July 29, 2011
2011-2012 Baylor Basketball Preseason Prospectus
After missing the postseason for the first time since 2007, Baylor has reloaded with its most decorated recruiting class in program history. Despite a disappointing 18-13 season that saw LaceDarius Dunn become both the school and Big 12 all-time leading scorer, the Bears are 91-47 in the last four seasons — the best such stretch since making two Final Four appearances in five years from 1945-50. Baylor has posted four straight winning seasons — all with 18 or more wins — for the first time since it had seven straight winning campaigns from 1966-67 to 1972-73.
With its athletic roster and impressive depth, Baylor, which hasn’t won a conference title since 1950 in the old Southwest Conference, is a legitimate Big 12 title contender in 2011-12. Dunn is the lone starter gone from a Baylor squad that will again featured one of the nation’s most athletic frontcourts with Quincy Acy, Anthony Jones and Perry Jones III. Returning starter A.J. Walton anchors Baylor’s talented backcourt that features four newcomers — freshman Deuce Bello, sophomore Gary Franklin, sophomore Brady Heslip and junior Pierre Jackson. Jackson led College of Southern Idaho to a national title and was named 2011 NJCAA Division I Player of the Year. Heslip is currently playing on Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team training camp roster and is expected to be Baylor’s top deep threat.
Freshmen Quincy Miller and Bello comprise Baylor’s consensus top-20 recruiting class; Miller will be the second consensus top-10 recruit to don a Baylor jersey in as many seasons, following Jones III. Not only will Baylor’s frontcourt get a booster from Miller, it will also welcome back F Cory Jefferson, who redshirted in 2010-11. Along with Walton, Jefferson has spent the previous two summers competing with Athletes In Action overseasons in a pair of European tours. Seniors Fred Ellis and J’mison Morgan will provide the Bears with more frontcourt depth. In all, Baylor returns nine letterwinners, including three players — Walton, Acy, A. Jones — that played significant roles during the Bears' 2010 Elite Eight run.
Preseason expectations continue to climb in Waco. Last season, Baylor was ranked as high as No. 9 in the country after finishing the 2009-10 season as the 10th-ranked team in the final ESPN/USA TODAY Coaches Poll. This summer, several media outlets have Baylor as a top-16 team in early preseason polls — Jeff Goodman, CBSSports.com (No. 11); Jon Rothstein, MSG.com/CBS College Sports (No. 12); Mike Miller, NBCSports.com (No. 14); Gary Parrish, CBSSports.com (No. 14); Jason King, Yahoo! Sports (No. 14); Dick Vitale, ESPN.com (No. 16) and Andy Katz, ESPN.com (No. 16).
- The Baylor men’s basketball program will participate in a foreign tour in August as the Bears will travel to Toronto, Ontario, for three games Aug. 11-16. Baylor will play the Belgium National Team (Aug. 12), Ryerson University (Aug. 13) and Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team (Aug. 15). All three games will be played at Ryerson University in Toronto.
- After sitting out the 2010-11 season per NCAA transfer rules, sophomore Brady Heslip will suit up for his first full collegiate season in 2011-12. Heslip, who spent one semester at Boston College, transferred to Baylor in June 2010.
- For the second straight summer, Heslip is at training camp for one of his home country’s premier basketball teams. The Burlington, Ontario, native is one of 17 players on Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team training camp roster. Last summer, Heslip was one of 20 Canadian basketball players invited to the 2010 Development Men’s National Team Training Camp in Toronto. He later traveled with DMNT to Europe for an eight-game competitive tour.
- Senior F Quincy Acy enters the 2011-12 season with 905 career points. Acy needs 95 points to become the 25th 1,000-point scorer in Baylor history and the seventh in the Drew era — Aaron Bruce, Curtis Jerrells, Kevin Rogers, Henry Dugat, LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter.
- In May, junior A.J. Walton, redshirt sophomore Cory Jefferson and director of operations Tim Maloney traveled to Macedonia and Kosovo for a two-week competitive tour with Athletes In Action. The trio led AIA to a 5-1 record and a tournament title as the Americans defeated Poland in the championship game.
- Led by returning starters Quincy Acy, Anthony Jones and Perry Jones III, Baylor possesses one of the nation’s top frontcourts entering the 2011-12 season. John Gasaway of Basketball Prospectus ranks Baylor fourth overall on his top-10 list released in June; the Bears were the only Big 12 team to make Gasaway’s list.
- Jones III, who averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds in 30 games during his freshman All-American season in 2010-11, will make his regular-season debut Dec. 4 at Northwestern. PJ3 will sit out the first five games of the 2011-12 season to satisfy a six-game suspension handed down in March 2011 by the NCAA for receiving pre-enrollment benefits.
- Former Midwestern State and Abilene Christian head coach Grant McCasland returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach on Scott Drew’s staff. McCasland’s appointment cames nearly four months after he was named the 15th head men’s basketball coach in Abilene Christian history. In two seasons at Midwestern State, McCasland posted a combined 56-12 mark and back-to-back NCAA Division II Elite Eight appearances.
- Sophomore G Gary Franklin, who transferred to Baylor in Jan. 2011, sat out the spring 2011 semester and will sit out the fall 2011 semester to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.
- Baylor will be featured twice on ESPN’s Big Monday platform for the 2012 season. It marks the third time in the last four seasons Baylor will play multiple Big Monday games. Baylor will travel to Lawrence, Kan., to face the Kansas Jayhawks on Jan. 16, 2012, at 8:30 p.m. CT. For the second consecutive year, the Baylor-Kansas showdown will be the second half of a unique Big 12/ESPN Big Monday doubleheader; the first game will feature Texas A&M at Missouri (4:30 p.m.). The Bears’ second Big Monday game will take place Feb. 20 at Texas (8 p.m. CT). Baylor and Texas have split the last six series meetings.
- Baylor is 1-4 all-time in ESPN Big Monday contests. Three of those contests have come against the Jayhawks; Baylor and Texas will be playing on Big Monday for the second time.
- Westchester Country Day School teammates Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello make up Baylor’s consensus top-20 signing class for 2011 that was ranked No. 14 by Rivals.com, No. 16 by Scout.com and No. 18 by both MaxPreps.com and ESPN. Miller ranked No. 4 nationally by Scout.com, No. 6 by ESPN and No. 7 by Rivals.com and MaxPreps.com. Bello was a top-60 recruit by Scout.com (52), Rivals.com (53) and ESPN (53).
- Junior G Pierre Jackson was ranked the No. 1 junior college player in the nation in 2010-11 by JucoRecruiting.com. Jackson guided the College of Southern Idaho to a national championship, garerning first-team NJCAA Region 18 and Division I All-America honors. The Scenic West Athletic Conference Player of the Year was also named NJCAA Division I Player of the Year in 2011.
- The Baylor men's basketball team will be one of eight schools participating in the 2011 iBN Sports Las Vegas Classic, which will be held December 22-23 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Baylor will host Bethune-Cookman and Kennesaw State in two on-campus games for the Las Vegas Classic and will play two more games once in Las Vegas.
- Baylor is 30-4 at home in the last two seasons, winning a Ferrell Center-record 15 home games in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Baylor is 56-13 in the last four seasons at home, boasting an impressive .812 winning percentage.