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What Mario Kegler’s Absence Means for the Bears

Baylor loses the junior forward

Baylor v Syracuse Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Baylor basketball announced today that, “Mario Kegler has been indefinitely suspended from the Baylor men’s basketball program in accordance with athletics department policy. Kegler has elected to pursue a professional career and will forego his remaining collegiate eligibility. We have no further comment at this time.”

Kegler was expected to start and be a major piece on the 2019-2020 Bears. The 6-foot-7 junior wing played well in conference play and in the NCAA Tournament against Syracuse. His 24 point performance against Texas helped Baylor pull off a 15 point second half comeback and overtime victory against the Longhorns. Kegler’s size allowed him to play multiple positions, and he’d been working to build on his 35% shooting percentage from beyond the arc during conference play.

The Bears should still be a legitimate contender to win the Big 12. Tristan Clark, Jared Butler, Mark Vital and Davion Mitchell are the Bear’s best players. Kegler was likely the team’s fifth best player. That’s an important role, but it’s not the catastrophe that losing Clark or Butler would be for Baylor.

Baylor will now count on Matthew Mayer and three guard lineups. Mayer is recovering from surgery, but the sophomore had an up-and-down freshman season. He mentioned in an edition of SicEm365’s King’s Court that he felt like he tried to do too much last season. McClure said that Mayer might be the most naturally talented player on the team, so the best version of the 2020 Bears could be one we’ll get with more Mayer. But he can’t have a usage rate like he did last season; the 2020 Bears have too many options for Mayer to fire up contested jumpers off the dribble.

This is not a good moment for the Bears, but it’s one the 2020 Bears were built to survive. A real concern for Baylor is how so many talented guys would handle sharing minutes. When I asked Jared Butler about some guys getting limited playing time, he thought that issue was “bogus.” But that problem had a chance to creep in when guys like Mayer, Bandoo and MaCio Teague might play 10 minutes or less some games. Now that trio will absorb Kegler’s minutes.

The Bears felt like they could win the Big 12 with Kegler, and they should feel that way without him. The task has gotten tougher, but they have the pieces to do it. Setbacks like this are inevitable. It’s up to Baylor to respond. They should be able to do that.