1.The NBA draft has come and gone. No Baylor Bears were chosen in the 2015 NBA draft, but one player will begin their professional career with an NBA organization. Royce O'Neale has signed on to join the Boston Celtics Summer League team. O'Neale will be at the Orlando Summer League July 4th through 10th looking to earn a spot on the Celtics squad, or possibly impress on another NBA team and get a shot with them. The Summer League is full of younger players in their first few years of professional basketball looking to earn a spot, with a smattering of older players looking to get one last shot. O'Neale has NBA size for the small forward position, and his ball handling and passing from that position are very good. The big question will be about his perimeter shooting and if that will be strong enough to make him a good candidate for an end of the bench.
2.While the Baylor basketball team struck out in the NBA draft this year, the 2016 could be a big one for the Bears. Ricardo Gathers and Taurean Waller-Prince are both going into their seniors years. Gathers moved up draft boards after taking on a larger role with the Bears last year. An elite rebounder with incredible strength and a developing post game, Gathers is a jump shot away from being a first round pick. Even with his recent off the court issues, Gathers profiles as a solid 2nd round pick, unless his offensive game takes another step forward and allows him to play more power forward.
Taurean Prince is a much more interesting case. The senior to be was not on anybody's radar this time last year. After a very strong junior campaign that saw his scoring, 3-point shooting, steals and blocking all take a huge step forward, Prince's above average athleticism and good height and length at the small forward spot started to really shine according to NBA pundits.
With a starting role at small forward likely for the 6-foot-7 inch senior, Prince will be looked at to carry a larger role on offense after the departure of Kenny Chery and Royce O'Neale.
Wouldn't be surprised if Taurean Prince ended up being a late 1st/early 2nd. 6' 7.5" with a 6' 11" wingspan. Shoots, guards, boards.— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) June 27, 2015
3.Next year's NBA draft is not the only one that Baylor fans should be looking forward to. The 2016 NFL draft could be a big weekend for the Bears as well. In 2011 and 2012, two Bears were chosen in the first round of the NFL draft. Robert Griffin III and Kendall Wright in 2012 and Phil Taylor and Danny Watkins in 2011. Three of those players are on the offensive side of the ball though, and that is what makes the 2016 draft a special one. Right now, the Bears could have at least two draftees in the first round in senior tackle Spencer Drango and defensive end Shawn Oakman. Both spurred the 2015 draft to return for the final years in Waco. However, two other names have also been linked as potential early draftees in juniors Andrew Billings and Corey Coleman.
Billings is probably the safer of the two to project as a 1st round pick, as his position, strength, production, and potential are elite for a junior to be. With another step forward in his development, Billings could easily go in the first half of the opening round. Coleman has elite speed and athleticism for the wide receiver position, but wide receivers lacking good height as well for the position tend to fall. Now, both of these players could easily come back for their senior year, even if they blow-up in terms of draft stock. However, it seems the Bears will likely end their three year drought without a first round NFL pick.
4.Not that long ago, Baylor athletics was looked at as an example of what NOT to be. That just makes it even more incredible to
5.That continued success will be partly written by a few big-time 2017 commits for Baylor football in Kellen Mond and Hezekiah Jones. The Bears have their quarterback picked out and also happened to reel in the top wide receiver prospect for the '17 class. These were two massive commitments for the Bears, and could be the start of a truly special class. Funny that I was saying the same thing about the 2016 class at this time, and honestly, it has delivered. The 2016 class could be the best under Briles, a unanimous Top-20 class with top-tier recruits all over the field. 2017 could be even better. We break it down, and show you some of the possibilities inside BearsIllustrated.com.