Big 12 Power Rankings: Week Six

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 18th, 2012

The top of the Big 12 is unchanged this week, as Kansas and Oklahoma State extended their winning streaks to seven and three games, respectively. The rest of the conference is still a cluster, however, and two teams who were supposed to challenge for the conference title — West Virginia and Texas — did nothing this week to silence their critics. Kansas State and West Virginia were the only Big 12 schools to play anyone of note this past week, and both teams lost convincingly. The Big 12 isn’t getting any better. With only a few weeks left in the non-conference schedule, teams are running out of time to prove themselves as NCAA Tournament prospects.

1) Kansas (8-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 1

Ben McLemore and Kansas prepare for Saturday's matchup with Ohio State

Ben McLemore and Kansas prepare for Saturday’s matchup with Ohio State (Getty Images)

Last Week: W 89-60 vs. Belmont

This Week: Tuesday vs. Richmond, 6:00 PM CST, Saturday at Ohio State, 3:00 PM

  • Rundown: Kansas continues to win after losing its only game of the season over a month ago to Michigan State. They’ve won six of their last seven games by at least 13 points and have set up a great top 10 match-up on Saturday against Ohio State in Columbus, whom the Jayhawks beat twice last season (once in Lawrence and again in the Final Four).
  • Reason to be Optimistic: Freshman guard Ben McLemore is as good as people thought he could be, leading the team with 16.1 PPG. He is shooting up NBA Mock Drafts and it’s becoming clear that this will be his only season in Lawrence. His ability to take over a game offensively makes the Jayhawks legitimate Final Four contenders just a month after the team faced plenty of personnel questions.

2) Oklahoma State (8-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 2

Last Week: W 91-63 vs. Central Arkansas

This Week: Wednesday vs. Texas-Arlington, 7:00 PM, Saturday vs.Tennessee Tech, 12:00 PM

  • Rundown: Last week’s win over Central Arkansas didn’t help the Cowboys in the weekly polls or this week’s power rankings, but they continue to pile up wins leading up to the New Year’s Eve home game against Gonzaga. This week’s action should be another pair of scrimmages.
  • Reason to be Optimistic: Outside of the 10-point loss to Virginia Tech, the Cowboys have beaten the teams they were supposed to beat. That sounds simple enough, but too many teams lose focus some nights and drop head-scratching games this time of year. It will pay off come Selection Sunday.

3) Baylor (7-3, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 4

Last Week: W 85-68 vs. Lamar, W 73-57 vs. South Carolina-Upstate

This Week: Friday vs. BYU, 8:00 PM

  • Rundown: Baylor is back in the No. 3 spot this week, mostly by default. Senior point guard Pierre Jackson is still playing like a conference player of the year, averaging 19.3 PPG and 6.0 APG through 10 games. The offense is averaging 76.7 PPG but its been slowed down in each of the Bears’ three losses, when they scored just 62.3 PPG.
  • Reason to be Optimistic: Like Kansas, Baylor is getting significant contributions from one of its highly touted freshmen. 7″1′ center Isaiah Austin is averaging 13.9 PPG and 8.6 RPG this season.

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Decision Coming From Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins Plans Three More Visits…

Posted by CLykins on December 14th, 2012

7sweetscoops

Seven Sweet Scoops is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. Every Friday he will discuss the seven top stories from the week in the wide world of recruiting, involving offers, which prospect visited where, recent updates regarding school lists, and more chatter from the recruiting scene. You can also check out more of his work at RTC with his weekly column “Who’s Got Next?”, as well as his work dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene.

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings.

1. Jabari Parker Sets Decision Date

The nation’s No. 2 overall ranked senior, Jabari Parker, has finally set a date for his highly anticipated collegiate decision that has been delayed for the past few months. A product of Simeon Career Academy (Illinois), the 6’8” small forward will announce one of BYU, Duke, Florida, Michigan State or Stanford on Thursday, December 20. Where most see five schools listed, the forthcoming decision will likely come down to just two in the end. Throughout his entire recruitment it has been Duke and Michigan State jockeying for the lead position, a trend that will most likely continue up until Thursday afternoon according to his father Sonny Parker. “He hasn’t told me where,” Sonny Parker told USA Today. “I didn’t ask him. It’s kind of hard to say. He’s liked all the schools we’ve visited. He’s hard to read sometimes. He keeps things to himself, so I don’t put any pressure on him. I think it will probably be between Duke and Michigan State. That’s what I’m thinking.” While Parker enters the homestretch of the recruiting process, he is also recovering from a summer injury that has required a good amount of rehabilitation. Out since July, Parker made a surprise return to the court on December 1 in a season-opening victory for Simeon at the Chicago Elite Classic. In 11 limited minutes, Parker contributed six points, four rebounds and two assists while looking out of shape with an extra number of pounds added to his frame. Since then, Parker has shed at least 10 pounds and is slowly getting back to the player that has gained national recognition as one of the best high school basketball players in the country. On December 20, one school will be gaining a monumental piece to their basketball program. The question remains: Will it be Duke or Michigan State?

Jabari Parker will announce December 20 for Duke or Michigan State

Jabari Parker will announce December 20 for Duke or Michigan State

2. Andrew Wiggins To Take Three Visits After Senior Season

Coming off a recent visit to Florida State last week, Andrew Wiggins has decided that he is going to take a break from the recruiting process until after his senior season. Once the season is finished in March, Wiggins plans to take three more official visits to Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. Ohio State and Syracuse are in the mix for his fifth and final official visit that may or may not happen. Although Wiggins has shut down his recruitment as far as visits go, that has not stopped coaches from visiting him. Kentucky head coach John Calipari was on hand to watch Wiggins at the Marshall County Hoopfest in Benton, Kentucky, two weeks ago and will be in attendance at the Boyd County Roundball Classic in Ashland, Kentucky, this weekend. Ohio State head coach Thad Matta watched him this past weekend, while North Carolina head coach Roy Williams made the trip to Spring Valley, West Virginia, on Wednesday to watch the 6’7” sensation. Wiggins is currently averaging 21.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per game for No. 1 Huntington Prep (10-0) on the season.

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Big 12 Team Preview #10: TCU Horned Frogs

Posted by dnspewak on October 29th, 2012

Each day for the next two weeks, we’ll bring you the obligatory team preview here at the Big 12 microsite. First up, Danny Spewak (@dspewak) breaks down the league’s newbie: TCU. The Horned Frogs were not a unanimous choice among the Big 12 microsite writers to finish last in the conference, but we’re guessing we still won’t find much argument with this selection.

The Skinny

  • 2011-12 record: 18-15 overall, 7-7 Mountain West
  • Key Contributors Lost: G Hank Thorns, G J.R. Cadot, F Craig Williams
  • Head Coach: Trent Johnson, 1st season
  • Projected Finish: 10th

Trent Johnson Takes on the Biggest Reclamation Project of His Career

Trent Johnson has problems. The team he inherits in Fort Worth finished in the lower third of Division I basketball in almost every defensive statistical category in 2011-12. He has no proven scorers, no proven shooters and only a handful of experienced upperclassmen. It will not be an easy season for the TCU Horned Frogs, but that has nothing to do with the change in conference affiliation or the mystical power of the Big 12. This squad played in a league with four NCAA Tournament teams a year ago, and it knocked off three of those teams — Colorado State, New Mexico and UNLV — on its home floor. The Horned Frogs won on a neutral floor against Virginia in November, defeated Texas Tech at home (hey, it’s a Big 12 school at least), and played a total of five power conference teams before entering Mountain West play. And remember, that league actually finished above the ACC in conference RPI rankings and sat just two slots below the Big 12. The sudden move to the Big 12 will not cause a mass panic among TCU’s players. They’ve seen good players and good teams before. They’ve played at The Pit and in front of hostile crowds. The problem is not the Big 12 — the problem is simply Trent Johnson’s lack of overall play-makers and proven leaders. He made a splash earlier this month by outbidding Bill Self, Scott Drew and Rick Barnes for Class of 2013 prep center Karviar Shepherd, but that’s the future. Before Johnson can channel the success he enjoyed at Nevada, Stanford and during the early part of his tenure at LSU, he’ll need to build this program very slowly.

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Who’s Got Next? Harrison Twins Pick Kentucky; Parker & Randle Trim Their Lists…

Posted by rtmsf on October 10th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Double Dip for Coach Cal

In what is being referred to as the best package deal in high school recruiting by a number of national recruiting analysts, twin brothers Andrew and Aaron Harrison of Fort Bend Travis High School (Texas) verbally committed to the defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats on Thursday, October 4. Andrew, the top rated point guard and No. 2 overall prospect in the ESPN 100 and Aaron, the top rated shooting guard and No. 4 overall prospect, chose the Wildcats over the Maryland Terrapins and SMU Mustangs. The addition of the Harrisons will automatically vault the Wildcats as the No. 1 overall class in 2013 over SEC rival Florida.

The Harrison Twins are the latest dynamic duo to commit to Kentucky (maxpreps)

“Coach Calipari presented a challenge for us. He would push us every day,” Andrew said. “We just want to be better players.” Aaron added: “Also, coach Calipari did not guarantee anything and we liked that.” The announcement comes after an intense summer of recruiting for the twin brothers. Throughout the AAU evaluation period, coaching staffs from the final three schools were spotted at almost every event that the Harrisons participated in with their AAU club, Houston Defenders.

In the end, it was a neck-and-neck race between Kentucky and Maryland with SMU a distant third in the running. Kentucky head coach John Calipari and Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon battled for the services for the Harrisons up until the very last minute. Turgeon even made a visit on Wednesday in an attempt to make one final impression on the Harrison family. A Maryland commitment would have clearly brought the Terrapins back to national relevance.

Speculation ran rampant throughout the week leading up to the announcement that the decision may have been swinging in Maryland’s favor, mainly because the mainstream gear brand Under Armour was playing a huge role in the recruitment. Under Armour outfits both the Terrapins and the Harrison’s AAU club coached by their father, Aaron Harrison Sr.

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Big 12 M5: 10.09.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on October 9th, 2012

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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