The Big 12 Newcomer of the Year award handed out at the end of the season doesn't get as much attention as the Player of the Year award or even who makes the 1st or 2nd team but the individual can have much significance for their team. Just ask Baylor how important 09-10 winner Ekpe Udoh was last year for their squad or Kansas State how important 08-09 winner Denis Clemente was to their success.
So when looking over the candidates for this upcoming season, I see three players who fit the mold of potential winners of the award this season. It will be important to follow the progression of these players as they could make the difference in how much success each of these teams experiences this year.
- (1.) Ricardo Ratliffe - Missouri Tigers
Ratliffe comes in as the #1 JUCO recruit in the country from the College of Central Florida where he averaged 27.4 points per game and 11.3 rebounds as a sophomore this past season. This was following up a freshman season where he averaged 26.8 points per game. Standing 6'8" he will help give Missouri some size that they desperately need and he should get plenty of opportunities to rebound and score in Mike Anderson's system. No one expects him to replicate his numbers from junior college but Tiger fans hope he can step right in and provide some consistent scoring.
- (2.) Freddy Asprilla - Kansas State Wildcats
A transfer from Florida International who sit out last season, Asprilla stands 6"10" and weighs in at a listed 280 pounds. Big things are expected of him by Wildcat fans who hope he can provide scoring and rebounding also while allowing Curtis Kelly to play more of his more natural forward position. In his one season at FIU, Asprilla averaged 13.7 points per game and 9.2 rebounds but his free throw average was a scary 45.1 %. If Asprilla can provide muscle down low for Kansas State while allowing Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels more freedom he will be a player to watch for this award.
- (3.) Darion "Jake" Anderson - Iowa State Cyclones
While the previous two candidates in Ratliffe & Asprilla are stepping onto teams that have legitimate NCAA Tourney run hopes, Anderson steps into a rebuilding program for Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State. Anderson is a transfer into the Cyclone program from Northern Illinois where he played 3 seasons, thus meaning he only has 1 season of eligibility left in Ames. He averaged 10.6 points per game last year for the Huskies which was quite a drop from the 16.9 points per game average he produced as a sophomore. With the lack of talent surrounding him, Anderson should get plenty of opportunities to score which could allow him to win this award if he can lead Iowa State to a stronger season than predicted.
** Bonus candidate** Royce White - Iowa State Cyclones
Transfer in from Minnesota who is applying for NCAA waiver to allow him to play immediately. A 6"8" PF who was the 2009 Minnesota Mr. Basketball winner and a former top recruit. If he is granted eligibility for this season he will be another player to keep an eye on.