Since the formation of the Big 12 in 1996, there have been many great players that have come through each program but a question I pondered was who a coach would choose to start his program with if he could pick any current or previous Big 12 player. Now many factors would go into this decision, the first obviously being how talented the player is, the second being how long the player would be there, one year or more? Would a coach rather start a program with a one year stud like Kevin Durant or a consistent 4 year performer? Below I have put together my top three list if I were a coach of who I would pick if I have a so-called draft of all the previous Big 12 players from 1996 until the present day. Needless to say I would expect many other people to have a different list or to have many criticisms of mine.
6'9" Power Forward
Collison may not be as talented as some other previous Big 12 studs like Kevin Durant or Michael Beasley but his exploits in the college game speak for themselves. First and foremost, Collison was a 4 year player which is almost unheard of these days among top college players. He averaged double figures in points all four years in Lawrence while his lowest rebounding per game total was 6.7 in his sophomore year. It would take a long time to list all his achievements but just a few Collison achieved were: NABC National Player of Year, Associated Press All American and Big 12 Coaches Player of Year. Another factor that would appeal to a coach is not only was Collison obviously a major contributor on the court but he was also an academic all conference scholar. Collison also helped lead KU to two Final Fours during his time in Lawrence. He may not have been the flashiest or most talented but he would be my first choice if I were a coach to start a program with in the Big 12.
- (2.) Blake Griffin - Oklahoma Sooners 2007-2009
6'10" Power Forward
The selection of Griffin is somewhat of a contrast in comparison to Collison at #1. Obviously Blake Griffin only stayed in Norman for two seasons whereas Collison and many other great Big 12 players stayed all four years at their respective programs. But what Griffin accomplished in two years at Norman along with some intangible factors elevates him to the #2 selection. Let's start with the facts, his freshman year he was named All Big 12 by the AP and the coaches while averaging 14.7 PPG and 9.1 RBG. In his sophomore year, he was the Big 12 player of the year as well as the consensus National Player of the year due to his averages of 22.7 PPG and amazing 14.4 RPG. Griffin helped power Oklahoma to a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament in 2009 where they were stopped by eventual national champion North Carolina in the Elite Eight. An intangible factor to consider with Griffin, is his selection as the #1 pick in the NBA Draft, this can and should be a major selling point for any coach in the recruiting battlefield.
- (3.) Acie Law - Texas A&M Aggies 2003-2007
6'3" Point Guard
My third selection was the toughest for me to make as the list of great players being left out is immense such as Chauncey Billups, Marcus Fizer, Jacque Vaughn and Wayne Simien just to name a few. With Law though I think you get everything that a coach looks for in starting a program. He was a leader of an up and coming program who was an extremely clutch player and helped lead A&M basketball into the national view during his time in College Station. While his start in college basketball didn't set the world on fire, he finished his career with a bang. Law was a four year contributor for then coach Billy Gillispie, and helped A&M reach the Sweet Sixteen his senior year. While awards and stats stack up nicely for Law such as his winning the Bob Cousy Award his senior year, you had to see him play to know how valuable he was to his team. For example he helped lead A&M to a victory in Allen Fieldhouse in 2007 where he scored ten of A&M's final 13 points to secure a victory for the first ever Big 12 South victory in Allen Fieldhouse. His nickname of "Captain Clutch" pretty much sums up why I thought he deserved a spot in my top three.
Some players below who I feel a coach wouldn't be too upset to get if they didn't land the three players mentioned above.
Kevin Durant - Texas Great player who did amazing things, only stayed for 1 season in Austin.
Michael Beasley - Kansas State Tough choice to leave off as he almost single handedly put K-State basketball back on map, but only stayed one season.
Marcus Fizer - Iowa State Was the Big 12 Player of Year his junior season and led the Big 12 in scoring in his sophomore and junior years.
Some other players who also were considered: Paul Pierce, Chauncey Billups, Wayen Simien, James Anderson, Sherron Collins, Kirk Hinrich and the list goes on and on and on.