Baylor Basketball Preview: #17
Overall Rank: #17
Conference Rank: #3 Big 12
2007-08: 21-11, 9-7, 4th
2007-08 postseason: NCAA
Baylor has the offensive weapons to compete with anybody in the Big 12, but can they stop anybody? The team gave up 74.9 points per game, ranking dead last in the conference and 249th in the nation. Coach Scott Drew’s squad likes to run and likes to score, so they will give up points, but they need to be able to step up on the defensive end on occasion.
Aaron Bruce has seen the highs and the lows of Baylor basketball. The 6-3 guard was the star of the team as an underclassman, but as the talent level increased in Waco, Texas, his role diminished. He was still a starter most of his senior season and tallied 8.4 points per game. Forwards Mark Shepherd and Richard Hurd are the only other departures.
With just about everybody returning, the Bears do not need their newcomers to make a big impact. But Quincy Acy and Anthony Jones will anyway. Acy is a true post player who can help out on the defensive end right away. He is also a solid rebounder who plays bigger than his 6-7, 205 pound frame would indicate. Acy is the star of the class, but Jones will be a good one once he adds some more weight. Jones is a 6-10, 186 pound small forward who can score above the rim, but even as a slasher, he needs to add a lot of strength before he will be a big contributor. Redshirt freshman Fred Ellis is a versatile forward, but he will have to pay his dues before developing into a major contributor. The lone newcomer on the perimeter is Kendall Wright. The basketball walk-on is on a football scholarship and will join the team after the Bears football season ends. He is a solid athlete who can play a role on the basketball team, but the depth in front of him is too experienced and talented for Wright to do much this season.
Who to Watch:
The Bears have four great perimeter players who can all put up 20 points on any given night; and finding which one of them to concentrate on will give the opposition nightmares. Curtis Jerrells earned All-Big 12 first-team accolades for averaging 15.3 points and 3.8 assists during his junior campaign. Jerrells has led the Bears in scoring and assists each of his three seasons on campus and that should not change for his senior season. LaceDarius Dunn is the best outside shooter of the backcourt bunch. He hit 2.4 long balls per game at a 41.6 percent clip, and that was as a freshman coming exclusively off the bench. Dunn lived up to his potential as a freshman and will take over this team sooner or later. Henry Dugat’s and Tweety Carter’s return should keep Dunn on the bench at least one more year. For a 6-0 guard Dugat does a great job helping the team out on the glass. He is a tough, hard-working player who can hit the outside shot, play a little defense and help out the team in a variety of ways. Carter’s quickness makes him a dangerous player for the opposing defense. He is known for his scoring, but he can handle the ball and gives the team another playmaker on the floor.
The frontcourt rarely receives the accolades of the backcourt, but Kevin Rogers deserves some. The 6-9 forward tallied 12 double-doubles a year ago and averaged 12.3 points and 8.5 rebounds as a junior. His interior scoring provided a ton of space for the talented backcourt to work their magic. Josh Lomers started a majority of the games at center, but his playing time diminished as the season progressed. That gives seniors Mamadou Diene and Delbert Simpson, along with the newcomers, an opportunity to earn a starting job. Either way, the Baylor frontcourt needs to find some production from somebody besides Rogers if they hope to make an NCAA Tournament run.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Curtis Jerrells, Senior, Guard, 15.3 points per game
Tweety Carter, Junior, Guard, 9.6 points per game
Henry Dugat, Senior, Guard, 12.2 points per game
Quincy Acy, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Kevin Rogers, Senior, Forward, 12.3 points per game