#NextLevelBU: Meet the Bears in the NBA (plus the ones knocking at the door)
When Vinnie Johnson, ’80, played in his first game for the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979, he tipped off a pretty impressive streak: from that moment on, there has been at least one former Baylor Bear in the NBA every single NBA season for the last 40 years.
Former Baylor stars like Terry Teagle, ’78, Micheal Williams, David Wesley, BSEd ’09, and Brian Skinner, BA ’98, bridged the ’80s and ’90s into the new millennium, and more recent stars have taken the next steps after leading Baylor men’s basketball into an unprecedented era of sustained success (with 10 of the program’s 17 postseason appearances coming in just the last 11 years under head coach Scott Drew).
This year’s roll call of Baylor alumni in the NBA stands at five: Quincy Acy, BA ’12 (Phoenix Suns); Johnathan Motley, BSEd ’17 (Los Angeles Clippers); Royce O’Neale, BSEd ’15 (Utah Jazz); Taurean Prince, BSED ’16 (Atlanta Hawks); and Ekpe Udoh, BSEd ’11 (Utah Jazz).
Udoh and O’Neale never played together at Baylor, but they’re teammates now, signed by Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey — himself a former Baylor basketball player (BSEd ’92) and the father of current Bear Jake Lindsey. Both Udoh and O’Neale are key players off the Utah bench, with O’Neale tied for the second-most playing time among Jazz non-starters.
Prince is averaging a career high 15+ points per game for the Atlanta Hawks, on the heels of a breakout year last season, when he increased his scoring from 5.7 points per game to 14. Prince is also joined on the Hawks by another Bear, assistant coach Melvin Hunt (BBA ’91, MSEd ’95).
Acy, a six-year NBA veteran, recently signed with the Phoenix Suns. Known for his prolific dunks at Baylor and in the NBA, Acy has earned a reputation as a strong player off the bench in his previous stops with the Raptors, Kings, Knicks and Nets.
Motley, traded this summer by the Dallas Mavericks to the Los Angeles Clippers, is on the Clippers roster with a two-way contract. This unique arrangement allows NBA teams to shift players back and forth between their developmental teams in the NBA G-League while keeping them on the roster. Motley, who impressed with nearly 9 points per game in limited playing time in Dallas last year, is the leading scorer for the Clippers’ G-League team, the Agua Caliente Clippers.
Two other Bears are also on the Agua Caliente Clippers’ roster — Manu LeComte, BSED ’18, and Terry Maston, ’18, while Cory Jefferson, BSEd ’14, plays for the Philadelphia 76ers G-League squad, the Delaware Blue Coats, and Nuni Omot, BSEd ’18, plays for the Brooklyn Nets’ eponymous developmental team on Long Island — each just a phone call away from the NBA.
Sic ’em, NBA Bears!