The “way too early” Top 25 rankings for next year in college basketball have only been out for a month and the season is still 182 days from starting, but Baylor fans may already have their eyes on the 2018-19 season. After losing their leading scorer, junior Johnathan Motley, to the NBA Draft and senior guard Al Freeman transferring to NC State, Baylor will have to replace a lot of talent and production. Scott Drew’s team will certainly still be competitive this coming season, but he and Bears fans alike will be looking forward to 2018.
Yale junior guard Makai Mason said he will transfer to Baylor following this season. And it’s been quite a road for the 6’1” guard from Greenfield, Massachusetts. If you remember, Yale was the darlings of the 2016 NCAA Tournament after knocking off, you guessed it, the Baylor Bears in the first round 79-75. Mason scored 31 points to lead the way for the Bulldogs, to notch their first ever tournament win. Yale fell to Duke two nights later, but Mason became an overnight star.
And as just a sophomore, Mason still had two more years in front of him. But, in Yale’s first scrimmage of the following season, Mason broke his foot and missed this past year. Although, this ended up being a blessing in disguise for Mason. Mason was able to redshirt last season, but in the Ivy League, athletes only have four years of eligibility, so this coming season has to be Mason’s last in the conference. However, he will still have another year of NCAA eligibility, which gives him an opportunity to return to March Madness with a much more talented squad. By the time Mason arrives at Waco, all the great freshman Baylor had this past season will be upperclassmen, and Mason will be a like-for-like replacement for then-to-be senior point guard Manu Lecomte.
Mason chose Baylor over Notre Dame, Gonzaga, and Duke, taking the “after you beat them, join them” approach rather than the customary “if you can’t beat them, join them” style. Baylor likely won’t be in the national championship conversation this coming season, but if everything goes according to plan, the Bears will be primed to make a run the following year.