Baylor has now made the NCAA Tournament in three consecutive seasons. Before this run, the Bears had never made it to the dance in consecutive seasons. The Bears have done this by replacing a series of talented players.
The Bears 2017-2018 team will depend on one big question: will Johnathan Motley return for his senior season? For the purposes of this article, I am operating under the assumption Motley will enter the NBA Draft after this season. NBA Draft Express has him as a late second-round selection next season. Motley has the potential to move up, and at 22 years old on draft day, I don’t think he’ll come back for his senior season. Cory Jefferson faced a similar calculation and did return, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. However, I expect Motley will push his way up draft boards due to his solid low-post play and improved range this off-season.
Baylor also has not made it official Jo Acuil has a medical redshirt. I expect he will be granted one, but those situations never seem to make much sense. The Baylor website does list Acuil as a redshirt junior.
The Bears 2017-2018 roster, absent transfers or a redshirt shapes up this way:
Point Guard: Manu Lecomte, senior. Jake Lindsey, junior.
Shooting Guard: Al Freeman, senior. King McClure, junior. Wendell Mitchell, sophomore. Tyson Jolly, sophomore.
Small Forward: Nuni Omot, senior. Mark Vital, sophomore.
Power Forward: Terry Maston, senior. Tristan Clark, freshman.
Center: Jo Acuil, senior.
Baylor has thirteen scholarships, which leaves the Bears with two more players to add to the 2017 class. Baylor could be at one if Motley returns, or could have more scholarships if a player transfers. However, two seems the most likely.
With Tristan Clark in the fold, the Bears attention turns to Ikechukwu Obiagu. The top 35 247 composite player, and #4 center would be a huge addition. The Bears need depth at center, and Obiagu would be the highest ranked commitment since Isaiah Austin in 2012.
The Bears could go without a point guard in this class. They have Jeremiah Gambrell in the 2018 class, and Jake Lindsey is set to be a senior Gambrell’s freshman year. Baylor will have this season and next to figure out how confident they are in Lindsey as a starting point guard, or if they feel Gambrell can be the back-up as a freshman. My guess is that Scott Drew will feel like its not essential he adds a point guard in this class.
Baylor’s big need in this class is adding at least two bigs. If Baylor adds Obiagu and Clark, then the Bears will give themselves a strong shot to have a nice tournament run.
We’ll continue to keep you updated as any recruiting news. Right now the future of Baylor basketball looks promising.