Big 12 M5: 10.09.12 EditionPosted by dnspewak on October 9th, 2012
- Trent Johnson deserves a toast this morning. He won’t coach a game at TCU for another month, but he earned his first major victory as the Horned Frogs’ head coach on Monday by landing a commitment from blue-chip center Karviar Shepherd. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why it’s important Johnson landed an in-state, top-50 prospect — a guy who, by the way, had an offer to play for Bill Self at Kansas — but the most intriguing part of this decision has to do with a quote Shepherd gave to ESPN. “They really do a great job of improving bigs like they did at Stanford with the Lopez twins,” Shepherd said. Johnson may as well plaster that statement all over campus to boost his recruiting efforts. He may not have the most impressive facilities or much basketball tradition to pitch at TCU, but kids in high school apparently still remember his Stanford days with Robin and Brook Lopez. That’s a terrific sign for a coach who needs to increase his talent level as soon as possible.
- After a year of injuries, transfers and general shenanigans in Stillwater, Travis Ford certainly increased his talent level by adding freshman Marcus Smart to his roster this season. Le’Bryan Nash entered his freshman season a year ago with similar hype, but there’s something different about Smart. Before ever stepping on the court, he’s earned a reputation as a gritty leader, the kind of guy who’ll do whatever it takes to win and contribute on both ends of the floor. This is just the latest article about Smart’s leadership and winning style, and we’ll certainly hear more about this as fall practice drags on. There’s a danger in hyping a freshman too early, but by all accounts, Smart seems like the type of grounded star who can excel immediately and play within himself.
- Let’s stay in the state of Oklahoma. Sooners’ coach Lon Kruger sat down with an SB Nation contributor to discuss all sorts of topics, including his team’s intense workout with the Navy this offseason and the growth of his returning nucleus. In the interview, Kruger sounds energized by his 2012-13 roster, which includes good size in the frontcourt, a few scoring guards/wings and a very good point guard in Sam Grooms. It’s also interesting to note that Amath M’Baye is the first player Kruger mentions in his interview. That’s not surprising. M’Baye, a Wyoming transfer who teammates called the best player on the team a year ago during his redshirt year, could be a matchup nightmare and might add an extra element to the Sooners’ roster. Keep an eye on that name — it’s not easy to forget — and keep an eye on Oklahoma this season.
- CBS launched its college basketball preview on Monday, and it opened its pre-season Top 25 with Big 12 newcomer West Virginia. There’s nothing too surprising in Gary Parrish’s analysis. He’s high on the Mountaineers’ three transfers (Aaric Murray, Juwan Staten and Matt Humphrey), but he’s also concerned about Murray’s attitude and the program’s ability to rebound from a fairly successful but rather difficult 2011-12 season. The Mountaineers’ season boils down mostly to how well they respond to Huggins’ demands. This team did not defend up to his standards a year ago, and they did not look like a typical Bob Huggins team. Still, in addition to the transfers, you’ve got to think Deniz Kilicli will team with a vastly improved sophomore class to play tough-as-nails basketball again after a year of losing that identity.
- We mentioned on Monday that Kansas State introduced a new, giant practice facility, but ESPN.com‘s Eamonn Brennan expanded on the topic this week. There’s a funny reaction included from coach Bruce Weber, who didn’t think the place could possibly be ready to go by the start of fall practice. Construction crews got down to business, though, and Weber now has a brand-new facility to show off to recruits.