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Big 12 Basketball: The 5 Best Players Not Named Marcus Smart or Andrew Wiggins

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2013

Big 12 Basketball: The 5 Best Players Not Named Marcus Smart or Andrew Wiggins

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    You have heard their names all offseason long, Marcus Smart and Andrew Wiggins are prepared to take the Big 12 by storm, but what about the other players taking to the courts this season? 

    That is where this list comes in handy as we look at the five players not named Smart or Wiggins that will star in the 10-team conference. 

    There is no doubt that Smart and Wiggins will steal the headlines, but these five players will steal the attention away on a few occasions during the 2013-14 campaign.

    To keep the headlines away from Kansas and Oklahoma State for once, this list will focus on the five best players from the other eight schools in the Big 12.  

Melvin Ejim

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    Team: Iowa State

    2012-13 Stats: 11.3 points per game; 9.3 rebounds per game.

    When Melvin Ejim entered the Iowa State basketball program back in 2010, he would not have expected to be contending for his third consecutive NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament berth. 

    That is exactly what Ejim's quest will be in his senior season with the Cyclones, who have seen a recent turnaround since Fred Hoiberg became the program's head coach. 

    The 6'6" forward was named the 2013 Big 12 Scholar Athlete of the Year while earning All-Big 12 Third Team honors. 

    Ejim will certainly want to improve his All-Big 12 showing with a dominant season in the paint for the Cyclones. 

    If he can up his totals in points and rebounds per game this season, Ejim could be a surprise name on the All-Big 12 First Team at the end of the year. 

Isaiah Austin

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    Team: Baylor 

    2012-13 Stats: 13.0 points per game; 8.3 rebounds per game; 1.7 blocks per game. 

    Isaiah Austin is a player that definitely has NBA potential, but he decided to forego the NBA draft last season in favor of playing his sophomore season at Baylor. 

    At 7'1", Austin is an imposing threat in the paint who could lead Baylor to an upset or two over either Kansas or Oklahoma State in conference play. 

    The two-time Big 12 Rookie of the Week and member of the Big 12 All-Rookie Team will combine with fellow big man Cory Jefferson to pack a powerful punch down low for the Bears. 

    If the big man combination can play up to their potential, the Bears will easily cruise into third place in the league and maybe challenge for second place. 

Cory Jefferson

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    Team: Baylor

    2012-13 Stats: 13.3 points per game; 8.0 rebounds per game. 

    The other half of the Baylor frontcourt duo is Jefferson, who as a fifth-year senior will be wanting to make his final mark on the Big 12 Conference. 

    Jefferson was named to the NIT All-Tournament Team last season as Baylor went on to win the secondary postseason tournament. 

    This season, Jefferson will be a main reason why the Bears qualify for the NCAA Tournament instead of settling for the NIT. 

    At 6'9", he is smaller than Austin by a few inches, but his impact on the court could be even bigger as Jefferson turned in 10 double-doubles last season while shooting 61 percent from the field. 

Devin Williams

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    Team: West Virginia

    2012-13 Stats: No College Statistics

    West Virginia needed a boost to their lineup after the departures of Deniz Kilicli and Aaric Murray. 

    The Mountaineers have found that boost in the form of freshman Devin Williams, who at 6'9" will provide a powerful presence on the inside.

    With not much quality talent on the West Virginia roster this season, Williams will be a bright spot in an otherwise dark, cloudy season in Morgantown. 

    If the Mountaineers somehow pull off a miracle and make it to the postseason, it will be because of Williams. 

     

Javan Felix

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    Team: Texas 

    2012-13 Stats: 6.8 points per game; 5.5 assists per game. 

    Texas Longhorns basketball is in a difficult state at the moment, but Javan Felix could bring some smiles to the faces of Longhorns fans this season. 

    Felix will be the star of the team after the departures of Sheldon McClellan, Myck Kabongo and a few other stars from last season's roster. 

    With a ton of pressure on his shoulders this season, Felix is expected to rise to the occasion and deliver some strong play from the guard position.

    While Texas is nowhere close to contending for the Big 12 title, they could turn a few heads with a signature win or two thanks to the contributions of Felix. 

     

    Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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