Big 12 Basketball: Power Ranking the Top 20 Players

Ryan CuriFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2013

Big 12 Basketball: Power Ranking the Top 20 Players

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    University of Kansas coach Bill Self has never finished anywhere other than atop the Big 12 standings. Oklahoma State has a chance to knock down the Jayhawks, though it won't be an easy task. Iowa State is on the rise under Fred Hoiberg, while Baylor returns a dangerous frontcourt.

    The rankings of these players are based on a Big 12 mock draft that I participated in this past Sunday evening, along with others. Your roster contains two guards, two forwards, a center and a utility, one of which must be a freshman.

    There are three fantasy statistics that players are based on: points, rebounds/blocks combined and assists/steals combined. So, while a player's fantasy value may not be the same as their overall value as a player to their team, this should offer a unique look at the players the Big 12 has to offer in 2013-14.

No. 1-4

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    1. Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State

    2. Andrew Wiggins, G, Kansas

    3. Isaiah Austin, C, Baylor

    4. Cory Jefferson, F, Baylor

    Smart could have been the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but decided to hang around college another year and improve his game. Hats off to Smart, as not many make that same choice. Wiggins is a projected one and done player, who may be the most heralded high school player since LeBron James.

    Austin is a future pro, who despite his center tag is an excellent outside shooter. Next to Austin in the Baylor frontcourt is Jefferson, who is as strong as any player in the nation. Jefferson is ready to shine as a second year starter, who previously had to sit behind the likes of Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller and Perry Jones.

No. 5-8

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    5. Georges Niang, F, Iowa State

    6. DeAndre Kane, G, Iowa State

    7. Karviar Shepherd, C, TCU

    8. Le'Bryan Nash, G-F, Oklahoma State

    Niang was an efficient player as a freshman in Ames, who shot over 51 percent from the field en route to a 12 point per game average. Kane is a pure scorer who averaged over 15 points in each of his three seasons at Marshall before joining college basketball's new hotbed of transfers.

    Shepherd will provide an inside force for a TCU team that struggled mightily a year ago in their new Big 12 home. Nash provides Smart an option on the wing, whom he can get the ball to in transition and finish above the rim.

No. 9-12

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    9. Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

    10. Jaye Crockett, F, Texas Tech

    11. Melvin Ejim, F, Iowa State

    12. Markel Brown, G, Oklahoma State

    Embiid is a 7'0" 5-star recruit from Florida, who may replace Jeff Withey as the KU center. Crockett has improved in each of his previous three seasons in Lubbock, who plays bigger than his 6'7" frame may indicate.

    Ejim, who hails from Canada, averaged over 11 points and nine rebounds as a junior for an up and coming Cyclone program. Brown is yet another option alongside Smart and Nash for the Cowboys, who would love to dethrone Kansas and their Big 12 dominance.

No. 13-16

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    13. Wayne Selden Jr., G, Kansas

    14. Jordan Tolbert, F, Texas Tech

    15. Shane Southwell, G-F, Kansas State

    16. Javan Felix, G, Texas

    Selden is yet another 5-star recruit for Bill Self's squad, coupled with Wiggins and Embiid. Physically, Selden appears as ready as any freshman. Tolbert averaged just under 10 points per game a year ago, while also pulling in 5.5 boards.

    Southwell needs to make up for the loss of Rodney McGruder on Bruce Weber's team after averaging 8.4 points as a sophomore. Felix had a decent freshman season, but will need to be better without Myck Kabongo for a struggling Longhorn program that has Rick Barnes on the hot seat.

No. 17-20

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    17. Thomas Gipson, F, Kansas State

    18. Brady Heslip, G, Baylor

    19. Perry Ellis, F, Kansas

    20. Naadir Tharpe, G, Kansas

    The 6'7", 270-pound Gipson averaged eight points and five rebounds, but was limited to under 19 minutes per game last season. Those numbers should go up with increased playing time. Heslip is a sharpshooter who struggles when putting the ball on the deck.

    Ellis' numbers weren't jaw-dropping in his freshman season, though his role should have much more value as a sophomore. Tharpe is the apparent starter at point guard, following a shaky relationship between Self and former point guard Elijah Johnson last season. Tharpe is a clutch performer.