Feb 16, 2016; Waco, TX, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Monte Morris (11) reacts as his last second shot did not count sending the game to overtime against the Baylor Bears at Ferrell Center. Baylor won 100-91 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
I’ve made my way to Kansas City for one of my favorite events of the year. The Big 12 will host their men’s basketball media day today at the Sprint Center and I’ll be here to bring you full coverage.
The face of the league is quite a bit different than it was when Rob Gray and I ventured to “Hilton South” for this event last year. The veterans that helped give the league its identity in 2015-16, i.e. Georges Niang, Buddy Hield and Perry Ellis are gone, which makes the conference a bit more of a mystery entering the season.
Here are the three biggest questions I’ll be asking during Big 12 men’s basketball media day.
Is Iowa State’s guard-heavy lineup as intimidating as we think?
The fact of the Cyclones having to replace Niang will likely be one of the biggest talking points on Tuesday. That leaves me wondering how people around the league perceive Iowa State’s roster.
Obviously, all the coaches will likely have something good to say about Monte Morris (he was the preseason Big 12 player of the year, after all). But, I’m interested to hear what they have to say about the rest of the team.
What do they know of the Cyclones’ new big men? How about the development of Matt Thomas? Is Naz Mitrou-Long still getting the respect he was before his hip injuries? Is Deonte Burton a player opponents fear or someone seen as a role player?
All things I’m hoping to find out today.
Who is going to be the face of the league?
Morris would be the easy choice, but the league is so much different than it was before last season. It just feels like there isn’t quite that same level of buzz-creating star power, which isn’t surprising when the conference lost three of the nation’s best players.
Sure, Kansas’ Frank Mason is back, too. That said, is he really the guy that’s going to be the national face of the Big 12? I’d say no.
I’d put money on the Jayhawks’ super freshman Josh Jackson to get some mentions in that category, as well.
Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans will be another hot name. I’m starting to think this might be the year of the point guard.
What’s the perception of Steve Prohm after a full year in the league?
Iowa State’s head coach has had plenty of time to make an impression on his colleagues, and I find it hard to believe he made a bad one. Leading your team to the Sweet 16 in year one is often enough to at least turn some heads.
Couple that with the Cyclones’ recent success on the recruiting trail and I’m sure others around the conference are thinking the same thing I am — Steve Prohm is the real deal.
I think that’s a question I’ll specifically save for Fran Fraschilla.
I’ll report my answers back later this afternoon. Time to go to work.