Taurean Prince is our pick for Baylor’s small forward of the decade. Prince joins Pierre Jackson (point guard) on the first team. We will announce our other selections in the coming weeks.
Prince was a unanimous selection from the voters. Here is a video on his selection:
Here are the words justifying the pick:
Taurean Prince was a former LIU-Brooklyn commit that was ranked 188th in his class. If Quincy Miller had not flipped on his decision to return to Baylor, Prince would have never ended up at Baylor. Thank goodness he did, because he’s our pick for small forward of the decade.
Prince’s freshman year was a little scary. He scored 18 total points in Big 12 play, and he had 13 games where he didn’t even play. But Prince flashed potential. While Baylor’s 2012 class featured 5-star Isaiah Austin and 4-star L.J. Rose, Prince flashed a few moments that showed he could be the best member of that class.
Prince’s sophomore season was another year of the unknown. Sometimes he was Taurean Prince, other days he was Taurean Waller-Prince. Some days he’d dominate like his 23 point outing on just 10 shots against TCU. Some days he was terrible like his two point, two turnover game against Kansas.
Hope became reality for Taurean Prince during his junior season. He won Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year. He finished second in KenPom’s Big 12 Player of the Year rankings. Prince took control of the offense—leading all Big 12 players in usage rate during conference play. Prince finished top 10 in the Big 12 in offensive rating, effective field goal percentage, steal rate and 2-point percentage. After attempting just 45 3-point shots combined during his freshman and sophomore seasons, Prince hit 40% of his 147 attempts during his junior season. He became a strong teammate, willing to come off the bench and mixing between small forward and power forward. His shifting positions helped Baylor go 3-0 against Press Virginia and helped Baylor sweep Iowa State. The Bears were the only team to beat Iowa State in Ames in 2015. And they wouldn’t have done it without Prince hitting four timely triples in Ames. Prince’s defense was also impressive, as he was a lock-down wing defender. The Bears had their most efficient defense in the 18 seasons of the KenPom era with Prince’s timely steals and ability to contest even the Big 12’s best shooters.
After an impressive junior season, Prince elected to return for his senior year. He was spectacular again. Prince made the All-Big 12 team Second team as a junior. He made the first team as a senior. With Royce O’Neale and Kenny Chery gone, Prince became the focal point of Baylor’s offense. He attempted 80 more shots his senior season and maintained impressive efficiency. A graduate of Earl Warren High School, Prince emulated the former Chief Justice by taking control. He got to the line 143 times his senior season comopared to 98 times as a junior; and he upped his free throw percentage from 64% as a junior to 77% as a senior. Prince also became a much better facilitator. He notched 9 assists against Savanah State and had at least one in every Big 12 game. But Prince’s fame came from his scoring. Despite Baylor’s slower pace that season, he had six games of at least 25 points. He increased his off the dribble game too. During his junior season only 11% of his 3s were unassisted but he nearly doubled that number hitting 19% of his threes without any help in his last season. He also continued his streak as a lock-down defender and he gave us the best soundbite of the decade.
Prince completed a magnificent career. Baylor made the NCAA Tournament the three seasons he was in the rotation. Only three teams won in Ames, Iowa during Prince’s junior and senior season. Two of those teams were Prince’s Bears. He was Baylor’s best player in 2015 and 2016, one of just a few players that can say that.
Prince was homeless in the middle of the first decade of the 21st Century. Before the second decade ended, he made himself a multi-millionaire playing basketball. Prince entered Baylor as a 3-star player with limited expectations. Through hardwork and a desire to maximize his immense talent, he became the No. 12 pick in the NBA Draft. Taurean Prince has been by far Baylor’s best NBA Player of the Scott Drew era, and he was easily Baylor’s best small forward this decade.