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Monte Morris, Iowa State
No one takes care of the basketball better than point guard Monte Morris. The freshman from Flint, Michigan, dishes 3.7 assists to .6 turnovers every game. Credit Morris' ball security for earning him a spot in the Cyclones' starting lineup, and possibly winning Bob Huggins' icy heart as he handed out 12 dimes with no turnovers against his West Virginia Mountaineers. The scary thing about Morris is, he hasn't even come close to reaching his peak in Fred Hoiberg's open, run-and-gun offense.
Marcus Foster, Kansas State
Bruce Weber found a gem in Marcus Foster, a 6-foot-2 guard from Wichita Falls, Texas, who has been one of this season's biggest surprises. Foster has shown great 3-point range and accuracy, hitting 39.7 per game and 2.4 percent of his attempts. Foster's 34 points and five 3-pointers led the Wildcats to an upset of then-No. 15 Texas, and his 20 points sparked an upset of then-No. 7 Kansas. Foster — averaging 15.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists — looks like the building block Weber and the 'Cats needed.
Isaiah Taylor, Texas
Isaiah Taylor's frosh season at the point for Rick Barnes was too good to ignore: 12.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3,9 assists and 1.1 steals per game. If he develops a 3-point shot, he's going to be an even more dangerous offensive threat.
Karviar Shepherd, TCU
If TCU coach Trent Johnson keeps landing recruits like Karviar Shepherd, the Horned Frogs' fortunes may soon change. TCU isn't known for getting commitments from four-star basketball prospects, but it pulled off a coup getting Shepherd to stay home (he's from Dallas) and spurn offers from Kansas, Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and UCLA. The 6-foot-10, 225-pound center struggled through his rookie year (making just 40.3 percent of his shots), but still flashed his promise with double-doubles against Iowa State and Oklahoma State. There's plenty of room for Shepherd to grow his averages of 8.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks next season. And for TCU, it's all about next season.
22 Players to Watch
Melvin Ejim, Iowa State
The undersized 6-foot-6 senior forward has taken over the Cyclones' scoring load with a second-in-the-league 18.2 points and turned Ames into Lob City while dropping 48 points on a hapless TCU squad. The Toronto native was just crowned Big 12 Player of the Year.
DeAndre Kane, Iowa State
No newcomer has made a bigger impact than the Cyclones' do-it-all senior point guard, who moved to Ames as a fifth-year transfer. His 17.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 3-pointers recently garnered him Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
The Flop King of Stillwater should have gone pro after last season, when he was named Big 12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. His draft stock and character (see the shove in Lubbock) took a hit in his sophomore season, but with averages of 17.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.6 3-pointers, Smart should still hear his name called in the lottery.
Cory Jefferson, Baylor
The 6-foot-9 power forward's length is too much to handle. His muscled-up 220 pounds makes him a terror around the rim (13.4 points per game), on the glass (8.1 boards) and for opponents attempting to shoot over him (1.4 swats).
Juwan Staten, West Virginia
No one plays more than Juwan Staten, whose second year in Morgantown saw him lead the league in both scoring (18.4) and assists (5.9). If the Mountaineers' record were better, we would've been talking about Staten for POY.
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
Deadly from deep, Hield can light up opponents with his 2.8 3-pointers per game or go lockdown on defense with his 1.5 steals a game. Let him loose, and he'll scorch ya. (He's averaging 16.8 points.)
Perry Ellis, Kansas
Don't sleep on Perry Ellis. The sophomore forward awakened in last year's Big 12 tournament and just hasn't let up. Ask TCU about the 32 points, eight rebounds and five assists he hung on the Horned Frogs in Lawrence. Yeah, he's not Wiggins or Embiid, but he's posting a solid 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.