Houston Could Make Some Noise During First Season in the Big 12
A team of the players who transferred into the Big 12 could not only be considered the favorite to the Big 12 Basketball Tournament but also be a contender to win the national title.
After Baylor and Kansas won national titles, the bid to make it three in a row ended when Kansas State and Texas both lost in the Elite Eight last season. Kansas and Texas are among the contenders to win it all during the upcoming season.
Eight of the top 20 incoming transfers landed with Big 12 teams.
Eight of the 10 Big 12 teams finished with winning records last season with Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas Christian and Oklahoma State all winning at least 20 games.
Kansas edged out Texas to win the regular-season Big 12 title. Four players from the Big 12 were selected in the 2023 NBA Draft, with Gradey Dick of Kansas and Keyonte George from Baylor going in the first round and that could impact the NCAA basketball odds in the Big 12.
Kansas is ranked first in both the Associated Press and Coaches’ polls. The Jayhawks received 69 of the 95 first-place votes. New Big 12 member Houston is sixth in the coaches’ poll and seventh in the writers’ poll. Texas and Baylor are ranked 18th and 20th in the AP poll with Baylor 17th and Texas 18th in the coaches’ poll. TCU and Kansas State have received votes in both polls while Iowa State is among the other teams receiving votes in the coaches’ poll.
Hunter Dickinson, who transferred from Michigan to Kansas, is third at +900 in the odds to be named the National Player of the Year. Max Abmas (+3000) and Tyrese Hunter of Texas (+6000), LJ Cryer of Houston (+8000), Dajuan Harris of Kansas (+10000) and Jalen Bridges of Baylor (+10000) are also listed as contenders for National Player of the Year honors.
When it comes to NCAA basketball power rankings, keep in mind that Kansas received 12 of the 14 first-place to finish atop the Big 12 preseason poll. Houston picked up the other No. 1 votes to finish second. Texas, Baylor and TCU round out the top five.
Dickinson was named the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year. He was joined on the first team by teammate Dejuan Harris Jr., Abmas, TCU’s Emanuel Miller and Cryer.
Kansas (+1000) is first in the odds to win the national title. Houston (+2000) is tied for seventh with Texas (+2500) tied for 12th in the championship odds.
The season begins on Nov. 6 with 12 Big 12 teams in action. Leading the way is Kansas playing North Carolina Central, Texas facing Incarnate Word and Houston meeting up with Louisiana Monroe. The first college basketball matchup between ranked teams comes on Nov. 14 when Kansas meets Kentucky at the United Center in Chicago.
The arrival of Dickinson is a big deal for a Kansas team that saw its two top scorers (Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick) selected in the 2023 NBA Draft. With Joseph Yesufu now at Washington State, Bobby Pettiford Jr. at East Carolina and M.J. Rice and Ernest Udeh also transferring, only Harris, Kevin McCullar and K.J. Adams are back among the nine players in the rotation a season ago from a Kansas team that lost in the Big 12 Basketball Tournament final last season.
Dickinson is joined by Towson’s top scorer, Nick Timberlake, and Santa Clara forward Parker Braun as incoming transfers expected to make an impact. Elmarko Jackson is a top-rated freshman.
The Cougars head into their debut season in the Big 12 after Jarace Walker and Marcus Sasser were selected in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft. Double-digit scorer Traman Mark transferred to Arkansas.
Houston returns Jamal Shead and J’Wan Roberts along with Emmanuel Sharp and Ja’Vier Francis. The additions of former Baylor guard LJ Cryer and Temple second-leading scorer Damian Dunn should help Houston make the transition from the American Athletic Conference to the Big 12.
Texas has some holes to fill with the departures of Marcus Carr, Sir’Jabari Rice and Timmy Allen, who combined for more than 40 points per game last college basketball season as the Longhorns have some work to do to defend its Big 12 Basketball Tournament title.
Tyrese Hunter and Dylan Disu are the top returning NCAAB players. The key for Texas could be the incoming transfers. Abmas comes in from Oral Roberts, Kadin Shedrick transferred from Virginia and UCF’s Ithiel Horton, UT Arlington’s Chendell Weaver and UTEP’s Ze’rik Onyema all joined the program.
Jalen Bridges, Langston Love and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua are the top returnees for a Baylor team that lost its top three scorers.
Toledo leading scorer Ray J Dennis and VCU’s Jayden Nunn join a strong recruiting class led by guards Ja’Kobe Walker and Miro Little for the Bears. Baylor added a top-10 national recruit in Ja’Kobe Walter.
TCU returns Emmanuel Miller, Jacobe Coles and Chuck O’Bannon, and added five transfers led by Oklahoma State No. 2 scorer Avery Anderson, Delaware’s Jameer Nelson Jr. and Coastal Carolina’s Essam Mostafa.
Arthur Kalama, a double-digit scorer at Creighton, and North Texas’ top scorer Tylor Perry should contribute immediately.
Texas Tech brought in Grant McCasland from North Texas as the new head coach. Five of the top six scorers from a season ago are gone and six incoming transfers are looking to fill the void and give Ricky Pop Isaac some help.
Josh Eilert is the interim head coach after off-the-court troubles led to the end of the Bob Huggins era at West Virginia.
The top six scorers are gone for the Mountaineers. Syracuse forward Jesse Edwards and Arizona guard Kerr Kriisa lead the list of incoming transfers. There are health concerns regarding former Georgetown forward Akok Akok after collapsing during a recent exhibition game.
The Cyclones need to replace their top four scorers. Jackson Paveletzke (15.1 points per game at Wofford), Curtis Jones (15 PPG at Buffalo) and Keshon Gilbert (11,4 PPG at UNLV) join top freshman Omaha Billew as newcomers to watch.
Leading scorer Fousseyni Traore is back as is Spencer Johnson as BYU joins the Big 12 and they will be joined by UC Irvine’s top scorer and Charlotte’s Aly Khalifa (11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds).
Cincinnati heads into the Big 12 without four of its top five scorers. Viktor Lahkin is the Bearcats’ top returning scorer. Incoming transfers Aziz Bandaogo, who averaged a double-double a season ago at Utah Valley, Kentucky’s CJ Frederick, Temple’s Jamille Reynolds and Butler’s Simas Lukosius could contribute right away.