Big 12 teams reloading in the offseason

Big 12 teams reloading in the offseason

For the ninth year in a row, the Big 12 Conference will have a player selected with a lottery pick in the NBA draft.

In fact, it isn't much of a stretch to assume the league can have three players chosen within the first 10 picks next Thursday night.

With as many as eight players potentially hearing their names called next week and a number of high-impact transfers leaving various programs throughout the league, it might be possible to see a bit of a dip in the overall quality of the teams. But with the amount of talent being injected into the league, as well as the players returning, the conference's coaches don't see that being much of an issue.

In addition to the talent coming back, led by West Virginia point guard Juwan Staten - the only returning player to earn first team all-Big 12 honors last season - Big 12 schools will be welcoming in seven players ranked in the top 100 prospects in the country, according to Scout.com.

Mix that in with incoming transfers like UNLV transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones at Iowa State and former Houston forward TaShawn Thomas at Oklahoma, and it looks like the Big 12 will once again be able to compete as one of the most talented conferences in all of college basketball.

"It could be very possible that, maybe, this conference will be as good as it was last year, if not even better because of the additions programs have made." said Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber.

Some teams, like West Virginia, used the offseason to try to find players to come in and fill the voids left by transfers who left the program. With Eron Harris, Terry Henderson and Remi Dibo gone, the Mountaineers turned to the junior college ranks to find guys who could fill in and bring the athleticism, toughness and perimeter shooting that they needed in Tarik Phillip, Jaysean Paige and Billydee Williams.

"All of them bring something different," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "They're all going to make an impact.

"We'll be able to bounce it and put more pressure on the defense, but at the same time we'll make some perimeter shots to kind of open that up. I'm happy with the people we were able to get."

Kansas had three high-profile departures from last year's team that lost to Stanford in the third round of the NCAA tournament in 2014. With the holes of Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Joel Embiid and Freshman of the Year Andrew Wiggins (who will likely go within the first five picks of the NBA draft) and honorable mention all-Big 12 point guard Naadir Tharpe who left the program a little more than a month ago, head coach Bill Self hit the recruiting trail and found three top-50 recruits to step in their place potentially.

Cliff Alexander, a center who is the No. 6 player in the 2014 recruiting class, and small forward and No. 7 prospect Kelly Oubre highlight that class with point guard Devonte' Graham recently being added to the group after initially committing to Appalachian State.

While some schools went with the method of picking up incoming freshmen or junior college players to try to make an impact right away, other schools turned to transfers. Schools like Iowa State and Oklahoma, who have had success in the past with transfers helping out right away, will look to players like Dejean-Jones and Thomas - if he gets a waiver to play immediately - to come in and not only contribute but also serve a big role as upperclassmen leaders on their respective teams.

A lot of the talent that has come into the conference for next season, whether it be the offseason transfers or a handful of key recruits, have been added since the end of the season. That could be part of the reason why the league believes it won't take a step back.

"There are lot of teams in the laegue have gone out and signed players in the late signing period," said Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith. "That will make a difference. I think we're as competitive now as it's been. It's hard to believe but I think it could be better than it was a year ago."

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