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5-Things: Hoops and Recruits

With signing day around the corner, the finishing touches to a strong 2016 class are starting to come into focus. A strong push will be needed, especially after one of the biggest official visits weekends in Baylor history.

1. The Baylor Bears are hot right now, both on the court and on the recruiting trail.  The Bears basketball team under Scott Drew has 4-wins in a row, including two crucial road wins.  Winning on the road is the key to a great finish in Big 12 play.  With a round-robin schedule, everyone has to go to Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa State.  Those three have long been presumed to be the top of the Big 12. With Iowa State losing three of their first four Big 12 conference games, they have fallen behind the Bears and the surging West Virginia Mountaineers in the conference pecking order.  

Part of that losing start for Iowa State is directly tied to the Bears, who picked up a massive road win in Ames 94-89 on Jnauary 9th.  It is the second year in a row the Bears have won in Ames, and also the only two times over the past 2 years that the Cyclones have lost at home.  After losing their first three true road games of the year, including two blowout losses to Kansas and Texas A&M, the Bears have found their stride away from home.  The win over Iowa State was big, but the victory Saturday against Texas Tech might be almost as important. 

This Red Raiders squad is much improved over the 3-13 version from last year. They are shooting the ball much better than last year, and are still doing good work on defense. Lubbock has been a calvacade of horror for the Bears in the past, so getting out of West Texas with a win is key.  The Bears have two big road wins in Big 12 play, with 6 left to go.  They still have to go to Oklahoma and West Virginia, but have set themselves up for success the rest of the way.  

2. The Lady Bears have also righted the ship after a surprising loss to open conference play against Oklahoma State. Since that 52-45 road loss, the Lady Bears 5-0 and secured a huge road win over the undefeated and 4th ranked Texas Longhorns Sunday afternoon.  It was a dominanting effort for Kim Mulkey and her Bears, punshing the Longhorns in transition in a 80-67 victory. They have won four of the five games by at least 13 points, with their home win over West Virginia only by 5. The Lady Bears are as deep and talented as any team in the nation, especially when win Alexis Prince is healthy. The 6-foot-2 guard gives the Lady Bears more size at the wing, allowing them to keep Nina Davis at her preferred power forward spot.  When Prince is able to play, she gives them more scoring options to take the load off of Davis and trasnfer guard Alexis Jones. 

With young posts Kalani Brown and Beatrice Mompremier still learning what it takes to get on the court and stay there, this team still has a lot of upside. We have seen flashes from Brown, including 6 big minutes in the first half against Texas which led to 5 points and 3 rebounds, and Mompremier.  If they find their stride, I don't know if there is a team outside of Uconn that I would take over this Lady Bears squad.  

3. While both basketball teams were on the road this weekend, the Baylor football team had as important of a home-date on the calendar as you will ever find.  It was official visit weekend, with 16 Baylor commitments scheduled to visit.  The dead period for recruiting ended earlier in the week, and the Baylor staff was active.  They visited key commits as well as some key recruits still available.  With 5-spots left in the 2016 class, the Bears have quite a few top-tier possibilities left.  They are looking for at least 1 more defensive linemen, espeically after the loss of Andrew Billings to the NFL draft.  A new name might have emerged as a possible option at defensive tackle as well, as a 3-star tackle dropped by Waco to speak with the coaching staff after leaving Austin on an official visit. 

The Bears also had a big surprise visitor on campus, one that could help in the secondary and give the Bears more options to replace Xavien Howard.  The other area Baylor is looking at is on the offensive line, where a top-tier JuCo tackle could be Baylor's to lose.  We are hearing many names right now, some of which are committed elsewhere as of now. The names are piling up and there are a lot of options left on how the Bears could finish the 2016 class. 

4. While the Bears are trying to poach a few big names from rivals, a few Baylor commits are still looking around.  Grayland Arnold has a scheduled visit to a Big 12 rival, while longtime commit Patrick Hudson has several visits that he "possibly could take" on the books.  Kameron Martin continues to get quite a bit of attention from Texas as well.  We even know of a big-time Baylor commit with a scheduled official visit to Oklahoma coming up.  These problems come with the territory. If no one is recruiting your commits, it just means that you don't have any worth going after.  Baylor has a top-15 class right now, and one that could reach the Top-10 with a few spots left to be filled.  

These other schools have jobs to do, and kids can take these visits for many reasons, including wanting to flip. The only day that matters is signing day.  With several weeks left to go, the fun is just now getting started.  New staffs and late-bloomers are changing the game for everyone.  The Bears still have work to do, no doubt, but they have a strong class now, and have done some excellent work in the past to keep highly coveted guys in the fold.  

5. Ranking the Big 12 Basketball

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Kansas
  3. West Virginia
  4. Baylor
  5. Iowa State
  6. Texas
  7. Texas Tech
  8. Kansas State
  9. Oklahoma State
  10. TCU

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