NCAA Basketball Tournament - Xavier v Baylor

Big 12 coaches name Baylor’s Pierre Jackson preseason player of the year

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With practices just over a week away conferences are beginning to release their coaches and media polls for the upcoming season.

The Big 12 picked its preseason Player of the Year on Thursday, and for the second consecutive season the choice is a Baylor Bear.

Senior point guard Pierre Jackson, who was a second team All-Big 12 and Honorable Mention All-America selection last season, is the coaches’ choice to win Big 12 Player of the Year in 2012-13.

Jackson averaged 13.8 points and 5.9 assists per game for the Bears, who reached the Elite 8 for the second time in three years (and in both instances they lost to the eventual national champion).

But of the five players named to the coaches’ preseason All-Big 12 team Jackson wasn’t one of the three unanimous selections.

Those were Kansas center Jeff Withey, Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder and Oklahoma State guard/forward Le’Bryan Nash. Texas sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo rounded out the team.

The honorable mention selections for the preseason All-Big 12 team are: forward Isaiah Austin (Baylor), guard Elijah Johnson (Kansas), forward Romero Osby (Oklahoma), guard Steven Pledger (Oklahoma), guard Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) and guard Sheldon McClellan (Texas).

Smart was also the pick for Preseason Freshman of the Year honors, and Oklahoma forward Amath M’Baye (transfer from Wyoming) was the coaches’ Preseason Newcomer of the Year selection.

But back to Jackson for a moment, as being named preseason Player of the Year wasn’t the lone honor he received on Thursday.

With Perry Jones III, who was the preseason choice to win Player of the Year heading into last season, Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller and Anthony Jones all leaving Baylor will rely on some young talent inside.

But Scott Drew can take solace in the fact that he’s got one of the nation’s best running the show.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.