2020-21 Big 12 basketball preview

Big 12 basketball has been dominated by Kansas for years. The two teams to snap the Jayhawks’ 14 straight Big 12 titles was Texas Tech and Kansas State two years ago. The Red Raiders rode their momentum all the way to the national championship. Kansas responded by winning the Big 12 outright last year. It was looking like Baylor and Kansas were going to share the title after they split their series with each other, but the Bears fell twice more. It was a shame because Scott Drew did such a great job at Baylor last season. I truly felt like Baylor had a team that could’ve won the National Championship.

Baylor returns four starters including All-American Jared Butler. MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell round out one of the best backcourts in the country. Mark Vital is a 6-foot-5 do-it-all player. Matthew Mayer and Flo Thamba are reliable big men. Tristan Clark was a very exciting player two years ago as a freshman, but got hurt, couldn’t stay in the starting lineup last year and had to retire a few weeks before the start of this season. But Drew has a nice recruiting class coming in along with Adam Flagler, a nice scoring guard from Presbyterian.

Kansas is Kansas. It could struggle early on with speculation about how Bill Self is running things, but it will end up in the top 10. Ochai Agbaji has been a favorite among NBA scouts for a couple years if only he continues to improve in college. He and Marcus Garrett are running the show now. Garrett is a terrific defender, and both have potential to be great three-point shooters. David McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot return in the backcourt, and the Jayhawks have a bunch of role players who could turn into solid stars. They have just one five-star, and it’s hard to get excited about him because of what happened to Jalen Wilson, but he’s back and Bryce Thompson should find a home with Devon Dotson gone.

I’ve been a fan of Texas Tech dating back to my way-too-early Bracketology. Even with Jahmi’us Ramsey gone, the Red Raiders look good. Three great starters return with Davide Moretti, Kyler Edwards and Terrence Shannon Jr. They have three great transfers, headlined by VCU forward Marcus Santos-Silva. West Virginia has some great players, but it will struggle to score again. Oklahoma will be led by Austin Reeves and Brady Manek. Texas has all five starters returning, and it has more potential to be better in the scoring department than the Mountaineers. Let us not forget about Oklahoma State. Isaac Likekele is the only returning starter, but he was great last season. The Cowboys also have the top recruit Cade Cunningham, who people are already naming a top-10 player this season. Oklahoma State received a one-year postseason ban, but obviously it is in the middle of an appeal because Cunningham will only be there for one year.

Player of the Year: Jared Butler, PG, Baylor

Preseason prediction

1 Baylor
2 Kansas
3 Texas Tech
4 Oklahoma
5 Texas
6 West Virginia
7 Oklahoma State
9 Iowa State
10 Kansas State

First team

G Jared Butler, Baylor
G Marcus Garrett, Kansas
F Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
F Brady Manek, Oklahoma
F Derek Culver, West Virginia

Second team

G MaCio Teague, Baylor
G Isaac Likekele, Oklahoma State
G Kyler Edwards, Texas Tech
F Oscar Tshiebwe, West Virginia
F Marcus Santos-Silva, Texas Tech

Third Team

G Matt Coleman, Texas
G Davide Moretti, Texas Tech
G Andrew Jones, Texas
F Mark Vital, Baylor
C Kevin Samuel, TCU

Photo courtesy of BaylorBears.com

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