Apr 19, 2013, 9:13 PM EDT
That’ll be a fun matchup to watch when conference play starts next year.
Kansas for nine straight years has either won or at least shared the Big 12 regular season title. The Jayhawks have constantly reloaded and continued its success for a decade until Bill Self, but Self can see down the going into next season, the Oklahoma State Cowboys could knock Kansas off its place at the top of the Big 12.
“I don’t know who everybody returns, but based on their roster, no question Oklahoma State would have the best roster returning,” Self told Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal World at a fundraiser on Thursday.
Earlier this week, freshman guard Marcus Smart — a projected top-5 pick — would return to OSU for a sophomore season, making the Cowboys not only a strong contender, but the favorite in the Big 12.
“They’ll be preseason top-5, -10 team for sure,” Self added. “It’ll be good for our league, not a bad thing at all for our league. No question going into the summer they have the best roster. There’s also some schools not finished recruiting yet. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Smart returns along with LeBryan Nash, Markel Brown and Phil Forte, the team’s top four scorers, all of which averaged double figures in 2012-2013.
While OSU brings back some familiar faces, Kansas reloads with a five-person class that Rivals considered second best only to Kentucky’s heralded 2013 incoming group. Kansas’ class is headlined by guards Conner Frankamp and Wayne Selden, along with small forward Brannen Green and center Joel Embiid. The class could also get better if KU lands Andrew Wiggins.
Those freshman will need to play a big role, especially with a team losing Ben McLemore, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey. Perry Ellis (5.8 minutes per game), Naadir Tharpe (5.5 minutes per game) return for the Jayhawks.
Smart is taking a lot of heat for not going for the riches of the NBA. He’ll return as one of the nation’s top players in 2013-2014, and could prove those critics wrong in his sophomore campaign.
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