Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series. Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.
We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
Travis Ford has picked up a pair of elite recruits in the each of the past two seasons. For the Oklahoma State Cowboys to get back on track this year in the new look Big 12 Conference, both LeBryan Nash and Marcus Smart will be asked to be major contributors.
OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS
Last Season: 9th, 6-10 in Big 12, 20-14 overall
Predicted Big 12 Finish: 7th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Michael Cobbins (So)/Phillip Jurick (Sr)/Marek Soucek (So)
F: LeBryan Nash (So)Kamari Murphy (Fr)
G/F: J.P. Olukemi (Sr) or Brian Williams (So)
SG: Marcus Smart (Fr)/Phil Forte (Fr)
PG: Markel Brown (Jr)/Kirby Gardner (Jr)
Gone: G-Keiton Page, PG-C.J. Guerrero (transfer-Fresno State), PG-Fred Gulley (transfer-Arkansas), SG-Reger Dowell (transfer-UT-Arlington)
The former McDonald’s All-American Nash was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year last season. He is built like a linebacker and excels off the bounce using the combination of his strength and elite explosiveness to rise above the rim. Nash is still developing his perimeter game and can really take the next step if he can show more consistency with his outside shooting.
The other marquee recruit is freshman Marcus Smart who was also a McDonald’s All-American and considered by many as the top shooting guard in the 2012 class. Like Nash, Smart is very physical and athletic, and also plays with an incredible competitive fire. He is further along with his perimeter skills than Nash and can also run the point if needed this year for Ford.
The transfers of Cezar Guerrero, Reger Dowell, and Fred Gulley in the past year has hurt Okie State’s depth at guard. Markel Brown does return though and will share the backcourt with Smart. Brown is another high flyer at the rim but doesn’t possess the true distributing ability of most college point guards. JUCO transfer Kirby Gardner will provide depth at the point while undersized sharpshooting two guard Phil Forte will remind many Cowboy fans of Keiton Page due to his ability to bomb it from deep.
Brian Williams had a solid freshman year for OSU, filling in admirably for J.P. Olukemi whose season ended prematurely due to a torn ACL. Those two figure to compete for a starting spot on the wing with Olukemi’s experience and ability to play bigger than his 6’6 stature might suggest likely to help him win the job.
The Cowboys don’t have a ton of skill or size inside. Michael Cobbins became a starter as a redshirt freshman using his athleticism to be an effective shot blocker and rebounder. He is still fairly raw on the offensive though. Depth will be an issue inside since Phillip Jurick, whose season was cut short last year due to a torn ACL is suspended indefinitely after being arrested this off-season for possession of marijuana.
Assuming he is not cleared to play this season, that leaves seven-foot Czech center Marek Soucek as the lone reserve big man on the roster. Soucek played sparingly a year ago but must make a bigger impact in his sophomore campaign since OSU figures to be thin inside without Jurick. Freshman Kamari Murphy will give Ford another option inside.
Player to Watch: LeBryan Nash
Improving his outside shot will help Nash take the next step in his game but he must also become more conscious of his shot selection which was too often wild last season. He is considered a lottery caliber prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft and the addition of Smart and getting Olukemi healthy will certainly help take some pressure off Nash’s shoulders.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/15 vs. Akron (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/16 vs. Tennessee/UNC-Asheville (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/18 vs. N.C. State/Penn State/UMass/Providence (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
12/1 at Virginia Tech
12/5 vs. South Florida
12/31 vs. Gonzaga
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Follow paulmbanks