For the first time in school history, the Baylor men’s and women’s basketball teams will both begin the season among the nation’s top 25 when the regular season begins this weekend.
The Lady Bears kick things off, hosting Florida International Friday at 6:30 p.m. as part of the World Vision Invitational. Head coach Kim Mulkey’s squad enters the year ranked No. 2 in the nation in both polls, the best preseason ranking in program history. Sophomore Britney Griner will again lead the way for the Lady Bears; the 6-foot-8 post joined WNBA star Sophia Young as the only Baylor women ever named preseason AP All-Americans. Griner is also on the watch list for the Wooden Award and is joined by senior Melissa Jones on the Naismith Award watch list.
At 8:30 p.m. Friday, head coach Scott Drew’s men will take the court against Grambling State. The men are ranked 14th in the preseason ESPN/USA Today poll and 16th in the AP Top 25; never before has the team begun a season ranked by either group. Though two-thirds of Baylor’s roster returns from last year, the big name to watch this weekend is freshman Perry Jones III. (Yes, PJ3; that’s him at right.) Jones, a consensus top-10 recruit nationally, is the highest-rated recruit ever to sign with the program and is expected to help fill the shoes of departed NBA first-round pick Ekpe Udoh.
Sic ’em, Baylor basketball!