Selecting the Big 12 Conference’s Top 25 returning players for the 2020-21 basketball season was a difficult task.
Today we continue our Top 25 with Nos. 6-10 as we run up to the start of the season. At some point during this series, you’re going to hate me. That’s cool. That’s part of the job. Hit me up on Twitter at @PostinsPostcard if you agree or disagree. Or both. I’m happy to reply when I can.
Before we begin, here is some context for the selections.
First, any player considered must have played in the Big 12 last season. So, if you’re looking for our Freshman, Transfer or Rising Player stories, we ran those earlier this offseason. They won’t be included here.
Second, I watched about 75 percent of last season’s Big 12 league games, attended the Big 12 Tournament in person (what there WAS of it) and watched about 25 percent of last season’s non-conference games. I won’t claim to be an expert, but I’ve done my best to see every possible returning player several times, either on TV or in person.
Third, I am not “projecting” performance for the coming season. That will probably end up being the most disagreeable thing about this Top 25. I can’t project how players have improved over the summer or how they may fit in the configuration of their respective teams this coming season. There are too many factors at play. So the rankings are based on their performance LAST season. I will, however, provide a small sentence or two about how each player COULD fit into their team’s season. But it wasn’t a consideration for the rankings.
In case you missed it, here is the link to our story on Nos. 21-25.
In case you missed it, here is the link to our story on Nos. 16-20.
In case you missed it, here is the link to our story on Nos. 11-15.
In case you missed it, here is the link to our story on Nos. 10-6.
So which players are Nos. 1-5? Let’s get started.
No. 5 — G Matt Coleman III, Texas
Coleman is Texas’ best overall player and he proved that last year in his third year as a full-time starter. He led the team in scoring (12.7 per game), assists (3.4 per game), steals (40) and minutes (33.6 per game) while adding 3.0 rebounds per game. Coleman also shot nearly 40 percent from the 3-point line. Coleman ended up as an All-Big 12 Third Team selection last year. He’s a great offensive player, but what really sticks out throughout his career is his assist-to-turnover ratio (1.79), which is the seventh-best in school history.
Entering this season: Coleman should power one of the best offenses in the Big 12 and build on his defensive performance last year, as he finished among the Top 10 players in steals in the Big 12.
No. 4 — G MaCio Teague, Baylor
Baylor knew what they were getting in Teague when he transferred to Baylor and had to sit out a year. He ended the season as a leader in the Big 12 in several different categories, including points (13.9), rebounds (4.6), and assists (1.9). Teague ended up as an All-Big 12 Second Team
and Newcomer Team selection last year. Teague missed a couple of games in Big 12 action, but his season averages remained consistent throughout the year and shot 35.5 percent from the 3-point line.
Entering this season: If not for a certain Baylor guard, he might be the conference’s No. 1 returning player. But he’ll be Baylor’s No. 2 scoring option.
No. 3 — Marcus Garrett, Kansas
Garrett has always been considered one of the best defensive players in the Big 12. But last year his offensive game grew exponentially. By the end of the season Garrett was the one handling the ball while Devon Doston moved to off-guard. Last year Garrett averaged 9.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.8 steals. He was No. 1 in the Big 12 in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7). Additionally, he was the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and an All-Big 12 Third Team selection.
Entering this season: He’s the No. 1 option for Kansas entering the season, and even if someone overcomes that, the 6-foot-5 senior is the conference’s best defender, regardless of position.
No. 2 — F Oscar Tshiebwe, West Virginia
When you consider that he played from the start as a true freshman Tshiebwe was one of the most consistent players in the Big 12 last season. Tshiebwe led the Mountaineers in both scoring (11.2) and rebounding (9.3) last season, a neat trick for a true freshman. For that effort, Tshiebwe earned All-Big 12 Second Team, All-Big 12 Freshman Team and All-Big 12 Newcomer Team honors.
Entering this season: Expect his scoring to improve, his rebounds to stay around the same and for him to assert himself as, perhaps, the league’s best player.
No. 1 — G Jared Butler, Baylor
Butler was one of the most consistent players in the Big 12 last year, and he played at a high level throughout the season. Last season he was No. 3 in the Big 12 in scoring with 16 points per game and that makes him the leading returning scorer in the conference entering next season. Butler also averaged 3.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists per game and 49 steals for the season. Buter finished last season with an All-Big 12 First Team selection.
Entering this season: Butler enters the season as a Big 12 Player of the Year and Naismith Player of the Year candidate.
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