The Baylor Bears won the NCAA Tournament in April, and the Big 12 enters the 2021-22 season as one of the most powerful conferences in college basketball. Four different teams made head-coaching changes, and the landscape of the league has definitely changed. So let’s break down the 10 coaches in Big 12 basketball by category.
Scott Drew (Baylor) and Bill Self (Kansas)
Drew joined Self as an NCAA champion coach at the end of the 2020-21 season after leading the Bears to the national championship over Gonzaga. Before that, Self was the only coach in the conference with a national crown in the Big 12 era. They’ve done it completely different ways, too. Drew took over a program in tatters from murder and scandal and rebuilt it from the studs. That near 20-year journey is one of the best stories in college basketball history. Self, the former player and assistant at Oklahoma State, took over the Jayhawks from Roy Williams and maintained the standard, winning the 2008 national crown and keeping the Jayhawks relevant on the national stage. Entering this season, Drew and Self are the standard every other coach in the league will be measured by.
The Hall-of-Famer in Waiting
Bob Huggins (West Virginia)
Huggs gets a category all his own after winning his 900th career game when the Mountaineers beat Morehead State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last March. Huggs is now one of six coaches in NCAA Division I history with at least 900 career wins. One day, he will be in the Basketball Hall of Fame. For now, he spent the offseason remaking his frontline in the hopes of getting the Mountaineers back to the Final Four.
The Homecoming King
Chris Beard, Texas
Turns out, Texas was end game for Beard, who just happens to be a Texas graduate. After leading Texas Tech to the 2019 NCAA Tournament championship game, he left after last season for Austin to remake the Longhorns. The returns of Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey solidifies the backcourt. But he’s worked the transfer portal like Van Cliburn this offseason, bringing a bushel of talent to Texas, highlighted by former Minnesota guard Marcus Carr. Beard wants immediate success. So do the Texas boosters who are still smarting from that first-round tournament loss to Abilene Christian.
The Rising Star
Mike Boynton Jr., Oklahoma State
One year of Cade Cunningham in Stillwater changed everything for Boynton and his program. The Cowboys returned to the NCAA Tournament. Cunningham’s play helped improve the rest of the players around him (who are all back, by the way). Boynton used that reputation to work the transfer portal for key pieces to make the program better this season. Plus, it all led to him getting a huge raise — $3 million per year. But, it’s more than just Cunningham. Boynton knows how to coach. He knows how to connect with recruits. And other high-majors are taking notice, in case, you know, their job opens up at some point. And he’s still the league’s youngest head coach by age as he enters his fifth season.
The Coaches Sitting on a Warm Seat
Bruce Weber, Kansas State
Jamie Dixon, TCU
Weber is coming off his second straight losing season, but at least he has a young core of players from last season that he can build around, led by Nijel Pack. The return of super-senior Mike McGuirl gives his roster added experience. He worked the transfer portal to pick up experience in targeted areas and the recruiting class is solid. Dixon, on the other hand, is working with 11 new players after his roster was decimated by the transfer portal. He basically lost his last two recruiting classes, with the notable exception of Mike Miles. Plus, center Kevin Samuel transferred and RJ Nembhard left for pro basketball. Does the extraordinary number of departures say something about Dixon or the state of college basketball’s new world? We’ll see. But both have reason to be concerned entering this season.
T.J. Otzelberger (Iowa State)
Porter Moser (Oklahoma)
Mark Adams (Texas Tech)
Otz, Moser and Adams all make their Big 12 head-coaching debuts this season. Otz, the former ISU assistant, returns to rebuild the Cyclones after a two-win season cost Steve Prohm his job. It will be a rough first season as he’s remaking the roster after a spate of transfers. But at least he kept prized recruit Tyrese Hunter in the fold. Moser is taking over for the retired Lon Kruger in Norman, and Moser took Loyola-Chicago to the Final Four a few years ago. Like Otz, he’s inheriting a roster with a lot of turnover, but nabbing the Groves brothers from Eastern Washington and Duke’s Jordan Goldwire will give him a chance for some early success. Adams, with 544 career wins and a national title at the junior college level, takes over at Texas Tech, which is where he got his undergrad degree. The return of Terrence Shannon Jr. from his NBA flirtation is a big deal. So is the transfer of Kevin Obanor. Don’t rule out Adams having more success than outsiders might expect. His experience as a junior college head coach means he knows how to build chemistry quickly. He won a national championship at Howard College in 2010.
Big 12 Basketball Preview
Impact Players: Freshmen
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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