Baylor Basketball 2012-2013 Season Preview

The Baylor Bears are coming off of an Elite Eight appearance, their second in 3 seasons. What is in store for Coach Drew and his new squad? Get to know the team inside BearsIllustrated.com

The Baylor Bears begin the newest chapter of their story tonight, as they begin their exhibition schedule against Abilene Christian at 7 p.m. at the Ferrell Center. The 18th ranked Bears look to build upon their Elite Eight showing from the previous year, something they did not do last time given the chance. Baylor brings back a total of 76 starts (out of 190 for 40%) and also brings in some very highly rated recruits. So, let's take a moment to meet the Bears!

No.

Name

Pos

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Exp

Hometown/High School/Last College

21

Isaiah Austin

C

7-1

220

FR

HS

Arlington, Texas/Grace Preparatory

Academy

14

Deuce Bello

G

6-4

187

SO

1L

Greensboro, N.C./Westchester Country

Day School

4

Gary Franklin

G

6-2

195

JR

1L

Inglewood, Calif./Mater Dei HS/Cal

2

Rico Gathers

F

6-8

260

FR

HS

LaPlace, La./Riverside Academy

5

Brady Heslip

G

6-2

180

JR

1L

Burlington, Ontario/New Hampton (N.H.) Prep/Boston College

55

Pierre Jackson

G

5-10

180

SR

1L

Las Vegas, Nev./Desert Pines HS/

College of Southern Idaho

34

Cory Jefferson

F

6-9

210

JR

2L

Killeen, Texas/Killeen HS

20

Logan Lowery

F

6-6

190

SO

TR

Kingwood, Texas/Kingwood HS/

Centenary

11

J'mison Morgan

F/C

6-11

275

SR

1L

Oak Cliff, Texas/South Oak Cliff HS/

UCLA

23

Jacob Neubert

F

6-5

205

SR

2L

Waco, Texas/Midway HS

35

Taurean Prince

F

6-7

202

FR

HS

San Antonio, Texas/Earl Warren HS

1

L.J. Rose

G

6-4

190

FR

HS

Houston, Texas/Westbury

Christian HS

15

Chad Rykhoek

F/C

6-11

230

FR

HS

Fort Worth, Texas/Fort

Worth Christian HS

22

A.J. Walton

G

6-1

184

SR

3L

Little Rock, Ark./Hall HS

Guards-

Name

Games Played

Starts

Mins

Points

Assists

T/O

Steals

Total Rebs

Pierre Jackson

38

20

30.84

13.763

5.868

3.526

1.789

2.895

Brady Heslip

38

37

27.05

10.184

0.974

0.447

0.632

1.342

A.J. Walton

38

18

20.32

3.763

2.816

2

1.316

2.763

Gary Franklin

27

0

10.19

2.074

0.963

0.556

0.111

0.593

Starters- Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip

Bench Players – A.J. Walton, Gary Franklin, L.J. Rose

The strength of the Bears, Baylor returns both of its two starting guards, Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip. Jackson, the Big 12 preseason Player of the Year, is the star of the team and its returning leading scorer. He is a tough guard, entering his second year with the Bears after a very successful career at the College of Southern Idaho.

Heslip, the sharp-shooting junior by way of Canada and Boston College, got his first collegiate basketball action last year and is the 2nd leading scorer returning for the Bears. He is a 3-point specialist, hitting 100 shots last year from behind the arc at a 45.5% rate.

Backing up both of these players will be A.J. Walton, the senior leader for the Bears who started 18 games last year before Jackson took the lead spot. Walton is a tough defender who has struggled with his offensive game at times. But he is a tough player that has the coaching staff's trust.

The next guard is Gary Franklin, a transfer from California who played only half of last year after sitting out the fall semester due to transfer rules. He is more of a shooting guard than a point guard at this time, and showed more offensive ability than Walton did.

The final guard is a new one to the Bears, 4-star recruit L.J. Rose. Rose is a bigger point guard than what Baylor has had the past few years, and is a natural floor leader. Look for him to get more playing time as the Bears season gets farther into nonconference, allowing them to do more 3-guard looks.

Forwards –

Name

Games Played

Starts

Mins

Points

Assists

T/O

Steals

Total Rbds

Blocks

Deuce Bello

30

0

10.33

3.3

0.367

0.867

0.533

1.933

0.233

Cory Jefferson

34

1

10.5

3.559

0.088

0.441

0.235

2.647

1.235

Jacob Neubert

9

0

1.222

0.222

0

0

0

0.444

0.111

Starters- Deuce Bello and Cory Jefferson

Bench Players – Rico Gathers, Taurean Prince, Logan Lowery, Jacob Neubert,

With as much returning firepower the Bears have in the backcourt, they are lacking it in the forward positions. They return just 1 start from last year in Cory Jefferson, and welcome in two new recruits to add depth to the forward position. Also, there is quite a bit of flexibility between these players and the starting center, who we will get to in a minute. The wing position that Deuce Bello currently occupies can also be filled with one of the guards we have on the bench, most likely AJ Walton if t matchup allows.

While Baylor does not have a returning starter at either one of these spots, they will have more options with how to fill the minutes at this spot. Bello will bring elite athleticism and finishing to the position. While raw with his jump shot and overall fundamentals, he is one of the more exciting players in the Big 12, if not the country. He is a former high 4-star recruit with great potential, so many are expecting him to really take this position by storm and make himself into much more than a great dunker.

Alongside him will be Cory Jefferson, a junior with limited playing time. He only averaged 10.5 minutes a game last year as the backup to Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy primarily. Jefferson is another great athlete and finisher with a limited offensive game. He is a good rebounder and shot blocker, though he will need to do it in longer bursts of time this year. Can he do that and maintain his energy level while smoothing the rough edges of his game? If the answer is yes, the Bears will have a All-conference type player in the post.

Behind Bello on the depth chart it freshman and late signee Taurean Prince. The 6-7 wing player is a good athlete who seems to have more of an all-around game without any elite level attributes. There are a lot of questions about what he can do at the Big 12 level, simply due to the level of play he saw in the San Antonio region of Texas.

Backing up Jefferson will be Rico Gathers, a strong bulldog type player and 4-star recruit from Louisiana. The Bears have had great success with Louisiana players before (see Lace Dunn and Tweety Carter) and Gathers look to continue that trend. He is possibly the strongest player that Coach Drew has had on his roster as an 18 year old freshman. He looks more like a defensive end recruit than a post player. His game can be compared to Quincy Acy's, though I find there to just be a higher level of skill all around but less explosive athleticism from Gathers. Look for Rico to get big minutes early as the primary post backup, as Jefferson can also slide to the center spot with Gathers at the power forward position.

Centers- *No returning stats from 2011-2012

Starters- Isaiah Austin

Bench Players – J'Mison Morgan, Chad Ryhoek

Please welcome the newest 5-star sensational recruit that Coach Drew has brought down to Waco, Isaiah Austin. The national top-5 recruit is truly a high level prospect who will bring sensational skill to the post position. He is special when it comes to shooting the ball for a center, and Coach Drew has allegedly given him the green light to shoot from anywhere. He is also a difference maker on the defensive end, with good shot blocking ability. The big question with him is his strength. At only 220 pounds on his 7-1 frame, to say he is slender would be an understatement. Can he survive the pounding on the defensive side of the ball in the Big 12 at center, and can he keep other players off the boards and the low blocks?

Backing up Austin will be 5th year senior J'Mison Morgan, coming off of a redshirt campaign. Morgan is the Bears heaviest player and will be depended on to give the Bears bulk in the post and hopefully give Austin some breathers, and allow him to play more at the power forward position, which might be a better fit for Austin's skill set. Morgan was also a 5-star recruit, originally signed by UCLA. He has not panned out as the experts would have predicted, but he has more in him than he has shown in his first 4 years of college.

The final post player is also the last new face and name for Bear fans to learn. Chad Ryhoek is a forward/center who has good skill and more of a refined low post game than Austin. He is more of a 4-year player with good potential. There is a chance he could redshirt this year, but no official word has been given on that.

Summary -

The Bears bring back an experienced back court and a tantalizing front court with little experience this year. Will Scott Drew be able to mesh the two units together and make this a team that can not only challenge for a tournament spot, but a high seed and even the Big 12 championship? They have the talent and possibly the best returning player in the Big 12 in Jackson and the best incoming recruit in Austin.


Bears Illustrated Top Stories