Big 12 Basketball: Predicting the 2012-13 Big 12 Stats Leaders
The Big 12 is going to be a tough race in 2012-13.
Rather than simply being a few dominant teams, watch for a battle from top to bottom in the conference.
Just because Kansas made it to last year's NCAA Title game doesn't mean that they are going to rule the league this year.
Here are predictions for the Big 12 stats leaders in eight different categories.
Field-Goal Percentage: Jeff Withey (Kansas)
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Jeff Withey may not be the top scorer in the league but there's a real good chance that he will be the Big 12 player with the best shooting percentage from the floor.
Withey has shot 55 percent on his FG attempts in his first three years in Lawrence.
Last year, in his first season as a starter, he made 113-of-211 (53.6 percent).
Bill Self will look to Withey to further develop his offensive game as the Jayhawks attempt to win their ninth consecutive regular-season conference title.
Free-Throw Percentage: Steven Pledger (Oklahoma)
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Oklahoma's rising senior wing Steve Pledger keeps getting better every year.
He led the Sooners in scoring last year (16.2 ppg) and one of the places he does his best work is from the free-throw line.
In his first three years in Norman, Pledger has knocked down 84.2 percent of his freebies.This past season was his lowest season from the foul line (83.3 percent)
This could be a very big year for the Sooners and the 6'4" 222-pound guard from Chesapeake, Va.
3-Point Shooting Percentage: Brady Heslip
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Brady Heslip had a very defined role on last year's Baylor basketball team: shoot the three.
He will have a similar role when the Bears take the court again this fall.
In his first season in Waco, Heslip was a valuable part to a squad that ended up going 30-8 and advancing to the Elite Eight.
In the four tournament games, he hit 16-of-27 threes (59.2 percent), with a career best nine three-pointers against Colorado in the round of 32.
On the entire season, the Burlington, Ontario native knocked down 45.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Steals: Pierre Jackson (Baylor)
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Pierre Jackson is a pest, and his Baylor coach, Scott Drew is glad.
He is constantly putting pressure on the Bears' opponents, playing in-your-jock defense from baseline to baseline.
Jackson was No. 2 in steals last year in the Big 12 (68) and he will most likely duplicate or improve on that in 2012-13.
Blocked Shots: Jeff Withey (Kansas)
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Jeff Withey established himself last year as one of the best low-post defenders in college basketball.
He was selected as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Nationally, Withey only trailed Anthony Davis in blocks with 140 (3.6 bpg).
During the 2012 NCAA Tournament, the 7'0" center from San Diego rejected 31 shots in six games.
With the departure of Jayhawk stud PF Thomas Robinson, he will need to step up his game as a senior leader for KU.
The good news for Bill Self is that Withey is up to the challenge.
Assists: Sam Grooms (Oklahoma)
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Sam Grooms is a classic pass-first point guard.
Even though he can knock down shots when asked to, Grooms is at his best when he is running the show and setting up his teammates to score.
After a super, two-year juco career, he dished out 185 assists (second in the conference) against 65 turnovers for a Big 12-best 2.8 assists-to-turnover ratio.
The powerfully built (6'1", 205 lbs) floor leader looks to help the Sooners get back into the conference race in 2012-13.
Rebounds: Romero Osby (Oklahoma)
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You may not know Romero Osby yet, but the 6'8", 240-pound rising senior is ready to take the Big 12 by storm in 2012-13.
Last year, the Mississippi State-transfer was the No. 5 rebounder (7.9 rpg) in the conference, behind the likes of Thomas Robinson, Royce White, Perry Jones III and Ricardo Ratliffe. Not bad company to be keeping, right?
As a senior, look for Osby to be a double-double threat every time he steps on the court.
Points: Rodney McGruder (Kansas State)
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Rodney McGruder is a baller.
His no-nonsense approach to the game has helped him score over 1,000 points in his first three seasons in the Little Apple.
The 6'4", 205-pound Washington D.C. native led the Wildcats in scoring in 2011-12 with a 15.8 ppg average.
McGruder will be a big part of Bruce Weber's first year surge towards challenging for the Big 12 title.