Myles Turner committed to Texas today in a televised ceremony on ESPNU, and naturally when something like that happens people immediately declared Texas the favorite in the Big 12.
— Derek Volner (@DerekVolner) April 30, 2014
— Raphielle Johnson (@raphiellej) April 30, 2014
Kansas fans have come to know this time of year as grasping at straws time, when finally Oklahoma State or Iowa State or Kansas State or whomever else will prevent Kansas from winning the Big 12. Is this year with Texas any different?While tons of things can still happen – top 50 recruit Devonte Graham has KU in his final 2, either team could suffer a rash of injuries, a star point guard could push a fan and get suspended for 3 games, just to pull some hypotheticals out of the air – Texas doesn’t look like a major challenge for Kansas, and might not even be Kansas’s biggest challenger in the conference.
To start with, while Texas finished tied for 3rd in the league standings, they were actually 6th in conference efficiency margin, outscoring Big 12 opponents by just .01 points per trip (or, in layman’s terms, basically scoring and giving up the same amount of points for a period of 3ish months).
While Turner is a great player (247s composite rankings have him 4th) he doesn’t address Texas’s biggest needs. As a player, Turner should be a very good rim protector and elite rebounder for the Horns, but he’s very raw offensively and I don’t think will contribute at a very high level on that end of the floor in college. He should be more of a face up guy, which would be a matchup problem, but I’m not sure that he has the skill to exploit that. Texas was, believe it or not, rather poor at rim protection last year, even though they were second in the Big 12 in 2pt% allowed. Turner should help in that regard, but what Texas needs is offense, and lots of it. They were 7th in the Big 12 offensively, scoring just over 1.06 PPP in league play, and ranked 59th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency (via KenPom)
Turner doesn’t offer the right skillset to help Texas tremendously this year, and he isn’t the right position either. Texas’s frontcourt was already very good, with Cameron Ridley, Jonathan Holmes, and to a lesser extent Conner Lammert and Prince Ibeh. The former pair could each be in contention for Big 12 player of the year. But what Texas does not have is a great backcourt. Isaiah Taylor was praised for his talent, but a 39.8% eFG seems to suggest otherwise. Javan Felix didn’t fare much better at just 43.7%, though it is worth noting that both players were good at taking care of the ball, if neither was great at passing it.
To put it in TL;DR terms, if Texas had a 5 out of 10 back court and an 8 out of 10 front court (whether or not this is true I have no idea, I just picked two numbers that are reasonably close) they now have a 5 out of 10 back court and a 9 out of 10 front court. Will the meager improvement in that area be enough to take Texas from 3rd place – and 6th place in efficiency – to 1st? We’ll see, but I wouldn’t bet on it.