Credit: Baylor Athletics

Big 12 Preview: Draft Prospects

Highlighting the top draft prospects in the Big 12 conference heading into the regular season

It is a new year in college basketball and that means a new slate for returning players and hype for many freshman just starting out. Last years draft class was viewed as top heavy with a drastic drop off after the top three prospects, but this season it is not so cut and dry. There is always somewhat of a drop off after the first few picks depending on who you ask, but there is a not a solidified number one pick heading into the season like there was with RJ Barrett in 2018-2019. Obviously that notion proved to be false with the emergence of Zion Williamson and Ja Morant who ended up going ahead of Barrett in the draft. With that said, NBA teams already know who is on their radar and we will be highlighting those players in each conference as we are about to see meaningful college basketball games very soon.

Baylor

Tristan Clark

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’10” 245

Position: Power Forward

Clark was one of the best big men in college basketball last season before going down with a season ending knee injury. It is yet to be seen how well he return after rehabbing the knee and we will most likely not know for sure until the mid way point of season. Despite that fact that he will need time to return to form Clark enters the season considered a potential first team All Big 12 player. Scouts will want to see him spread the floor more often this season with mid rang jump shots and the occasional three pointer. He runs the floor well and has a high motor which should put him as one of the best rebounders in the conference and the country as a whole.

Jared Butler

Class: Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6’3″ 190

Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

Butler really came into his own last season scoring the ball becoming a promising scorer in his first year at Baylor. Not the most athletic player, Butler can shoot the long ball fairly well which he uses effectively, however the most impressive part of his game is the way he is his overall feel for the game. With pick and roll situations being the main catalysts to get separation in much of the basketball world, the ability to know when to pull up, drive to the basket, or facilitate is as important than possibly ever before and Butler can do all three at a high level. He could be one of the breakout stars in college basketball if his numbers go up with the same level of efficiency, so he is definitely a name to keep an eye on this season.

Iowa State

Tyrese Haliburton

Class: Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6’5″ 175

Position: Point Guard

Haliburton did not arrive on campus with much fanfare or even any rankings by the recruiting services, but he showed in his freshman season that he is a legitimate NBA prospect going forward. This year is going to be big to see whether or not he could score at a high enough level to boost his stock after a freshman year being in a loaded back court at Iowa State. That back court has been decimated by graduation and players leaving for the NBA so he will should have more than enough opportunities to make a big impact on the offensive end of the floor. At 6’5″ with good length and athleticism he has the physical tools to play on the professional level, and his efficiency last season suggests that with more usage he is going to be a force this season. On the defensive side of the floor is also an area where he can shine after averaging 1.5 steals as a freshman. Haliburton is a dark horse candidate to play his way into being in first round considerations, and the he has one of the higher ceilings of any player not believed to be a lock to go in the lottery.

Kansas

Devon Dotson

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’2″ 185

Position: Point Guard

Lets just get the easy part out of the way, Dotson is fast and quick, really fast and quick. He can get up and down the floor at a speed that most players cannot hang with leading to endless opportunities on the fast break if he gets the ball in his hands. At 6’2″ he is actually bigger than meets the eye and he shot the ball well in his freshman year which was not necessarily considered a strength when he arrived in Lawrence. His freshman year was impressive enough to earn an invite to the combine, and after receiving feedback he decided to play another season in college and try to lock up a first round selection. He can get to the basket off of the dribble as well as a create a jumper with ease and although his 3.5 assists per game last season was not bad, teams will want to see him distribute the ball more effectively. With that said he did not play with great shooters last year so if Kansas shoots better as a team than the numbers will go up.

Tristan Enaruna

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’8″ 200

Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Enaruna is long and athletic wing that fits the mold of the modern day player that can guard multiple positions and score in multiple different ways. He handles the ball well and runs the floor with guard skills, while he has the size to be able to get inside and score around the basket. Throw in a solid vertical leap and you have a freshman with the potential to leave after one season and get draft, especially at a school like Kansas where he will get as much exposure as anywhere in the country. He has the physical tools to be a lock down defender although he needs to add some weight before he heads to the next level whenever that is. If he shoots the ball effectively from the outside he should not only be an impact player in college but it could be a short stay in Kansas.

Jalen Wilson

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’8″ 215

Position: Small Forward

Wilson joins Enaruna as a freshman wing that could make a big impact at Kansas with a versatile skill set. At the high school level he was able to use a blend of athleticism and strength to score both inside and outside giving Kansas a potential power forward in a small ball lineup. He is billed as a solid shooter which will be needed this season and he should get plenty of open looks with the amount of talent on the floor for the Jayhawks. His quickness and end to end speed are the biggest questions as far as his game translating to the next level, so that will be a point of emphasis to improve in that area and allow him to defend both small forwards and power forwards.

Silvio De Sousa

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’9″ 245

Position: Power Forward/Center

De Sousa sat out all of last season after playing in 20 games as a sophomore due to his guardian accepting money that was claimed to have help him graduate high school early. He is an athletic big that runs the floor very well leading to alley oops and put back dunks in fast break situations. Getting De Sousa back is big for the team to add an athletic high motor player on the inside that brings a good contrast to Udoka Azubuike. He won’t give a team much production outside of the paint but he can score and rebound on the inside at a high level. His shot blocking numbers were not great as a freshman and with his athletic ability he needs to protect the rim at a high level to impact the game on the defensive end of the floor.

Ochai Agbaji

Class: Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6’5″ 210

Position: Shooting Guard

Agbaji came to Kansas without much hype on the recruiting circuit and the plan was for him to redshirt in his first season on the roster, but that changed once the Jayhawks clearly needed help on the wing. Once he got on the court he made an immediate impact bringing defense and scoring using his athleticism to put up some impressive highlight plays. He cooled down later in the season after some were projecting he might leave after his freshman year, but his return leaves him as a potential first round pick in 2020. Athletically he is at the top end of college players, and his shot has been better than expected which was the biggest surprise in his game. As his overall production went down so did his shooting so he will need to be more efficient shooting the basketball and if he does then his stock could end up being in consideration of a lottery pick.

Udoka Azubuike

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 7’0″ 270

Position: Center

Azubuike has been a consistent force on the inside for the Jayhawks over his first two seasons in college before seeing his junior year cut short due to a wrist injury. Similar to De Sousa he will not give you much production inside of the paint, but he can be a menace on the inside scoring and pulling down rebounds. He can score with his back to the basket, although it can look awkward at times, however he has been effective when posted up on the block. At 7’0″ and 270 pounds there are not many players that can match the strength of Azubuike and he is a better athlete than most fans think at first glance. Coming off of the injury conditioning is going to be a point of emphasis and it may take a portion of the season before he is able to play a high number of minutes. On the defensive side of the floor he can impact the game blocking shots and with few players able to move him inside he is able to get good position blocking out. Despite being a preseason All Big 12 selection he currently has the lowest stock of the Kansas stars but if he shows some more versatility it will go a long way to helping improve that stock.

Kansas State

Xavier Sneed

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’5″ 215

Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Sneed is one of those players who has seemingly been around for more than three years but he enters his final season at Kansas State. When you watch him play it often does not line up with the production on paper because he has the athleticism and play making ability that scouts look for. If you dig deeper he actually has been efficient but he just simply has not taken very much shots. When you consider that fact he is an interesting prospect who could put up much better numbers with an increased offensive role this season. He can lock down opposing players on the wing, and with his limited offensive production he will need to show teams that he could be a candidate to play in a three and d type of role at the next level.

Oklahoma

Brady Manek

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’9″ 231

Position: Power Forward

Manek came to Oklahoma as the high school teammate and running mate of Trae Young, and that continued through his freshman season where he knocked down plenty of shots after being set up for an open look by Young. With Young gone to the NBA he improved his production in his sophomore season with a slight decrease in his efficiency. At 6’9″ with the ability to make outside shots at the rate that he has puts him in the mold of a stretch four that is very popular among NBA teams in the current climate. He averaged 5.9 rebounds per game last season so he can pull down boards but that number could be higher this season. The biggest question mark for Manek at this point is his ability to defend with smaller wings and bigger interior players giving him trouble at times.

Oklahoma State

Cameron McGriff

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’7″ 230

Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

McGriff has the size, skill and athleticism necessary to play at the next level but previous to last season he had just not put it all together on the court. Last season he averaged 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in 33.8 minutes per game although he was not nearly as efficient. If he can put up similar production while shooting the ball at a better clip then he should be considered a potential draft pick following the season. His free throw shooting suggests that last season was just a down year shooting wise and his mechanics are solid so theoretically that should be the case. Ultimately if he can guard multiple positions, rebound like he did last season, and get back to his previous efficiency he is a dark horse Big 12 Player of the Year candidate.

Marcus Watson

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’6″ 215

Position: Shooting Guard

Watson is a high flying athletic guard who can make a move and get to the basket at will before throwing down a monster dunk giving him some compelling highlight videos. His outside shot is the biggest weakness in his game, but he has shown the ability to knock those down at times. He is on the list because of his high ceiling on the court, however he has been in the news for his alleged behavior off of the court. Watson was suspended from the team after a protective order was served when a female student went to police about his behavior on campus. This is obviously going to impact his stock going forward depending on the outcome of an investigation, and in the meantime he will be on the sidelines.

Lindy Waters III

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’6″ 215

Position: Shooting Guard

Much like Mcgriff when you watch Waters III play his ability to make plays as well as his athleticism jump out at you as high level but he just had not put it together production wise. Last season he averaged 12.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.8 in 33.8 minutes per game for his first double digit scoring season. He has a top level vertical leap and a strong ability to shoot the basketball, proving that in his junior season where knocked down three point attempts at 44.8%. With an increase in production and similar efficiency he will be making a statement that he should get a hard look by teams at the next level.

TCU

Desmond Bane

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’6″ 215

Position: Shooting Guard

Bane was one of this sites favorite players to watch last season with his high motor and play making as a ball handler. He can pull up for a jumper, spot up from three, and penetrate to the basket before finishing. He has improved every season production wise while maintaining a high level of efficiency despite seeing in an increase in usage. His three seasons from behind the arc are 38% as a freshman, 46.1% as a sophomore, and 42.5% as a junior which are impressive numbers. Add in the fact that he is one of the best players in the country as slashing to the basket and his size at 6’6″ equaling a legitimate NBA prospect at the shooting guard position.

PJ Fuller

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’4″ 175

Position: Shooting Guard

Some players step onto the floor with a mean streak in their game and Fuller is definitely one of those. While many analysts see him as a multiple year player in college he has the tools to make an immediate impact as a freshman. He will immediately be one of the better athletes on the floor and is always a threat to throw down a highlight dunk, while his ball handling is one of the strengths in his game. If his outside shot is falling opposing guards have a tough time keeping him in front with his crossover and pull up jumper, or if he chooses to go by a defender off of the dribble. He played at Findlay where he faced plenty of tough competition that should help him transition to the college level.

Texas

Kai Jones

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’11’ 212

Position: Power Forward/Center

Last year saw the improbable jump of Jaxson Hayes from mainly unheralded four star recruit to a top ten selection, and Jones hopes to be the next in line for that route at Texas. Similar to Hayes is a pogo stick big man that can run the floor, has an elite vertical leap, and a knack for blocking shots on the defensive side of the floor. What he also brings to the table is a legitimate mid range jumper with the ability to occasional knock down an outside three point shot. Jones will mainly be asked to score inside, catch lobs and block shots but his versatility will have also have him on the NBA if he plays well as a freshman.

Donovan Williams

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’6″ 180

Position: Shooting Guard

Williams is another Texas recruit that is not considered in the top tier by the recruiting analysts that make that call, but he has the game to show that that vastly underrated him coming out of high school. A dominant scorer on the high school and AAU level, at 6’6″ he can play either guard position although he will largely be playing off of the ball in college. His feel for the game is impressive for his age when deciding whether to drive to the basket or pull up off of the dribble, and he can do either of them at a high level. The main point of emphasis for him going forward will be how efficient he is able to shoot the ball, and his performance defending on the wing.

Texas Tech

Jahmi’us Ramsey

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’4″ 195

Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

A player like Ramsey would traditionally not have been heading to Lubbock but times have changed with the recent success of the Red Raiders. He is a pure scorer that can be a lead ball handler as well as play off of the ball, with shooting guard being his natural position. Slashing to the basket was a strong part of his game at the AAU and high school level, while he has shown the ability to pull up and knock down a long range jump shot as well. With his size at 6’4″ his stock would definitely be raised if he spends time playing point guard or at the very least bringing the ball in situations and running the offense from there. 2019 top ten pick Jarrett Culver played a role that saw him bringing the ball up and handling point guard duties at times and we expect Ramsey to play a similar role this season.

Terrence Shannon Jr. 

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’6″ 210

Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Shannon Jr. is the often overlooked freshman in the class of 2019 for Tech, but that might not be the case once the regular season has started. Most colleges were not recruiting him seriously before the AAU season after his junior year of high school, but he put on a show that spring and summer leading to looks from big time schools. He is long, athletic, and a has a killer mentality on the court throwing down some of the angriest dunks you will see on the high school level. His ball handling ability allows him to get separation and open looks, he just needs to prove that he can knock down those shots with efficiency. As a defender is where he can shine and should be a force if he soaks up the knowledge that Chris Beard has in developing players on the defensive side of the floor.

Davide Moretti

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’3″ 180

Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

Moretti is not a player that will be showing out with highlight dunks but he is a solid player that had a big role for a team that made the national championship game last season. As a shooter he was deadly from the outside at 45.9% on three point attempts as a sophomore, mainly spotting up but occasionally creating a shot. He is not very quick but he is crafty using angles to get by a defender and score around the basket. Many people can score, however what adds intrigue to his overall game is that he showed last year that he can pass at a high level, especially in the fast break. As far as his professional future he will need to prove to scouts that he can defend more athletic players which is tough when you lack athleticism.

Chris Clarke

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’6″ 220

Position: Small Forward/Power Forward

Clarke comes to Texas Tech after playing his first three seasons at Virginia Tech being apart of the schools most successful run in their history. His athleticism is in the upper echelon of college basketball, while his offensive game is a still a work in progress. He has been working on expanding his game out to the three point line, something he showed last season going 14 for 33 (42.4%). Virginia Tech liked to use him at the top of the free throw line posting opposing players up before making a move towards the basket so he was somewhat limited within the offense. What has him on the NBA radar is his ability to defend just about any position on the floor from guards on the perimeter to big men on the inside.

West Virginia

Derek Culver 

Class: Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6’10 255

Position: Power Forward/Center

Culver was a powerful force on the inside for a West Virginia team that under performed last season. His offensive game mainly consists of using his size and strength to get rebounds and put backs. While that is a limited skill set he did it very well averaging 11.5 points and 9.9 rebounds in 27 minutes per game as a freshman. He can improve on his rim protection this season and he will need to do that if he wants to have a chance of becoming a draft pick in the next year or two, and it would help to improve his mid range game as well.

Oscar Tshiebwe

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’9″ 258

Position: Power Forward/Center

Tshibwe was a five star recruit and McDonald’s All American bringing a ton of hype with him to Morgantown. While most fans have seen his thunderous dunks on YouTube and Twitter, he actually has a versatile offensive skill set that has some analysts projecting him as a future first round pick. Scoring inside was his bread and butter against smaller defenders, while he did step out and knock down open three shots as well. He should be a high level shot blocker on the college level and with his strength there should be no issues with competing for the ball on the inside. It is doubtful that his ball handling will be used much at West Virginia, however he did grab a rebound and take it coast to coast in high school and AAU which is always a nice skill to have for a big man.

 

 

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