This is the first in a series looking at Baylor basketball’s roster for the 2016-2017 season. The series begins with a look at Baylor's lone senior, Ish Wainright.
Before the 2015-2016 season, Ish Wainright lost 30 pounds. He told John Werner, “I love Taco Bell, to be honest.” “I grew up on it, so I had to stop eating it. Now I’m just eating healthy, grilled chicken, rice and staying away from a lot of carbs, and also doing extra cardio.” The decision paid off as Ish Wainright had his best season as a Bear.
Entering this season, the Bears may have no bigger task than replacing Taurean Prince. The hope is that the Bears can replace him by committee. If Baylor can do that, Ish Wainright will be the second Bear to make the tournament every season he played on the team. Quncy Miller did it once. Wainright will have done it four times.
Wainright’s skills as a passer give the Bears some hope of experimenting with lineups early. While I suspect the best lineup will end up being: Lecomte, Freeman, McClure, Wainright, and Motley, Wainright’s passing and shooting should help him slide to small forward and let Baylor play big against other lineups.
In this clip, many remember Rico Gathers hitting an insane shot to end the half against Kansas. But it was Ish Wainright’s full-court pass that made the incredible chest-bump from Rico possible.
The play below shows how Wainright is especially helpful for the Bears because Drew loves to have his small forward in-bound the ball. Wainright makes a fantastic pass to Jake Lindsey.
In this clip, Wainright shows off his decision-making. Although Wainright has a wide-open three, he passed up a good look for an easy Motley look.
After playing the last several seasons at a slower pace, including the 256th fastest tempo last season, the Bears may choose to play faster this season. Wainright's athleticism gives the Bears hope they can run, especially if they play three-guard lineups consistently.
The loss of Rico Gathers leaves the Bears searching for a way to replace the country’s best offensive rebounder. On top of that loss, Taurean Prince was also in the top 350 in offensive rebounding rate, according to KenPom. Those two losses- given the Bears offense relied on their #4 offensive rebounding rate for much of their offense- may cause the Bears to play bigger. But I think Wainright has shown enough the Bears can count on him, along with Motley- ranked 67th in offensive rebounding rate, according to KenPom- to still be a good offensive rebounding team.
Below, Wainright demonstrates how he’s a good rebounder. Wainright has a 7’2 wingspan and superb instincts. Wainright shows he has a great feel for the floor. He slips through Iowa State’s zone for the put-back chance. Although Wainright misses that one, he fights through the play, saves the ball for Prince and then heads to the corner.
Wainright's biggest development from his sophomore to junior season was his three-point shooting. As a sophomore, Wainright was just 1 for 6 from deep. But as a junior, Wainright shot 42% on 65 attempts.
Wainright showed he could make in transition:
Here, he pops out to the line as Abdel Nader loses him, and with some help from Prince on a seal, Wainright drains the three:
Wainright is vital to what the Bears do because he is versatile. The Bears can count on him to help the team play different lineups and space the floor. Wainright probably won’t receive as much attention as some players on the team will, but he may be just as important to the Bears season.