1. Ahh Spring time. Flowers are starting to bud and the wins are changing. The bitterness of winter is starting to become a distant memory, while the dread of sweltering summer heat is far off. Spring is also the most successful time of year for Baylor spots. With both Tennis programs, women's golf, softball and even track and field all supporting strong to elite programs, Baylor's "second-tier" sports are a strength that should not be ignored. Far too often, the accomplishments in these sports are not given enough credit, including by myself. Just think about this...the Lady Bears tennis team will be playing in the NCAA Championship Round (Quarterfinals) for the 10th time in 11 years, while the men make it 14 straight and 16 overall. These are two of the most accomplished teams in Baylor history.
2. Baylor won 8 Big 12 Titles in the 2014-15 calendar year, the most in the Big 12 during that time-frame. With championships in football, women's basketball, women's tennis, and equestrian, the Bears have had a truly outstanding year. Eight championships, including women's basketball and women's tennis winning both the regular season and postseason titles. 7 of those titles have come in the spring, with just football representing the fall sports. That is dominance.
3. The Baylor basketball program had a big miss last week, as Villanova transfer Dylan Ennis chose to attend Oregon to play out his career. The Bears have been involved in many immediately eligible graduate transfers at the guard position. It is clear that Scott Drew wants to pair a more experienced ball handler next to Lester Medford to share the load, rather than go with a younger player like King McClure or Al Freeman. The Bears will have a lot of unproven depth at the guard spot with McCLure being joined by Wendell Mitchell and Jake Lindsey. Point guard is not the only position that lost an expereinced ball-handler though, as Royce O'Neale acted as the primary facilitator quite a bit in 2014-15. With Taurean Prince shifting more to small forward, or Ish Wainright being put into a larger role, the Bears ability to take care of the ball (especially against presses) will not be as strong this coming season. Unless, they can get an experienced point guard to help share the load with Medford.
The dual point guard look was one that Coach Drew utilized quite a bit in his early years, going back to the Curtis Jerrells and Aaron Bruce years. The recruiting strategy changed though as the elite recruits in the post began to show up in Waco. With guys like Perry Jones, Isaiah Austin and even Quincy Miller, the Bears could run their offense through those guys just as well as a dual point guard system. In 2014-15, with no "elite" talent down low, the Bears ran much more of a guard heavy offense, with two point guards in the starting line up.
4. Right now, the Bears probably don't have a pure point guard ready to run the show, not like Kenny Chery at least. Lester Medford is more of a combo-guard, which is what King McClure profiles to be as well. Jake Lindsey could grow into that role, but that is a big growth curve to expect from an 18-year old freshman, who I think profiles better as a Royce O'Neale starter kit, rather than a true point guard. Baylor did bring in transfer Manu Lecomte from Miami, but he will have to sit out the 2015-16 season. There area few other transfer names out there on the market to watch out for (Johnny Hill from UTA is a possibility), and I do expect the Bears to continue searching for another point guard.
5. I started a new series last week, taking an in-depth look at a certain position when it comes to the 2016 recruiting class. Up first was the defensive tackle group (Membership required). Simply put, the 2016 class of defensive tackles in the state of Texas is as strong as I have ever seen. Baylor is heavily involved with five of the top players in the state, and all ranked in the Top-150 players in the country! That is incredible depth of star level talent. Any of those recruits would be on the same level (or higher) of Andrew Billings, the last 4-star defensive linemen to choose the Bears. It is funny to think about, but the Bears have actually had a little success in getting top-tier defensive linemen on campus. Be it on the transfer market with Phil Taylor and Shawn Oakman, or through the high school ranks with Javonte Magee and Billings, the Bears have had an NFL-caliber defensive lineman on the field for the past 5-years. This year they have two, with Oakman and Billings forming one of the better DT/DE tandems in the nation. Hopefully, Baylor will be able to continue that tradition with one of those top tier tackles. I will get to the defensive ends in the next week or so, but there are a few special names for that position as well.