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Replacing Biggie With Boogie: Purdue’s 6-foot dynamo, Carsen Edwards, has turned a team full of seniors into a title contender

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P.J. Thompson knew.

It wasn’t all that hard to figure out, really.

This C-Boogie kid?

He was going to be good. He shot it well. He was tough, athletic, “had a fire to him,” as Thompson put it. He saw that on his recruiting visit. He saw that in captain’s practices. He saw it in the way that this 6-foot kid from Texas worked, the way that he carried himself. Humble but confident. Unfazed by the hype machine, concerned with improving himself more than celebrating his successes.

He fit in the culture that Thompson and his teammates had built at Purdue. Thompson and the rest of this senior class committed to a program in the midst of their second straight losing season. They’ve been to three NCAA tournaments and look to be the favorite to win their second straight Big Ten regular season title as seniors.

Carsen Edwards?

The kid known as C-Boogie?

He fit.

But Thompson knew there was more there. He figured it out during one of Purdue’s first practices in Edwards’ freshman season, when, in a 4-on-4-on-4 drill, the right-handed Edwards drove the lane and threw down a left-handed dunk on Purdue’s 7-foot-3, 290 pound center, Isaac Haas.

“It was nasty,” Thompson said. “You can see on the camera, everyone going crazy. It was a pretty cool dunk. Well, Isaac probably didn’t think it was cool.”

“That’s when we knew.”


Carsen Edwards (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Purdue’s ascension into college basketball royalty this season was not something that many people predicted.

A season after winning the Big Ten regular season title and advancing to the Sweet 16, the Boilermakers were faced with the arduous task of trying to replace one of college basketball’s best players: Caleb Swanigan. A first-team all-american and the only player that really challenged Frank Mason for National Player of the Year, Biggie’s departure left Purdue devoid of 18.5 points, 12.5 boards, 3.1 assists and a low-post hoss that shot 44.7 percent from beyond the arc.

“Anytime you have a player of Caleb Swanigan’s ability, everybody made a big deal in terms of where you ranked us and where you put us because we lost him,” head coach Matt Painter told NBC Sports. “But man. We had so much back.”

And he’s right.

Purdue returned four seniors that started at least 15 games last season, including Vincent Edwards, who was a third-team all-Big Ten performer as a junior. They also returned Carsen — the two are not related — who started 21 games. One of the problems that Purdue ran into last season was that they more or less had six players deserving of a starting spot.

Without Biggie, that issue goes away.

And, frankly, it allows those five remaining starters to play roles that they are better-suited for. Thompson, Carsen and Dakota Mathias can all play on the perimeter together while Vincent can slide into the small-ball four role that he is so well-suited to. Haas, who is impossible to stop one-on-one when he gets position on the block, and fellow 7-footer Matt Haarms can rotate through at the five, giving Purdue a dream scenario: four guys that shoot the cover off the ball around a center that has to be double-teamed.

“The thing that stuck out to me last season was that I didn’t like our team when we were really big,” Painter said. “When it was Isaac, Vince and Biggie all in the game. I thought we had to play two of those three guys,” even if it meant that he couldn’t get his five best players on the floor.

This year, that is not an issue.

And Carsen, who is averaging 17.0 points, 4.2 boards and 3.1 assists, may be the biggest reason why.

Given his size, Carsen is going to have to be a point guard if and when he gets to the NBA, but that hasn’t always been the way that he’s played. He’s an attack-minded guy, not necessarily someone with a score-first mentality but certainly a kid whose biggest strength has always been finding a way to put the ball into the basket. When he is able to share the court with Thompson and Mathias, he is freed up to play that way. Thompson is the quintessential ‘pure point guard,’ a guy who facilitates offense, who knocks down open threes (51.2 percent on the season), who doesn’t turn the ball over, who is a pest defensively.

Mathias plays that way as well. He leads the team in assists this season while essentially playing the three, shooting 45.8 percent from three as one of, if not the best perimeter defender in the Big Ten. And to hear Painter tell, what Mathias does better than anything else is recognizing what the right play is. They can run actions for him because they know a shot is only going to go up if it is a good shot; he’s more than willing, and capable, as a playmaker.

That frees up Carsen to … well, to be himself.

“I think my teammates trust me,” he said. “They trust my ability.”

It creates an unusual dynamic within the locker room.

The hierarchy of many, if not most, college teams is simple: Seniority prevails. If you’ve spent two or three or four years paying your dues, by the time you get to be a senior, it is your turn to be the star. You get to take the shots. You get to be the leading scorer. You get to be the guy that is on the cover of gameday programs. With this Purdue team, the four senior starters have not only ceded the starring role to Carsen a year after they did the same for Swanigan, they’ve embraced the youngster and what he is capable of.

“We know how special of a player C-Boogie is,” Thompson said. “Our senior class, we have no egos. We want to be stars in our roles. It’s only a handful of stars in the world, but you can be a star in your role, perfect it and do it to the best of your ability. We have a lot of guys on our team that do that.”

Painter took it a step further.

“They like it, he said.” He has some things that we need. You try to piece your team together, and he’s the final piece. You [look at our] four seniors, what do we lack? If we were playing four-on-four with those four seniors, what do we lack? All of Carsen’s attributes would be the answer. He’s fast, he’s explosive, he can score, he can put pressure on the ball and use his quickness.”

“We’re driven by so many people that think they gotta do individual things to make themselves shine. We live in that basketball landscape. In reality, you’ve gotta win. There’s way more individual attention getting shelled out to people that win than people that don’t. I don’t care what you score, how you do it. There’s a leading scorer on every team. They’re fighting to be the leading scorer, we’re fighting to win.”


Via Purdue Basketball

The NCAA has a rule that allows college basketball programs to take one overseas trip every four years, and for the most part, these trips have less to do with the actual basketball than they do with taking a vacation.

The competition is rarely competitive, and the best part about the trip from a coach’s perspective is the chance to get those 10 extra practices in and manufacturing the team-bonding experiences the players get while spending time in a place where they speak a different language and the cost of international data is enough that, hopefully, the kids spend more time communicating than they do scrolling.

Purdue went on one of those trips in the summer of 2016.

They also took a trip this past season, but it was very different than a typical foreign tour. The Boilermakers were Team USA’s representative in the World University Games in Taipei. Not counting the two exhibitions that they played against Canada prior to leaving for Taiwan, Purdue spent two weeks abroad, playing a total of nine games in just 12 days.

“A lot of times you go on those trips it’s more educational than it is about basketball,” Painter said. “It was a basketball trip.”

And the competition was really good as well. Notre Dame’s Martinas Geben played for Lithuania. Florida’s Egor Koulechov and Gorjok Gak played for Israel and Australia, respectively. These were 22 and 23 year olds playing playing in a national team structure that they’ve played in for a long time. Purdue came home with a silver medal and it wasn’t all that big of a deal that they didn’t win gold.

Put another way, the Boilermakers got an 11 game head start on trying to figure out how they were going to move on without Swanigan.

The other part of it, however, was that there were no excursions. They weren’t visiting museums or going on group hikes or experiencing everything that the city of Taipei has to offer. It was a basketball trip, the by-product being a lot of downtime living in what amounted to an Olympic Village with mobs of athletes that didn’t speak English and no TV or Netflix to binge on.

So what did Purdue do?

Well, they played a lot of cards.

“I didn’t know how to play euchre,” Thompson said, “but now I’m a stud and they can’t beat me. Texas Hold’em. Tonk. All that.”

Those are the moments where the real team-bonding happen. Those are the moments where friendships are started, where freshmen become teammates and teammates become brothers.

“Oh yeah,” Carsen said, chuckling when asked if the trip helped him get to know his teammates better. “We stayed in a village apartment, and there was six of us in a room. And wherever you go you’re with your teammates. You have no choice. Looking back on it now, I have a lot of memories from it, just small memories with my teammates.”

What the younger guys learned about the seniors on this team was simple: They came to Purdue to turn the program around. That had already happened, but their story wasn’t complete yet.

“We’ve done what we wanted to do here at Purdue,” Thompson said, “and now we have to finish it.”


USA Basketball

The trip to Taipei wasn’t the only international trip that C-Boogie took this summer.

Young for his age, Carsen was invited to tryouts for USA Basketball’s U-19 team. He made it. He played for John Calipari and alongside the likes of Cameron Reddish and Brandon McCoy and Hamidou Diallo. He led the team in minutes and assists, finishing fifth in scoring at 10.4 points despite coming off the bench in all but one of the team’s games.

“Carsen Edwards was the one guy that went in and changed the game because of his intensity,” Calipari said of his lone Boilermaker, “and he was dragging people with him.”

That aggressiveness has never been an issue for Carsen. It’s ingrained in him. What he needed to learn was to pick his spots, to develop the kind of decision-making that would allow him to be the go-to guy for a team with Final Four aspirations. As a freshman, Boogie took more shots-per-minute than Biggie, Purdue’s All-American first round pick, and he did it while being the least-efficient player on the Purdue roster and while committing two more turnovers than assists on the season.

That wasn’t going to work this year.

He understands, Painter says, that he can be the star for this team without needing to force shots anymore.

Purdue is unselfish. They make the right pass. They make the right play. Carsen knows that if he gives the ball up, he’s either going to get it back with a cleaner look at the rim or one of his teammates will end up with a better shot. This group understands the roles they are being asked to play, and they understand the roles their teammates are being asked to play.

Carsen’s role?

Go-to guy.

He’s not intimidated by it, by the responsibility of shouldering the load offensively for a team ranked No. 3 in the nation. He’s not intimidated by much, it seems. Not by trying out for Team USA. Not by leading his college team into an international competition. Not by trying to dunk over a 7-foot-3 center that is built like combination of Mr. Incredible and The Mountain.

It seems that the only thing he’s scared of is … riding a camel?

“I’ve ridden horses and it’s not the same at all,” he said. “You’re so much higher off the ground and when it walks you’re moving. It’s a really scary experience.”

Luckily for Purdue, that seems to be the last time that anything has intimidated C-Boogie.

Via Carsen Edwards

Jessie Govan returning to Georgetown for senior season

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Jessie Govan is returning to Georgetown.

The 6-foot-10 center who averaged a double-double last season will withdraw from the NBA draft to play his senior season with the Hoyas, according to multiple reports.

Govan’s return to D.C. is a huge development for the Hoyas. As a junior, Govan averaged 17.9 points and 10 rebounds per game. He shot 50.8 percent from the floor and 34.8 percent from distance. He went from a nice contributor as a sophomore to a breakout star last season for first-year coach Patrick Ewing.

Without Govan, the Georgetown frontcourt would have been very young and unproven. Now Ewing gets back a major impact player who will not only help the Hoyas compete in 2018-19, but bridge the gap to NC State transfer Omer Yurtseven’s eligibility in 2019.

The Hoyas were surprisingly competitive in Ewing’s first year back at his alma mater, and now has a chance to see an even bigger uptick this season with its anchor in the middle back in the fold.

Mizzou settles lawsuit brought by South Carolina women’s coach Dawn Staley

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An ugly episode has reached its conclusion with the University of Missouri paying $50,000 and its athletic director apologizing to South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley.

Mizzou will donate $25,000 to Staley’s charity foundation and the other $25,000 going to her attorneys after she filed a defamation lawsuit stemming from an incident last winter when Tigers athletic director Jim Sterk claimed she “promoted that kind of atmosphere” after he alleged that Missouri players were called racial epithets and spit on after a game at South Carolina in January.

“Following a very spirited and intense game I attended in late January between the nationally ranked Missouri and South Carolina women’s basketball teams, I made comments in a local radio interview that were construed to suggest that Coach Staley promoted the negative experiences of racial epithets and spitting,” Sterk said in a statement Missouri released Thursday.

“I do not believe Coach Staley would promote such conduct, and I sincerely apologize to her for those comments.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in February, stemmed from an incident after a Missouri player claimed she had been spit after a loss in Columbia in January.

“We had players spit on and called the ‘N’ word and things like that,” Sterk said on Jan. 30, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I mean it was not a good environment and unfortunately and I think Coach (Dawn) Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere. And it’s unfortunate that she felt she had to do that.”

With Thursday’s announced settlement, both parties are looking to put the incident in the past.

“I accept his apology and I appreciate the contribution of $25,000 to INNERSOLE, a not for profit organization I co-founded that provides new sneakers to children who are homeless or in need,” Staley said in a statement. “I’m glad we can share in support of this worthy cause and I look forward to moving past this with a continued spirited but positive competition amongst our programs.”  

 

SEC/Big 12 Challenge matchups unveiled

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A meeting between two of the sport’s most successful programs highlights this year’s slate of games in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, which was unveiled Thursday.

Kansas will visit Rupp Arena to play Kentucky on Jan. 26 as part of the annual event’s sixth year of competition.

The Jayhawks have won three-straight against the Wildcats with two being part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge and last year’s meeting part of the Champion’s Classic. Both teams ranked in the top five of our preseason Top 25.

Another marquee matchup will be defending SEC champ and likely top-10 preseason ranked Tennessee hosting Bob Huggins and West Virginia. Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton will welcome his alma mater to Stillwater with South Carolina the Cowboys’ matchup.

All games will be played on Saturday, Jan. 26. The challenge was split 5-5 last season. The Big 12 holds a 3-1-1 advantage in the event with its teams holding an overall record of 29-21.

2019 SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Alabama at Baylor

Iowa State At Ole Miss

Kansas at Kentucky

Kansas State at Texas A&M

Vanderbilt at Oklahoma

South Carolina at Oklahoma State

Florida at TCU

Texas at Georgia

Arkansas at Texas Tech

West Virginia at Tennessee

Texas guard Kerwin Roach to return for senior season

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Texas announced on Thursday that Kerwin Roach II will be returning to school for his senior season.

The 6-foot-4 Roach declared for the draft following the season, but did not get invited to the NBA Draft Combine.

Roach averaged 12.3 points, 3.7 assists and 3.6 boards for the Longhorns a season ago. He is one of the most athletic players in the country, and spent the second half of last season as one of the most productive guards in the Big 12.

Big 12 conference reset: Kansas even stronger after Final Four?

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The NBA Draft’s Early Entry Deadline has come and gone, and there are a dozen or so truly impactful decisions that are left to be made.

Just about every elite recruit has decided where they will be playing their college ball next season.

The coaching carousel has come to a close.

The transfer market is slowly winding down.

In other words, by now, we have a pretty good feel for what college basketball is going to look like during the 2018-19 season.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what has happened — and what will happen — in the Big 12 over the next six months.

KEY OFFSEASON STORYLINES

THE KANSAS MACHINE: Bill Self had what many considered his worst Kansas team and what the Kansas coach himself admitted was his unlikeliest Big 12 champions – the Jayhawks won not only their 14th-consecutive conference title but advanced all the way to the Final Four. There’s simply little else in this world you can count on more consistently than KU being the best the Big 12 has to offer.

And the Jayhawks may be even better this year. Sure, they lose a sizable chunk of the core that propelled them to San Antonio last season, but one of the reasons the Jayhawks were so vulnerable last year – depth and versatility – is what will make them formidable this year with the best transfer class in the country becoming eligible. Which isn’t even to mention another top recruiting haul. Kansas is a machine – something of a mix between a watch and a wrecking ball.

(David Purdy/Getty Images)

LOOMING DECISIONS: There may be little drama surrounding who is the team to beat heading into the upcoming season, there remains some intrigue as spring turns to summer. Most NBA decisions have been made, but there are some that could swing the balance of power at different spots across the league hierarchy.

The most impactful is probably Udoka Azubuike, the Kansas center who became an integral part of the Jayhawks’ four-out offense last year as the man in the middle keeping defenses honest. The Jayhawks will be able to play different ways this season with an expanded roster, but Azubuike is simply a player most teams don’t have a counter for – he’s a 75.4 percent career shooter from the floor.

Lindell Wigginton’s stay-or-go decision could hold the biggest sway over the future for any team in the league. The 6-foot-2 guard exhibited his athleticism and scoring prowess during his freshman season and is now weighing whether to try to be the first Nova Scotia native to make it in the NBA now or wait a year. If he returns, the Cyclones have four starters back and one of the most dynamic scorers in the conference. If he doesn’t, Iowa State is going to be relying heavily on newcomers to put points on the board.

West Virginia’s success is likely tied to its system, but having Sagaba Konate on the back line swatting away shots sure makes that system a lot better. He’ll be back to school next season. Kansas State should return its whole starting, and though Barry Brown hasn’t made his return official, it’s widely expected.

BRUCE WEBER’S RESURGENCE: On Feb. 25, 2017, Kansas State lost by 30 to an Oklahoma team that would finish ninth in the Big 12. It was the Wildcats’ fifth loss in six games and dropped them to 6-10 in the Big 12. Kansas State faithful, already frustrated by back-to-back missed NCAA tournaments and mass player defections, seemed to have had enough. The drumbeat to part with Weber amplified out of Manhattan.

Now just 15 months later, Weber has been to back-to-back NCAA tournaments and should have his entire roster from an Elite Eight team intact in 2018-19. That is one heckuva turnaround. Weber may not ever get the level of admiration that his predecessor, Frank Martin, got in the Octagon of Doom, but the results – I haven’t even mentioned that split 2013 regular season Big 12 title – speak for themselves and 2019 could scream the loudest.

WHERE DOES OKLAHOMA GO?: There was probably nothing as fun in the first few weeks and months of the 2017-18 season than Trae Young and Oklahoma. The kid who graduated from Norman North High School was doing the best Steph Curry impersonation the sport has seen since, well, Steph Curry became Steph Curry. Young was, inarguably, a sensation as he bombed away from 30 feet, dished out assists by the bundle and had the Sooners cruising.

Then the bottom fell out. Young still ultimately led the country in scoring and assists while the Sooners made the NCAA tournament, but the freshman phenom languished down the stretch while Oklahoma lost nine of their last 11 games. Now, Young is a likely lottery pick and the Sooners got hit with a one-two punch of transfers by Jordan Shepherd and Kameron McGusty. Lon Kruger is one of the country’s best coaches, but things look a little sideways for the Sooners at the moment without a ton of talent on the roster and the stink of last year’s finish still in the air.

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

WHO’S GONE?

  • DEVONTE’ GRAHAM, SVI MYKHAILIUK, LAGERALD VICK and MALIK NEWMAN: These are heavy losses for the Jayhawks to sustain – and they’re still waiting out Azubuike – but they’re uniquely positioned to sustain them like few other teams in the country. It’ll be Graham’s steadiness and leadership that could be missed most.
  • KEENAN EVANS and ZHAIRE SMITH, Texas Tech: Evans was maybe one of the more underrated and overlooked players nationally last season as he averaged 17.6 points and carried the offensive load for the defensive-minded Red Raiders – and he did it down the stretch with a broken toe. He could be one of the hardest players in the conference to replace. Smith was the most electric dunker in the Big 12 – and maybe the country. His upside was just too high to keep him in college for another year. He’s likely headed for the lottery.
  • JEVON CARTER and TEDDY ALLEN, West Virginia: Carter’s production, specifically on the defensive end, is going to be so hard for the Mountaineers to replicate, but it’ll be his presence, his attitude, his aura – he was Press Virginia personified – that make him irreplaceable even for a program that’s entered plug-and-play territory. Allen really became WVU’s go-get-a-bucket guy down the stretch, and given how much they’ve struggled to score in the halfcourt in recent years, his decision to transfer stings.
  • VLADIMIR BRODZIANSKY and KENRICH WILLIAMS, TCU: Brodziansky blossomed into arguably the Big 12’s best big man while Williams was a huge part of the Horned Frogs’ identity offensively. TCU has a lot coming back, but filling these two roster holes will be difficult.
  • JO LUAL-ACUIL and MANU LECOMTE, Baylor: Baylor was resurgent in the second half of the season in no small part thanks to this duo.
  • MO BAMBA and ERIC DAVIS, JR, Texas: Bamba was always destined to be a one-and-done player so Texas was always prepared to bid him farewell this spring and the emergence of Jericho Sims during Bamba’s absence due to a toe injury mitigates the damage. The Longhorns are losing a lottery pick, yes, but they’ve planned for it and have an excellent replacement option. Davis decided to pursue a pro career just a few weeks after he was connected to Christian Dawkins in a Yahoo report.
  • TRAE YOUNG, KAMERON MCGUSTY AND JORDAN SHEPHERD, Oklahoma: Young was the Sooners last year as the country’s leading scorer and assist man – which, depending on your perspective – was either the impetus of the Sooners’ late-season swoon or an indictment of his less-than-capable teammates. That supporting cast will get its chance to prove itself – minus McGusty and Shepherd, who elected to transfer out of the program.
  • JEFFREY CARROLL, Oklahoma State: Carroll was a huge part of Oklahoma State’s surprising competitiveness last season, and his consistency will be missed in Mike Boynton’s second season.
(Elsa/Getty Images)

WHO’S BACK?

  • ESA AHMAD, West Virginia: Ahmad had an uneven season after being ineligible for more than the first half of the year, but his talent and toughness is critical for the Mountaineers.
  • JARRETT CULVER, Texas Tech: Zhaire Smith’s talent and aerial acrobatics made him the Red Raiders’ most dynamic and promising freshman, but Culver showed a ton of promise averaging 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in his rookie campaign.
  • KANSAS STATE: You could single out Barry Brown or Dean Wade here, but the Wildcats are literally bringing back their whole rotation. A forgiving draw may have helped them to the Elite Eight, but Kansas State has talent, experience and cohesion – quite the triple threat.
  • ALEX ROBINSON, JAYLEN FISHER, DESMOND BANE and KOUAT NOI, TCU: Jamie Dixon may be losing Brodziansky and Williams, but he returns a solid core and gets Fisher back from injury. The Horned Frogs are going to be a competitive threat to the rest of the league now with Dixon getting things rolling at his alma mater
  • DYLAN OSETKOWSKI, JERICHO SIMS, KERWIN ROACH, MATT COLEMAN AND ANDREW JONES, Texas: The Longhorns don’t exactly have star power on this team – at least apparent star power at the moment – but they’ve got guys that have got it done at this level. Andrew Jones missed most of last season after being diagnosed with leukemia, but coach Shaka Smart has spoken this offseason about the hope that Jones will be able to suit up in Austin once again this season – which is great news for reasons well beyond basketball.
  • BRADY MANEK, Oklahoma: Manek certainly wasn’t at the talent level of his classmate Trae Young, but the young big man did show flashes that he at least could one day be counted on to contribute in the Big 12. The Sooners will need more than just glimpses this year.
  • CAMERON LARD and NICK WEILER-BABB, Iowa State: There were times when the 6-foot-9 Lard looked like he was making an assault on the crown of best big man in the Big 12, putting up double-double after double-double while blocking heaps of shots defensively, but his production waned down the stretch as his consistency wilted. Weiler-Babb was a threat to put a triple-double up seemingly every night as a 6-foot-6 point guard until knee tendinitis sidelined him down the stretch.
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

WHO’S COMING?

  • DEDRIC LAWSON, K.J. LAWSON, CHARLIE MOORE, QUINTIN GRIMES, DEVON DOTSON AND DAVID MCCORMACK, Kansas: So the Jayhawks have three high-level transfers – including one potential conference player of the year – and a top-five recruiting class featuring two five-star and two four-star prospects. That’s not reloading – that’s switching to a bazooka. Dedric is the headliner, but K.J put up numbers at Memphis and Moore fills a need a point guard. Then there’s Grimes and Dotson, two top-20 guards. It’s good to be Bill Self.
  • COURTNEY RAMEY, GERALD LIDDELL, KAMAKA HEPA and ELIJAH MITROU-LONG, Texas: Shaka Smart didn’t land any Mo Bamba-level recruits, but he’s got a top-10 class with as many as four players capable of being instant-impact contributors. Mitrou-Long, the brother of former Iowa State standout Naz Mitrou-Long, comes to Austin after being a double-digit scorer at Mount St. Mary’s.
  • MICHAEL WEATHERS, Oklahoma State: The 6-foot-2 guard was the MAC freshman of the year after averaging 16.7 points per game at Miami (Ohio).
  • MARIAL SHAYOK, MICHAEL JACOBSON AND TALEN HORTON-TUCKER, Iowa State: Shayok gives the Cyclones versatility and pedigree (having played in the Elite 8 at Virginia) at the wing while Jacobson could be the floor-spacer in the frontcourt Iowa State lacked last year. The ultra-versatile Horton-Tucker is a top-50 prospect who headlines one of the most promising recruiting classes ever assembled in Ames.
  • MATT MOONEY, TARIQ OWENS AND KHAVON MOORE, Texas Tech: Mooney averaged 18.7 points per game last season at South Dakota before becoming one of the most coveted graduate transfers on the market. The 6-foot-8 Moore is a borderline top-50 recruit that Chris Beard will be looking to get production from.
  • MARIO KEGLER AND MAKAI MASON, Baylor: If Baylor is going to get back to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in six years, these two transfers will have to play major parts.

COACHING CHANGES

  • NONE: With seven teams in the NCAA tournament and two top-two NIT seeds in 2017-18, the Big 12 had one of its most successful seasons. That made for a quiet silly season, with all 10 coaches staying put and there really being minimal pressure on nearly all 10 of them this year.

WAY-TOO-EARLY ALL-BIG 12 TEAM

Dedric LAWSON, Kansas (POY)
BARRY BROWN, Kansas State
NICK WEILER-BABB, Iowa State
DEAN WADE, Kansas State
UDOKA AZUBUIKE*, Kansas

WAY-TOO-EARLY POWER RANKINGS

1. KANSAS: The Jayhawks are looking for 15 years of supremacy in the Big 12. It’s one of the most amazing accomplishments in the modern era of college hoops.

2. KANSAS STATE: With essentially the whole rotation returning from last year’s Elite Eight team, the Wildcats look to be the strongest contender to their in-state rivals.

3. TCU: The Horned Frogs used to be the laughing stock of the Big 12. Under Jamie Dixon, they have the look of perennial contender.

4. WEST VIRGINIA: The Mountaineers are still going to embrace Bob Huggins’ gruff and tough personality with their Press Virginia style, but losing Jevon Carter is a huge blow to that identity.

5. TEXAS: If Shaka Smart can’t keep the Longhorns in the upper half of the Big 12, there may be some questions in Austin about his long-term viability there. With this roster, though, Texas should be able to accomplish that feat.

6. TEXAS TECH: Keenan Evans is irreplaceable and Zhaire Smith is unmatchable, but the Red Raiders look to have a persona about them under Chris Beard. There’s also certainly no dearth of talent.

7. IOWA STATE: Lindell Wigginton’s decision to return to Ames or stay in the draft is a huge fork in the road for the Cyclones. If he stays, he’s the high-volume scorer everything revolves around. Should he leave, the Cyclones have a lot of interesting pieces but no proven star power and a lot of new faces.

8. BAYLOR: Scott Drew is seemingly at his best when the least is expected of his Bears, so this could be a significant under-slotting, but Baylor will be quite reliant on players that are at some level unknown at this level.

9. OKLAHOMA STATE: Mike Boynton’s team exceedingly overachieved in Year 1 of his tenure, but some early departures and an uninspiring recruiting class means they probably slip in Year 2.

10. OKLAHOMA: Trae Young was the Sooners last year, and his teammates often looked unable to keep up. With no Young and no big-time replacements, it could be a long season for the Sooners.