Big 12 Conference Players to Watch

Scott McGrathCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 11:  Forward Craig Brackins #21 of the Iowa State Cyclones takes a shot against Marshall Moses #33 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship at the Ford Center March 11, 2009 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The fifth installment of the players to watch segment, this time featuring the Big 12 Conference.


Cole Aldrich—Kansas

Aldrich is the starting center for the No. 1 team in the nation, the Kansas Jayhawks.

The Big 12 has a plethora of young talent, and Aldrich adds to that as he, and the rest of all the other players mentioned, are juniors.

With Blake Griffin gone, Aldrich is the leading rebounder from the Big 12 last season. He averages 12 points a game, and is 0.4 rebounds a game away from averaging a double double.

However, even with such a close number, he has only three double-doubles this season, as his scoring tends to come when his rebounding is down, and vice versa.  Against Alcorn State, Aldrich had his most impressive game with 13 points and 16 rebounds.

Aldrich has also been a huge contributor in bigger games against tougher teams. When playing UCLA, Aldrich had seven points and 12 rebounds, and had 18 points and 11 rebounds in an extremely tight game against rivals Memphis.

Aldrich enters the season with tons of hype surrounding him and teammate Sherron Collins, especially since Kansas is ranked No. 1 in the nation. Look for Aldrich to contribute greatly to this Kansas team, especially defensively where he is averaging 3.6 blocks a game, a stat he led all Big 12 players in last season.


John Roberson—Texas Tech

As a junior, Roberson is one of the best players in the Big 12 conference, who does not get as much press as he deserves. Texas Tech is undefeated so far this season, and it is largely due to Roberson's play. 

Roberson led the Big 12 last season in assists, and is almost averaging six assists a game so far this season. He put on a show in his last game against Tulsa, scoring 21 points and dishing 10 assists, which is his lone double-double of the season.

Against a difficult Washington team, Roberson had 25 points and seven assists, and what makes him so difficult to cover is that he is a dual threat to pass or to score.

Texas Tech has a very solid squad this season, and could make some noise in the Big 12 over teams like Texas and Kansas, so be prepared to start hearing about Roberson even more.


James Anderson—Oklahoma State University

Anderson is only a junior, but he is the leader of this Cowboys team. They will be competitive in the Big 12 this year, behind the play of Anderson, who has an unbelievable knack for scoring.

As a sophomore, he was one of the best scorers in the Big 12, and expect nothing different from him this season. Hopefully, he will remain at Oklahoma State for his senior season just to see him play more, but he is averaging 21 points and seven rebounds so far this season.

Conference play has not started, so Oklahoma State has not faced some of their tougher opponents yet, however, Anderson dropped 30 points on Southern University. 

He scored 26 points on Utah—a more difficult opponent. He has scored in double digits in every game this season, and is an extremely consistent scorer.

Look for Anderson to continue to develop throughout the season, and lead the Oklahoma State Cowboys to a successful Big 12 conference run, where they could challenge some of the top teams.


Craig Brackins—Iowa State

Iowa State certainly may get overlooked frequently in the talented Big 12 conference, but they have one of the best players in Craig Brackins.

With a Dirk Nowitzki-like style of play, Brackins is a 6'10'' forward, who finds success from three point range, as well as in the post.

After leading all scorers in the Big 12 in conference play last season (surprising given that he is not mentioned by many, though he outscored Blake Griffin and Sherron Collins), Brackins has picked up right where he left off this year.

He is only a junior, so he will be around again next season, but he is averaging 18 points and seven rebounds a game.

In 10 games, he has scored in single digits only once (in a game where he played fewer minutes than he averages), but has dropped 28 points on Mississippi Valley State (where has also had a double-double) and on in-state rival Iowa, both of which the Cyclones won. 

Iowa State has not played many "big name" teams yet this season, but against California and Northwestern, Brackins scored 21 and 18 points respectively.

Brackins has started the season strong, and has already had two double-doubles. Keep an eye on Brackins throughout the season, even though Iowa State may not fair too well in conference play.