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Big XII Basketball: King of the Hardwood Sets Up "Rough Road Ahead" Signs For Kruger

I sure hope that Lon Kruger knows what he is getting himself into with this challenge. So buckle up your seatbelts for the ride of your life! There will always be a debate for which conference is the power house conference for each and every sport. When we look at basketball, tides are more prone to shift. No too far in the distant past, the ACC reigned as King of the Hardwood but in recent years that title would have been given to the Big East. Yes, the Big East would still be crowed as King of the Hardwood but you must take a step back and realize that the Big XII has slowly and steadily been gaining ground with the help of high profile players like Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin. It is only a matter of time before the tides once again shift and a new King is crowned but who will it be?

As for Kruger, his road is going to be a long and rocky one. With the sanctions placed on the Oklahoma Sooners Basketball program along with the ongoing investigation, things are only going to get tougher and the restraints are going to get tighter much like a straight jacket (the more you fight it, the tighter it gets). But along with the sanctions Kruger is going to have even bigger challenges: 1) recruiting, 2) recruiting, 3) recruiting. If the Big XII is the place to go as far as talent is concerned, then why would a hot shot choose Oklahoma over a Kansas St, Texas, Colorado, or Kansas, and possibly even a Baylor? Oklahoma has not been able to keep a lot of the homegrown talent in state, just look at Sheldon Williams or Xavier Henry. Kruger has been excellent with establishing a connection with the fan base but that will only go so far. What he needs is a big draw to get the top talent here and it's not going to happen over night although I wish it would.

Whether fans and players alike were aware of it or not, the Big XII has become one of the most dominant conferences in basketball. Sure, the Big XII will have a tough time overtaking the Big East but tides will continuously flow and the next big conference could land anywhere. At the beginning of last season, I would have guess that the Big XII was the second best conference. But, if we were to judge a conference simply based on talent then the Big XII would go down as tops in the past two seasons. As we all know, talent is what gets payers drafted coupled with tangible numbers yet not all will pan out to be the superstars they could have been. Regardless, NBA teams constantly take a chance on a first round pick hoping to resurrect a dying team. So let's take a look at the past two draft years to get a gauge of talent level coming out of college:

The 2010 NBA Draft

#6 Overall Pick - Epke Udoh - Baylor

#11 Overall Pick - Cole Aldrich - Kansas

#12 Overall Pick - Xavier Henry - Kansas

#19 Overall Pick - Avery Bradley - Texas

#20 Overall Pick - James Anderson - Oklahoma State

#21 Overall Pick - Craig Brackens - Iowa State

#24 Overall Pick - Damion James - Texas


The 2011 NBA Draft

#4 Overall Pick - Tristan Thompson - Texas

#12 Overall Pick - Alec Burks - Colorado

#13 Overall Pick - Markieff Morris - Kansas

#14 Overall Pick - Marcus Morris - Kansas

#26 Overall Pick - Jordan Hamilton - Texas

#29 Overall Pick - Cory Joseph - Texas


As you can see the Big XII has produced 6 first rounders in each of the past two years, a claim that no other conference can make. So looking at talent alone, I think it would be safe to say that the Big XII is the top conference regardless of National Championships. Oklahoma is obviously going to need a gimmick so to speak to get the best players to sign. I am thinking going the route of the Fab 5 although I do not know how long that will last. So what will it take for Oklahoma to land the top talent in the top conference?