• Two more NBA first-round picks brings Baylor’s total to five in four years

    Photos of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver with Ja'Kobe Walter (left) and Yves Missi (right)

    It’s become commonplace to hear Baylor names called in the first round of the NBA Draft. But to hear two of them called in a three-pick span? That’s raising the bar even further.

    Ja’Kobe Walter and Yves Missi became Baylor men’s basketball’s first pair of teammates ever drafted in the first round of the same draft. Walter was selected with the 19th overall pick by the Toronto Raptors, while Missi went two picks later, at No. 21, to the New Orleans Pelicans.

    Walter, the reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year, averaged 14.5 points per game in his lone season with the Bears, and his 508 overall points were the second-most by a freshman in program history. Raptors general manager Bobby Webster noted that Walter’s time at Baylor — “one of the premier winning programs in basketball” — was a plus in their evaluation of him.

    Missi likewise burst on to the scene this year, averaging 10.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. An All-Big 12 freshman and member of the All-Big 12 Defensive team, the 7-footer showcased game-changing abilities at both ends of the floor for the Bears. Not bad for a player who only starting playing basketball five years ago.

    In addition to becoming the first duo selected in the same first round, Walter and Missi helped Baylor to other milestones as well. Walter gave Baylor a top-19 pick in each of the last four drafts — the only school in the nation that can make that claim. Together, they bring the total of Bears drafted in the Scott Drew era to 14. Since 2012, Baylor has nearly twice as many NBA draft picks as any other Texas school (13 vs. UT’s 7).

    Two more Bears will also get the chance to pursue their NBA dreams this year. Third-team All-Big 12 performer Jalen Bridges signed a two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns, while point guard RayJ Dennis earned his shot with the Los Angeles Clippers.

    This year’s NBA Draft continues a golden era for Bears in the NBA, as nine Baylor alumni played at the sport’s highest level last year — the school record for a single season — and this year’s crop shows more than enough promise to continue the Baylor presence in the NBA for years to come.

    Sic ’em, NBA Bears!