Overall Rank: #106
Conference Rank: #9 Big 12
2006-07: 15-16, 4-12, 11th
2006-07 postseason: none
One of these days Baylor is going to make headlines for a positive reason. With five starters returning, this could be the year Coach Scott Drew really takes a step forward with the Bears program. The 15-16 record last year was not as good as it sounds with a pretty simple non-conference schedule, but the young talent continues to come in. It may not happen this year, but Baylor will be a postseason team, meaning the NIT, soon.
Baylor loses a couple of roleplayers in Tim Bush and Patrick Fields. Bush, who averaged 6.3 points and 4.0 rebounds during his senior campaign, is the most significant departure, but it is nothing that has Bear fans too worried. Seldom used Jari Vanttaja and Carl Sims will not be returning to the basketball program.
Lacedarius Dunn is one of the best guard prospects in the class of 2007. He may not have gotten the recognition he deserved on a national level, but this is one great pickup for the Bears. The 6-4 Louisiana product is a terrific scorer and should make an immediate impact in Waco. Dunn’s strength is his scoring, but he has the ability to run the point as well if the team needs him to do so. Fellow incoming freshman Fred Ellis will add some depth at the forward spots. The 6-6, 190 pounder is deceptively quick and a solid athlete. He can play either forward position, but at the Big XII level his size should keep him at the small forward spot, which means he will need to develop a more consistent outside shot. Delbert Simpson will provide some much needed depth up front. The center averaged 10.8 points and 5.4 rebounds as a sophomore last year at Tyler Junior College in Texas and should at least be good for some rebounds off the bench this year.
Who to Watch:
One good indicator of Baylor’s increase in talent is the decrease in production of Aaron Bruce. Bruce, now a senior, has been asked to do less and less every year since he has more weapons around him. The 6-3 senior is still a prolific and dynamic scorer who will shoot with consistency from long range. However, Curtis Jerrells, Henry Dugat and Tweety Carter will continue to take some more shots away from Bruce. All three are threats from long range, but it is Jerrells who has become the best scorer on the team. The 6-1 junior led the team with 15.0 points and 3.8 assists and added 4.7 rebounds. As an upperclassmen, Jerrells is expected to take on a bigger leadership role.
Most of the scoring will come from the perimeter group, but Kevin Rogers and Mamadou Diene have developed into consistent scorers under the basket. Rogers, a 6-9 lefty, had an amazing sophomore season averaging 12.8 points and a team high 7.6 boards. If Rogers improves half as much as he did between his freshman and sophomore seasons, he is in for a huge year. Diene is the defensive presence under the basket and the 7-footer will have some competition from another 7-footer. Josh Lomers spent much of his freshman campaign coming off the bench, but he definitely has enough talent to push Diene for more minutes as a sophomore.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Curtis Jerrells, Junior, Guard, 15.0 points per game
Aaron Bruce, Senior, Guard, 11.3 points per game
Henry Dugat, Junior, Guard, 11.7 points per game
Kevin Rogers, Junior, Forward, 12.8 points per game
Mamadou Diene, Junior, Center, 4.8 points per game