With Quincy Miller's change of heart, the Baylor Bears outlook for the 2012-2013 basketball season took an unexpected turn. With Miller back, the Bears were a legitimate National Champion contender.
The Bears had everything you could want. Seasoned point guard; check! Shot blocking center; check! Crunch time scorer; check! Without Miller, the Bears are still a very good team. They might not be Top 5 good, but they are still legitimate Top 25 team with some interesting parts, and also some opportunities out there to fill the hole Quincy Miller left.
So how can the Bears fill that hole? Let's take a look at some of their options.
With Miller gone, the Bears are missing that go to scorer who can take over the game. However, Baylor has some options on campus that can fill that scoring void. Look for Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip to carry a larger scoring role next year, something they proved capable of at times last year.
In terms of playing time and starters, there are a few different options for Coach Drew. You can pretty much write down 3 starters as of now: Pierre Jackson, Brady Heslip and Isaiah Austin. The other two spots are a bit more open. The other post player will probably be one of two players, with a possible dark horse candidate.
Cory Jefferson is the first option to be the other post starter. He has bided his team for several years, and with his Junior campaign coming up, now is the time for his to grab a larger role. He would give the Bears energy and defensive aptitude, but will he be able to score enough next to a post player with a developing post game in Austin?
The second option is another freshman, Ricardo Gathers. Gathers will be more of a benefit on offense and probably on the defensive glass than Jefferson is, but he will not be the defensive player that Cory. Do you take the risk of starting 2 freshmen, and playing them big minutes?
The next option is J'Mison Morgan, who would push Austin down the power forward position. Morgan would give the Bears much more size, and allow them to do some different things on defense. He has the skills and the pedigree, but has the redshirt year helped him reach his potential?
I think the choice at the forward position is Cory Jefferson. He is the best match of size and defense, and has some good upside on offense. Gathers will also play a role, as Jefferson can play center as well against smaller front courts.
With the fourth position set, let's talk about the Small Forward position that Quincy Miller would have filled. The Bears have several options for this position as well. The popular choice among the fans is Deuce Bello, the jumping jack 6-4 guard/forward that was a high school teammate of Quincy Miller. He would bring the Bears more size than some of the other options. However, he is not the guy that I think will start, at least to open the year. I think A.J. Walton will be the guy.
The Bears will need to feature more of a 3-guard lineup, and Walton is a proven starter in the Big 12. He also can lead the offense and allow Pierre Jackson to move without the ball as a shooter. Finally, he is a good defender that can cover the bigger wing players in the Big 12.
I do think Deuce Bello will be the first guy off the bench, with L.J. Rose and Gary Franklin following him. There are going to be about 30 more minutes per game for these players with Miller gone, so they should be pretty happy about that. In terms of rotations, I think it goes like this:
Point Guard – Pierre Jackson (32), AJ Walton (5), LJ Rose (3)
Shooting Guard – Brady Heslip (30), LJ Rose (5), Gary Franklin (5)
Small Forward/3rd Guard – AJ Walton (20), Deuce Bello (20)
Power Forward – Cory Jefferson (20), Ricardo Gathers (20
Center – Isaiah Austin (30), Cory Jefferson (5), J'Mison Morgan (5)
We spoke about who was on the roster right now, but who could the Bears add? With the spring signing period already underway, most high level recruits are off the board. There are a few guys out there that could help the Bears that have shown some interest in Baylor.
Dyshawn Pierre – 6-6/210, Small Forward; Whitby, Ontario
This kid is probably #1 on the board for the Bears, if they choose to add a high school recruit. He is not in the Scout database, but he is a good basketball player. He visited Baylor in the fall, and several sites show him having an offer. The main question I have seen on him is his academics, and if he can qualify.
So, what kind of players it Pierre? He is a wing player with good size and a great motor. He is a competitor on the defensive end and can guard several positions. He has some room for growth offensively, but has gotten better at ball handling and finishing. His shot is still in development, and he has struggled with his 3-point shot. He is a good athlete and projects well. He could be a very good player if he develops even an average jump shot, and 3-point range.
I think he is a Baylor Bear if he qualifies.
Jordan Tebbutt – 6-5/210. Small Forward; Hood River, Oregon
Jordan played the last year at Oak Hill Academy, the basketball power house in Virginia. He is a big and strong player with a college build already. He has some good skill and has a nice shot, but he falls in love with the 3-pointer too much. He has good ball handling skills and with his body, he can absorb contact and finish, however he forces shots and puts up bad shots or turns it over.
He has offers from Big 12 schools and Pac-12 schools. Does he want to leave the Northwest? I have my doubts. He has said he likes a Big 12 school. He is a good prospect though.
Arroyo Edwards– 6-4/185, Shooting Guard; Milwaukee, WI
I always like it when the first thing I see on a kid's scouting report is "warrior" and that is what you get with Edwards. I have seen his height at 6-3 or 6-5, so there is a little question there. What is not in question is his ability to attack the paint and create for himself and others. He has good handles and is a very good passer.
He has a slight build, and I have some questions about his ability to guard bigger guards/small forwards. He is more of a shooting guard/point guard than the other two players listed above. I am not showing him with an offer, but I see him listed as having interest in us in several different databases.
The final way for the Bears to fill the Quincy Miller scholarship is with a transfer. This can be tricky, as their eligibility might be delayed a semester or even a year. Sometimes, even when you expect them to be given a waiver, they are denied. Just ask Brady Heslip.
Most of the high level transfers have already picked their next school, but there are a few that could look the Bears way. The guy at the top of my wish list is Rodney Hood, a 6-8 Small Forward from Mississippi State, who was a 5 star recruit. He is an amazing talent that just needs time. Outside of him, I really have no idea who or what is out there, but I am confident the coaching staff is out, scouring every place they know, looking to make the 2012-2013 Baylor Bears the best they can.