The Future of Baylor Basketball: Our 2014 Recruiting Class

Scott Drew's recruiting strategy of "Go Big or Go Home" didn't work out as planned initially, but Baylor was still able to put together a talented quartet of athletic perimeter players to fuel Drew's system going forward.

Looking over 247Sports' Composite Top 247 for the 2014 class, you see what is basically a Who's Who list of recruits Baylor wanted and didn't get in this past recruiting cycle.  At the top, Baylor welcomed #1 overall recruit Jahlil Okafor and #6 Tyus Jones to campus in August for official visits that reportedly went extremely well.  Both eventually signed with the Duke Blue Devils.   In addition to Jones, we sought #2 recruit Emmanuel Mudiay, a local star that flirted with schools nationwide before signing with Larry Brown's SMU Mustangs.  We threw our hat into the ring for #4 Myles Turner, who is as yet uncommitted but probably headed to Duke (seems unlikely), Kansas (my pick), Texas, Oklahoma State, or SMU.  Further down the list a bit, we made one of the final cuts for Rashad Vaughn, a future UNLV Runnin' Rebel, and were mentioned at least in passing with both Justice Winslow (Duke) and Daniel Hamilton (Connecticut Huskies).

All of these misses, if characterized negatively, led some to allege that Drew was spending too much time recruiting the elite guys that aren't likely to stick around, anyway, at the expense of that next level program-builder just beneath them.  I'm not really going to address that argument here.  I will say that if I trust Drew to do anything (and I do, quite a bit), it is to identify recruits with which he believes we have at least a reasonable chance and pursue them to the extent of his ability.  Coming in second for Okafor and Jones, for example (and we may have been third or fourth, I don't know), doesn't mean the recruitment in its entirety wasn't worth it.  Drew has gotten guys like that before in Perry Jones III and Isaiah Austin.  I'm confident he'll do it again.

Recognizing that things didn't turn out the way we wanted to with elite talents like Okafor, Mudiay, and Jones, let me also say that I still believe Drew did as good a job as reasonably possible in salvaging a 2014 class that addresses some, but not all, of our major needs.  We needed another point guard on the roster and got one in Lester Medford.  He'll help bridge the gap between Chery and Freeman as the latter matures.  We needed shooters with the departure of Heslip and Franklin and got them in Durham and Eubanks, though I expect the former to redshirt this coming season.  Most of all, we needed scorers, guys talented at acquiring buckets, and got them.  We still have needs in the front court that are obvious and potentially crippling, depending on who leaves from this year's team, that will need to be addressed.  I think we'll be talking about that quite a bit in coming months.

Baylor's four 2014 commitments, listed chronologically in terms of their commitment to Baylor:

SG Damiyne Durham | 6-4, 175 | Oakwood, TX | Committed 8/24/13

Baylor's first commit of the 2014 class, Durham is a lanky shooting guard from Oakwood, Texas that 247Sports ranks as the #223 player in the country with a grade of 87.  They're a bit of an outlier in that ranking but not much, as their Composite ranking now has Durham at #269 after the final evaluation of the 2014 cycle.

Durham is an extremely interesting recruit to me.  Despite his relatively low recruiting ranking and the fact that 247Sports has just Baylor on his profile, Rivals lists Durham as having 11 major D1 offers from the likes of Texas, Michigan, Memphis, Missouri, and Kansas State.  If that's true, it's extremely impressive.  Part of the mystery about Durham comes from the fact that Oakwood is a 1A school, where the competition isn't known to be exactly fierce, and he hasn't been overly active in the AAU circuit.  Still, what I do know shows that Durham is a consummate scorer that, according to MaxPreps, averaged nearly 30 points and 10 rebounds a game in his senior season.  His 3-point shooting percentage (31%) is a bit of a concern, but that probably shows a talented player on a less-than-talented team, a HS version of Antoine Walker, if you will.

Hit the link above on his commitment date for the ODB thread from that point.  In the comments, Iamron provided a wealth of information about Durham from his junior season and the summer thereafter that is definitely worth reading.  PocketChange made an allusion at the time to LaceDarius Dunn that Scott Drew later repeated, so there's that, too.  From everything I've read there and elsewhere, Baylor signed in Durham an explosive scorer that will need time to gain strength and (probably) discretion in college.  My guess is that he redshirts in 2014-2015 and plays thereafter.

PF T.J. Maston | 6-7, 225 | DeSoto, TX | Committed 9/8/13

Baylor's second commit for 2014 was T.J. Maston of DeSoto and Team Texas Elite, one of the best AAU teams in the Metroplex over the past few years.  Maston is ranked similarly to Durham in the Composite at 285 but well below by 247 itself as an 82 overall.  His profile lists offers from Houston, Oregon, Kansas State, and SMU, among others.  Rivals shows the same.  From twitter searches, it seems like Larry Brown and SMU were the biggest competition for his services.

Unlike the other three commits on this list, I didn't do a full-blown commitment post for Maston, instead adding a few things I found at the time to my short-lived MBB Recruiting post from the fall.  It seems that in Maston, Baylor found yet another long, athletic player in the Quincy Acy mold who will be slightly undersized for the 4 and will need time before being expected to contribute.  Scouting reports on Maston are virtually non-existent beyond the short blurbs I put into that post, but the general consensus of what I can find praises his rebounding skills and ability to score around the rim.  The offer list above is probably based on potential more than anything else, so like Durham, I would expect to see Maston redshirt for 2014-2015.

PG Lester Medford | 5-11, 185 | Indian Hills CC, Ottumwa, IA | Committed 11/20/13

Another year, another diminutive JUCO PG for Scott Drew.  First there was Pierre Jackson, who ended his Baylor career an all-conference player.  Then came Kenny Chery, who could easily do the same.  Next is Lester Medford, the first who will actually get a chance to play with his predecessor.  A year from now, we'll be talking about Isaac Hayes-Tumblethwaite, a person I just made up that will average about 20 points per game for a community or junior college in the Midwest while shooting 40% from 3.

Playing for Indian Hills CC this past season, Medford averaged 15.2 points per game shooting 40.9% from 3 (about what Chery shot last year, if I recall) and 74.1% from the free throw line.  He has a mixtape from Iowa Elites that I've posted before and will embed below.

As with just about any JUCO player and consistent with Baylor's experiences in the past, expect Medford to play immediately for Baylor in 2014-2015 either behind or beside Chery.  He should provide, at worst, decent depth at the PG position the likes of which we didn't have this year, and if he can keep his shooting percentages high, could get plenty of opportunities.  I'm excited to see what PJ2.0 can do for Baylor next year.

SG Kobie Eubanks | 6-5, 212 | Fort Lauderdale, FL | Committed 3/18/14

This commitment happened a little over 19 hours ago, so there's not much more to say than has already been said.  At #190 in the Composite Top 247, Eubanks is the highest-ranked HS recruit in this class and, alongside Medford, the one I see as most likely to contribute in 2014-2015.  Baylor received his commitment over an extremely impressive list of offers including Florida, Missouri, and Pittsburgh, the last of which was considered the runner-up for his services.

I say that Eubanks is likely to play next season because I see an opportunity for him to do so at the 2.  I'll go into more detail below, but with Brady Heslip and Gary Franklin both graduating, Baylor will need perimeter shooters immediately, and few beside Chery exist on the roster at this point.  Eubanks will get an opportunity early and often alongside Chery, Medford, and 2013 signee Allerik Freeman.

Remaining Needs:

To look at what we will continue to need, it's important to look at what we will have.  Off the 2013-2014 team, Baylor will definitely lose Gary Franklin, Brady Heslip, and Cory Jefferson, a trio that combines for approximately 40% of our points, 60% of our 3-point shooting, 70% of our rim-rocking dunks (Rico Gathers will really have to step up his game in this regard next year), and 100% of our iconic optical hand gestures.  Isaiah Austin, a sophomore, may also decide to take advantage of a strong Big 12 Tournament and (hopefully) NCAA Tournament run and leave for the NBA.  If he does, push the points we're losing to 55%and take away 83% of our blocks, as well.  Assuming those four leave, and including the four 2014 commits, our roster looks like this:

No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. Exp. Hometown/High School/Last College
--
Dimayne Durham
SG 6-4 175 FR HS Oakwood, Texas/Oakwood HS
-- T.J. Maston
PF 6-7 225 FR HS DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto HS
-- Kobie Eubanks
SG/SF 6-5 215 FR HS Fort Lauderdale, Florida/Our Savior New American School (Centereach, NY)
25 Allerik Freeman PG/SG 6-3 200 RS-FR RS Charlotte, N.C./Findlay Prep [Nev.]
24 Ish Wainright G/F 6-5 245 SO HS Kansas City, Mo./Montrose Christian [Md.]
12 Johnathan Motley PF 6-9 210 RS-FR RS Houston, Texas/North Shore HS
15 Chad Rykhoek F/C 6-11 230 SO ? Fort Worth, Texas/Fort Worth Christian HS
-- Lester Medford
PG 5-11 185 JR TR Indian Hills CC
13 John Heard F 6-5 200 JR 1L Houston, Texas/Episcopal HS
35 Taurean Prince SF 6-7 210 JR 2L San Antonio, Texas/Earl Warren HS
2 Rico Gathers Beast 6-8 270 JR 2L LaPlace, La./Riverside Academy
1 Kenny Chery PG 5-11 180 SR 1L Montreal, Quebec/Archbishop Carroll HS [D.C]/State Fair CC
20 Logan Lowery F 6-6 190 SR 2L Kingwood, Texas/Kingwood HS/Centenary
00 Royce O'Neale SF 6-6 220 SR TR Killeen, Texas/Harker Heights HS/Denver
55 Josh Clemons C 6-8 230 SR TR Jacksonville, Fla./Ohio County HS [Ky.]/Motlow State CC

Though this roster includes walk-ons, with a 4-man class and 4 (we're assuming) departing players, the scholarship situation works out evenly.  You have a wealth of talent from 2-4 where we didn't just a few short years ago, including multiple high-upside young players.  That's the good part.  The bad part is that assuming Isaiah does leave, we're going to be a very small team next year in the frontcourt.  Our only returning player with experience there will be Rico, who tops out at 6-8.  I don't really want to depend on him to guard opposing centers underneath the basket.  I've heard intriguing things about Motley's potential, but he's a 4, not a 5.  I have no idea what to expect from Rykhoek, and I honestly don't mean that as a slight to him at all.  It just seems obvious at this point that Baylor really needs a big man, either from another school or as a late pickup from JUCO, to balance out this roster.  Or we need Austin to come back next year, dominate as the focal point of the offense, and leave after his junior year.  That would be great.  Either one, however, would require an open scholarship that I don't know if we have at this point.

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