Player of the Week
Pierre Jackson, Baylor
The extremely talented, and extremely touted Baylor basketball team opened their 2011-12 season against Abilene Christian on November 1st and came away with a convincing 81-54 win. While it was definitely expected that the Bear team pushed the lowly Wildcats around, it was a very promising debut for former Junior College All-American Pierre Jackson. While the Baylor team comes into this season stacked with superior frontcourt talent, their have been question marks as to who will step up and man the point guard position. It seems that those doubts have been put to rest for the time being with the debut of Pierre Jackson. In 23 minutes of action, the junior filled the stat sheet with 16 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. If he can continue to be a steady, all-around productive point guard for this team, there is no telling just how far they may go in March.
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
In a tune-up game for the start of the regular season, the Kansas Jayhawks thrashed Fort Hays State 101-52, behind the strong play of the 6'8" 240 pound power forward. In just 28 minutes of action, the junior accumulated 22 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocks. This is a great sign for Kansas fans. With all of the offseason drama surrounding the team involving Tyshawn Taylor and company, the team needs their most talented player to step up if they have any shot at bringing home an eighth-consecutive Big 12 title. Thomas Robinson did just that, showing the rest of the Big 12 the potential nightmare they must account for in the low block when they are playing against the Jayhawks. Expect a huge season coming from the junior big-man.
Thomas Gipson, Kansas State- 14 points, 7/11 FG, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
Ricardo Ratliffe, Missouri - 21 points, 10/16 FG, 9 rebounds, 2 steals
Rodney McGruder, Kansas State
The 6'4" junior shooting guard is expected to be the leader on a young Kansas State team this season. He has the potential to dominate games but has a tendency to disappear at times and let his teammates shoulder the load. In their exhibition game against Fort Hays State, he started the season on a sour note. He only registered 6 points for the Wildcats, while struggling from the field, shooting 2/8 FG and 2/5 3PT attempts. He did have 5 rebounds, showing the versatility he is capable of on a nightly basis. He needs to be more assertive for the Kansas State team if they are going to finish in the upper-half of the Big 12 this season.
Top 5: Freshman Debuts
1. Myck Kabongo, Texas
The speedy floor general has the potential to have a huge impact this season in Austin, and he will need to with the decimated Texas roster. He is a McDonald's All-American and projected future NBA draft selection who will have a lot of pressure on him to perform this season.
2. Quincy Miller, Baylor
The 6'9" small forward has all the tools to become an NBA star, but he is still in the process of putting the gifts together. He will be displaying his talents for a Baylor team that is already loaded, so he doesn't have the pressure that Myck Kabongo does. Expect a standout season for him, in what may be his only season in a Baylor uniform.
3. LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State
The best prospect to sign with Oklahoma State in years, the athletically gifted 6'7" combo forward will be filling up the stat sheet for the Cowboys all season long. He will do most of his damage scoring and rebounding the basketball, but he is also a standout defensive player who will take on anyone who challenges him.
4. Thomas Gipson, Kansas State
An extremely underrated prospect coming out of high school, Frank Martin and the Wildcats got an absolute steal with Gipson. He is a hulking power forward, who makes up for in production what he lacks in size (6'7"). The 275 pounder is already putting up numbers for K-State and could be another power forward who was overlooked because he lacked a few extra inches, a la Paul Millsap at Louisiana Tech.
5. Deuce Bello, Baylor
As I've already told you in my Big 12 Preview, the ultra-athletic Deuce Bello is one of the best athletes to come out of the prep ranks since NBA player Bill Walker played with O.J. Mayo at North College Hill High School (OH). Though he will have many highlight-reel dunks this year, don't count him out as a valuable contributor off the bench for the Baylor Bears.
The college basketball season is finally starting today, and it is a great way to start the holiday season if you are a fan. With the NBA Lockout still in place, the college game will be front-and-center for the time being. Though the Big 12 is projected to have a down year in comparison to past seasons, don't count them out of having six possible teams that are dancing when the brackets are released in March. Baylor and Missouri look to lead the conference in its first year without Colorado and Nebraska, and as usual, Kansas will still be a competitive team, regardless of personnel. Happy College Hoops season everyone...enjoy!