It’s safe to assume that the Big 12 will once again be the top college basketball conference in 2022-23. Kansas are the reigning national champions, and no one was surprised Bill Self rebooted in a monstrous way. Scott Drew’s Baylor Bears are expected to be one of the best teams in the country. But it’s the league’s depth that makes it special. Of course, Kansas and Baylor are titans. But Texas, TCU and Texas Tech are absolutely loaded.
The state of Oklahoma, Oklahoma, West Virginia and the state of Iowa have taken monstrous steps on the transfer portal to stay competitive. New Kansas State Coach Jerome Tang he’s had a rocky career in this rough conference, but he knows how to win the Big 12 after a great stint on the Baylor bench.
There are actually no holidays, which is what makes this league so much fun. Here’s our best attempt at projecting All-Big 12 first-team picks.
EDITOR’S NOTE: this is the fourth installment in a series detailing the scheduled all-conference picks for each Power Six conference, now that the off-season additions are largely complete. You can read the SEC version, Big Ten version or ACC version what has been completed.
G Adam Flagler, Baylor
I think I would sell my soul to be able to shoot rock as well as Flagler for just one day. Flagler’s shooting completely changes the way Baylor guards. He does it differently and creatively. If you give the Flagler a chance to catch and shoot, you will be in serious trouble. According to Synergy, he shot a whopping 41.1% in those situations. It is ranked in the 87th percentile nationally. But he can also create rebounds, hitting a dazzling 39.1% (83rd percentile nationally) of all his 115 dribbling jump shots, according to Synergy. Flagler is also a super underrated defender. He is everything you want from your best player. Baylor has legitimate hopes of a national championship with its veteran flamethrower.
G/F Jalen Wilson, Kansas
It would be a little disparaging to say that Wilson will become an All-Big 12 if the jumper makes a healthy step forward, but Wilson will become an All-Big 12 if the jumper makes a healthy step forward.
Wilson has so many strengths. He has become a terrific rebounder who can cut through the defense and get to the rim at will. Wilson is a solid defender who can defend multiple positions, and he’s out of the game to wreak havoc. But a reliable jumper completely opens everything. In 2021/22, Wilson shot better at protected jumpers (28.3) than at unprotected jumpers (26.8%). If Wilson just converts freebies more often, his ceiling will skyrocket. The Kansas Player Development Program has produced real gems; more time with yourself is never a bad thing. Wilson has all the talent in the world, but the jumper is the only thing holding him back. Let’s see if he can tie some sequence together. If that happens, Wilson could be the best player on the best Big 12 team, which means you’re a first team player.
G Mike Miles Jr., TCU
Miles was one of the best Big 12 players last year and he can get better. That’s what makes him such an exciting player to fall behind. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound point guard was fantastic in pick-and-roll due to his athleticism, speed, vision and reliable pull-up jump. Despite his size, Miles finished at the rim with a 55% lead (61st percentile, according to Synergy). Miles is also one of the most ferocious Big 12 defenders with the ball. If Miles can cut his losses and become a more reliable shooter in throw-throw situations, he could be the Big 12 Player of the Year.
G/F Timmy Allen, Texas
Allen is just a junkyard dog who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Allen can protect all five players on the court, making him an invaluable asset to Chris Beard and the Texas coaching staff. Allen just hit a record last year, averaging 12.1 points and 6.4 rebounds. Oh, and he made 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals. Allen also had 56 team shares (blocks and interceptions). Allen is just a stud who shouldn’t have a problem with being one of the best Big 12 players in the world.
F Kevin Obanor, Texas Tech
Obanor was great in his first year at Texas Tech despite flying stealthily behind Bryson Williams, Terrence Shannon Jr., Kevin McCallar and defense Mark Adams. Everything is set for Obanor to become an absolute partner of Texas Tech in 2022-2023. It just has very few flaws. Obanor was ranked 87th in the percentile for total offense last year, according to Synergy. In fact, Obanor shot better with his hand to his face (38%) than when he was wide open (25%). His percentage on unprotected snare jumpers and throws should skyrocket next year. The Obanor profile requires some positive regression. Oh, and he was in the 81st percentile on defense, holding down opponents on just 32% of shots when he was the closest defenseman in jump shots. Obanor is a real two-way threat that should no longer go unnoticed.
In the mix
gram Grant SherfieldOklahoma: Porter Moser dropped one of the top scoring players from the transfer portal. Sherfield fielded a huge number of players in Nevada for several seasons. Sherfield has averaged at least 18.6 points and 6.1 assists in each of his last two seasons. A 6ft 2in, 190lb point guard should manage the Sooners for the 2022-23 season. He’s just great in pick and roll, rated 78th percentile by Synergy. Expect Moser to let Sherfield cook, and once he starts, Sherfield’s pull-ups are really hard to stop.
gram Keyonte GeorgeBaylor: A 5-star quarterback deepens only one of college basketball’s best backcourts. George is just determined to score. It has limitless range, but also the wisdom to reach the tin when the jumper doesn’t fall. He has to spend a lot of time at the benefit club all year. George has to give Baylor big numbers and he has every chance of winning the top 12 freshmen of the year.
gram Avery Anderson IIIOklahoma State: There are very few perimeter defenders in the Big Twelve who are better than Anderson. According to Synergy, Anderson was in the 89th percentile in overall defense. Last year, he faced 87 pick-and-rolls while the opposition scored just 41 points (0.47 points per possession). It’s incredible. Oklahoma State has been very active in the transfer portal, bringing in three guards to take some of the pressure off Anderson of making shots. This should really help him have the best season of his career. The Oklahoma State Interval should be much better, which should give Anderson the opportunity to go to work.
gram Kevin McCallarKansas: Simply put, it seems like Kansas has the talented pieces to cover up McCallar’s flaws as well as enable him to let the Texas Tech transition do what he does best. This is truly a flawless game for both the team and the player. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Texas Institute of Technology transfer will have the energy to be in your shorts on defense because Kansas probably won’t ask him to constantly try to create punches for himself. Making hard doubles in the middle distance just wasn’t his game at Texas Tech (5 out of 22, according to Synergy), but he had to do it a few more times to bail out difficult possessions. Bill Self should be able to draft a few more fast hitters for McCallar to get an easy look and become one of the best two-way wingers (and players) in the Big 12. It wouldn’t be surprising if McCallar turned out to be Kansas’ top player overall.
gram Holmes yearsIowa: TJ Otzelberger needed a veteran defenseman who could hit the basket to replace Isaiah Brockington and Tyrese Hunter. Holmes feels like the best candidate to step up and become Iowa’s top scorer. He’s not the mid-range shooter that Brockington was, but Holmes can be a dangerous 3-point shooter (38.1% on 4.6 attempts per game in 2020-21) and a 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard can get on the line. and finish with a great runner. Iowa State is bottom of the league for the second year in a row, but the Cyclones beat expectations last year, and Holmes could help them do it again in the 2022-2023 season.
gram Marcus CarrTexas: Chris Beard just knows what he’s going to get with Carr every night. The seasoned quarterback was very reliable on Texas defense, and according to Synergy, he was ranked 88th percentile in short play. He averaged 1.02 points per possession (48 chances) which is amazing. Carr has All-Big 12 upside potential if he finds a way to improve his dreadful 41.7%…