So, how many Big 12 senior basketball players will use the extra year of eligibility provided by the NCAA?
The NCAA gave all student-athletes an extra year of eligibility, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The language from the NCAA reads, ‘Winter sport student-athletes who compete during 2020-21 in Division I will receive both an additional season of competition and an additional year in which to complete it.’
It’s available to every player on campus now that plays in a winter sport, including basketball. But we’re going to focus on this year’s seniors. Why? Because they’re the ones that face a decision shortly after the season ends, to either come back for one more season or to head off to the NBA, the G League or to real life. And their coaches need to know in order to calibrate how many remaining scholarships they have to offer this spring.
Some will take their talents elsewhere. Others will choose to stay for one more year, for various reasons. Below is the one senior from each program that I believe has the most reason to return for one more run in 2021-22.
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G Mark Vital, Baylor
If you see Vital play one time you gravitate toward it instantly. He’s the ‘dirty work’ guard for the deepest set of guards in the country. He’s likely not a draftable commodity because he’s not a quality outside shooter, and he certainly wouldn’t draw NBA Draft interest in a stacked class. The Bears are likely to lose Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague to the draft. Vital should stick around another year and partner with Adam Flagler, the younger guards and provide leadership to a program that isn’t going anywhere when it comes to the national stage. Teague is also a senior, but I believe he’ll head for the pros.“
F Solomon Young, Iowa State
Young has been in Ames for a long time. He’s a redshirt senior, and there’s nothing in the NCAA language that would bar Young from returning despite being a redshirt senior. So, why not one more go-around? He is unlikely to draw interest from the NBA and the Cyclones don’t have interior options behind him right now. Xavier Foster, now out for the season, needs a mentor. So might any big man that head coach Steve Prohm can recruit for next season. Young gives the Cyclones muscle and leadership. Those are hard commodities to find these days. Jalen Coleman-Lands is also listed as a senior, but having finished his degree, it makes him more likely to head for the pros and start a career somewhere. Keep an eye on him, though — he’s working on a master’s degree, and that extra year of scholarship could come in handy.
G Marcus Garrett, Kansas
Garrett is the best defensive guards in the country is not a lock to be drafted in 2021. I mean, Devon Dotson had a better overall offensive game and went undrafted in November. That’s the one area Garrett needs improvement in — his offense. Why not stick another year in Lawrence, improve your shot and give the Jayhawks the defense and leadership it needs as the Jayhawks work through some issues? Mitch Lightfoot is a redshirt senior and, theoretically, he could return, too. Little-used Chris Teahan is also a senior.
G Mike McGuirl, Kansas State
I’ve been hard on McGuirl’s development in the past. But he’s been on the best parts of the Wildcats this year. He’s putting up the best offensive numbers of his career and giving that young roster great leadership. His name isn’t rolling off the tongues of NBA scouting directors. I’m not sure one more year in Manhattan does that for him. But it would do wonders for this young roster to have their senior leader around for one more season.
F Kur Kuath, Oklahoma
The Sooners have a glut of seniors (Brady Manek, Austin Reaves, Alondes Williams and Read Streller), but Kuath has the most reason to stick around another year. He has the length NBA scouts are looking for. But his game isn’t there yet. Head coach Lon Kruger has a great track record for developing prospective NBA talent, in part because he once coached in the league. If I’m Kuath, and that’s my aspiration, staying in Norman one more season makes too much sense to pass up.
G Bryce Williams, Oklahoma State
We all know that Cade Cunningham is out the door after this season. But junior guard Isaac Likekele may head for the NBA, too. Williams is poised to be the guard that benefits from that the most, should he choose to stick around one more year. The other senior is Ferron Flavors Jr, a grad student who transferred last year. He’s not considered an NBA prospect, but if he’s still working on his master’s degree I could see him sticking around another season. But Williams would get much more run.
G Owen Aschieris, TCU
The little-used guard could come back for another year, if he wishes. But it will have no impact on what the Horned Frogs are building right now. He’s on this list because he’s the only senior on the Horned Frogs’ roster.
G Jase Febres, Texas
This has been a lost season for Febres, who missed the first two months with an injury and just returned to the lineup. In front of him are Matt Coleman III, Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey. Coleman is a senior, but he is likely to head for the pros. Ramey might follow, even though he’s a junior. Forward Jericho Sims, forward Royce Hamm Jr., guard Drayton Whiteside and forward Blake Nevins are also seniors. Sims might return, but he could also take a shot at the pros. Given the depth at guard that could be out the door, that should mean more playing time for Febres next season, if he sticks around.
F Marcos Santos-Silva, Texas Tech
Santos-Silva is the only senior on the roster. The Virginia Commonwealth transfer has bolstered the interior for the Red Raiders this season, and I’m sure head coach Chris Beard would welcome him back next season. The good news is Santos-Silva’s playing time doesn’t cut into the development time for Tyreek Smith.
G Taz Sherman, West Virginia
Sherman has been a revelation off the bench this season. He has the kind of game that could make him attractive to NBA scouts, but he’s coming to the party a little late. The good news is that by sticking around in Morgantown one more year, he can show scouts he’s more than just a great player off the bench, as I think there’s a slim chance Miles McBride might take a shot at the pros after this season. F Gabe Osabuohein is also listed as a senior, and could certainly return. But I think there’s a bit more incentive for Sherman.
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