Four players who were first-team All-Big 12 choices a year ago are gone from the conference ranks.
That leaves plenty of room for party crashers.
The problem is the party is being run by the teams in the Sunflower State, and they're not leaving much room for anybody else.
Rivals.com's Big 12 preseason all-conference teams are made up of 50 percent Kansas and Kansas State players and 50 percent the rest of the league. It speaks to the depth of the Jayhawks, the excitement building in Wildcat country and the balance of the rest of the league.
KU leads the way with three players on our two teams. K-State and Texas each have two.
Watch out for the guys on the All-Freshman preseason team as well. While many are predicting major success for Rivals.com No. 1 prospect Michael Beasley, any one of those players could break through to an all-conference type season.
Here are the Rivals.com preseason All-Big 12 teams:
There was no shame in not being the highest-ranked player in the Longhorns' 2006 recruiting class. Augustin still played all right, if 14.4 ppg and a Big 12-leading 6.7 apg is all right enough for you. Without Kevin Durant it's entirely possible Augustin's assist average that ranked fourth nationally will drop. But don't bet on a big drop in his production. He's an excellent penetrator who can score in the lane or draw and dish. He gets to the free-throw line (179 attempts) a lot and knocks them down while there (83.8 percent). He can shoot the 3-ball (UT-leading 44.1 percent) well.
Chalmers ranked second on the Jayhawks in scoring at 12.2 ppg. He had four 20-point games, including ones against NCAA teams Boston College and Texas. He also ranked 12th in the Big Ten in assists, averaging 3.3 per game. Neither his scoring nor his rebounding, though, compare to his defense. Chalmers is a holy terror in the passing lanes, leading the Big 12 in steals each of his first two seasons. His 97 steals last year broke a KU record that had stood since 1981. He makes opposing guards account for his whereabouts, and his ball-hawking feeds the Kansas offense.
The Cornhuskers big man had a breakthrough season, and he returns to Lincoln for his final year as the leading returning scorer (18.5 ppg), rebounder (8.7) and shooter (56.5 percent) in the Big 12. His scoring average is third among players returning in BCS conferences to only Chris Lofton of Tennessee and Sean Singletary of Virginia. Maric made the nation take notice during conference play with a 41-point game against Kansas State and six double-doubles to end the regular season. His averages during that stretch run were 22.7 ppg and 13.3 rpg.
The smooth-shooting Rush already has been a first-team all-conference pick twice, so you have to figure he's a shoe-in for No. 3. He led the Jayhawks in scoring (13.8 ppg) and 3-pointers made (75) and was second in rebounding (5.6). He was KU's only player to start all 38 games. But he won't be making all of the starts this season: Rush is recovering from ACL surgery after injuring a knee in May. He's not expected back until December, and his progress when he returns will be a major story in the Big 12.
The leader of the 2007 freshman class figures to have a major impact in Manhattan. Beasley is capable of being an 18-point, 10-rebound player right out of the box. He had an outstanding summer on the U.S. team at the U-19 World Championships in Serbia, ranking second on the team in scoring (12.3 ppg) and rebounding (5.5). U.S. coach Jerry Wainwright of DePaul told Rivals.com of Beasley: "He's so talented it's scary. There are things he did on the court that I never even imagined. He's also a hard-nosed rebounder and a really good competitor."