DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A string of underwhelming NCAA tournament performances made many forget that the Big 12 was perhaps the best league in the country in 2013-14.
A flurry of moves in the past two months should help keep the Big 12 stocked with talent for next season.
Texas recently signed the nation's top remaining recruit in forward Myles Turner. League champion Kansas added point guard Devonte Graham following the departure of Naadir Tharpe last month, and Iowa State replaced DeAndre Kane with former UNLV star Bryce Dejean-Jones.
Though Oklahoma already has an impressive roster, it's also hoping to add an impact player for next season. Standout Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas joined the Sooners three weeks ago but will need an NCAA waiver to be eligible right away.
It's no coincidence that the Longhorns, Jayhawks, Cyclones and Sooners will be among the favorites in a conference that should again be loaded in 2014-15.
"There are a lot of teams in the league that have signed players in the late signing period that I think will maybe make a difference," said Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith during the Big 12's annual summer teleconference. "It's hard to believe, but I believe the (Big 12) could be better."
The Longhorns were already expected to be one of the deeper teams in the country since most of their starters will return next season. After adding Turner, they might now be one of the best teams in the country heading into November.
Turner, a 6-foot-11, 225-pounder who was ranked as high as No. 2 nationally by ESPN, should give Texas more size in the paint and more athleticism on the wing. Coach Rick Barnes said the Longhorns have already embraced Turner, and he's apparently fitting right in in Austin.
"He can stretch a defense. He can shoot the ball. We know he can shoot the ball. He also has the ability to go inside, score. Defensively, he gives us more size," Barnes said.
Though Tharpe's departure won't hurt the Jayhawks as much as losing Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, it still left a hole in the backcourt.
Coach Bill Self believes that Graham — who initially committed to Appalachian State and was widely considered the best point guard left unsigned — should help fill that void.
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