Big 12 Summer Roundup: Kansas looking for a star, but still top dog
Conference realignment hasn't shifted Kansas' position atop the Big 12.
West Virginia, it should be noted, is not only transferring into the Big 12 conference, but it is adding a pair of talented transfers to its roster as well. Former La Salle big man Aaric Murray and former Dayton point guard Juwan Staten will give Bob Huggins a couple of more weapons to work with this year.
Weber should have some talent at his disposal. Leading scorer Rodney McGruder is back and will be teamed with Angel Rodriguez, Jordan Henriquez, Thomas Gibson and Will Spradling. That's not a bad starting five to work with.
Since it's always fun to follow the coaching carousel, Christian was able to make the jump to Ohio because John Groce took the Illinois job that was left open when Bruce Weber, the new Kansas State head coach, was fired.
It's also worth noting that Wannah Bail, Gillispie's prized newcomer, left campus after one semester of summer school due to a reported academic issue.
As this point, the Jayhawks have earned the right to be considered the favorite in the Big 12 year in and year out. Bill Self has strung together eight straight seasons with a finish no worse than tied for first in the regular season standings. Think about that. The last time that Kansas didn't win at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title was 2004. They finished tied for second that season, two games behind an Oklahoma State team that featured Tony Allen, John Lucas and the Graham twins and made it all the way to the Final Four. Should I mention that Kansas also won the outright regular season titles in 2002 and 2003 under Roy Williams and that the 2003-2004 season was Bill Self's first in Lawrence?
Put that all together, and, since 2002, Kansas has won seven outright Big 12 titles, won a share of three Big 12 titles and had its worst season when it finished second to a Final Four team with four NBA players playing for a new head coach. That's the kind of domination you expect out of a school in the Big South, not the Big 12. Making that run all the more impressive is that Kansas has done it while having 17 players taken in the last 11 NBA draft, 11 of whom left school with eligibility remaining.
There is no dominant team in the Big 12 this season just like there was no dominant team in the Big 12 heading into last season. But there is a dominant program in the conference, and until proven otherwise, the Jayhawks will be perennially the favorite to win the league.