With the '12-'13 season in the books, everybody is doing their way too early projections and rankings for next season. I'm not even going to try and put together a national top 25, but I couldn't resist a ridiculously early and wildly speculative Big 12 pre-season power rankings.
All incoming recruiting information pulled from Rivals.com
Who's Coming In: G Wayne Selden, C Joel Embiid, G Connor Frankamp, G/F Brannen Greene, PG Frank Mason
Prediction: While Kansas loses their entire starting five, they do return Ellis and Tharpe, who played big minutes off the bench and often played crunch time minutes down the stretch. Each appears to be poised for a breakout season. Bill Self also welcomes in a loaded class with four guys in the Rivals Top 100. They'll be young, but how can you possibly pick anyone else at this point for the top of this league?
2. Kansas State
Who's Coming In: G Marcus Foster, F Wesley Iwundu, G Jevon Thomas, F Neville Fincher
Prediction: Replacing McGruder will be difficult. He led KSU in scoring each of the last two years and was one of the most difficult match ups in the league. Bruce Weber does return a solid core of veterans and it will be up to Rodriquez and Southwell to lead the Wildcats to a 5th consecutive NCAA tournament. The incoming class isn't spectacular, but is made up of 3-star talents that will get a shot at earning minutes. I think KSU will be in the thick of the conference title race yet again.
Who's Coming In: F Ishmail Wainright, F Johnathan Motley, C Dominic Woodson, G Kenny Chery
Prediction: Well, if the pattern holds, Baylor should be all set for an Elite 8 run in '13-'14. Here's how their last six seasons have ended: '08 NCAA first round, '09 NIT runner up, '10 Elite 8, '11 No post season tournament, '12 Elite 8, '13 NIT champions. Scott Drew ladies and gentlemen. Tell me if this sounds familiar. On paper, Baylor might be the most talented team in the conference and they are bolstered by the addition of several 4-star recruits that are long and athletic. So what's keeping Baylor from being at the top of these rankings? Again, Scott Drew. In reality, it will be interesting to see how Baylor copes with the loss of Jackson. He did everything for them this past season and generating offense from the perimeter could be an issue.
4. Oklahoma State
Who's Gone: G Marcus Smart (most likely), C Phillip Jurick
Who's Coming In: PG Stevie Clark, G Detrick Mostella, F Jeffrey Carroll, F Leyton Hammonds, C Gary Gaskins
Prediction: The Pokes are a little tough to project. Smart, Brown and Nash have yet to announce their plans, but I think it's safe to say that Smart is gone for sure. I think Brown will stay, but he could go. Nash is a guy that should stay but will probably leave. If Brown and Nash both stay, Travis Ford has a team capable of competing for the conference title on his hands and they become the league favorites. My head tells me that Nash will leave though and that's why I'm putting OSU at #4. Incoming recruits, Stevie Clark and Detrick Mostella are 4-star guys that should play right away and bolster a strong rotation.
Who's Coming In: G Demarcus Croaker, G Kendal Yancy-Harris, G Isaiah Taylor
Prediction: It all hinges on Kabongo. If he's back, I could see Texas contending for the conference title. If he leaves, this will still be a strong team, but the ceiling is lowered considerably. My guess is that he's gone. McClellan opting to transfer was surprising news, but it just didn't seem that he and Rick Barnes ever really saw eye-to-eye. This will still be a very young team, but should be vastly improved. I still like Texas to return to the tournament even if Kabongo decides to leave.
6. Iowa State
Who's Coming In: G Matt Thomas, G Monte Morris, F Richard Amardi, G/F Dustin Hogue, F Daniel Edozie, G K.J. Bluford
Prediction: The losses are heavy, but the Cyclones are returning their starting front court, which could be the best in the Big 12. Incoming guards, Matt Thomas and Monte Morris are both 4-star, top 100 talents that will be asked to contribute from the get-go. ISU will also rely heavily on four junior college talents as well as redshirt, Sherron Dorsey-Walker. Naz Long played sparingly but should be in the mix for back court minutes as well. The always reliable Bubu Palo also figures to have a more prominent role. ISU lands at this spot because of the unknowns but they have sleeper potential written all over them.
7. West Virginia
Who's Coming In: F Elijah Macon, F Devin Williams, C Brandon Watkins, F Nathan Adrian
Prediction: It was a tough first year in the Big 12 for the Mountaineers. Transfers Aaric Murray and Juwan Staten just didn't have the impact that Bob Huggins thought they would and the entire team struggled to score consistently. Eron Harris was a pleasant surprise and looks like he could be a dangerous scorer down the road. Huggins went heavy on size with the incoming class. Elijah Macon and Devin Williams are both 4-star prospects and will play right away. This is a team that could end up surprising a lot of people.
Who's Coming In: G Jordan Woodard, G Frank Booker, F Dominique Elliot, F Keshaun Hamilton
Prediction: Another team that was senior-heavy and experiences significant losses, including the somewhat unexpected decision by M'Baye to declare for the draft. The returning back court should be strong, but that's really it for the Sooners. The incoming class really doesn't inspire much excitement either as none the OU prospects appear in any prominent national ranking lists.
9. Texas Tech
Who's Gone: G Ty Nurse
Who's Coming In: No known commitments at this point
Prediction: The Red Raiders bring in Tubby Smith to lead the rebuilding project in Lubbock. He actually inherits a young, but somewhat promising roster. Crockett and Tolbert showed flashes of potential and Josh Gray might be one of the better point guards in the conference next season. I don't see a huge leap in the standings out of this team, but they will be better.
Who's Coming In: C Karviar Shepherd, G Michael Williams, F Brandon Parrish
Prediction: TCU actually brings in a pretty solid class, but this still has the makings of a last place team. The Frogs won two conference games in their debut year in the conference. I don't expect significant progress, but with a good looking incoming class, Trent Johnson looks as if he has the program headed in the right direction.
So there it is. Think I'm a clueless assface that doesn't know what he's talking about? Well you can cram it up your cramhole, but feel free to share your thoughts and let me know where I'm wrong.