• A golden era for Bears in the NBA

    Taurean Prince, Keyonte George and Jeremy Sochan with their NBA teams

    Bears have been playing in the NBA since the Association’s early days shortly after World War II, and there’s been a Baylor alum on an NBA roster every year since the 1979-80 season — but there’s never been more than there are this season.

    It’s no surprise that there’s been a major uptick in NBA Bears in the Scott Drew era; 17 of BU’s 24 pros all-time played for Drew. No fewer than nine Baylor Bears are currently on NBA rosters — a golden era for NBA Bears, many of whom are playing key roles on their teams.

    Meet the Bears who comprise this record setting “class of ’23-’24”, from star rookies to seasoned vets:

    Taurean Prince (Los Angeles Lakers) is the dean of the current collection of NBA Bears, now in his eighth year in the league. It’s his first season in Los Angeles, playing alongside Lebron James. “TP” averages nearly 10 points a game for the Lakers, which is no surprise for a consistent performer who has averaged double digits for his career.

    Keyonte George (Utah Jazz) is putting together one of the best rookie seasons ever authored by a Baylor alum. Selected by the Jazz with the 16th overall pick in last year’s draft, George is justifying that selection, averaging over 11 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds per game, and he’ll appear in the NBA All-Star Weekend’s Rising Stars Game this weekend.

    Jeremy Sochan (San Antonio Spurs) is putting together his second straight strong season in San Antonio. He averaged over 11 points and 5 rebounds per games as a rookie last year, and this year is improving on those numbers as a key piece for the Spurs.

    Royce O’Neale (Phoenix Suns) has had an eventful seventh NBA season. The Suns traded for O’Neale just before last week’s trade deadline; before that, he was a leading bench weapon for the Brooklyn Nets this year, averaging 7 points and 3 assists per game.

    Davion Mitchell (Sacramento Kings) is, incredibly, already in his third year with the Kings. His reputation as a lock-down defender has translated to the NBA, and he’s been a key cog for one of the Western Conference’s best teams over the last three seasons.

    Jared Butler (Washington Wizards) is also in his third year in the league, joining the Wizards this past offseason. This year, he’s played in 17 games off the bench and averaged 4 points and 2 assists.

    Kendall Brown (Indiana Pacers), a second-round selection last season, continues to develop in his second year in the league, playing five games in Indiana and seeing regular action for their G-League team.

    Adam Flagler (Oklahoma City Thunder) was added to the OKC roster on Feb. 12, signed to a two-way contract after averaging 12.6 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists for the Thunder’s G-League affiliate, and made his NBA debut in February.

    Ish Wainwright (Phoenix Suns) played in 105 combined games with the Suns over the previous two seasons, and has split time this season between the Suns and the Portland Trailblazers.

    That makes nine Bears in the NBA — a group of players who were beloved at Baylor, and who make us proud in the NBA now.

    Sic ’em, Bears in the NBA!

    [updated April 2024]