Not one, but two Baylor men’s basketball players had the opportunity to school early last year as likely NBA first-round draft picks. Instead, both elected to return to Baylor. That should tell you all you need to know about the family atmosphere head coach Scott Drew has created — and about the level of talent on this year’s squad.
For the fourth straight year, the Bears opened the season nationally ranked, coming in at No. 25 in the preseason AP poll. (The Bears moved up to No. 23 in today’s poll.) Big 12 Conference coaches picked Baylor to finish third in the league, behind co-preseason favorites Kansas and Oklahoma State.
Returning stars Isaiah Austin (sophomore) and Cory Jefferson (senior) will lead the Bears this year after turning down the NBA last spring; each was named to the preseason All-Big 12 team. Austin, Jefferson, sophomores Ricardo Gathers and Taurean Prince, and newcomers Royce O’Neale and Ishmail Wainwright give Baylor the No. 6 frontcourt in the country, according to CBSSports.com.
At guard, seniors Gary Franklin and Brady Heslip will mix with a host of new faces; Wainwright, junior college transfer Kenny Chery and freshman Allerik Freeman are all likely to see significant playing time this winter.
After a 72-60 season-opening win over Colorado last Friday at American Airlines Center in Dallas, the Bears begin their 2013-14 home schedule tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. against South Carolina as part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.
Sic ’em, Bears!