The Big 12 enjoyed one of the best offseasons of any major conference. Or at least one that will help the league enter 2013-14 with some degree of renown.
First, point guard Marcus Smart elected to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season, turning the Cowboys into a potential top-15 team. Baylor’s Isaiah Austin followed suit by staying in school as well. Then, Bill Self landed mega-recruit Andrew Wiggins, prying him from Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State.
Kansas and Oklahoma State will enter the 2013-14 season as frontline teams in the Big 12 with Baylor knocking on the door.
Iowa State and Oklahoma have enough personnel returning -- and arriving via transfer -- to keep those schools competitive. In the bottom half of the league, Texas and West Virginia were once consistent NCAA Tournament teams, but both are continuing to rebuild.
Here’s a quick look at the comings and goings in the Big 12 for 2013-14.
Other conference snapshots:
Mountain West, A-10, MVC and others
1. KANSAS (31-6, 14-4, NCAA Sweet 16)
Key players gone: Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Kevin Young
Top returning players: Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe
New faces: Tarik Black (transfer from Memphis) Joel Embiid (freshman), Conner Frankamp (freshman), Brannen Green (freshman), Landen Lucas (redshirt), Wayne Selden (freshman), Andrew Wiggins (freshman)
Kansas lost all five starters, but the Jayhawks had as good an offseason as any team. Kansas added the nation’s No. 1 prospect in Wiggins, a 6-8 wing who could be an elite defender on the college level. Moreover, Wiggins’ signing boosted a recruiting class that was already one of the nation’s best with three other top-50 recruits. Kansas also added coveted Memphis transfer Tarik Black, a solid big man who will add experience to the young roster. The Jayhawks also will expect a breakout season from Ellis, who averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 13.6 minutes last season.
Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: ACC
2. OKLAHOMA STATE (24-9, 13-5, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Philip Jurick
Top returners: Markel Brown, Michael Cobbins, Phil Forte, Kamari Murphy, Le’Bryan Nash, Marcus Smart
New faces: Stevie Clark, Detrick Mostella (freshmen)
Before Wiggins picked Kansas, Oklahoma State looked like a clear favorite in the Big 12. With Smart’s surprising return to school, Oklahoma State will still have an edge in experience over Kansas. Smart will be a player of the year candidate and has the supporting cast to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament with fellow McDonald’s All-American Nash plus Brown and Forte. All four averaged at least 10 points per game.
Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big Ten
3. BAYLOR (23-14, 9-9, NIT champions)
Key players gone: Deuce Bello, Pierre Jackson, A.J. Walton
Top returners: Isaiah Austin, Gary Franklin, Rico Gathers, Brady Heslip, Cory Jefferson
New faces: Allerik Freeman, Johnathan Motley, Ishmail Wainright (freshmen)
Baylor has the roster to be a top-25 team and Big 12 contender, but the Bears continue to confound. The return of the 7-foot-1 Austin was a major boost for Baylor’s 2014 prospects along with the presence of three seniors (Franklin, Heslip and Jefferson). The frontcourt should be a strength, but Heslip needs help on the perimeter. The good news? Baylor has reached the Tourney in each of the past three even-numbered years.
Related: Top recruiting classes since 2000
4. IOWA STATE (23-12, 11-7, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Chris Babb, Anthony Booker, Will Clyburn, Korie Lucious, Tyrus McGee
Top returners: Melvin Ejim, Percy Gibson, Georges Niang
New faces: DeAndre Kane (transfer from Marshall), Monte Morris (freshman), Matt Thomas (freshman)
The top two scorers, Clyburn and McGee, are gone along with the point guard Lucious, but coach Fred Hoiberg will find a way to get the most out of his roster. The transfer pipeline to Ames continues with Kane, who averaged 15.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists in three seasons at Marshall. With Niang (12.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Ejim (11.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg), Iowa State is a lock for another 20 wins and NCAA appearance.
Related: Realignment tracker for all college basketball moves
5. KANSAS STATE (27-8, 14-4, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Jordan Henriquez, Montravious Irving, Rodney McGruder, Angel Rodriguez
Top returners: Thomas Gipson, Shane Southwell, Will Spradling, Nino Williams
New faces: Neville Fincher (prep school)
Bruce Weber did a great job with the returning cast -- at least before an early Tournament exit. Without the top two scorers (McGruder and Rodriguez, who transferred to Miami), Weber’s job is a little tougher. The returning cast of Southwell, Gipson, Spradling and Irving all saw plenty of work last season.
Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: American
6. OKLAHOMA (20-12, 11-7, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Andrew Fitzgerald, Sam Grooms, Amath M’Baye, Romero Osby, Steven Pledger
Top returners: Isaiah Cousins, Cameron Clark, Bobby Hield, Je’Lon Hornbeak
New faces: D.J. Bennett (junior college transfer), Ryan Spangler (transfer from Gonzaga)
Lon Kruger again proved to be an expert rebuilder, leading Oklahoma to its first winning season and NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009. In 2013-14, the Sooners lose their top three scorers, all of whom averaged double figures. The rising sophomore class of Hield, Hornbeak and Cousins played plenty of minutes last season and will be expected to take a bigger role. Newcomers Bennett and Spangler, a pair of 6-8 forwards, give OU a little bit of size the Sooners sorely need.
Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big East
7. WEST VIRGINIA (13-19, 6-12)
Key players gone: Jabarie Hinds, Deniz Kilicli
Top returners: Gary Browne, Eron Harris, Terry Henderson, Aaric Murray, Juwan Staten
New faces: Remi Dibo (junior college transfer), Jonathan Holton (junior college transfer), Elijah Macon (prep school), Devin Williams (freshman)
West Virginia lost seven in a row to seal the first losing season for Bob Huggins since his first as a Division I coach at Akron in 1984-85. Losing Kilicli is a big loss, but two freshmen and two junior college signees will look to fill that spot in the frontcourt alongside Murray. Williams will help on the glass while Macon, who committed to West Virginia out of high school before going to prep school, can shoot from outside.
8. TEXAS (16-18, 7-11, CBI first round)
Key players gone: Jaylen Bond, Myck Kabongo, Julien Lewis, Sheldon McClellan
Top returners: Javan Felix, Jonathan Holmes, Prince Ibeh, Demarcus Holland, Connor Lammert, Ioannis Papapetrou, Cameron Ridley
Texas is coming off its worst season under Rick Barnes, and answers don’t seem to be immediate. The top three scorers -- which included Kabongo in only 11 games -- are gone. Perhaps this will be addition by subtraction, but Texas’ recruiting prowess has diminished in recent years. The Longhorns bring in no top-100 recruits in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
9. TCU (11-21, 2-16)
Key players gone: Nate Butler Lind, Cornell Crossland, Garlon Green, Adrick McKinney
Top returners: Devonta Abron, Kyan Anderson, Charles Hill, Jarvis Ray
New faces: Amric Fields (injured last season), Karviar Shepherd (freshman)
Aside from the shocking upset of Kansas on Feb. 6, TCU was as overmatched as expected in its first season in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs might not be a Tournament team, but they could be better in 2013-14. The leading scorer Anderson is back, and Fields, the Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year as a sophomore, played only three games last season due to injury. TCU also signed a top-50 recruit in Shepherd.
10. TEXAS TECH (11-20, 3-15)
Key players gone: Josh Gray, Ty Nurse
Top returners: Jaye Crockett, Dejan Kravic, Dusty Hannahs, Daylen Robinson, Jordan Tolbert, Jamal Williams
New faces: Aaron Ross (redshirt)
Texas Tech had one senior on last season’s team, but assist-leader Josh Gray left for junior college. Tubby Smith inherits some experience in his first season at Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders aren’t ready to compete in the Big 12.