Anyone who has watched a Baylor basketball game on live TV knows that there are some things you hear every game: “Did you know Jake Lindsey’s father is an NBA GM?” “Scott Drew has done one of the best rebuilding jobs of all time.” “Baylor’s zone is elite (and can be beat by hitting the low post corners).” And “Baylor/Scott Drew have a unique talent for developing elite big men.”
Announcer Fran Fraschilla was certainly pushing a lot of those talking pieces last night when Baylor took on Creighton, especially the development of big men. There’s been a long line of very successful Baylor big men that include the likes of Ekpe Udoh, Quincy Miller, Cory Jefferson, Isaiah Austin, and most recently Jonathan Motley. With nearly all of these players, there was massive improvement each year they played under Scott Drew, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Fraschilla argued that Jo Lual-Acuil, Jr. (Big Jo) is the next in that line. I would certainly have to agree at this point in the season.
Jo has always been a dominating defensive post presence. Last season he averaged 2.61 blocks per game. Anyone who has watched this season knows that blocking power is still there, with 6 blocks on the young season and MANY more altered shots. But what really stands out from last year to this year is the improvement of Big Jo’s offensive game.
Last season, Jo was much more of a defensive than offensive weapon. He averaged a respectable 9.19 points per game. Part of why Jo didn’t carry the load on offense was because he was usually on the floor with the very talented scorer, Jonathan Motley. This season Jo is THE big man on a team of long players, and he’s been making the most of it so far.
5 games into the season, Jo is averaging 14 points per game. This is against STRONG defenses like Wisconsin and Creighton. Anyone who has watched Jo last year and this year has to have noticed that his jump hooks are cleaner, his post moves are better, and he might even have added a long range skillset to his arsenal. Jo, the defensive monster from a year ago, is now just an all around beast on the court. Something Baylor desperately needed this year to compliment Manu Lecompte’s game. So ”what if” Jo is the next breakout big man star at Baylor and the next Baylor NBA draft pick? I’d say both seem very likely if the 7 footer from Australia can keep it up the rest of the season. Sic ‘em!