Is Oklahoma State The Darkhorse Big-12 Candidate?

        Up front is reigning eight-time regular season champ, Kansas. Not far behind, at least in the rankings would be Baylor. Those are the hands down favorites in the Big 12 conference this season. Texas gains some consideration, but when the Longhorns star player has yet to be cleared by the NCAA, Oklahoma State steps in as at least the third best team in the conference. Let's take a look why the Cowboys have a chance to win the Big 12:

        Marcus Smart gives the backcourt plenty of punch. Naturally suited as a scorer and shooting guard, head coach Travis Ford will utilize Smart as the team's primary point guard this season. Why? At 6'3" and a muscular 200 pounds, he has surprising quickness and relentless aggressiveness to attack off the dribble and get into the heart of the defense. He can guard three perimeter positions and gives Oklahoma State a powerful punch at point.

        Smart isn't the only future pro on this roster. Enter former high-school All-American, 6'7" combo-forward Le'Bryan Nash. It would be too polite to say Nash was disappointing in his freshman campaign where he averaged 13.3 points and hitting just .394 percent from the field and .235 from 3-point range. With better accuracy and an improved handle, Nash should be one of the best forwards in the league.

        The rest of the wings are talented despite limited notoriety. Smart's name headlines the perimeter, but J.P. Okukemi and Markel Brown combined to average 20 points per game a year ago, but the key here is the return of the redshirted Olukemi. Brown stepped up big time in his injury absence. Both are athletic enough to play multiple positions on both ends of the floor.

By Staff Writer - 11 - 13 - 12