Pick Six: Oklahoma, Texas among teams set for tourney return
By STEVE MEGARGEE, AP Sports Writer
Oklahoma went from the joy of a 2016 Final Four appearance to the misery of a 20-loss campaign last season.
Now the Sooners have a chance to redeem themselves .
“Last year motivates me every day,” Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin said. “It’s something I lose sleep over, I’ve lost plenty (of) sleep over. I’m ready to get it right.”
Oklahoma isn’t the only team left out of last season’s NCAA Tournament that believes it will earn a bid this time around.
Plenty of teams have chances for a big turnaround. Especially with many of the nation’s top incoming freshman headed for programs coming off disappointing seasons.
Which teams that missed the 2017 tournament are mostly likely to return in ’18? Here’s a sampling:
2016-17 record: 19-15, lost in first round of NIT
Alabama’s hopes of earning its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2012 may depend on the uncertain status of freshman guard Collin Sexton and top returning starter Braxton Key. Alabama announced Monday that the NCAA hasn’t yet cleared Sexton to play and that Key has a meniscus injury that requires surgery with no timetable set for his return. Sexton was rated as the country’s No. 5 prospect according to composite rankings compiled by 247Sports . Alabama returns Dazon Ingram, shot blocker Donta Hall and Riley Norris while adding Ohio State transfer Daniel Giddens.
2016-17 record: 8-24
New Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin has dramatically improved the talent base of a program that has finished in the SEC basement the last three years. Missouri landed top recruit Michael Porter Jr., a preseason AP All-America selection . Porter headlines a Missouri recruiting class that was ranked fourth nationally according to the 247Sports Composite , behind only Duke, Kentucky and Arizona. Missouri returns Jordan Barnett, Kevin Puryear and Terrence Phillips, who all had double-figure scoring averages last season.
2016-17 record: 11-20
After going from the Final Four in 2016 to 20 losses season last season, Oklahoma should find a happy medium between those two extremes. The Sooners lost their leading scorer in Jordan Woodard but return three starters in Kameron McGusty (10.9 ppg last season), Rashard Odomes (10.1) and Khadeem Lattin (8.4). Oklahoma also adds promising freshman point guard Trae Young, rated as the nation’s No. 23 recruit in his class by the 247Sports Composite.
2016-17 record: 11-22
Texas’ freshman class should help the Longhorns rebound from a dismal 2016-17. Texas’ incoming group was ranked sixth in the 247Sports Composite and features 6-foot-11 forward Mohamed Bamba, the nation’s No. 3 overall recruit. Freshman Matt Coleman could take over immediately as the Longhorns’ top point guard. Texas returns guards Andrew Jones and Kerwin Roach Jr., who each averaged over nine points last season. Tulane transfer Dylan Osetkowski was the Green Wave’s leading rebounder two years ago.
No 25 TEXAS A&M
2016-17 record: 16-15
Texas A&M is the only team in the preseason Top 25 that failed to earn an NCAA bid last season. Robert Williams’ surprising decision to return for his sophomore season rather than entering the NBA Draft makes the Aggies legitimate NCAA Tournament contenders, though he has been suspended for the Aggies’ first two games. Williams, one of four returning starters, averaged 11.9 points and 8.2 rebounds last season. Texas A&M also returns Tyler Davis (14.1 ppg, 7 rpg last season), Admon Gilder (13.7 ppg) and Tonny Trocha-Morelos (8.1). Davis and Trocha-Morelos are both 6-10.
2016-17 record: 24-15
After winning the NIT in coach Jamie Dixon’s first season, the Horned Frogs have their sights set on their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1987. TCU returns all five starters, including preseason all-Big 12 forward Vladimir Brodziansky. The Horned Frogs also add VCU graduate transfer Ahmed Hamdy and New Mexico Junior College transfer Shawn Olden, who began his college career at Pepperdine.
More AP College Basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org
Follow Steve Megargee at www.twitter.com/stevemegargee