The buzz surrounding Baylor basketball is very high. That’s because the Bears played in the Elite 8 last season in front of 47,492 fans at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. After going 28-8 last season and ending up 11-5 in the league, Baylor enters their 2010-11 season rated in the Top 20. Baylor will have to replace three starters, but leading scorer LadeDarius Dunn is back and incoming freshman Perry Jones is one of the top recruits in the country. Head coach Scott Drew knows this team is gifted, but it will be hard to replace the leadership they had last season from Ekpe Udoh, Tweety Carter and Josh Lomers.
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Udoh set a Big 12 single-season mark for blocked shots last year, so clearly that’s not going to be something the Bears can look to replace. The 6’10” Perry Jones will not be the same rim protector that Udoh was, but he can make up for it with his power to score around the hoop. Many think he will even be Baylor’s top offensive choice this year. Almost every recruiting service had Jones as a Top 10 player, and he is anticipated to be a 2011 NBA lottery pick. The Bears have never had a one-and-done player, but Jones is likely to be the first. The loss of 7-footer Josh Lomers could be getting overlooked here. He stepped his game up at the end of last year. Still, there is some size here with the 6’10” Anthony Jones coming back at small forward. Jones put up 6.2 PPG and 4.8 RPG as a strong contributor last season, while junior Quincy Acy put up 9.3 PPG as a sophomore last season. Acy was the team’s sixth man and obviously their most athletic player, throwing down 10 dunks Texas last year.
Drew believes that LaceDarius Dunn is one of the most under-appreciated players in the nation after averaging 19.6 points and 4.8 rebounds a year ago. He thinks that Dunn will be able to score at will, but hopes he can improve on his ball-handling and distributing skills this year. Though Udoh will be missed on defense, no player will be missed more than Tweety Carter. The senior point guard was the heart and soul of this squad, and his vocal leadership cannot be replaced. Taking over for Carter will either be sophomore A.J. Walton or freshman Stargell Love. Walton averaged 3.8 points in 17.6 minutes per contest last year, while Love is a nice young talent.
Jack’s Prediction: 3rd Place in the conference – The Bears tied for second in the conference last season and gave eventual champion Duke all they could want in the Elite Eight. It’s hard for me to see them having that same kind of season with the players they lose, especially Carter and Udoh. Still, the Bears can contend with anyone in the country with a frontcourt of Acy, Anthony Jones and Perry Jones along with Dunn at shooting guard. I question this team’s depth and their ability to find a point guard who can lead this team with the ball in their hands, and that’s why I have them third in the Big 12.
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