Filling Holes -- Rebuilding Baylor Basketball for 2014-2015

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

With the knowledge that Baylor won't have Isaiah Austin next season after all, our needs have become crystal clear. But how do we address them in the (relatively) little time remaining?

Though many are disappointed in his decision (yet all will cheer for him, regardless), the news this week that Isaiah Austin has decided to declare for the 2014 NBA Draft has given us clarity in ascertaining our needs as they exist for the 2014-2015 season.  As we all know, the point here is to outscore your opponent through the acquisition of more buckets.  The key question will be how we go about doing that.

Using the rosters from last season and this, and with a bit of educated speculation about the future woven in, I've made a chart showing what we've lost and where we might be going, much as I did in the immediate aftermath of the football season (except there I did first and second teams whereas here I'm doing one for both years).  Next year's roster is based solely off who is here right now or has signed a NLI to be here.

Notes: I used what most consider our starting lineup for 2013-2014.  Heslip actually started just one game more than Gary Franklin, but that was mostly because Franklin started for Chery while he was injured. Bench players are listed in reverse order of their use. I've included the redshirts/medical players at the end of the bench.

2013-2014 2014-2015
Starters
PG Kenny Chery (JR) PG Chery (SR)
SG Brady Heslip (SR) SG Freeman (RS-FR)/Eubanks (FR)
SF Royce O`Neale (JR) SF O'Neale (SR)
PF Cory Jefferson (SR)
PF Motley (RS-FR)
C Isaiah Austin (SO)
C Gathers (JR)



Bench SG
Gary Franklin (SR)
SF Prince (JR)

PF/C

Rico Gathers (SO)
PG/SG Lester Medford (JR)
SF Taurean Prince (SO)
SF
Wainright (SO)
SG Ish Wainright (FR)
SG Eubanks/Freeman
F Logan Lowery* (JR)
F Logan Lowery* (SR)
F John Heard (SO) F John Heard (JR)
C Josh Clemons (JR)
C

Josh Clemons (SR)

PG/SG Allerik Freeman (FR)
PF/C

Chad Rykhoek (RS-FR)

PF Johnathan Motley (FR)
SG

Dimayne Durham (FR)

PF/C Chad Rykhoek (RS-FR)
PF

T.J. Maston (FR)

*Balla

The scholarship limit for NCAA MBB is 13, and I see 12 definite scholarship players on the 2013-2014 Baylor Bears (bolded above).  That suggests we pocketed a scholarship this past season (meaning we had one available to give for a year to a walk-on player).  For 2014-2015, we also have 12 definite scholarship players (bolded again), giving us one available scholarship as of this moment.  My belief is that number is actually 2 considering the likelihood that one of our existing scholarship players transfers out.  I won't say who I'm looking at when I say that.

Assuming we have 2 scholarships available, our needs seem pretty clear to me based on the chart above and what we've heard about our targets in the transfer and JUCO markets: SG and PF/C.

Shooting Guard--

As to the former, I include SG partially because of Drew's seeming proclivity against playing freshmen at the guard positions and because of our rumored interests in graduate transfers.  Having a veteran presence there would give us the flexibility to play Freeman and Eubanks (who could be redshirted) off the bench.  With Chery, Medford, and Freeman all capable of playing the 1 if need be, point guard shouldn't be a problem next year. A few guys we've been linked to in various places:

USC G/F Byron Wesley -- averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season for the Trojans in his junior season.  He's more of a 3 than a 2 a la Royce, so the fit isn't perfect, but we visited him yesterday per his twitter account.  Recent update says his three favorites were Michigan State, Gonzaga, and Pittsburgh.

Minnesota G Wally Ellenson -- Played just 62 minutes this season, making his numbers almost meaningless.  Reportedly looking at ISU, Tech, and Baylor among others.

Chaminade G Christophe Varidel -- I'm just kidding on this one; he hasn't been linked to Baylor.  But he is transferring out of Chaminade and can play immediately.  Wouldn't that be hilarious?  Dude can shoot, we know that.  He'd fill Brady's "dreamboat with flowing locks" shoes.

There are more names that have been mentioned in passing for this spot.  I'll fill in with more info as I find it.

Power Forward / Center --

Besides SG, our other biggest need is in the frontcourt, where we're losing both of our starters to the NBA.  Unless we plan to go really small at times and move Ish to the 4 and Motley the 5, we need big men badly.

JUCO PF Deng Deng -- One answer to that need could come in the former of Lee College PF Deng Deng, who is actually on his official visit to Baylor at this very moment.  Listed at 6-8, 215, Deng probably isn't going to step in a shotblocker right way, but he would provide immediate help at in a 4/5 rotation sorely needing it at the moment.  This could be our best option as of right now.

Houston PF TaShawn Thomas -- If you could get him to Baylor, Thomas has home run potential for a transfer.  He's reportedly graduating this summer, giving him the opportunity to play immediately, and he's coming off a season in which he averaged 15.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game.  As soon as he decided to transfer, people started suggesting Baylor as a possible destination.  Problem is, UofH decided that just a year after they took L.J. Rose from us, they would only let Thomas and teammate Danuel House transfer with restrictions, including that they weren't allowed to go anywhere in Texas.  Thanks, Houston.  Thomas and House are reportedly appealing the in-state restriction, but who knows how that will go.  There's a reason schools don't normally play games with high-profile transfers that Houston may soon find out about.

Houston SF Danuel House -- I'm only including him because we were involved in his recruiting.  He'd have to sit out a season and doesn't play a position we really need with O'Neale, Prince, and Wainright.  Also has to deal with Houston's epic screwjob.  Averaged 13.6 and 5.3 as a sophomore.

Baylor was also tied early on to St. John's Chris Obekpa before he decided not to transfer, so you know they know this is something we need.  My guess is that we get Deng some time soon, perhaps even on his visit.  Where we go with the other spot, I don't know.  That might take a lot longer to figure out, especially since we don't technically have the spot available at this moment by my reckoning.

Besides taking a shooter and a big, it's possible that Drew and co. decide they're comfortable with a guard situation that potentially includes Medford playing with Chery rather than one just backing up the other.  My guess, though, is that we'd rather have another proven scorer there, even if we bite the bullet on a smaller lineup anchored by Gathers at the 5.

I'll keep this thread updated as more information comes available throughout the spring and summer.

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