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November 23, 2006

Incoming talent could alter Big 12 landscape

Five five-star players are headed to the Big 12 next season, and four of those prospects aren't going to traditional basketball powers. That is why those that follow the Big 12 are excited to see what the future holds.

Kansas State signed Michael Beasley, the nation's top player in the class of 2007. The Wildcats will add Bill Walker, the No. 6 ranked player in 2007, at the semester break. Texas A&M signed DeAndre Jordan, the second best center in the country, and Iowa State locked up the fourth best power forward in the country in Craig Brackins. Kansas signed the other five-star prospect, Minnesota native Cole Aldrich.

Big 12 rank
1. Kansas State
2. Oklahoma
3. Texas
4. Oklahoma State
5. Texas A&M
6. Iowa State
7. Texas Tech
8. Kansas
9. Baylor
10. Nebraska
11. Colorado
12. Missouri
Those additions are the primary reasons the Big 12 checks in as the third best conference on the recruiting front after the early signing period.

Readers of Rivals.com know all about the talent level that Beasley will bring to Manhattan, Kan. K-State fans will soon find out what all the fuss is about with Walker, one of the most explosive athletes to come through the prep ranks in the last 10 years.

Texas A&M fans were already giddy after the Aggies run last season. Now, with the addition of Jordan, the dividends of winning are shining through in College Station. Jordan will gig 'em for a while until he jumps ship and heads off to the NBA.

New Iowa State head coach Greg McDermott is trying to rebuild the Cyclones into a national power. Landing a guy like Brackins is a good way to start. Rivals.com has always known about the 6-foot-10 forward's upside, and showed that by giving Brackins a five-star ranking long ago. Now his multi-dimensional game is being noticed by the rest of the recruiting world after a big performance at the National Prep Showcase.

Best of the Big 12
Best perimeter scorer: LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor
Best low post scorer: Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Best passer: Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Best shooter: John Roberson, Texas Tech
Best rebounder: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
Best shot-blocker: DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M
Best defender: Bill Walker, Kansas State
Most versatile: Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Best in the clutch: Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Best basketball IQ: Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Best pro prospect: Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Best interview: Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Best speed: Jacob Pullen, Kansas State
Best hands: Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Best motor: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
Best strength: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
Best leaper: Bill Walker, Kansas State
Impact player: Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Biggest sleeper: Ibrahima Thomas, Oklahoma State
Sleeper class: Texas Tech
New Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel and his staff had a full recruiting period to make things happen. The Sooners reeled in a top-15 class nationally and landed two in-state players. Power forward Blake Griffin could become a star.

Texas is right behind its conference rival, checking in at No. 16 overall in the class rankings. Rick Barnes went after size and got it. Gary Johnson, a Houston product, leads the way. Clint Chapman of Oregon and Alexis Wangmene who is fine tuning his game at Blair Academy in New Jersey should have an immediate impact in Austin.

Oklahoma State rounds out the national top 25 team rankings. The key additions of Arkansas wing James Anderson and versatile big man Ibrahima Thomas helped push the Cowboys onto the list.

Jerry Meyer's take: Three solid backcourt players and two ultra-explosive forwards should propel Kansas State up a couple levels next year. ... Oklahoma has three quality backcourt players to go along with dominant post player Blake Griffin. ... Texas has the power forward position taken care of next season. ... Oklahoma State came on strong during the early signing period, landing four-star James Anderson and potential four-star Ibrihima Thomas.

Justin Young's take: A lot of Kansas State's success can be traced to the efforts of assistant coaches Dalonte Hill and Frank Martin, two of the top recruiters in the country. Simply put, this is not a great guard class. It is a good class for strong, athletic and skilled big men. No one is tougher and better suited for the Big 12 quite like Blake Griffin. K-State fans should enjoy Michael Beasley while he's there. Fans of other Big 12 schools will hope he leaves as soon as possible.

Biggest story of the recruiting period: Kansas State has arrived. Bob Huggins has put the Wildcats on the map on a national scale with big time prospects in Beasley and Walker.

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