Around this time of year, certain players turn the corner as they adjust to the college level of basketball. Doug Gottlieb of ESPN has come out with his take on which celebrated freshmen could make the leap and help their respective teams toward the post-season and a few Big 12 players are involved, including Myck Kabongo of Texas and De’Bryan Nash of Oklahoma State.
Gottlieb likes Kabongo’s chances to succeed, even this season, despite his present struggles to match the hype. He writes, “Kobongo, thought by many to be the top true point guard in the Class of 2011, has struggled with his jumper, turnovers and general consistency. However, things are improving. With teams laying off him some, Kabongo has gone from shooting 23 percent from 3-point range in December to 37 percent in January. While all the other numbers are still the same, the improved shooting will help Texas’ offense flow better, and Kobongo’s defense should improve as well as he feels better about his game.”
About Nash, Gottlieb writes, “Nash exploded on Tuesday as Oklahoma State took down No. 2 Missouri for its first good win of the season. Nash, or LB as he is known, had 27 points on just 18 shots. While he is still shooting just 28.3 percent from 3, and his field goal percentage is 42 percent during conference play, his mechanics look much better and the Mizzou game was just a sign of things to come.”
As for other candidates to add to Gottlieb’s list, Kansas State’s Thomas Gipson is a good bet for Kansas State as a 6-7 forward who came in as one of the top 150 players in the country according to ESPN Scouts, Inc. Gipson is earning decent minutes for the Wildcats and has responded with averages of 8.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. Heading into late Big 12 play, however, his post presence is going to be more important down the stretch. The talent is definitely there and he knows how to use his body well. If KSU makes a nice conference tourney run, Gipson will be a big part of it.