The Baylor basketball team clinched their first Big XII title on Tuesday. When the clock ran out and the Bears rushed the court to celebrate, it felt like vindication, not only for this years squad, but also for the players in years past that made it possible. It was a win for the entire Scott Drew Baylor basketball program. A program that took years to build from scratch. Every player since 2003 played a role. It’s a tough task ,but I’ll give my opinion on the 5 most important.
5.) Taurean Prince - They’re plenty of players who I thought about putting here, but I’ll give the nod to Taurean because he has had a nice NBA career. Like so many others he was not a highly rated recruit out of high school, but by the end of his Baylor career was arguably the most talented player of the Drew era. And he played on some really good Baylor teams that often times get overlooked because of early NCAA tournament exits.
4.) Ish Wainright - I don’t think I’ve seen a player develop more during his time at Baylor than Ish Wainright. There’s been plenty who developed tremendously, but it’s hard to argue against Ish. His first two years he made a total of five 3s. By his junior year he put up close to thirty and was 40% from behind the arc. He became a reliable scorer and defender. He didn’t transfer out or become disgruntled. Something you don’t see much in college basketball anymore.
3.) Aaron Bruce - The man was a freshman All-American. And although the W-L column never really looked great up until his senior season, you could tell the Bears were building in the right direction. He never had it easy. In one year he only played a conference schedule. In another there were only 7 scholarship players on the team. But they still picked off some teams in Big XII play and you could see the potential leading up to 2008. No need to dwell on it too long, but there was some pretty ugly basketball being played from about 2003-2005. Aaron Bruce made Baylor basketball watchable again. He played his heart out and his style of play was entertaining.
2.) Quincy Acy - He left Baylor with plenty of accolades that could take up this entire article and was a contributor on two Elite-8 teams. But I mostly remember him as someone who could bring the house down at the Ferrell Center with his exciting blocks and dunks. Maybe better and more consistently than anybody else in a Baylor uniform. And of course we all remember his 10 dunk game against Texas.
1.) Tweety Carter - Of course he had a productive four year career at Baylor, which included being a part of the 2008 & 2010 NCAA tournament teams, but for me it really comes down to his memorable senior year. He averaged 15 pts a game and hit one big-time shot after another. The Bears also posted some nice home wins against Texas and Texas A&M. Those wins helped lead to the games down in Houston. I was a freshman at the time and like many others made the road trip to watch Scott Drew’s team dominate the Sweet-16 game and come up a little short in the Elite-8 against Duke. Looking around and seeing 40k plus fill up Reliant Stadium was something I’ll never forget. For a fanbase that was starving for any kind of men’s sports success, it was a moment that we were waiting on for a long time. That NCAA run gave Baylor the opportunity to land some big recruits in the following years and solidified the program as one that was not going to be satisfied with just making the tournament.