 2s just wasn’t his game at Texas Tech (5-for-22, per Synergy), but he had to do it a few more times to bail out tough possessions. Bill Self should be able to dial up a few more quick-hitters for McCullar to get easy looks and become one of the best two-way wings (and players) in the Big 12. It wouldn’t be surprising if McCullar ends up being Kansas’ best overall player.
G Jaren Holmes, Iowa State: T.J. Otzelberger needed a veteran guard who can put the ball in the basket to replace Izaiah Brockington and Tyrese Hunter. Holmes feels like the best bet to step up and be Iowa State’s go-to scorer. He’s not the midrange sniper that Brockington was, but Holmes can be a dangerous 3-point shooter (38.1% on 4.6 attempts per game in 2020-21), and the 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard can get into the lane and finish with a gorgeous runner. For the second year in a row, Iowa State is projected near the bottom of the league, but the Cyclones outplayed expectations last year and Holmes could help them do it again in 2022-23.
G Marcus Carr, Texas: Chris Beard just knows what he is going to get with Carr on a nightly basis. The veteran guard was very dependable defensively for Texas, and he rated in the 88th percentile in short-clock situations, per Synergy. He averaged 1.02 points per possession (48 chances), which is terrific. Carr has All-Big 12 upside if he finds a way to improve his abysmal 41.7% shooting around the basket. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that Hunter might take over as Texas’ best overall point guard. The dynamic between Carr, Hunter and 5-star freshman point guard Arterio Morris will be one of college basketball’s most interesting stories.
F Fardaws Aimaq, Texas Tech: : Aimaq is one of the highest-rated transfers who is coming to the Big 12. Aimaq put up enormous numbers at Utah Valley. The stats might take a dip, but Aimaq will be very impactful on if Texas Tech has a good season or a great one. The Big 12 will be a big test or Aimaq, but his defense should translate. Opponents shot just 30.5% on jump shots when Aimaq was the closest defender, per Synergy. Adding him to Mark Adams’ superior defense scheme should be a match made in heaven, as long as he can improve in pick-and-roll coverage. There’s a world where Aimaq is a double-double machine and the most important player for Texas Tech in 2022-23.
G Tyrese Hunter, Texas: Hunter has superstar written all over him. It wouldn’t be crazy for the reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year to become the Big 12 Player of the Year as a sophomore. But Hunter transferring from Iowa State to Texas certainly changes things. He was in line to be the undisputed No. 1 option at Iowa State, but he has to share the spotlight with Allen and Carr at Texas. There’s room for all three guys to get their game on for a Texas team that has huge aspirations. Hunter is just a two-way menace who should impact winning at the highest level even if the stats don’t jump off the page due to all the talent around him.
F Tre Mitchell, West Virginia: Just from a pure talent perspective, there might not be five more talented players than Mitchell in the Big 12. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Texas transfer can score with his back to the basket while also taking lumbering centers out to the perimeter and making plays off the bounce or using that extra space to knock down jumpers. Mitchell is also an excellent free throw shooter. He should have no problems putting up big numbers at West Virginia. Mitchell’s first-team All-Big 12 case rests more on if he can stay in Bob Huggins’ good graces and, more importantly, if the Mountaineers can make some noise in the stacked Big 12.
G Markquis Nowell, Kansas State: The Wildcats are projected to finish at the bottom of the Big 12, but Nowell was an All-Big 12 Defensive Team selection last season after forcing a turnover on 27% of the 74 pick-and-rolls he faced, per Synergy. The 5-foot-8 guard should be the go-to option for Kansas State just due to the current roster build. There’s a world where Nowell could flirt with 16 points per game to go along with that gritty defense. But Nowell’s path to a first-team selection is tough unless Kansas State wildly outplays preseason expectations.
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