Big 12 Odds, Second State of Conference Betting Report: 6 Players to Watch
Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Daniel Batcho (Texas Tech)
Big 12 league play is officially underway, and what better way to bring in the new year than by breaking down players to watch in the early part of 2023.
There’s a lot of talent in the Big 12, and we haven’t even begun to crack the surface of the intensity of conference play. Iowa State has already taken down Baylor, and Kansas made a late comeback to stave off upset-hungry Oklahoma State.
That’s just the beginning of what’s to come, but in the interim, let’s take a look at six players in the conference that are difference makers on the floor night in and night out.
Jalen Wilson (Kansas)
The expected sophomore year leap from Jalen Wilson never came, but he’s exploded in his junior season. The 6-foot-8 forward leads the Jayhawks in points (21.0), rebounds (8.6) and is third in assists (2.8).
Kansas remains atop the Big 12 this season despite losing four starters, and its success goes as Wilson does. He takes 33.8% of shots while on the floor — 15th in the country — takes extreme care of the ball and is a physical, yet smart defender.
Foul trouble is rarely an issue for the veteran forward, and he’s finished with 20+ points in eight of 13 games. While he’s not the point guard, his aggressiveness attacking the rim and on the glass allows for the Jayhawks’ guards to rotate on the perimeter and find open looks.
Not only is Wilson shooting double the amount of 3s this season, his shooting has jumped over seven percent.
Kansas will go as Wilson does this season. Gradey Dick is a perfect compliment and KJ Adams Jr. provides a presence on the interior, but few players in college basketball are as versatile as Wilson.
Marcus Carr (Texas)
It comes as no surprise to see Marcus Carr on this list for Texas. There’s a lot of experience on this Longhorns team, but none are as well-rounded as the senior.
Carr is the leading scorer on Texas by nearly seven points (17.5 per game) and is shooting 45.5% from 3. He averages 4.1 assists and twice the amount of steals as his next-best teammate (2.0).
This is a loaded Longhorns team that’s 10th in experience, and Carr is the point guard that has his fingerprints on just about everything. Carr is used on 24.5% of possessions and is very smart with the ball (just a 10.0 turnover rate).
Carr has really grown comfortable in Texas’ offense in his second year, and the team around him has benefitted from it. Unlike last year, when turnovers and offense were on the back-burner, the Longhorns now rank 38th in turnover rate and 18th in eFG%.
Carr is also a disruptor on the defensive end and is very strong at jumping passing lanes. Texas enters 2023 as the No. 14 team in turnover rate on the defensive end and 13th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
Considered by many as the third-best team in the Big 12 entering the year, Carr’s step forward has supplanted Texas in the discussion for the best of the conference.
The Duo of Keyonte George & Adam Flagler (Baylor)
Baylor has somewhat of a three-headed monster, but there’s two players that have paced Scott Drew’s squad to a 10-3 record.
Keyonte George is the main cog on offense. The freshman hasn’t missed a game this season and takes 31.3% of shots while on the floor. He not only averages 15.6 points, but also has 3.7 assists per game, too.
George’s ability to shoot the 3 and attack the rim is valuable for Baylor as he matures and adjusts to Division I play, and it’s only a matter of time before his shots begin to fall.
He has also been turnover prone (3.4 per game), which has been an Achilles’ heel for Baylor in losses to Marquette and Iowa State.
But his presence and aggressiveness on the offensive end allows for others to find open space.
We’ve seen senior Adam Flagler take another step forward in this offense.
The 6-foot-3 guard ranks 30th in offensive rating and 25th with a blistering 50% clip from 3. He’s also top-50 in assist rate and is the best shooter on this Baylor team.
He’s also a fantastic defender (1.6 steals per game).
Baylor still has a lot to figure out. Turnovers have become a consistent issue and the defense has struggled to guard the perimeter. But George is only going to improve as Big 12 play gets underway and is the clear X-factor toward the Bears’ success.
Flagler will continue to complement the freshman, providing a sweet stroke and instant offense from 3.
Mike Miles Jr.
The star of this TCU offense is Mike Miles Jr., and soon everyone is going to know his name.
Battling injury early in the year, Miles leads the Horned Frogs with 18.2 points per game on 52.1% shooting.
His 3-point stroke hasn’t come along, but he’s the most-used player for this offense (26.9% of possessions) and draws 6.8 fouls per 40 minutes. Miles also chips in 3.2 assists per game as part of a dominant backcourt featuring him and senior Damion Baugh.
This is a well-rounded, physical TCU team and it’s exemplified in Miles’ play. He’s a hard-nosed guard that attacks the rim and is extremely disruptive on the defensive end. The Horned Frogs normally don’t beat you with offense — it’s the defensive intensity and transition offense that proves deadly.
Miles is there to lead the way with his quickness and ability to weave through defenders. He’s second on the team in steals and has the best 2-point percentage (63.6%) on the team — by a lot.
There’s a lot of players that make TCU the underdog Big 12 team that could make a run at the crown, but as we saw against Texas Tech in the conference opener, it’s Miles who’ll often find the ball in his hands. He finished with 23 of TCU’s 67 points and three assists in the win.
Daniel Batcho (Texas Tech)
There’s a few players that you could key on for Texas Tech, but Daniel Batcho’s sophomore-year leap is worth a mention.
Fardaws Aimaq has yet to suit up for the Red Raiders, and that’s thrusted Batcho into a huge role. The 6-foot-11 big played just short of 10 minutes per game last season, a number that’s nearly tripled in 11 games thus far.
While he wasn’t a factor on the offensive end against TCU, it was his defense that proved to be a difference. Batcho blocked five shots and grabbed nine rebounds — five offensive — in the eventual loss.
But unlike De’Vion Harmon, who has been through three transfers, or the seasoned Kevin Obanor, now in his fifth year, Batcho has become a force in just his second collegiate season.
Batcho ranks inside the top 50 in block rate and is 53rd among all Division I players in both defensive rebounding rate and 2-point percentage (68.6%). He doesn’t have a bad mid-range game, either.
Batcho’s versatility and size is a huge necessity as Big 12 gets underway. Physicality around the rim is a constant, and as Aimaq continues to miss time, the pressure is all on the sophomore to perform.
And thus far, he’s lived up to the bill.