Considering the Big 12 Overachievers and PleasersPosted by cwilliams on December 20th, 2011
Even though the 2011-12 college basketball season still has its youth, it is already easy to identify some of the individuals who have overachieved this season. Players who, for one reason or another, are not only meeting expectations but blasting through them. Overachievers are on every team and come in all shapes and sizes, but this group has shown through the first month-plus of the season that they will have a major impact on the Big 12 this season. The title of overachiever doesn’t stick with these players forever, though — they either become a star, or are considered an “almost-was.” Here we list the five Big 12 basketball players who are overachieving to this point in the season.
- Steven Pledger, Oklahoma – While it is probably safe to consider the entire Sooner roster as overachievers due to their impressive 8-1 start, Pledger seems to be the backbone of their success. He has become a proven floor general this season and has almost doubled his points per game from last year, even while averaging fewer minutes.
- Jordan Tolbert, Texas Tech – While Tolbert was expected to be one of the Red Raiders’ key freshmen on this team, nobody expected him to be the entire team. Tolbert is leading the Texas Tech in both points per game (14.0) and rebounds per game (6.2), and he dropped 22 against Grambling, 16 against DePaul, and 27 against future Big 12 member TCU.
- Royce White, Iowa State – We’ve always known White had the talent to put up big numbers. What we didn’t know, however, is if he’d ever get the opportunity to prove it. White never played a minute at Minnesota, but ever since the transfer to Iowa State, he has continually showed that Iowa State made the right move by giving him a second chance. He is averaging nearly a double-double and has been the biggest Cyclone hoops figure since Fred Hoiberg came home for his current coaching position.
- Thomas Gipson, Kansas State – It would be one thing if a freshmen were leading the Wildcats in scoring during an abysmal season (see: Texas Tech). But the Wildcats are playing very good basketball, and the young Gipson has stepped in to become the focal point of Frank Martin’s offense in only his first season.
- Marcus Denmon/Kim English/Ricardo Ratliffe, Missouri – Yes, it’s unfair, but I truly couldn’t decide. A valid argument could be made that each of these players deserves to be deemed the Tigers’ top overachiever. But, as Missouri is already the nation’s biggest overachiever thus far, it’s only fitting that more than one player earns this title. Denmon has transformed from a scoring threat to an all-around phenomenal player, picking up more rebounds per game and points per game than last year. English was an underachiever last season, but the way he has seemed to have found his beautiful shot makes Tigers fans think the old Kim is back. Lastly, Ratliffe should be mentioned due to his unreal field goal percentage — 77% on the season. He didn’t miss a shot against Binghamton or Villanova, and only one in four other contests this season.