With regular season Big 12 basketball coming to a close and March Madness noise beginning, Longhorn fans may see their team miss out on the tournament again barring an unexpected late-season run.
Beyond Austin, there are potential stars in the making littered through the rest of this conference. While the clear-cut No. 1 prospect is currently sidelined, No. 2-5 — and maybe even beyond — are all rated closely together, separated by the smallest of margins. Here’s a look at the best NBA prospects the Big 12 has to offer.
Tyrese Haliburton: 6-foot-5 guard, Iowa State
Haliburton is one of the most divisive prospects in the draft, but there is no question that he is the best prospect in the Big 12. Before a left wrist fracture, the sophomore guard was filling up the stat sheet for Iowa State and keeping the Cyclones afloat.
But the reason he is a consensus lottery pick starts with his numbers: 15.2 points per game, 5.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists on 50/42/82 shooting. He stands out in this class due to his passing both on and off the ball, his defensive instincts (2.0% block rate and 2.5% steal rate in college) and his basketball IQ.
Oscar Tshiebwe: 6-foot-9 forward, West Virginia
At the center of West Virginia’s resurgent season has been Tshiebwe, a physically jaw-dropping freshman big. He has used his size well this season, averaging close to a double-double (11.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game) in just 23.4 minutes of play. Although Tshiebwe is not yet highly regarded as a prospect, he has tremendous upside.
Tshiebwe has the potential to keep size on the floor while still being able to contain guards in the pick and roll. Unfortunately, he is a horrid passer and he is not an elite vertical threat, limiting his play finishing and rim protection. Offensively, Tshiebwe is a bit of a mess, but his specific set of defensive tools is special enough to warrant an NBA roster spot.
Jared Butler: 6-foot-3 guard, Baylor
The leader of arguably the best team in college basketball, Baylor’s success has propelled Butler to draft prominence. Another player who has not yet garnered national attention, Butler probably has the best handle out of anyone in this draft class. He is also a very good shooter, making 38% of his 3-pointers this season. Butler is an above-average passer and defender, but his physical limitations likely will limit him to a one positional defender. If he can hone his point guard skills, Butler should fit in perfectly with NBA second units.
Jahmi’us Ramsey: 6-foot-4 wing, Texas Tech
Ramsey is on this list for one main reason: He can shoot the lights of any gym. The freshman from Duncanville High School is currently second in the Big 12 in scoring, thanks to a league-leading 45% shooting from beyond the arc. While a little streaky, Ramsey has the full arsenal as a shooter: range, catch and shoot, off movement and off the dribble. Furthermore, Ramsey has potential as a rebounding guard and a versatile defender. However, the key word is potential, as Ramsey’s effort drops off heavily on the defensive end. His appeal comes almost entirely from his frame and shot. Teams are just hoping they can get something more than that.
Devon Dotson: 6-foot-2 guard, Kansas
Dotson doesn’t really fit the traditional mold of the older-yet-productive point guard for a top team, but he still has the upside to turn into a solid rotational backup. Dotson’s skills are based around his physical tools. He is one of the quickest players in the draft, a force in transition and very strong for his 6-foot-2 frame. Even as the NBA becomes bigger, the ability to stay on the court defensively could be valuable. However, Dotson is a below-average shooter at 30% from three this season and does not really excel as a playmaker and distributor. For Dotson to become more than a third-string point guard, he’s going to need to further develop either his passing or shooting.