Big 12 Basketball Storylines, Part Two

Part two of our Media Day look in focuses on a Jacob Pullen-less Kansas State and star newcomers at Oklahoma State and Iowa State.

6) How is life without Jacob Pullen for Kansas State? The Wildcats were one of the Big 12's top teams over the last half of last season, in large part because Pullen, then a senior guard, strapped the Wildcats to his back and pulled them along for the ride. Now, we'll find out more about players like Will Spradling and Rodney McGruder. Are they legitimate Big 12 type players, or were they simply complementary pieces? Losing Curtis Kelly also hurts, but the 'Cats could be helped by a breakout season from Jamar Samuels.


7) How far can the Cowboys ride the Big 12's top freshman? Texas guard Myck Kabongo and Baylor's Quincy Miller can make an argument here, but LeBryan Nash, a silky 6-foot-7 scoring wing out of Dallas, was selected not just as the Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year, but also as an Honorable Mention All-Big 12 choice. The Cowboys are still trying to add pieces to surround him with, but Nash will be a tough matchup for every opponent on the Cowboys' schedule.


8) Is eighth high enough for Iowa State? All last season, the tales out of Ames were two-fold. First, that the team on the court was struggling. And second, that among the teams to beat the Cyclones, the one that defeated them most often was the Cyclone second team, one made up largely of players sitting out the season due to transfers. Those players, now eligible to play, include preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Royce White (Minnesota), a big-time talent down low, and guards like Chris Allen (Michigan State) and shooter Chris Babb (Penn State). Sprinkle in some toughness from returnees like Melvin Ejim, and the Cyclones should be tough this season, if they can blend together.


9) Can Oklahoma start to put the pieces together? As a team, the Sooners lack Big 12-caliber depth, though some players, specifically Carl Blair Jr., Steven Pledger, Cameron Clark and Andrew Fitzgerald, have shown the talent to succeed at times. Adding another big man in talented Mississippi State transfer Romero Osby helps significantly, though Osby is another player who has yet to meet his potential. If a couple players out of that group can emerge as go-to players, this is a team that could play above expectations. But if they continue at their current rate, the Sooners will continue to struggle.


10) How warm of a welcome does Billy Gillispie get in Lubbock? On one hand, he deserves plenty of credit for rehabilitating the Texas A&M program. On the other, he's still pretty fresh off losing at Kentucky, and he'll field a team that should be the Big 12's worst this season. How bad will it be? Well, Texas Tech signed a whopping 10-man recruiting class, including three JUCO transfers. Out of the high-schoolers, only four were ranked and none were considered above a two-star by Scout.com. That sets up for a long season while Gillispie tries to find a few working parts that he can try to build with.


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