Johnathan Motley—-perhaps the greatest Baylor basketball player ever—-plans to sign with an agent and remain in the NBA Draft. That news was first reported by Ashley Hodge of SicEm365.
Motley capped off his junior season by winning the Karl Malone Award, which is given to the best power forward in college basketball. He also earned All-Big 12 honors and finished 3rd in the KenPom Player of the Year race.
Johnathan Motley came to Baylor as a 3-star recruit. Somewhat overshadowed by A.A.U. teammates Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Motley was not ranked in the top 50 by any of the major recruiting services. But what you are at 18 often fails to disclose what you’ll be at 22. Few expected he’d end up the best professional basketball player on that A.A.U. team. Few now doubt that he will.
Motley put together a final season worthy of going out on. The Bears entered the 2016-2017 season without a single vote in either of the major polls. By January they earned the No. 1 ranking in both.
His decision to enter the NBA Draft is not surprising. Motley went head-to-head with lottery picks and professionals. He had no trouble dominating them. Against Texas, he had 32 points and 20 rebounds. He’d shown his game had advanced past this level.
Motley is a borderline fist round pick, according to most mock drafts. He tore his MCL in the South Carolina game, and may not work out for teams for a few more weeks. Luckily he’s got plenty of tape that matters more than any insight from a May pick-up game. He also has an exemplary character and sound insight. A team or two will fall in love with his intellect and game.
The Bears reached ridiculous heights thanks to a man who burst through the expectations any of us had for his ceiling at Baylor. The great unknown will remain about what might have been had Motley made a decision few rational actors would have and returned for his senior season. But we’ll always trade losing that unknown season for what we do know: the best player on what may be the best team in Baylor history was Johnathan Motley.