Here’s a look at what Baylor is facing to replace these players.
Kenny Chery – There is perhaps no position more important to Baylor’s offense than point guard, and Chery was a great one for the Bears. The stats didn’t jump off the page (11.3 points, 4.1 assists), but Chery was a calming presence at the point guard position.
Now, Lester Medford will be expected to take over point duties, even though he is not the prototypical player for that position. Medford averaged only 3 assists per game last season, but will be asked to be more of a distributor.
In addition, freshman guard Jake Lindsey is expected to take over backup point guard duties. What really made Baylor basketball special last season was the versatility, and that should be there this season.
Baylor has players at almost every position who can handle, shoot and move the ball, including Medford, Al Freeman, Lindsey, King McClure, Wendell Mitchell and Taurean Prince. All of these players should see at least some opportunity early. Finding all these players shots and roles will be the deciding factor as to whether Baylor basketball takes a step forward.
Royce O’Neale – The former Denver transfer was huge for Baylor last season, even if his stats were fairly pedestrian. The Harker Heights product averaging 10.1 points, 5.8 rebound and 3.4 assists per game last season. More importantly, O’Neale’s versatility on the wing was vital to the loose gameplan the Bears ran out last season.
There is not one player who can quite replace what O’Neale did last season, even if Taurean Prince should be an instant offensive upgrade in the starting lineup. However, one player who might be able to fill some of his roles is Ish Wainright.
The Kansas City junior was expected to contribute early after being recruited as a four-star prospect out of Montrose Christian, but he has struggled to find playing time. Wainright put a premium on losing some weight to try and play on the wing. If he can get his jump shot up to snuff, he could play a little bit of point forward.
Prince will also step in and will be expected to handle and pass the ball. The San Antonio senior was allowed to be mostly a scorer last season, but that won’t be enough this year. He must establish himself as a complete star. He has the tools, let’s see it happen.