Recruit Could Swing Big 12 Title

After the Kansas became the last Big 12 team to bow out of the NCAA Tournament, people began looking at how the conference would shape out in 2011-2012.

Both Kansas and Texas, the top two teams in 2010-2011, had incredibly volatile stocks. Gauging potential NBA Draft picks, both squads had the potential to bring back top-five national teams the next season. The Jayhawks had potential underclassman draft picks in Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Josh Selby, Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. The Longhorns had three of their own in Jordan Hamilton, Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph.

As could be expected, both teams were hit hard by early entries. Hamilton, Thompson and Joseph all left early, as did the Morris twins and Selby. And so, rather than either school taking control of the Big 12 in 2011-2012, both need a late high school recruit to buoy their chances to finish atop the league.

That's where DeAndre Daniels comes in. A smooth 6-foot-7 wing, Daniels has drawn some comparisons to former Kansas standout Brandon Rush. Daniels is a sweet shooter and a great scorer, somebody capable of stepping in and providing a quality scoring starter right off the bat.

Daniels, who will choose between Kansas, Texas and Duke, was initially committed to Texas, and supposedly close to joining the Jayhawks when he initially looked to enroll in the spring semester. Now, he represents a key piece for two teams with depleted backcourts, and could swing the 2012 Big 12 crown depending on where he goes.

The Longhorns lost their two wing starters and four of their top five guards with the graduation of Dogus Balbay and Jai Lucas and the early entries of Hamilton and Joseph. J'Covan Brown returns and should be able to man one wing, while Myck Kabongo will rotate with Brown at point guard. Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis are both wing-type players, but Daniels would allow Texas to have a five-deep set in the backcourt.

Kansas is only in slightly better shape after graduating Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar and losing Selby to the draft. Royce Woolridge, who played sparingly a year ago, also elected to transfer out, rather than provide depth at the position. The Jayhawks return two of their top five in Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson, both of whom largely played the point a year ago. Naadir Tharpe adds another pure point to the mix.

On the wing, the Jayhawks return Travis Releford, strong rebounder and penetrator who saw some minutes a year ago. The Jayhawks also signed Ben McLemore.

Kansas might need Daniels more. Though Texas could use another talented body, and while Daniels would have a great chance to start, Brown, McClellan and Lewis are all top-notch scorers. None of the Kansas players listed above are pure scorers, nor do the Jayhawks have a high-scoring big man. So the Jayhawks need Daniels for his scoring punch.

Of course, should Daniels elect to go to Duke, Baylor might have the best shot at the Big 12 title. So no matter where Daniels goes, he should have an effect on who wins the conference.

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