Big 12 College Basketball Preview 2022-23
Updated: Oct 13, 2022
The Big 12 has been the best conference in College Basketball over the past three seasons, and is shaping up to assume that role once again in the 2022-23 season. The depth amongst this conference is astonishing, rosters run deep and the conference itself does as well. With just under a month till the season commences, we are diving into the details of the nation's best basketball conference.
Photo credit: Ben Queen - USA Today Sports
Baylor being a college basketball power has been a recurring theme recently, and the college basketball world should expect to see more of the same in 2022. Led by a terrific backcourt trio of Adam Flagler, LJ Cryer, and incoming five-star Keyonte George, the Bears are built for March. To round out the starting five, Coach Drew brings in West Virginia transfer Jalen Bridges, who has flashed lots of untapped potential, and super senior Flo Thamba. Off the bench Baylor has lots of young guys, specifically former four-star Langston Love, Kilgore College transfer Dantwan Grimes, and returnee Dale Bonner. The Bears are a bit young off the bench and some may consider it to be slightly thin depth-wise, but once Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua returns from injury, the fully healthy Bears will be a force to be reckoned with.
Year 2 of the Chris Beard era is looking to be bright in Austin. After bringing in what seemed to be a stacked transfer class last off-season, the Horns got some looks as the number one overall team in the country. In terms of those standards, the seasons outcome may be considered slightly disappointing, but in reality, the team progressed as the season strung along and the Longhorns won their first March Madness game since 2014. With the addition of Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Tyrese Hunter, along with two incoming five-stars in Dillon Mitchell and Arterio Morris, the Longhorns are once again receiving lofty expectations, and rightfully so. A starting lineup consisting of Tyrese Hunter, Marcus Carr, Timmy Allen, Dillon Mitchell, and Christian Bishop is one of the strongest in the country. The addition of Hunter takes a lot of the ball handling pressure off of Carr and will allow him to excel in his role, and it also helps to enforce the defensive precedent that Coach Beard loves to deploy. With returnees Brock Cunningham and Dylan Disu off the bench, along with former New Mexico State star, Sir'Jabari Rice, the Longhorns have one of the deepest rosters in the country, and after a year of playing together, should be able to put it together for a promising season.
The defending National Champions at three may seem odd to some, but the Jayhawks have some hefty shoes to fill after their tournament run. First-Team All-American and lottery pick Ochai Agbaji, First-Round Draft pick Christian Braun, and their staple down-low in David McCormack are all gone, as well as the Midwest Region Most Outstanding player, Remy Martin. On the bright side, the Jayhawks return stud Jalen Wilson and starting point-guard DaJuan Harris. Furthermore, the Jayhawks bring in the nation's 4th best recruiting class, according to 247sports. Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCullar will be an elite defender and play a strong role in the Jayhawks' backcourt as well. A starting lineup consisting of DaJuan Harris, Kevin McCullar, Gradey Dick, Jalen Wilson, and Ernest Udeh Jr. should be strong, but not on the level of the teams above them. Freshman MJ Rice will provide a spark off the bench, along with former Drake transfer Joseph Yesefu. Overall, the Jayhawks could finish anywhere in the top 4 in the Big 12, I have zero doubts that Coach Bill Self will figure things out as the season progresses, but as of now I consider them the third best team in the conference.
TCU is coming off a season in which they won their first NCAA Tournament game since the 1986-87 season, and they were so close to pulling off the upset over #1 seed Arizona in overtime. To follow up that spectacular season, the Horned Frogs will be 1 of 2 teams in the country returning their entire starting five. The core of Mike Miles, Damion Baugh, Chuck O'Bannon, Emanuel Miller, and Eddie Lampkin shapes up to be one of the best in the country. With veterans Micah Peavy, Shahada Wells, and Xavier Cork off the bench, the Horned Frogs are supplied with reinforcements when they are needed. The glaring issue for the Horned Frogs is the three ball. TCU shot just 30.2% from deep - 321st nationally. If the Horned Frogs can improve upon their biggest weakness, the sky is the limit.
5. Texas Tech
Over the past few seasons Texas Tech has solidified themselves as a basketball school. The Red Raiders have been extremely successful on the court, and their fanbase has been one of the best in the nation. Texas Tech was active in the portal this offseason, bringing in Oregon transfer De'Vion Harmon, UNC transfer Kerwin Walton and Utah Valley transfer Fardaws Aimaq. Aimaq was viewed as a prolific transfer by many, seeing his name in the top 25 of most transfer portal player rankings. Unfortunately, Aimaq, the 2020-21 WAC player of the year, suffered a foot injury recently that will sideline him for some time. Aimaq's injury is a brutal blow for Coach Adams' squad, but they should adapt like they always do. The Red Raiders will sport a starting lineup of Harmon, Texas transfer Jaylon Tyson, Walton, Kevin Obanor, and Daniel Batcho. Once Aimaq returns from injury, he will reassume the title of starting center. The Red Raiders also have high 4 star Elijah Fisher off the bench to highlight a big and talented freshman class. The Red Raiders, like usual, will be a defense-oriented team. If Coach Adams can make this team filled with transfers mesh, they will be very scary come March.
6. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State had some pretty high expectations heading into last season, considering the looming postseason ban. It is obvious that the ban damaged motivation and confidence, but the Pokes still flashed potential. Coach Boynton brought in Highpoint superstar John Michael-Wright this offseason to play the 1, along with former Texas State guard Caleb Asberry. A starting 5 of Michael-Wright, Avery Anderson, Bryce Thompson, Kalib Boone, and Moussa Cisse is uber talented, but they just have not shown enough to earn a higher rank at this time. Cisse, the reigning Big 12 DPOY, Anderson, the Pokes leading scorer from a season ago, and Bryce Thompson, a very talented guard, will form an elite trio. With the postseason ban now out of the way, the Cowboys will look to build on what they did in 2020-21 with Cade Cunningham, and claim an NCAA Tournament berth.
7. Iowa State
The first year of the TJ Otzelberger era exceeded everyone's expectations, and then some. The Cyclones went from 2-22 to the Sweet 16 before falling short against Miami. After key departures from Izaiah Brockington, George Conditt IV, and Tyrese Hunter, Otz did the same thing that he did last offseason and dove into the portal. The biggest pickups for the Cyclones come in the pair of St. Bonaventure 5th year seniors: G Jaren Holmes and C Osun Osunniyi. The duo combined for 25 PPG last season, and Osunniyi was one of the best defenders in the country, winning the A10 DPOY. The Cyclones also brought in Temple guard Jeremiah Williams, but an ACL injury will sideline him for the season. With the injury to Williams, the Clones may be forced to start true freshman Tamin Lipsey at Point Guard. If they were to do so, a starting five would look something like: Lipsey, Gabe Kalscheur, Jaren Holmes, Aljaz Kunc, and Osunniyi. It is no surprise that this lineup is loaded with defense, but buckets may be hard to come by. Iowa State will likely be a bubble team come March.
After losing their highest scorer from last year in Umoja Gibson to the portal, Porter Moser brought in one of the best point guards in the country in Grant Sherfield, and paired him with a 16 PPG shooting guard in Joe Bamisile. Those two will be joined in the starting five by 30 MPG returnee Jalen Hill, and the viral brothers who transferred from Eastern Washington last offseason: Tanner and Jacob Groves. The Sooners' starting five is not bad by any means, but it does not particularly stand out in this loaded conference. Furthermore, depth is going to be an issue. OU has just 2 bench players returning that have even played minutes. The Sooners also bring in Wofford PWO Sam Godwin, and former Missouri F Yaya Keita. Oklahoma has the potential to be a tournament team, but they will go as far as their starting five can take them.
9. West Virginia
Following up a last place finish in the Big 12 there were lots of changes to be made in Morgantown. Bob Huggins responded to that by absolutely scavenging the transfer portal. The Mountaineers are projected to start four transfer players, have another as sixth-man, and a couple more in the rotation. Kedrian Johnson will be the only returning player on the roster to crack the starting five. Johnson, a guard, will share the backcourt with Iowa transfer Joe Toussaint and South Carolina transfer Erik Stevenson. Former Mountaineer and Washington Husky Emmitt Matthews Jr. has returned for a second stint at WVU and will close out the starting lineup alongside Texas transfer Tre Mitchell. Clearly, Coach Huggins was not satisfied with his program last year, so he decided to clean house and rebuild the entire roster. I do not forsee this roster being nearly talented enough to make the NCAA Tournament, but the team shall be fun to watch nonetheless.
10. Kansas State
Kansas State is the consensus bottom team in the Big 12, but that does not guarantee a brutal season ahead. The Wildcats have tons of question marks, but the potential is there. The biggest wildcard will be Florida Gator transfer Keyontae Johnson. Prior to developing a heart condition, Keyontae was the preseason SEC POY in 2020-21 and was well on his way to having an elite season. Keyontae is expected to be the starting SF in Manhattan, and if he looks anything like his former self, he will have an outstanding year. In the backcourt the Wildcats have Markquis Nowell at the 1. Nowell is one of the most complete point guards in the country and a premier defender. If his shooting splits increase this season, he could be an All Big 12 player. At the 2 the Wildcats have former Arkansas & Arkansas State guard Desi Sills. Sills has always had potential and seems to have found a good landing spot on a power conference team. To close out the starting five, the Wildcats will showcase a frontcourt consisting of Ismael Massoud and David N'Guessan. Depth is iffy for K State, but if the transfers on their roster mesh and returning players take leaps, the squad could potentially turn some heads.
All Conference Teams
Photo credit: Ron Jenkins - Associated Press
Despite being the best conference in college basketball last year, the All-Big 12 teams were slightly underwhelming with stars compared to years past. That may be a product of elite team basketball and defense, but this year should consist of more star power as well.
All-Big 12 First Team
G - Adam Flagler - BU
G - Mike Miles - TCU
G - Keyonte George - BU
F - Timmy Allen - UT
F - Jalen Wilson - KU
Photo credit: Tyrese Hunter - Texas MBB player submitted photos
All-Big 12 Second Team
G - Grant Sherfield - OU
G - Tyrese Hunter - UT
G - LJ Cryer - BU
F - Kevin Obanor - TTU
C - Osun Osunniyi - ISU
Photo Credit: 247sports
All-Big 12 Defensive Team
G - Markquis Nowell - KSU
G - DaJuan Harris - KU
G - Tyrese Hunter - UT
C - Moussa Cisse - OSU
C - Osun Osunniyi - ISU
Photo credit: Dillon Mitchell - Texas MBB player submitted photos
All-Big 12 Freshman Team
G - Keyonte George - BU
G - Gradey Dick - KU
F - Elijah Fisher - TTU
F - Dillon Mitchell - UT
C - Ernest Udeh Jr. - KU
All Conference Awards
Photo Credit: Charlie Neibergall - AP