Big 12 Offseason Storylines to Follow

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 24th, 2017

The Big 12 had a decent but ultimately unimpressive showing in this year’s postseason. Of the league’s six NCAA Tournament teams, three advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, but only one advanced to the Elite Eight, and we all know what happened from there as Kansas flamed out to Jordan Bell and the Oregon Ducks. With the offseason now upon us and some time ahead to reflect, here are a few storylines worth following this summer and into the start of the 2017-18 season.

Frank Mason Takes His Hardware to the Next Level (USA Today Images)

  • How will Kansas retool? Frank Mason III leaves Lawrence as one of the most decorated players in program history. His wonderful four-year career won’t soon be forgotten, but it doesn’t change the fact that Kansas needs to figure out its point guard situation moving forward. Transfer Malik Newman can serve as the Jayhawks’ floor general in a pinch, but he’s more of a scoring guard than a facilitator and Bill Self has already said that he sees the redshirt sophomore manning the two. Barring a surprise commitment from elite point guard prospect Trevon Duval, the Jayhawks are looking at some combination of Devonte’ Graham and freshman Marcus Garrett handling the team’s ball-handling duties next season. Self also needs some frontcourt depth following the departures of Landen Lucas, Josh Jackson and Carlton Bragg, but the point guard position will be the most intriguing roster question as the Jayhawks begin their pursuit of a 14th consecutive regular season Big 12 title next fall.
  • A new era at Iowa State. Despite 47 wins and a Sweet Sixteen appearance in two seasons in Ames, Steve Prohm needs to show what he can do without the services of Monte’ Morris, Deonte Burton, Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas in the lineup. The job now becomes one of rebuilding for the Cyclone program, but there is somewhat of a foundation from which to work. Solomon Young, Donovan Jackson, transfer Ray Kasongo, Cameron Lard and highly-touted freshman Lindell Wigginton are interesting building blocks, but don’t appear to offer the ceiling of Hoiberg and Prohm’s best teams. The early going next season may be a little rocky as this group becomes accustomed to playing with each other, but a top-half finish in Big 12 play would be an admirable achievement. Fans should additionally keep an eye on Prohm’s pursuit of coveted JuCo forward Shakur Juiston.

  • Will Texas land Mohamed Bamba? Despite a dreadful season and Jarrett Allen’s departure for the NBA, there’s reason for hope in Austin. Texas currently has a top-10 recruiting class heading to Austin and would add to it if elite power forward prospect Mohamed Bamba commits in coming weeks, but it won’t be easy. Bamba is also considering Kentucky, Duke and Michigan, and Bam Adebayo’s plan to remain in the NBA Draft could tip the scales for the Wildcats. On the other hand, Kentucky already has two bigs in this year’s recruiting class, while Bamba would have a much clearer path to playing time in Austin. As we saw last season, young talent alone can only take the Longhorns so far, but they should be an improved team regardless next season, and a commitment from Bamba would do wonders for Texas’ aspirations of returning to Big 12 relevance.
  • TCU and Kansas State are poised to make moves. With Iowa State and Oklahoma State both looking at challenging rebuilds, the more experienced Horned Frog and Wildcat squads have a legitimate chance to rise into the top half of the Big 12 standings. TCU won the NIT in Jamie Dixon‘s first year at the helm, returns all five starters, and could add former Pitt guard Cameron Johnson as a graduate transfer. Meanwhile, Bruce Weber‘s team will lean on Dean WadeKamau Stokes, Barry Brown and Xavier Sneed to produce a more consistent campaign than last season’s tepid 21-14 mark. Perhaps just as important for Weber is his PR battle against a fan base that has grown weary of his team’s inconsistency. At the end of the day, Weber simply needs to win more, but he could also help himself by taking greater ownership of his program when things don’t go so well.
Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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