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Baylor MBB Lands RayJ Dennis in the Portal

Scott Drew is bearing down on what he does best: guard play

Syndication: Kent Ravenna Record-Courier Nicholas McLaughlin / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Baylor Bears, after what felt like a disappointing transfer season, have landed a massive commitment from Toledo senior guard RayJ Dennis. Dennis is a dynamic scorer who shot over 52% from two and nearly 37% from three on his way to averaging 19 points, 5.4 assists, and 4.3 rebounds a game.

The commitment from the reigning MAC Player of the Year comes just a day after Baylor legend Adam Flagler confirmed he will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft.

With this commitment, Baylor once again has a massively talented and deep backcourt rotation.

Not included in that tweet — Dantwan Grimes, a NCAAJ champion two years ago, will be coming off a redshirt season ready to go.

Dennis compares his game to Jaylen Brunsen, Chris Paul, and Tyus Jones in his ability to post up and play angles. The film and stats back those comps up, too.

I see a lot of Shaun Livingston in his highlights with the way he uses his long frame (6’2”, 185 lbs with a reportedly 6’7” wingspan) to get position and score over his defender in the paint with spins, hooks, and floaters. He adds an inside scoring dimension that was missing last season. He also has the ability to play off the ball, where nearly 2/3rds of his threes were assisted last season. With a six guard rotation and an offense that emphasizes perimeter passing and drive-and-kick opportunities, Dennis will certainly have the chance to score from all over the court. Dennis also sported a nearly 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio last season. That means more shots for his teammates and fewer fast breaks the other way.

It looked for a while that Baylor might have a lot harder time scoring this coming season with the loss of LJ Cryer, Adam Flagler, and Keynote George. Now that the Bears have added the No. 1 offensive player in the portal per, Scott Drew has a fulcrum of his offense.

Perhaps more exciting is what the commitments of Dennis and VCU guard Jayden Nunn could mean on the defensive end. For all their strengths, Flagler and Cryer could get lost on screens and buried in the post. Dennis and Nunn bring length, quickness, and production on the defensive side of the ball and can provide plenty of mentorship for the equally long Ja’Kobe Walter and Miro Little. The 5-star Walter, in particular, comes in with a reputation as a defender.

As he mentioned in his Field of 68 announcement video, Dennis has an existing relationship with Jalen Bridges, who is still deciding between returning to Baylor or going pro in Australia’s NBL. Landing Dennis can certainly help the Bears entice Bridges back. Dennis can create shots for Bridges while also alleviating some of the defensive pressure Bridges felt last season as he tried to cover over for so many deficiencies on that end of the floor.

It’s almost impossible now to predict how Drew will put together his rotations, if only because there are so many intriguing combinations available. Assuming Bridges returns, I would project the starters to be:

  1. Dennis (Sr.+)
  2. Nunn (Jr.)
  3. Walter (Fr.)
  4. Bridges (Sr.)
  5. Tchamwa Tchatchoua (Sr.+)

That makes for a lineup that is both versatile and experienced. While three of those players will be new to Waco, three of them are seniors, one is a junior, and the fifth is a 5-star freshman. And all of them come from winning situations. That makes the reserves:

  • Miro Little (Fr.)
  • Dantwan Grimes (So.)
  • Langston Love (RS So.)
  • Caleb Lohner (Jr.)
  • Yves Missi (Fr.)
  • Josh Ojianwuna (So.)

Love has the ability to play up at the three/four with his strength, and the youth/upside of Missi and Ojianwuna give great depth at the five. That’s a lot better outlook in the front court than last season, too.

There will be more to say on the team as a whole moving toward the 2023-2024 season. For now, it’s enough to say that Baylor has positioned itself for yet another Big 12 title and NCAA Tournament run.