If you examine the rosters of NCAA Tournament champions they have a couple things in common. One, they're filled with elite recruits. Two, they have multiple players who end up as 1st round picks in the NBA. Those two things are not always interchangeable. Not every elite recruit pans out. Not all 1st round picks were elite recruits. But it's pretty darn close. Evaluating talent in basketball is easier than it is in other major sports. You could watch Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in high school (then, Michael Gilchrist) and see an NBA player. It's hard to look at a high school quarterback and see anything more than NFL potential.
Of the 29 1st round picks in the 2012 NBA draft (one player was foreign and unevaluated) 24 (83%) were former consensus top-100 recruits. Twenty-two (76%) had been top-40 recruits.
This is the reason why I track where elite talent ends up. Those schools win titles.
Today, it's the SEC. For a data source I use RSCI Hoops, which, if you aren't familiar with this site, you should be. They take ESPN, Rivals, Scout, etc... rankings and combine them into one consensus ranking. Other sites have co-opted their methods (without citing them of course), but RSCI is the original. Run the Floor even creates some consensus rankings, but we use those as a stop-gap between RSCI updates. In the end, we defer to RSCI.
In the 10-team Big-12 there are 31 consensus top-100 basketball players. Here is how that talent is distributed:
Texas, Kansas and Baylor each have roughly half their rosters composed of consensus top-100 recruits. Of the conferences I've examined, only Florida, Duke and North Carolina have more top-100 recruits than Texas.
The Big-12 is clearly a top-heavy conference - as usual. This is no surprise considering Kansas has won (or tied) the conference in eight straight seasons. So will Texas or Baylor (or Oklahoma State for that matter) be able to end that streak? The Cowboys have four top-100 guys, Oklahoma and West Virginia have three each, and Iowa State has two. Kansas State, Texas Tech and TCU don't have any, making the Big 12 the first conference with more than one team shut out of the top talent.
But, as noted above, the NBA draft was almost entirely comprised of top-40 recruits. We'll back that out to 50 and see how it looks.
Here, there isn't as much separation as there has been with the other conferences. Kansas has four, Texas has three, and Baylor, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma each have two. West Virginia enters the Big 12 with one.
Does the talent distribution change if we refine it down to just the consensus 5* top-25 players? Here's that chart:
Still, it's relatively balanced at the top. The problem is that there's just not that much elite talent in the Big 12 this season. The SEC has 13 top-25 recruits, the ACC has 12, and the Big 12 has 6. Even accounting for fewer teams, that's 40% below the other two conferences which I've looked at. The good news for Texas and Oklahoma State is that they have a 1-2 talent punch that is difficult to match. The interesting part will be to see how far they can take it.