2013-2014 ODB Men's Basketball Graphical Preview

Basketball starts Friday, and we're bringing you a preview of what to expect this season.

NON-CONFERENCE OUTLOOK

OR: WELCOME TO TEXAS

Baylor begins the season in Texas, and outside of a brief trip to Maui for its annual invitational, this team won't leave the state of Texas until Big 12 play. This means that if you are a Bears fan who resides somewhere within the Texas borders, you don't have much of an excuse to not catch a glimpse of this team in person before January.

We will know a lot about this team pretty quickly. With games against Colorado, South Carolina, the Maui Invitational teams and Kentucky before we even reach Christmas break, with a few other decent-to-good mid majors along the way - we will know what this unit looks like well before we start thinking about Big 12 action. Colorado and Kentucky are easily the most difficult games on our non-conference schedule and in some ways, it's unfortunate for us that we are opening the season with Colorado - a tough, physical team that is incredibly well coached.

The 2013-2014 season marks the first time under Scott Drew that Bears' fans find themselves more concerned with the back court than the front court heading into the first game and probably holds more intrigue than ever before. In all honesty this is a difficult group to peg. There are pieces in place that make us an obvious tier one Big 12 team this season alongside the Kansas Jayhawks and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Then there are the lingering question marks, things like Isaiah Austin's shoulder injury, the point guard position and the ever pervasive: "What on earth is Scott Drew doing right now?" that could ultimately send us on another blitz through the NIT tournament. I'm inclined to believe we have a team that is built for an NCAA tournament run, however at this point all is speculation - but isn't that why you are here. Let's take a look.

FOR AN IN DEPTH ROSTER OVERVIEW CLICK HERE

FOR THE REST OF US:

BRADY HESLIP

The "sharpshooter" has spent most of the off season playing with various Canadian national teams with some big names and apparently rediscovered his shooting stroke. Heslip will start once again, playing a role position designed to create space on offense and hide on defense. More info here.

ISH WAINRIGHT

He's the latest prize of Scott Drew's recruiting prowess and looks to be an instant impact contributor. Word on the street seems to indicate that he will be starting from the get go. Wainright is likely the only incoming freshman capable of challenging Andrew Wiggins of Kansas for Big 12 Freshman of the Year. More info here.

CORY JEFFERSON

A monster, Cory Jefferson has transformed from twig to beast to potential first round draft pick during his stay at Baylor. His duty: clean up the boards and shut down the big guys while contributing second chance points. More info here.

TAUREAN PRINCE

Those Baylor fans who loved Quincy Acy (which should be all of you) will love Prince in his second year. A somewhat surprising player, Prince has been devastatingly efficient in a limited role. Watch for that to expand this year. More info here.

ISAIAH AUSTIN

If you don't know about Isaiah Austin at this point, then you're definitely behind. There's a tendency to think that the point guard position will be the biggest indicator of our potential success this season, but if Austin can translate his intense attitude from the bench to the court: lookout. More info here.

GARY FRANKLIN

Mr. Franklin provides us with a few things, but more than anything: experience. In his senior year look for him to be a role player off the bench who helps us out with an occasional big three, nice pass and lock-down defense on opposing guards. More info here.

KENNY CHERY

As a junior college transfer from Canada, Chery is a pretty solid blend between our resident Canadian Brady Heslip and 2nd round draft pick Pierre Jackson. A consistent shot, quick handles and basketball IQ translate to a starting point guard spot. More info here.

ALLERIK FREEMAN

Freeman is another highly regarded recruit who won't see as much time at the beginning of the year due to a couple of factors. 1) He is out six weeks with an injury and 2) More raw than other true freshmen we've had play immediately in the past. But this guy is gonna be good. More info here.

ROYCE O'NEALE

A godsend during of an off season that saw more than a few transfers out of Baylor, O'Neale is going to make a big impact this season for the Bears. Watch for big minutes and big production as the season wears on.More info here.

JOHNATHAN MOTLEY

Another piece of depth for this massive front court, the true freshman will see little action not because of a lack of ability, but because of the amount of talent ahead of him. More info here.

RICO GATHERS

Massive. Energy. Terrifying. All words that come to mind when 6'8" Rico Gathers is mentioned. He is an absolute animal on the boards - expect surprising numbers from Gathers this year after another year of improvement and a college level workout program. More info here.

JOHN HEARD

You've probably never heard (pun most definitely intended) of him unless you intensely follow who is managing for college basketball teams. Heard is a manager turned walk-on who will see action in mop up duty and in practice. More info here.

CHAD RYKHOEK

Chad should really know that we like him here at ODB - he's worth a good follow on twitter and could be a future Josh Lomers, which would be fantastic for the bears. Remains to be seen whether he will crack the lineup, but standing at 6'11" won't hurt. More info here.

LOGAN LOWERY

Lowery is similar to Heard - a valuable asset for practice and overall basketball iq, but isn't going to see any time unless we're up by Baylor Football numbers. More info here.

CONFERENCE OUTLOOK

OR: BEAT KANSAS AND OSU

This season, it's simple. Baylor, along with Oklahoma State, Kansas and possibly Iowa State (barring any more devastating injuries) will compete for the Big 12 title while the rest of the conference looks on with a chance to pick apart the top tier from time to time because this is college basketball. With all of the hype around Kansas' Wiggins, our own Ish Wainright is actually a pretty great match against him all things considered. In my opinion, Oklahoma State is the class of the Big 12 this year, yet the Bill Self factor at Kansas alone is enough to withhold crowning anyone not named Kansas the Big 12 champion before the season even really begins.

OVERALL

OR: SWEET SIXTEEN OR BUST

As much potential as this team has, it is still full of unknowns. However, if our football team is any indication: sometimes unknowns can be better than you imagined. What you will likely see is up to nine or ten guys in the rotation, which paired with the toughness of our front court does pose a significant threat in a tournament situation. Our likely starters are Kenny Chery at the point, Brady Heslip at shooting guard, Ish Wainright at small forward, and Cory Jefferson/Isaiah Austin playing the ambiguous 4/5 positions for this team. Gathers, Prince, Franklin, O'Neale will see significant action in addition to the starters and Freeman (when healthy) and Motley are likely to sneak a few minutes in from time to time.

So what should we expect? Don't be surprised to watch us drop a couple of games early on, but don't give up too quickly either. If we finish third in the Big 12 it will probably mean an NCAA tournament berth with a seed anywhere from 5 to 8. As I mentioned earlier, the depth and toughness of this team should help us out tremendously come March so don't be surprised to see us drop two to Kansas and/or OSU in the Big 12 regular season only to come back and win the Big 12 tournament. I know there is a ton of excitement around the football team right now, but Scott Drew has us poised once again to make headlines in the world of college basketball. Baylor is lucky right now to have the coaches and players we have in our system, let's enjoy it! (Hover your mouse in the blank space below)

A few extra links:

Where is Baylor going to get its points production?

An ODB preview of our first opponent: Colorado

Decent Athlon Preview of your Baylor Bears

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