Big 12 WBB Roundup: Texas picked to win; Baylor close behind

Big12_Conference_2.FullColor_Simplified FTWBy Jeffrey Swindoll
Sports Writer

Baylor Bears

Ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press preseason poll and projected to finish second in the Big 12 conference this year, the Lady Bears carry momentum from last season’s success. The loss of All-American point guard Odyssey Sims challenges head coach Kim Mulkey’s flexibility, but the Lady Bears returns three starters from 2013-14.

Iowa State Cyclones

The Cyclones are one of just 13 teams that have appeared in the last eight NCAA championships. Since 1995-96, ISU has made more three-pointers that any other team in the NCAA. Junior Kidd Blaskowsky and senior Brynn Williamson nailed 12 of the team’s 20 3-pointers in the Cyclones’ two preseason exhibition games.

Kansas Jayhawks

The Jayhawks were one of two teams to beat the Lady Bears in conference last season, along with West Virginia. Before conference play starts, the Jayhawks face three teams ranked in the top-25 of the AP preseason poll: No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 9 California and No. 18 Purdue. KU post Chelsea Gardner led the conference with 13 double-doubles.

Kansas State Wildcats

This will be the school’s youngest roster since 1977-78 when the Wildcats take the court for the 2014-15 season. Three seniors, three juniors and six sophomores return for Kansas State, adding two freshman to the mix this year.

Oklahoma Sooners

The Sooners also feature a younger than usual team this season. Five freshmen and six sophomores make up the 15-player roster for OU. Sophomore Peyton Little, a Texas A&M transfer, will make her Oklahoma debut. Little was named Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

The Cowgirls return three starters from last year’s Big 12 Tournament semi-finals and NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. OSU’s Brittney Martin is the team’s top returning scorer and rebounder. The Cowgirls are picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 this season, and are ranked No. 21 in the AP preseason poll.

TCU Horned Frogs

New head coach Raegan Pebley has four starters returning from last season. The Horned Frogs were not selected for the NCAA tournament last season, but made an appearance in the WNIT. Junior guard Zahna Medley was named to the Big 12’s all-conference first team. In 28 games last season, Medley scored in double figures. She is a 3-ball threat. Medley scored multiple 3-pointers in 13 of TCU’s last 14 games in the 2013-14 season.

Texas Longhorns

The Longhorns were selected by the Big 12 coaches to win the conference title with five-first place votes from the 10 head coaches in the conference. Texas’ towering front-court , senior Nneka Enemkpali and junior Imani McGee-Stafford, will be back for the 2014-15 season. Enemkpali and McGee-Stafford were Texas’ top-two scorers last season. Enemkpali was named to the Big 12 Preseason Team.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Red Raiders, arguably the worst team in the conference last season, bring five newcomers above six feet in height to the roster. In addition, fifth-year senior Kelsi Baker returns from an injury that kept her off the court for all of last season.

West Virginia Mountaineers

The Mountaineers gave the Lady Bears a run for their money last season, more than any other team in the Big 12. WVU returns three starters from last season’s team that won a share of the Big 12 regular season title. Junior guard Bria Holmes, averaged 15.2 points per game last season, was recently named the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year.