Big 12 Previews: Iowa State & Baylor

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 22nd, 2018

With games starting in just a few weeks, we’re tipping off our 2018-19 Big 12 coverage by going around the league team-by-team. Be sure to check in throughout the season and follow Big 12 correspondent Brian Goodman on Twitter @BSGoodman.

Iowa State

Lindell Wigginton is a big-time bucket-getter, but will the Cyclones have enough on defense? (Mark D. Smith/USA Today Sports)

The Cyclones predictably regressed last season after losing perhaps the best point guard in program history in Monte’ Morris, plus Deonte Burton, but what wasn’t predictable was just how bleak the season would go. Iowa State finished 13-18 overall (4-15 Big 12), marking its first losing season since 2009-10. Steve Prohm’s team didn’t win a single true road game in 10 attempts on its way to finishing dead last in the Big 12 on defense and ninth on offense. On the plus side, the Cyclones managed wins against Texas Tech and West Virginia, showing glimpses of how good they could be on occasion, but that didn’t happen nearly enough to make the season a success. The good news is that there’s nowhere to go but up with many of their most talented pieces returning.

Who’s Gone:

  • G Donovan Jackson: 15.0 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 2.1 APG, 40.1% 3FG, 87.5% FT
  • F Hans Brase: 2.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG
  • F Jeff Beverly: 4.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG

Who’s Back:

  • G Lindell Wigginton: 16.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.8 APG, 40.1% 3FG
  • G Nick Weiler-Babb: 11.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 6.8 APG, 1.3 SPG
  • F Cameron Lard: 12.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.2 BPG
  • F Solomon Young: 7.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG
  • F Zoran Talley: 7.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG

Who’s Coming In:

  • G Marial Shayok (transfer from Virginia): 8.9 PPG in 2016-17
  • F Michael Jacobson (transfer from Nebraska): 6.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG in 2016-17
  • F Talen Horton-Tucker (four-star recruit)
  • F Zion Griffin (four-star recruit)

Outlook: Among the teams tabbed for a bottom-half finish in this year’s Big 12, the Cyclones will be the most interesting. Wigginton’s decision to return to Ames after testing the draft waters was a monstrous development, but at just 6’2” and with Nick Weiler-Babb being a confident and efficient ball-handler, balancing the backcourt talent on one hand and the team’s upside on the other will be a key storyline. Small-ball is a generally good bet, but the size that exists around this league could ultimately prove to be too much to handle. Down low, Cameron Lard is a terrific big man who played 29 games last season, but he still needs to prove he can keep things in order off the court before feeling comfortable about his ability to contribute on a consistent basis. Prohm’s track record and a high level of returning talent portend a bounce-back season on offense, but it also means the Cyclones’ defense will continue to be an issue. The ceiling for this team looks like a top-half Big 12 finish along with a #7-ish seed in the NCAA Tournament, but even if it falls short, we should be in for plenty of games played in the 80s and 90s.

Baylor

I count myself among the ranks who think Scott Drew generally gets a bad rap, but it’s hard to consider the Bears’ 2017-18 season as anything other than a disappointment. Despite the loss of Johnathan Motley, they still had high-level players in seniors Manu Lecomte, Jo Lual-Acuil and Nuni Omot along with a heady junior in King McClure, but the Bears never fully recovered after a 2-7 start in Big 12 play. The regular season ended in a whimper when Baylor lost three of its last four games followed by another defeat in its Big 12 Tournament opener before bowing out for good in the second round of the NIT.

Stranger things have happened in Waco, but Scott Drew will be hard-pressed to lead an underwhelming Baylor roster to the postseason. (AP)

Who’s Gone:

  • G Manu Lecomte: 16.2 PPG, 3.7 APG, 38.1% 3FG, 89% FT
  • F Jo Lual-Acuil: 14:0 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 1.9 BPG
  • F Nuni Omot: 9.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 43.3% 3FG
  • F Terry Maston: 11.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG

Who’s Back:

  • G King McClure: 8.1 PPG, 1.7 APG, 35% 3FG
  • F Tristan Clark: 6.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG
  • F Mark Vital: 6.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG

Who’s Coming In:

  • G Makai Mason (transfer from Yale): 16.0 PPG, 3.8 APG, 35.7% 3FG, 80.6% FT in 2016-17
  • F Mario Kegler (transfer from Mississippi State): 32 GS, 9.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG in 2016-17, former top-50 recruit
  • G Jared Butler (four-star recruit)
  • F Matthew Mayer (four-star recruit)
  • C Flo Thamba (three-star recruit)

Outlook: For the second straight year, the Bears will have a newcomer running the point on a team whose biggest producers figure to be program guys. Mason starred for the 2016 Yale squad that famously upset Baylor in the NCAA Tournament — a fact that broadcasters will be sure to mention every chance they get — but it’s been a year and half since he last played at 100 percent. If he can recapture his old form, the Bears might be able to scratch and claw their way back to contention for the Big Dance after a one-year absence, but if he can’t, it’s easy to see things falling apart in quick fashion. In that event, Jake Lindsey (season-ending hip surgery) and Tyson Jolley (transfer) won’t be around to fill the gap, and freshman Jared Butler won’t be ready. The Baylor frontcourt, as always, has some interesting pieces, but they don’t appear to have the rim protection needed to successfully run the amoeba zone that’s been the hallmark of Drew’s best teams. We’ve seen  Drew pull bigger rabbits out of his hat, but a bottom-three finish seems the most likely result for this group in 2018-19.

Brian Goodman (972 Posts)

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


Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *