Jackson is a bit of a polarizing point guard, as last season he drew some criticism for his shot selection. The bottom line with Jackson is he's a terrific playmaker, even if he takes some risks on occasion. As the veteran leader of a team with some talented youngsters on the roster, Jackson will be the key if the Bears intend to compete for a league title. I expect him to excel in the role, as do the league's head coaches; he was named Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year.
2 of 10Porter Binks/SI
Nash was a top-10 recruit coming out of high school, but he had a disappointing season given his talent level and expectations. Nash was inconsistent and, at times, appeared overwhelmed. There's no guarantee that will change in his second season in Stillwater, but with a year's worth of experience and another potential lottery on the roster in Marcus Smart, there's plenty of reason to believe Nash will live up to his potential as a sophomore.
3 of 10Peter Schneider/AP
McLemore is the wildcard on this list. He was a top-50 recruit coming out of high school, but was forced to sit out last season due to academic issues. Bill Self is as good as any coach in the country at developing talent, however, and McLemore spent a year working on his game under Self's watch. If the reports coming out of Lawrence are accurate, he'll fill the scoring void left by the departures of Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor.
4 of 10Charlie Riedel/AP
The irony of Frank Martin's decision to leave Kansas State for South Carolina is that he returned a fairly loaded roster in Manhattan. McGruder is the centerpiece. He averaged 15.8 points and 5.2 boards a season ago, and playing under Bruce Weber, a coach that will allow for more offensive freedom, this season, expect McGruder to have a big year.
5 of 10Greg Nelson/SI
Offensively, Withey was never much more than a guy who could dunk the ball last season. With Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor gone, he'll be asked to become more of an offensive threat, but regardless of whether or not he does, Withey's earned his spot on this list. He was the most dominating defensive presence in the country last season, leading the nation in block percentage. That includes Anthony Davis.
6 of 10Porter Binks/SI
Kabongo struggled early in his freshman season adapting to the college game and learning how to play the point. He played better late in the season, and with J'Covan Brown gone, Kabongo will be asked to take over the leadership role for a young, but talented, Longhorns squad. If he lives up to the hype he had entering school, he'll be one of the best point guards in the country.
7 of 10Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Smart might be the toughest player on this list to peg. The powerful, 6-foot-4 freshman was revered on the recruiting trail for his versatility in the backcourt and for his intangibles as a leader. It's been widely reported he will be the point guard for the Pokes this season, but playing the point guard and truly being a point guard are two different things. Bottom line: Regardless of his role, he makes Oklahoma State a better team.
8 of 10Sue Ogrocki/AP
Pledger was one of the nation's best-kept secrets a season ago, averaging 16.2 points for a team that finished below .500 and just 5-13 in the Big 12. But the Sooners have a chance to surprise a lot of people this season, which should help raise Pledger's profile. He deserves it.
9 of 10Robin Alam/Icon SMI
Austin was once in the conversation with Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad as the top recruit in the Class of 2012, but the buzz surrounding him "dropped"; he enters college as a lowly consensus top-10 recruit. The reason was a concern about his toughness, but many believed he improved on those problems late in his high school career. That's a good sign considering he's also a shot-blocking, 7-footer that's a knock-down, three-point shooter.
10 of 10Tim Vizer/Icon SMI
Murray clearly has talent. He averaged 15.2 points and 7.7 boards as a sophomore at La Salle. Given his ability to also step out and shoot the three, there's no reason that he can't fill the void left by the uber-productive Kevin Jones. Murray's issue is maturity. He clashed with coaches at La Salle and was arrested in the offseason for possession of marijuana. Can Bob Huggins get through to him?
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