Season Preview: Baylor
Last Season: 27-8, NCAA Sweet 16
Key Losses: Johnathan Motley, Ishmail Wainright
Key Additions: Tristan Clark
Despite not being in the AP top 25 to start the season, Baylor proved to be a title contender right off the bat by starting their season with 15 wins, including wins against Oregon, Louisville, and Xavier. Baylor used their massive height to their advantage, as they used their defensive and rebounding abilities to help them have the great season they did before losing to a scorching South Carolina team that had just knocked off a title favorite in Duke. The Bears possessed nine players that stood 6’5” or taller.
One of those big men who proved to be their largest threat was forward Johnathan Motley, who nearly averaged a double-double with 17.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Motley signing with the Dallas Mavericks is a huge loss for Bears, as he was only one of two players on the roster that consistently posted double digit scoring on a nightly basis last year. Unfortunately for Baylor, they did not do a lot in recruiting to make up for the losses of Johnathan Motley and Ishmail Wainright, landing only one four-star recruit along with a three-star recruit. The more notable of the two being Tristan Clark, a 6’9” forward from Texas, who was enticed by the coaching staff in Waco, Texas, especially head coach Scott Drew.
It will take a lot of work for coach Drew to make this team a championship contender again, but he will have to rely heavily on the height of his team to be a threat defensively and on the boards. It is likely that Baylor will be unable to repeat their second place finish in the Big 12 again, but they definitely should still finish as a pivotal contender in the top five and make it to the tournament at the end of the season. If Baylor wants to make a run close to that of last year, watch for junior guard King McClure to potentially develop into a scoring threat for the Bears.
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Manu Lecomte
SG: Al Freeman
SF: Jake Lindsey
PF: TJ Maston
C: Jo Lual-Acuil Jr.