It should come as no surprise that Big 12 coaches think that Kansas freshman Josh Jackson, who's seemingly engineered for the modern NBA game, is well-suited to play at the next level.
But notably, just as many coaches in the league, when asked to identify the top NBA prospect among players they've faced, pointed to Baylor's Johnathan Motley as their top choice, a sign that the forward's breakout junior season has earned him plenty of respect.
"When you look at Motley, he does it by scoring so many different ways," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said during a conference call last Thursday. "He rebounds at an incredible clip, creates so many problems for your defense and your offense, because he blocks shots, too. So it would have to be Motley."
Weber was far from alone in his estimation of Motley. Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood called Motley's 24-point, 11-rebound outing against the Cowboys "as dominant a performance against us as any one player's been." Kansas coach Bill Self picked Duke's Jayson Tatum, Kentucky's Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox and Motley as the quartet who would be best at the next level.
"He's a guy who can score over either shoulder, he's a terrific passer, and of course, he can rebound very well at his position," Self said of Motley.
Of course, Self's got a guy opposing coaches love as well in Jackson. Notably, their praise came before Jackson's best performance of the year, a 31-point tally against Texas Tech on Saturday in which he missed just three of his 15 shot attempts, made critical defensive stops late, and drove to the basket to draw a foul and sink the game-winning free throw.
"I would say Jackson probably," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "He'll have to be a top-five pick. Incredible athleticism, he plays the whole game, does a great job defensively. He can rebound it. Really starting to make perimeter shots, started in our game. So explosive getting to the basket and finishing. I don't think there's much he can't do."
Texas coach Shaka Smart also picked Jackson, noting that "he's got great size and length for a perimeter player, score in different ways, he's versatile, and shown this year, doing whatever the team needs, even different position than he has in the past." And Iowa State's Steve Prohm split the difference, picking both Motley and Jackson, along with Peter Jok from Iowa and the tandem of Gary Clark and Jacob Evans from Cincinnati as guys he faced who could make the jump.
Meanwhile, Prohm's own point guard, Monte Morris, was Lon Kruger's pick for best NBA talent among seniors he'd faced. (Kruger declined to speak about the underclassmen.)
"Morris is terrific at Iowa State," Kruger said. "Impacts game in so many ways, creates for his teammates, scores when he needs to, and impacts defensively."
As for Jamie Dixon at TCU, he picked Markelle Fultz, most people's No. 1 overall pick. "I don't know that I've ever played against a freshman guard that good," Dixon said. "He is something -- length, size, he can shoot it, he can drive it. He's really got the whole package."
Note that Dixon didn't pick Motley -- who promptly went out on Saturday against TCU and scored 25 points on 15 shots in just 31 minutes.