2016-2017 Season Review
It was a historic season in Waco, as Scott Drew’s squad became the first team in Baylor basketball history to be ranked #1. It only lasted a week, but the Bears were still a top six team almsot the entire season. They finished the season with a 27-8 record (12-6 in Big 12), featuring wins over Oregon, Michigan State, Louisville, Xavier, Iowa State, and West Virginia. They received a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They handled New Mexico State in the first round, slipped by USC in the second round and were finally tripped up by South Carolina in the Sweet 16. It was the fourth Sweet 16 appearance of the Scott Drew era.
The Bears’ biggest loss was without a doubt big man Johnathan Motley. Motley decided to declare for the NBA Draft after a junior season that saw him average 17.3 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.3 APG and 1.1 BPG. He was a consensus second team All-American. Also lost was Al Freeman, who became a graduate transfer and is now at NC State. The guard hit 45 threes at a 39.5% clip on his was to averaging 9.5 PPG. Ishmail Wainright is gone after graduating. Wainright was a do-it-all starting guard that averaged 5.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.2 APG, and 1.7 SPG. The Bears will miss his versatility.
The Bears may have a lost a few key pieces, but they return quite a few as well. Manu Lecomte, a 5’11 guard, is back for his senior season after putting up 12.2 PPG and 3.8 APG last season. Lecomte hit 71 threes at a 40.8% clip. Baylor will look to him as a scorer, distributor and leader this season.
Jo Acuil, a 7’0 senior, should see an expanded role this season with the loss of Motley. As a junior, Acuil scored 9.2 PPG, grabbed 6.7 RPG and blocked 2.5 shots a game, which was 13th best in the nation. He’ll be one of the best rim protectors in the country. Also returning for his senior season is 6’7 Terry Matson. Matson will see much more playing time than he did in his junior campaign where he averaged 7.1 PPG and 3.8 RPG. King McClure will also see a expanded role this season. The 6’3 junior only played 14.3 minutes per game last season, but is very talented. He averaged 4.9 PPG. Jake Lindsey is a player that goes about his business quietly and just produces. The junior guard averaged 4.6 PPG and dish out 3.1 assists per game. He’ll be one of the leaders of this team. The Bears also return 6’9 senior Nuni Omot, who averaged 4.0 PPG in just 11.2 MPG.
Scott Drew’s 2017 recruiting class isn’t highly touted, as it is just 247Sports’ #121st ranked class in the nation and worst in the Big 12. Mixed with a couple redshirted from last season, though, his newcomers could make an impact. Tristan Clark is a 6’9 four star PF that has a high motor, finishes well around the basket and rebounds well. The Bears then took a flyer on the older brother of Jarrett Allen, Leonard Allen. Allen was part of the class of 2013, but has only played one season of college basketball. A seven footer, he averaged 14.6 PPG and 8.7 RPG in 2015-2016 at JUCO San Diego City College. He didn’t play last season. Allen is raw and definitely may not pan out, but he has the potential to be a good rim protector and rebounder. The Bears then have two redshirt freshman from their 2016 class. Mark Vital was the #12 SF in the 2016 class. At 6’6, he has explosive leaping ability that makes him dangerous in the lane and also a solid rebounder. Tyson Jolly was a three star recruit. The 6’4 G/F is extremely long, athletic and and is a solid finisher around the rim.
While this Baylor team probably won’t find themseleves ranked #1 at some point this season like they were last year, this is a solid ball club. They’re a team most likely just inside the top 25 preseason or right on the outside looking in, but they have the potential to climb much higher than that. They’ve got a really good PG in Manu Lecomte and a great rim protector in Acuil. If those guys that should see expanded roles this season step up and a couple of the newcomers make an impact, Scott Drew could have a dangerous team once again.