As the NBA Playoffs are in full swing, Big 12 fans may recognize some familiar faces and be a bit surprised to see some of their production.
Desmond Bane, out of TCU, and Jevon Carter, out of West Virginia, are two players that have exceeded some’s expectations and been providing quality playoff minutes.
Carter was drafted in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft with the 32nd pick to the Memphis Grizzles. The college veteran was known for his lockdown defense, winning the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in both his junior and senior seasons, but was overlooked by many NBA teams because of his size. Carter was recorded with a 7’11” standing reach, which was one of the lowest measured at the 2018 NBA Combine, but being undersized didn’t keep him from finding his role on an NBA team.
Although he has bounced around the league, playing for the Memphis Grizzles, Phoenix Suns, and Brooklyn Nets, he seems to have found a home with the reigning NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks. After being waived by the Nets earlier this season, the Bucks signed the former West Virginia guard and found a spot for him in their rotation. Playing in 46 games for Brooklyn, Carter averaged just 12 minutes and 3.6 points a game, but in his time with Milwaukee, he has improved on the offensive end averaging 5.6 points in 17.7 minutes a game.
Jevon Carter was never known for being a flashy player, and doesn’t have to be playing alongside two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. During this years playoffs, Carter has added some valuable minutes, bringing his defensive abilities to the court to help bring depth to the Milwaukee Bucks. On the court, Carter has a 9.9 +/- and has played his role helping the Bucks reach the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
Desmond Bane was drafted as the 30th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics before immediately being traded to the Memphis Grizzles. The 6’5” guard became the first TCU player drafted in the first round since 1995. Going into the draft, Bane was known for his maturity on the court, playmaking ability, high-level shooting, and his active defensive engagement, earning All-Big 12 First Team honors his senior year.
In his first season with the Grizzles, Bane played in 68 games averaging just 9.2 points but saw a major up-tick in performance in his second year in the league. During this season, Bane has become a key part in the Memphis offense, averaging 29.8 minutes and 18.2 points a game. This production prompted fellow guard Ja Morant to gift his Most Improved Player award to Bane, who finished fifth in MIP voting.
During this year’s playoffs, Bane has helped propel the Grizzles into the Western Conference Semi-Finals, with a +/- of 10.3 while he is on the court. The guard has been averaging 36.6 minutes and 19.4 points a game in the first 2 rounds and has been a perfect fit for the Grizzles with his grit and energy. Memphis will look for Bane to help shoulder some of the load in Game 3 vs. the Warriors, with the suspension of Dillon Brooks for his flagrant foul that caused him to get ejected in Game 2. During an interview with Sports Illustrated this week, Bane made a bold statement when asked how many three-point shooters are better than him right now, saying, “Steph Curry. Other than that you’re gonna have to show me.” Although this might sound outlandish with the pedigree of shooters in the league, he is showing the world his craft shooting 45.3% from the arc in the playoffs, with 3.6 made three-point field goals a game.
With the success the Big 12 Conference has had overall, being arguably the best basketball conference in the country, it is exciting to see former players not only playing in the playoffs, but providing teams with their abilities that we got the privilege of watching during their stints in the Big 12.