Yesterday we tackled the big men and now let’s take a look at the conference guards. I don’t have time to go through the entire rosters for every Big 12 team, but I am going through the teams that I think will give Texas Tech their biggest challenge. I should mention that Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham is going to be a fantastic guard. You’ll hate watching him because he plays for OSU, but enjoy watching him play. He should be pretty special.
In comparison to the big-men, Baylor isn’t guard heavy in terms of numbers, but they are very talented.
- LJ Cryer, Fr. (6-1/185)
- Adam Flagler, R-So (6-3/180)
- Jared Butler, Jr. (6-3/195)
- MaCio Teague, R-Sr. (6-4/195)
- Davion Mitchell, R-Jr. (6-2/205)
Butler, Teague, and Mitchell are all incredibly talented, terrific defenders, and there was the hope that one of them would declare for the NBA draft, but they all returned. Mitchell and Butler are probably draftable players, but I don’t think they are first round type of talents.
The Jayhawks always run guard-heavy offenses and rely on just a few big-men to anchor the middle. This year is no different.
- Marcus Garrett, Sr. (6-5/195)
- Tyon Grant-Foster, Jr. (6-7/190)
- Christian Braun, So. (6-6/205)
- Dajuan Harris, Fr. (6-1/160)
- Latrell Josell, Fr. (5-11/155)
- Chris Teahan, Sr. (6-4/195)
- Michael Jankovich, So. (6-5/185)
- Bryce Thompson, Fr. (6-5/188)
- Ochai Agbaji, Jr. (6-5/210)
Agbaji and Quentin Grimes (who I listed with the frontcourts) are probably Kansas’ most talented players. Thompson was the #29 player in the 2020 class so as good as you think that Texas Tech’s freshmen are, Thompson is right there. I personally think that Garrett is a bit underrated and very much appreciate his game. He’s the kind of player that Chris Beard loves.
- Andrew Jones, R-Jr. (6-4/192)
- Matt Coleman, III, Sr. (6-2/180)
- Courtney Ramey, Jr. (6-3/185)
- Donovan Williams, So. (6-6/190)
- Jase Febres, Sr. (6-5/195)
Brown is listed as being a frontcourt player, but he’s the sort of do-it-all type of player that makes scouts drool. The returning experience here for Texas is right up there with Texas Tech in my opinion. Jones, Coleman, Ramey, and Febres are all nice players. They are inconsistent, but they are nice players for sure.
- Kedrian Johnson, Jr. (6-3/180)
- Spencer Macke, So. (5-11/175)
- Miles McBride, So. (6-2/200)
- Jordan McCabe, Jr. (6-0/188)
- Sean McNeil, Jr. (6-3/210)
- Taz Sherman, Sr. (6-4/190)
A lot like Baylor, West Virginia is very frontcourt-heavy, but the Mountaineers do return some veteran players. McBride is probably the best of the bunch, with McNeill and Sherman playing back-up roles last year.
- Clarence Nadolny, So. (6-3/190)
- Kyler Edwards, Jr. (6-4/195)
- Jamarius Burton, Jr. (6-4/205)
- Mac McClung, Jr. (6-2/185)
- Nimari Burnett, Fr. (6-4/195)
- Avery Benson, R-Jr. (6-4/195)
Just so that you don’t think I’m aware, Texas Tech’s freshmen are incredibly talented, Burnett was the #22 best player in the 2020 class with Micah Peavy (he was listed in the frontcourt of players for Texas Tech) not far behind at #37. What’s going to make this incredibly interesting is when we get word about McClung’s eligibility. I don’t know why it’s taking this long, but it is the NCAA and sometimes there is no rhyme or reason.
Even without McClung, this is a very solid rotation of players with veteran and incoming talent. And the saving grace, perhaps, is the eligibility of Burton, who was supposed to sit out all of this year, but he can play if he’s eligible and he’ll be a guy that does everything really well.
Gone is second leading scorer at 13 points a game, Davide Moretti, who even though he struggled shooting (only 42% from the field), he was a more than solid contributor. And also gone is Jahmi’us Ramsey who averaged 15 points a game as a true freshman.
The x-factors for me are as follows:
1. The biggest factor is McClung and if he becomes eligible. Athletically, he’s off the charts, but his shooting is a bit of a problem. That’s what offseasons are for and my guess is that McClung will improve his shooting from last year (39% from the floor and 30% from 3-point range). The athleticism is the key and at point guard, that’s something we haven’t seen in quite a while.
2. How good can Burnett be? Burnett has all of the pedigree and for me, I see a guy that is more facilitator than scorer. That’s not to say that he’s not a scorer, but he’s definitely more of a facilitator than Ramsey and I think that might really allow guys like Edwards, Burton, and McClung to flourish.
3. Can Edwards be more consistent? That was maybe Edwards biggest issue, he’d be good, then bad, and he needs to be a bit more steady. A lot like Moretti, Edwards wasn’t consistent shooting the ball, making only 40% of his shots from the floor and 32% from the 3-point line. I think it can be better. He has a nice stroke and the ability to put the ball on the floor as well. It’s his time.
4. We’re really not even talking about Shannon, who is projected to be a top 15 pick in the NBA draft next year. His size and athleticism is something that NBA teams covet. Shannon’s ability to go hard to the basket is a great commodity, but he has to be better from the outside, only 26% from the 3-point line. Shannon is technically a forward, but if he takes the jump then look the damn hell out.